Friday, May 22, 2015
Blog Page 105

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The Minnesota Vikings arguably are facing their first “true” test of the season, what with the St. Louis Rams being discounted by national and local media alike (for national media, somewhat post-hoc) for fairly legitimate reasons.

But the New England Patriots aren’t just a different beast from a talent perspective, they’re entirely different category of schematic obstacle. Not for nothing, the Patriots are known as one of the most creative teams in the NFL on both sides of the ball. From pioneering hybrid fronts to bringing the H-back to the fore, there are significant influences the Patriots have leveraged to the rest of the league, and there are more to come.

Against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots fell short, especially after an inefficient second half, where they scored zero points. Much has been made of the Patriots’ record after a loss (13-1, according to Zimmer in the last 14 losses and 32-4 since 2003 according to Brian Hall). I don’t think that’s particularly relevant. In that time frame, they’ve gone 138-38, or 78.4%. A 32-4 record is 88.9%, which is what you’d expect is similar to the record a team would have if you eliminated their 38 best opponents.

Instead, the New England Patriots are just very good and there’s not a lot of evidence that we should pay much more attention to the fact that they’ve done better off of losses. The converse of this, of course, is that the Patriots would be worse after a win (75.7%) which is difficult to conceive of as important.

Historically, Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner have done well against New England. Since 2001, Zimmer defenses have met New England offenses three times. In that time, they’ve allowed an average of 18.7 points and had a defensive DVOA of -24.0% (negative defensive DVOAs are good). That DVOA would be the second-best defense of 2013. Further, a recency-adjusted DVOA would be 39.2%, the best in the NFL and 15.8 points allowed. It’s not a large sample size, but it’s encouraging. Though the Mike Zimmer Bengals likely had more proven defensive talent, there’s reason for optimism.

Norv Turner has scored 20 points a game and a recency-adjusted points of 21.1 per game. The offensive DVOA is 3.0%, and recency-adjusted offensive DVOA is 6.5%. Because there are 11 data points, it is slightly more robust. Once outliers are eliminated, the points per game and DVOA rise to 21.9 and 10.8% respectively. Again, there are really not that many data points to draw a real conclusion, though many of Norv Turner’s teams were not as talented—his 2002-2003 Dolphins met the Patriots four times and had fewer weapons and likely a worse quarterback. His 2004-2005 Oakland Raiders were even worse. This may be balanced out by his 2007-2012 Chargers, but including his stints in San Francisco and Cleveland tilts his available talent against him.

Regardless, shallow historical analysis would imply that the Vikings are well equipped to coach against the Patriots, with a 1.3 to 6.9 point advantage in prior meetings. Still, the game isn’t won with history, it’s won with current matchups and coaching, and the Vikings are in a tough spot in that regard.

 

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If I had my way, each and every one of our writers would soon find themselves with high-paying writing jobs at large, reputable media outlets.  In my eyes, each of them deserve it.

Lindsey Young, whose work caught my eye well before Vikings Territory existed, certainly seems to be on the right path.

Lindsey recently wrote an article for KSTP Channel 5 that couldn’t have come at a better time, as the NFL world has been rocked by the Ray Rice scandal, and we could use a feel-good story or ten to remind us that it isn’t all bad.

Lindsey’s article is everything we’ve grown to expect from her:  Professional, insightful, and thorough.  She dives into the lives of three Minnesota Vikings and gives us some perspective as to how their profession impacts their family life.  The wives of Greg Jennings, Josh Robinson, and Zach Line were each featured.

Here is an excerpt of the article, but to read the rest you are going to have to CLICK HERE.

Football wives are much more than fans. Nicole Jennings explains how wives take the game so much more seriously than the rest of the world. In her mind, it is not about wins and losses or the number of receiving yards beside her husband’s name.

“My overall interest is in making sure he walks off that field the same way he walked on,” Nicole Jennings said. “In my eyes, nothing else matters.”

Of course, no one likes to see an injury, but most do not understand the family’s sideline perspective. NFL players hear more news every year regarding the risk of concussions, their side effects, and, most recently, the long-term consequences associated with an injury prevalent on the football field.

 

Well done, Lindsey, keep it up.

Brady & Wake

Last week, Nathan Kearns of Ramblin Fan took a stab at answering five questions about the St. Louis Rams before the Vikings came to town.  We appreciated him taking the time to do it, and I think his attempts to predict the future contained lots of great information, but I’d bet he’d like to have his prediction back after the Vikings gave the Rams the horns.

Next up are the storied New England Patriots, but this week’s guest isn’t underestimating the Vikings, especially after the Patriots were upstaged by the Dolphins in Week One.

Morgan Smith of Patriots Gab took time out of her week to answer some questions for us and I think you’ll be plenty interested to get her take on the upcoming game.  Be sure to follow Morgan on Twitter, if only for a little fun trash talking during the rest of this week, by clicking here.

The Dolphins seemed to draw a map for future teams when it comes to overwhelming the offensive line and flustering Tom Brady.  Do you think this will become a pattern with the Vikings up next or was this a one-time fluke?

There is a blueprint against every team, and last week was the blueprint against the Pats. Last year, Cincinnati beat the Pats by doing what Miami did, and the Patriots were just as bad on offense. The blueprint is there, but not every team can execute it and not every team uses it. To beat New England you have to get pressure on Tom Brady, and it has to be constant throughout the game.

The offensive line isn’t the same as it was before when Brady barely got hit, they are allowing more hits on Brady than he’s ever had, so New England has to make some personnel changes on the line before this Sunday, because the Vikings will get to Brady. Maybe add Josh Kline to the line and take out Jordan Devy, and allow Wendell to play more over Marcus Cannon, or Bryan Stork gets to play. They have to figure something out by Sunday because the Vikings had 5 sacks against the Rams, so they can generate pressure.

We will see if Minnesota can execute the blueprint and if New England can adjust.

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The Minnesota Viking have added edge rusher/linebacker Josh Kaddu to the practice squad. He played both as a rush linebacker in Oregon’s 3-4 sets and an off-ball linebacker in other sets. For Philadelphia, Kaddu played as an outside linebacker and edge defender, known of course for having former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly at the helm. Vikings announced the move as if he’s a linebacker, so just like Anthony Barr, he may end up transitioning to an off-ball or hybrid role with the Vikings. It didn’t take too long to look him up and see who the Vikings invested in instead of re-upping with Mike Remmers.

The open spot became available because the Chicago Bears signed former Baylor and Cowboys safety Ahmad Dixon off the Vikings practice squad. There was some speculation it could herald the return of Mike Remmers, but they chose a linebacker instead.

 

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As Arif pointed out earlier this week, the Vikings lost safety Ahmad Dixon when the Bears signed him off of Minnesota’s practice squad.  They have now filled the vacancy.

Third year linebacker Josh Kaddu was signed to the practice squad, according to 1500 ESPN, who has five games of experience under his belt.  He was originally drafted by Miami in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Kaddu played his college years with Oregon where he played in 40 games over four years.

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