Saturday, May 30, 2015

Monthly Archives: September 2013

Today, I fully expect our Vikings to give those of us in our VT Live Chat some hope by thoroughly thumping the Cleveland Browns.

If they do it they will be doing it without the following inactives:  QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, TE Rhett Ellison, S Mistral Raymond, LBGerald Hodges, G Jeff Baca, DT Chase Baker, and DE George Johnson.

The list provides some interesting things to note.

First, Zach Line will get an even bigger opportunity to shine with Jerome Felton serving the final week of his suspension, and Ellison now dealing with an injury.  It wouldn’t be a total shocker to see Line waived when Felton returns, but he might continue to prove himself at the NFL level with a big day lead blocking for Adrian Peterson today.

Also, rookie linebacker Michael Mauti will make his first NFL appearance today after an injury-riddled college career, which is a fun and triumphant storyline to follow as this season wears on.  If he can stay healthy for a full year, then he might end up being a starter for the Vikings in the not-so-distant future, despite his status as a seventh round selection.

Enjoy the game, everybody, I’m looking forward to seeing some clear improvement this week.

Either the Browns or the Vikings will come away with their first win of 2013 on Sunday.  With the announcement that the Browns will start third string quarterback Brian Hoyer and the recent trade of Trent Richardson to Indianapolis, all expectations are the Vikings should not only win, but blow out the woeful Cleveland team at home.

Those that know their Vikings history will be quick to point out that a backup quarterback cannot be underestimated, and speed demon Josh Gordon will return from suspension just in time to play against us, but much of the conversation on Sunday will certainly revolve around the running games of each team.

The Browns shocked everyone by dealing Richardson for the Colts’ first round pick in 2014 and have signed veteran Willis McGahee to take his place.  McGahee was on the street after a knee injury prematurely ended his 2012 season in Denver and led to his eventual release.  The Browns just added McGahee on Thursday, so he will have little time to integrate himself, and the Browns may have to rely on reserves Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey to shoulder a majority of the work against Minnesota.

Behind a talented offensive line that has been underachieving this season the Browns rushing attack certainly gives Vikings fans a reason to expect dominance from the front seven on Sunday.  If this were a game of Madden, which it obviously isn’t, the talent ratings involved in this matchup would be overwhelmingly in the Vikings favor.

On the flip side, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings rushing attack have been underwhelming relative to expectations, and they face a run defense that has proven to be quite solid.  So far this season Peterson has a respectable 193 yards on 44 carries for a 4.4 yard average per carry, but he has averaged a frustratingly low 2.7 yards after his opening carry went for a 78 yard touchdown.  Peterson knows these types of days are not meeting expectations, including his own, and vows to change things this week against the Browns.

“I was worried about the things that I left out there on the field and how much better I could’ve performed,” Peterson told Access Vikings regarding last Sunday’s game.

“[Sunday’s game] is just another reminder,” he said. “You can kind of get out of whack at times, and you’ve got to be able to evaluate yourself and see how you can improve and get back on track. So it’ll be a pretty easy adjustment for me.”

Peterson seems to think getting more physical with defenders, despite the “crown rule” looming this season, is the best way to spark something within this rushing offense.

“Really trying to strike those guys instead of running away from color as much as I did,” he said. “I will be changing that this week.”

If he follows up his words with action, which he usually does, then #28 could be lighting it up this Sunday at the Metrodome.

The 2013 NFL season has started off on the wrong foot for the Minnesota Vikings, and head coach Leslie Frazier is willingly taking the blame after dropping the first 2 games on the road against division opponents. I am all for Frazier being more hands on and establishing a stronger vocal approach with his players and staff, but I wouldn’t say he is the right person to blame for the losses.

 The Vikings have played hard, overcame some adversities, made plays, and put themselves in a position to win both games, but miscues, inconsistent play and poor execution has shown it’s ugly head much too often for the Vikings to secure a win. The team has had moments where they have played very well and have looked the part of a playoff caliber team, yet other moments of blunder and mayhem have haunted an otherwise solid overall effort.

 Fans can point the blame in a number of directions up and down the Vikings roster, but no player is more scrutinized than 3rd year QB Christian Ponder. After 2 games this year, Ponder’s play continues to resemble something you would see in a Robert Louis Stevenson mystery-horror novel.

 A 67 QB rate with twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes would scare the… pigskin off most football coaches. But not coach Frazier. Despite rumors of a short leash, Frazier stuck with Ponder through the good and the ugly at a rainy Soldier Field.

 With 3:02 left in the first half against the Bears, and the game knotted at 14 each, Ponder threw a pick six on 1st and 10 from the Vikings 31 yard line. Most coaches might have been tempted to pulled the plug at that point on the struggling QB. However, after the interception, Frazier went over and looked into Ponders eyes, said a few encouraging words and saw enough confidence in his QB to stick with him. Ponder went on to complete 12 of his next 18 passes including a 20 touchdown strike to Kyle Rudolph. Three nice second half drives led to Blair Walsh field goals that capped a solid second half performance.

 So which Christian Ponder will we see verses the Cleveland Browns this weekend?

 The Browns are 0-2 and have scored a combined 16 points in 2 games… so, this would be a great time for the “good” Mr. Ponder to make an extended appearance on Sunday. However, if the “ugly” Mr. Ponder shows up, the home crowd boo-birds might come out in full force. Will Leslie Frazier continue to be patient and wait around for the “good” Mr Ponder to come and go? Or could a more hands-on approach by “Dr.” Frazier be the answer to controlling the mysterious erratic play of young Mr. Ponder?

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The Vikings’ Week 3 match against the Browns on Sunday isn’t necessarily a “must win,” but another loss would be devastating.

Especially now, with news that Cleveland will be without starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has been ruled out with a sprained right thumb.

The Browns announced via twitter that head coach Rob Chudzinski has informed third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer that he will start against Minnesota.

Chudzinski’s decision to go with Hoyer over the veteran and supposed second-string quarterback Jason Campbell is quite interesting. Hoyer is a fifth-year player and has one career start. Campbell is a eighth-year player and has 71 career starts.

Update: Later in the day, the Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Colts for a first round pick. The Vikings will be facing a third-string quarterback and a backup running back Sunday.

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When Christian Ballard suddenly left the team the timing felt odd, as did the mystery surrounding the circumstances.  He left the squad on August 18th, so an entire month passed before he finally decided to speak with the media about his decision, and it was Tom Pelissero of USA Today that got the scoop (we miss ya, Tom).

Ballard claims his decision to leave Minnesota, and the Vikings, was simply his attempt at escaping a lifestyle that wasn’t working for him.  I won’t recap all of the quotes, as you can read them in the article, but this just sounds like one of those cases where a young man decided to sacrifice a lot of money and notoriety in exchange for some new scenery.

It is hard to tell whether this decision of his will turn out to wise or foolish, but things haven’t been perfect for him back in Kansas.  On Thursday, he was reportedly arrested for domestic battery, and spent time behind bars despite not being charged with anything.

The Vikings hold Ballard’s rights for another two years and he has not ruled out an eventual return to the NFL.  With that being said, I’m not sure how welcoming the Vikings locker room would be towards a guy that abandoned his post just weeks before the regular season, and I suspect we have seen the last of him in purple.

The Vikings used a fourth round pick on Ballard in 2011.

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