Friday, January 30, 2015

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Percy Harvin has been spotted on crutches this week, following an ugly hit to his ankle last week, but limped slowly through the locker room on Thursday without support.  Leslie Frazier says Harvin will play on Sunday if he can, but all signs point towards it being too big of a risk at this point in the season.

The only playmaker to account for more yards in this offense than Harvin is Adrian Peterson, and it has recently been argued that Harvin should be a candidate for the NFL’s MVP award.

If Harvin doesn’t play then the Vikings have to find a way to make up the 75 receiving yards, 10 rushing yards, and 64 return yards he has been gaining on average per game.  That is not an easy task and a number of players will have to step up and fill his shoes if the Vikings are going to avoid further regression this Sunday afternoon.

Jarius Wright, WR

Wright has proven to be a bit of a mystery this season as he has been on the 53 man roster all year but has yet to be active on game day, after the Vikings selected him in the fourth round of April’s Draft.  There have been a number of theories about why Wright has yet to be on the field, one of which is that he is simply regarded as a Harvin clone in the case of an injury.  Wright is a similar player, albeit not likely to be as dominant, as Harvin is and it is logical to expect that he will not only be active in Harvin’s absence, but that we will actually see him get some action.

Toby Gerhart, RB

I already find it ridiculous how little the Vikings are using Gerhart, even when Harvin was healthy, and I would hope that he will be called on to pick it up this week.

Gerhart had a rough outing in week three, but has otherwise been his normal self.  Strangely, however, his role seems to be gradually disappearing.  In the last four games he has only carried the ball four times, while Harvin has carried it nine times over the same period.

It only seems logical that Gerhart will get some of the carries that would normally go Harvin’s way, and he should arguably get even more than that if the Vikings truly want to embrace their offensive strengths and run the ball with more frequency.

Marcus Sherels, CB

It seems likely that, even if Harvin is active, Marcus Sherels will be the Vikings primary kick returner against the Lions.  The Lions got torched by both Harvin and Sherels in the return game earlier this year, but Leslie Frazier seems to think the Lions won’t be so easily fooled on special teams this time around.

Sherels has only returned two kicks this year, averaging 23.5 yards, and doesn’t seem to have the same explosiveness as Harvin does.  Still, he will need to be ready to take advantage if the Lions decide to revert to early-season form and provide a big chance for a game-changing return at the Metrodome.

Adam Warwas, Hack Blogger

Somebody has to blow up at the coaching staff, like Harvin did last week, if Bill Musgrave calls three horrible red zone plays in a row that are short of the goalline and result in a field goal.

I nominate me.

A hurting Percy Harvin.  A struggling young quarterback.  A leaky defense.  A criticized coaching staff.

The going is certainly getting tough for our Vikings as they approach the toughest part of their schedule, and that means there is plenty of news and even more opinions floating around the internet.  Here are our favorites:

In 2010, Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings ranked 23nd in offensive yards gained and 29th in points scored.  They ranked 10th in rushing offense and 26th in passing offense.

When the Vikings transitioned from Brad Childress to Leslie Frazier in the head coaching spot, Bill Musgrave was hired to head the Vikings offense and their top draft picks were spent on quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

This offseason General Manager Rick Spielman devoted a good portion of his resources towards improving the roster on the offensive side of the ball.  Four of their top six picks were spent on offensive players, including a star left tackle and two receivers.  Receiver Jerome Simpson, tight end John Carlson, and offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz were among the only notable free agency moves the team made.

So what has the improvement been?

The Vikings offense of 2012, approaching the toughest part of their schedule, is currently:

17th in points scored (improved from 2010)

22nd in yards gained (improved)

5th in rushing (improved)

30th in passing (regressed)

So, with much being made about Christian Ponder’s lack of production, people are starting to wonder if Bill Musgrave is on the verge of being dismissed.  In a season and a half, Musgrave has had three quarterbacks start in his offense (McNabb, Webb, and Ponder) and none of seen any overwhelming success to speak of.

If Ponder and company, possibly without Percy Harvin, dial up another stinker on Sunday against the Lions then the echoes of boos will be ringing well into the Vikings bye week.  This leads us to today’s question of the week.

So, here is a chance to cast one more vote today:

“Things would have to go very poorly for the Vikings in the first half of the season in order for us to feel fully eliminated from the playoffs heading into week 10. Of the last seven games of the season, five of those will be played against divisional opponents. Beating our NFC North foes is the best way to climb into playoff contention, so hope is likely to cling for quite some time this season.”

A very wise blogger wrote that paragraph back in April when the 2012 schedule was announced.  A very foolish blogger, however, forgot to heed his own warning and tossed the idea of a “rebuilding team” aside and fully embraced the idea that this Vikings team was (cliché alert!) “for real.”

It was far too easy to get swept away by the Vikings success after putting the week two loss to Indy in the rear view mirror and placing that unexpected beat down of the Niners on the forefront of our minds.

Say what you will about strength of schedule analysis and how inaccurate such thinking is, but there is no doubt that the Vikings were able to take advantage of a weak schedule early on, struggled against tougher opponents of late, and have yet to face their toughest opponents.

It duped some of us, including me.

The early success of the Vikings has created confusing feelings and opinions amongst the fanbase, as the team suddenly went from “project” to “contender” and are well on their way to being labeled “pretenders.”

The Vikings themselves are partially to blame, as their job is to sell their product, and they had no problems pointing out their successes on the field in order to generate some excitement.

The truth, as we have found out here lately, is that this team never actually became anything other than a project.  In the end, their win total is only going to be a gauge to measure how far this project has to go before they can legitimately be considered a contender.

Am I throwing in the towel?  Absolutley not.

I will still cheer and shout, curse and yell, as my team suits up on future Sundays.  However, I have had to give myself the reality check that many Vikings need and remind myself that this is a young team, with plenty of positives to point out, that is still in the process of growing into what will one day be a consistently dominant force.

Luckily for us Vikings fans, our expectations are now so low that they don’t really need to be managed, and Leslie Frazier’s team can really only overachieve from here on out in the eyes of their most critical observers.

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With five and a half minutes left and down by ten points, Christian Ponder ended the Vikings hopes of winning by throwing two troubling passes deep, one of which ended up in a defender’s hands for an interception.

The Seahawks were then able to use their running game to chew the clock and essentially put the game to rest in drawn-out fashion.

The Vikings, for the second week in a row, were the only NFC North team to lose and are now closer to last place of the division than first place. At 5-4, the Vikings uphill battle to qualify for the postseason, and that battle is one I have trouble seeing them win with a passing game like this.

Your final score is 30-20, with Adrian Peterson rushing for 170 yards, but Christian Ponder only nabbing 58 yards through the air.

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