Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monthly Archives: December 2013

If Leslie Frazier’s current record wasn’t enough to convince you that he is coaching his last games in Minnesota, then today’s report that the Vikings are already putting out feelers ought to do the trick.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Vikings have reached out to Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, who served as an assistant with the Patriots from 2007 to 2011.  He not only has some familiarity with Vikings rookie linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, but boasts a successful pedigree of two tight end sets and offensive innovation.

O’Brien seems like a logical candidate for the Vikings to check out, but the odds are long that he is the next head coach of the team.  His Penn State contract reportedly requires an NFL team to buy him out to the tune of $7.73 million.  There are also some unsubstantiated rumors floating around that O’Brien actually has no intent to once again join the NFL coaching ranks and wants to stay put.

The Vikings aren’t the only team to contact O’Brien.  The Houston Texans, who currently have a head coaching vacancy, have also reached out to the college coach.

If things get more serious regarding O’Brien we will more extensively explore who he is as a coach and a man.  In the meantime, this story is more about confirming that the Vikings appear poised to usher in a new era of Minnesota football by doing away with their current staff.

Quarterback Jay Cutler isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  His personality rubs some the wrong way, his leadership has been questioned countless times, and he won’t be winning any Mister Congeniality contests anytime soon.  Still, he is an accomplished veteran at the NFL’s most important position, and recent rumors stating the Bears might let him walk after this season are sure to grab attention.

It is an especially intriguing scenario for Vikings fans who are as hungry as ever for some new hope at the quarterback spot.  For every rumor in the NFL a counter-rumor is sure to follow, and some are wisely betting that the Bears don’t simply let Cutler leave, but let’s pretend for a second they do.  Should the Vikings be interested?  Would they be?

First off, they clearly will enter the offseason in the market for a new quarterback or three.  The Christian Ponder experiment is pretty clearly on it’s last legs, Matt Cassel can opt out of the second year of his deal, and Josh Freeman can’t be happy riding the bench after migrating north from Tampa midseason.  None of the above have proven they can lead the Vikings in an overly impressive way and so it seems they will once again be looking for the guy that just has “it.”

Secondly, they are preparing to play the next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, and finding a quarterback that can have success outdoors in Minnesota could be even trickier than trying to find one that can succeed in the Metrodome… which hasn’t been the easiest task ever.

Cutler, now 30 years old, has played outdoors in every home game of his professional career.  He has three seasons in Denver under his belt, and four in Chicago, and so that experience could be mighty attractive.  He has not only played in the cold and wind, but he’s also been fairly successful.

Cutler has a career passer rating of 84.4 and 23,224 yards on 3,220 attempts.  He’s thrown for 149 career touchdowns and has thrown 108 interceptions.  Durability has been a concern lately, however, as he hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009.

The Vikings showed some interest in Cutler when he was on the trade block in 2009.  They were reportedly involved in a three-way negotiation that would have sent Cutler to Minnesota and Matt Cassel, of all people, to Denver.  The story goes, though, that head coach Brad Childress was not as sold on Cutler as the front office was and put a stop to the talks.  Of course, the rest is history.

Childress is gone now, though, and much of that same front office remains intact.  While intra-division trades are very rare, and Cutler would almost certainly have to become an unrestricted free agent to make this scenario possible, I am curious as to how receptive our readers would be to having Cutler be the next starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings.  Keep in mind while voting that signing Cutler would not necessarily kill the team’s chances of drafting a young quarterback in May’s NFL Draft.

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Matt Cassel is starting, some players are hurt, everything is correctable, the Wilfs are rich… yadda, yadda, yadda.  A lack of wins means a lack of interest in the same old storylines and the 2013 Vikings are certainly lacking wins.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune‘s gossip department, or “the dish” as they prefer to call it, saw a Vikings player pass across their pages on Wednesday.

The author’s TMZ-style account of an incident involving defensive tackle Fred Evans can be read in full right here.  I warn you, however, the column is not journalism-quality and comes with plenty of assumptions and judgement.  Here is the Sparknotes version of what happened:

  • A cab driver gave a man, another man, and an assumed stripper a ride from a strip club to a hotel the morning of December 2nd (after the Vikings beat the Bears on December 1st).
  • The cabbie heard the first man talking about the game and the woman referred to him as “Fred” on a number of occasions.
  • “Fred” and the woman were quite friendly with one another during the ride, according to the cabbie.
  • When they arrived at the hotel the cabbie was not paid for the ride and he waited for some time.
  • The cabbie called the hotel room multiple times.  On one occasion “Fred” hung up on him.  On another, “Fred” told him to hold on a second, but nobody came to pay him.
  • At 4:04 a.m. the cabbie called the police, but he did not want to go through the court system for the $65 tab.
  • Police brought a photo lineup to the cabbie and he was able to pick the real Fred Evans out of the bunch.
  • The cabbie was able to contact the Vikings who then gave him the contact number of “the manager.”
  • He called the manager and, while it took a couple of days, he was paid a total of $240.
  • The cabbie is now happy.

