Sunday, April 19, 2015

Monthly Archives: January 2013

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The Chicago Bears are going through head coaching candidates like there is no tomorrow now that they have finally decided to end the Lovie Smith era.

Two of the guys they want to take a look at, according to reports, are currently employed by the Minnesota Vikings.  Assistant Head Linebackers Consultant (or something) Mike Singletary and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer are now on the list to be interviewed in their exhaustive search.

While Singletary possesses a storied history in Chicago and some actually head coaching experience, Priefer is the intriguing name to take note of.  He is certainly a top notch coach and has turned the Vikings special teams into a premier unit during his stay in Minnesota, with reports that he hand-picked kicker Blair Walsh prior to April’s Draft, and Chicago certainly places a high value on special teams.

I was starting to feel offended, although pleasantly at peace, with the fact that no Vikings assistants were being considered for any of the current vacancies throughout the league.

Now we have a little bit of drama to monitor as other teams decide whether or not to scavenge ours.

If your team loses early in the postseason, and you have your own blog, then the reward is being able to turn your gaze towards the NFL Draft.  So, with the Vikings getting a slap upside the head from Green Bay last weekend, I couldn’t help but update my mock.

Last time around I assigned Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to the Vikings.  Since then, however, the Vikings success meant they worked themselves all the way down to the 23rd selection and the more I looked at Richardson the more I am convinced he will be long gone by that point.

I ended up taking Richardson off the board at the 11th spot (Chargers) and had to see how things worked themselves out by the time the Vikings were “on the clock” in my mock.

A number of interesting option still existed at 23, which is a good sign for when the real deal actually rolls around, and I was awfully tempted to consider North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon.  While I think some quarterback-needy team might trade up to this point and try to grab Glennon, I just don’t see the Vikings realistically spending their first rounder on the quarterback position unless the coaching staff is suddenly and surprisingly dismissed… which won’t happen.

The Vikings will likely target a quarterback at some point in the Draft, but I highly doubt it’ll be that early, as they remain committed to developing Christian Ponder.

I did select someone on the offensive side of the football, however, and could help Ponder in his efforts to improve what has been a very lackluster passing game.

At #23, with USC’s Robert Woods the only other receiver selected prior, I assigned Tennessee product Cordarrelle Patterson to the Vikings.  The rest of the mock can be looked over by clicking here.

He has great size at 6’ 3” and 205 pounds and impressive elusiveness and has helped quarterback Tyler Bray lead an impressive passing game.  He has also contributed significantly by taking handoffs, returning punts, and returning kicks.  Sound familiar?

He is a physical receiver capable of out jumping most defenders, and possesses the ability to consistently make any catch he can get his hands on.  The only knock on Patterson is that he is still raw and needs to work on his route running, which is completely coachable.

For those unfamiliar with Patterson, here is a nice little highlight reel to get you familiarized.  At the very least, take note of how his legs never stop churning… despite the ridiculously long strides this guy take:

The first step in the Vikings offseason will have to be to look at themselves, as a front office and as a coaching staff, to see if any major changes are needed.  Considering the surprising success of this season, coupled with an apparent lack of interest in our coaches from teams with vacancies, I would venture a guess at this point that nothing major is coming.

So, assuming our schemes stay relatively close to what we saw in 2012, I have decided to list and rank the Vikings pending free agents.  As I usually do, I have taken a “world view” approach to ranking these players which means talent is only one of the factors taken into consideration.  Age, projected cost, injury history, and other factors have also played into these rankings.

So, without further ado, here are how I rank the Vikings 2013 free agents from best to worst:

Jamarca Sanford, S:  Yes, I have listed a part time player in the top spot.  No, I am not crazy… I don’t think.  The Vikings secondary made huge strides this season and I just feel like they cannot afford to take a step backwards, and there are no guarantees they will be able to take a step forwards as options are limited and they have bigger fish to fry.  If they do get their hands on a starter that is superior to Sanford or Mistral Raymond then great, Sanford is a fine special teamer that shouldn’t cost a ton to retain.  He plays the run very well, flying around the field, and has a knack for causing fumbles.  He is a liability in coverage, and can’t seem to catch a football to save his life, but there is no reason the Vikings shouldn’t keep him around to ensure, at the very least, that some depth is maintained at the safety position.

Jerome Felton, FB:  Wild card weekend was proof, in each game played, that the fullback position is not dead at all.  Felton proved this all season long, however, as he paved the way for Adrian Peterson’s incredible season.  Rick Spielman reportedly told Felton that the team wanted him back, but money could be a sticking point, especially since the Vikings have a decent backup option in Rhett Ellison.  Ellison’s presence, other free agent options, and Felton’s DWI charges from last offseason are the only reasons he doesn’t sit atop this list.

Phil Loadholt, RT:  On most lists you will probably find Loadholt listed as the top free agent that the Vikings have pending.  This was certainly his best pro season in a number of ways.  In fact, it has been reported that the front office approached Loadholt about an extension in the middle of this last season.  I worry about a player, however, that seems to play much harder during his contract year.  Also, the fact that no mid-season extension was agreed upon suggests to me that Loadholt is hoping to get more money than the Vikings are willing to shell out.  Lastly, there are a number of very good tackles set to become free agents this offseason, so if the Vikings are going to back up the money truck then perhaps they should be looking to do so for a player that demonstrates more consistency.  In the end, however, Loadholt is worth a decent (but reasonable) contract and the Vikings will give serious thought to getting a deal hammered out in the coming months.

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The Vikings, led by backup quarterback Joe Webb, got their asses kicked at Lambeau Field in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

There really is no nicer way to put it than that without being dishonest.  The game was a debacle in all phases of the game.  Embarrassing production on offense, deadly mistakes on defense, turnovers coming from the special teams, and a coaching staff that seemed outmatched nearly the whole time.

With that being said, Saturday night’s letdown is just one black mark in what was otherwise a very pleasant surprise of a season, with the Vikings netting 10 wins after getting just three the season prior.

The Vikings accomplished many of their stated goals in 2012.  They kept Ponder upright for 16 games in an effort to gauge his progression.   The offensive line improved with players that never once had to miss a start.  The running game was one of the best that the world has ever seen, with Adrian Peterson making a very convincing bid to be the NFL’s MVP.

On defense, Alan Williams put together one of the better looking secondaries, albeit lacking depth, that Vikings fans have seen in years and years.  The pass rush was fairly consistent and the run defense was usually fairly stout, with only a select few exceptions in each area.

The special teams unit was overall one of the best in the NFL.

Following a phenomenal Draft from Rick Spielman, and Eric Sugarman earning every penny of his salary in keeping this squad relatively healthy, the Vikings are certainly a lot further along in their rebuilding process than almost anybody expected.

With that being said, there is not a position on this roster that couldn’t stand to be improved, other than kicker, and the Vikings now have another offseason full of opportunity to get even better.  They have an offseason to evaluate the coaching staff, search for free agents, prepare for the NFL Draft, and continue to develop their current talent.

While I was hoping not to be starting this for a few more weeks, the offseason unfortunately does begin today, and we here at VT are excited to do you the favor of filling it full of analysis, irresponsible speculation, rumor mongering, and discussion.

The Packers got the ball to start the second half and once again looked calm and efficient against a Vikings defense that appeared to have no answers for either Aaron Rodgers and DuJuan Harris.  An Everson Griffen sack on the drive wasn’t enough to derail the Packers completely but they did manage to hold the Packers to a field goal on a beautifully defended pass from Harrison Smith.

However, a 12-men penalty (Jasper Brinkley) unbelievably kept the Packers on the field inside the 10 yard line which of course is not good.  A quick checkdown to John Kuhn put the Packers up by three touchdowns.

The Packers, with a comfortable lead, were then able to key in on Adrian Peterson and contain him but a few nice passes to Kyle Rudolph and Jarius Wright gave the Vikings some life.  It wasn’t enough to keep them out of a 4th down scenario, however, and that play ended up being the nail in the coffin.  Joe Webb was stripped by Clay Matthews for the games first turnover.

On a great run stop from Fred Evans and Harrison Smith, Smith looked to be seriously hurt, proving that even when things go right for the Vikings they go wrong.  At least that seems to be the way of it tonight.  The Vikings did, however, succeed in getting the Packers offense off the field one play later.

The third quarter ended following a Joe Webb interception.

The fourth quarter has to be really, really, really, really, really, really good if the Vikings are going to pull this one off.

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