Evans has been having one of the better year’s of his career with the Vikings, after Rick Spielman continued to give him chances, but an incident in a taxi cab ended his career with the Dolphins back in 2007 and you would think he’d have learned his lesson about these things.

The Vikings, having dealt with a recent rash of off-field incidents, can’t be happy to hear that another player is grabbing headlines for the wrong reasons, visiting strip clubs until the next morning, having the police called on him, and having to get “The Manager” involved.

At the very least, they can’t be too happy that we all know about it now.

Well, that was a crazy game.  It didn’t mean a whole lot, but here are ten random things you should know following all the chaos:

1.  The Vikings are currently slotted to have the 4th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Houston, St. Louis (via Washington), and Atlanta are the only teams currently slotted to pick in front of the Vikings.  Assuming the Vikings lose to the Eagles this week, they should end up with the third slot a week from now, because Atlanta and Washington play each other this week.  Houston will play Indianapolis.

2.  The Ravens and Vikings saw six lead changes in the fourth quarter on Sunday.  That is an NFL record, officially making it one of the craziest endings in history.

3.  As if the double fist pump by the official upon announcing the Ravens final touchdown on Sunday wasn’t enough, the refs’ performances from Sunday are under heavy scrutiny.  Almost every Vikings coach, player, fan, and media member have stated publically that the game was handled in ridiculous fashion.  Leslie Frazier said he got a call from the NFL on Monday, and that it was unsolicited, so it wouldn’t be too big of a surprise to hear that others higher up the chain also felt our team was at an artificial disadvantage.

4.  Adrian Peterson immediately took to Twitter following the game to call out the refs and said Ravens fans are a no-good snowball-throwing fanbase.  Both Peterson and Frazier have mentioned getting hit by snowballs in Baltimore.  I’m not sure that calling out an entire city was Peterson’s smartest move, especially after a loss, but I could certainly understand the frustration.  Hey, at least these next two years playing outdoors in Minnesota are sure to be void of drunken fans that think it is acceptable to throw… umm, uh oh.

5.  Peterson gave us all a scare when he went to the ground on Sunday and didn’t get up, but instead lay on the ground flailing around in obvious agony.  Peterson will see a foot specialist soon, but the good news is that they have yet to find any major breaks, tears, or other horrible things.  The team, in my opinion, should still consider shutting him down for the season, but it seems unlikely that this foot injury will have any impact on the 2014 season.

6.  The crazy day didn’t end at the stadium.  Vikings players took to Twitter to complain that their team plane was sitting on the runway when a catering truck struck the plane, causing them to seek an alternate aircraft.  A plane had to come in from Detroit to pick them, delaying their takeoff by about three hours, and it just seemed like a fitting end to the day.  Somewhere, regarding caterers, Randy Moss is saying “Told Ya’ll.”

7.  Peterson is big news, but he isn’t the only injury plaguing this team right now, and the list is actually quite lengthy.  The Vikings have officially placed tight end Kyle Rudolph on injured reserve and wide out Greg Childs on the PUP list.  Tight end John Carlson will have to pass concussion tests this week in order to continue filling in for Rudolph.  Toby Gerhart has filled in nicely for Adrian Peterson at times this season, but a strained hamstring suffered in Baltimore could slow him up a bit.  Xavier Rhodes has really started to look like a top-tier cornerback in recent weeks, but he is also hobbled from a sprained ankle.

8.  While the injuries are stacking up, at least one promising young player is on the mend and appears close to returning.  Safety Harrison Smith is rumored to be set to return this week.  The big-hitting safety could breath some life into this defense upon his return, but it is too little too late, and one has to wonder if the Vikings shouldn’t just keep him out and focus on being more successful next year.

9.  This team is discovering some of it’s less experienced talent is looking to be quite talented as the get more experience (got that?  good.).  Cordarrelle Patterson had the best overall performance of his young career and is looking like one of the best rookie wide outs in the NFL, and is certainly the most versatile.  Andrew Sendejo got his first career interception on Sunday, had a second called back on that Chad Greenway interference call, and should easily be a starting safety on this team moving forward even after Smith returns.  Xavier Rhodes may have been hurt on Sunday, but not before he broke the record of Orlando Thomas for passes defended by a rookie with 20.  Audie Cole led the Vikings with 13 tackles and had another decent showing in his third consecutive start.

10. The Vikings are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.  Just in case you were still holding out hope.

Don’t forget, during today’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, we here at VT will be hosting a discussion all game long on our Chat Page.  Join us if you can!

The Vikings inactives for this game are:  CB Josh Robinson, DT Chase Baker, G Jeff Baca, TE Kyle Rudolph, QB Christian Ponder, WR Rodney Smith, and T Mike Remmers.

With Ponder inactive due to the concussion suffered last week, Matt Cassel will get the start under center and Josh Freeman will act as the primary backup.  Both Chris Cook and Erin Henderson are expected to start today, with Henderson moving to the weak side spot and Cook reeling from an awful performance against the Bears that ended with an ejection.

The Vikings are fairly healthy and preparing to do battle with a team that has perhaps been even more disappointing this season than Minnesota has been.  It should be an interesting game with plenty of individuals to keep an eye on as we get closer and closer to the 2014 offseason.

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