Friday, March 27, 2015
Blog Page 109

The Vikings have, to our knowledge, made it through the holiday weekend without any embarrassing incidents off the field and are now conducting their Organized Team Activities.  We’ve had a lot of good content right here lately (scroll down, you can’t miss it), but here is what is being said from all of our friends around the web.

Go there.  Read it.  Tell ‘em who sent ya.

  • Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com is on the other side of this interesting interview where a variety of topics are covered.
  • As if you needed more optimism about the 2014 Vikings draft class.
  • Geesh, will they let anyone on the internet these days?  Good Loadholt article here.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson is quickly turning out to be one of Minnesota’s favorite professional athletes.
  • This isn’t factually accurate, and it isn’t something I agree with, but it is worthy of consideration:  Will the money given to Everson Griffen prove to be a big mistake?
  • ‘Tis the season for making lists, throwing out lofty claims, and crowing GOATs.
  • Undrafted wide out Donte Foster says he has a chip on his shoulder and is learning from Greg Jennings.
  • Five reasons why a late bye week is a benefit to the Vikings this season.
  • Chad Greenway is feeling like a younger player having to learn a new defensive scheme and play a different role.
  • Minnesota Vikings Mike Zimmer claims he can’t even Google himself because of that pesky Minnesota Viking Mike Zimmer.
  • Jared Allen says Minnesota headed in a different direction than he wanted to go in and hopes Chicago never regrets signing him.
  • Adrian Peterson says you can see Teddy Bridgewater is hungry when you look into his eyes.
  • It is sounding like the new regime are running faster and more intense practice sessions than Minnesota has seen in a while.
  • Mike Zimmer provided some insight as to why it is so difficult to find quality prospects at the safety position in recent years.
  • A lot of nuts and bolts about the Minnesota Super Bowl bid and logistics can be found right here.
  • Erin Henderson is under the impression that Rick Spielman might be willing to give him another chance at a roster spot.
  • Somewhere there is someone who just bought something that I (and most of you) once peed in.
  • More pass catching is an idea Adrian Peterson seems to welcome.
  • And, here it is, your moment of Zen:

 

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Photo provided courtesy of Vikings.com

There have been numerous discussions around Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy’s comments crowing himself as the best running back in the league.  Although there were plenty of immediate scoffs echoing from the state of Minnesota, it is hard to argue that McCoy does not have somewhat of a case for such a bold claim.

McCoy is coming off a highly productive season in which the he served as a legitimate mainstay of the high octane Chip Kelly offense.  With so many online polls taking opinions about the topic, I wanted to take a deeper look into the facts to settle the score once and for all.  As we move forward, Vikings fans, try to stay unbiased.

No homers allowed here.

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I wasn’t there for OTAs, but I have a Twitter account and a blog, so I can aggregate the various storylines I’ve heard coming out of camp and keep them here for easy reference.

Let’s start out with the players who have not practiced for whatever reason:

  • Anthony Barr is currently finishing his semester at UCLA.
  • Scott Crichton is currently finishing his semester at Oregon State.
  • David Yankey is currently finishing his semester at Stanford.
  • Teddy Bridgewater represented the Vikings at the NFLPA rookie event in Los Angeles.
  • Matt Kalil underwent a minor procedure that limited him to individual drills (not his shoulder, but knee).
  • Linval Joseph underwent a procedure of some sort that kept him out entirely.
  • Andrew Sendejo had a back procedure that kept him out entirely.
  • Jamarca Sanford sat out after getting knicked up yesterday.
  • Josh Robinson sat out after getting knicked up yesterday.

There are a few other things, but because it’s OTAs, not a ton can be gleaned from it.

 

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A lot has been said about the effects of the Minnesota Vikings moving to a new stadium, from losing familiarity to selecting a strong-armed quarterback to deal with the wind. The wisdom of choosing a ten-year franchise quarterback based on a two-year stint aside, most concerns are seemingly overblown—the Vikings should be slightly better, maybe, if anything.

According to Chase Stuart at Football Perspective, teams have been one percent better when moving to a new stadium. In his set of 55 teams who have moved from one stadium to another (either permanently or temporarily), they’ve improved their record from 47.2 percent to 48.7 percent.

I had three initial reactions to this:

  1. So obviously, there’s no effect
  2. The fact that the record before moving to a stadium was less than 50 percent implies that the sample size is small (which we know to be true anyway)
  3. The fact that the record before moving to a stadium was less than 50 percent implies that improvement is more likely regression to the mean.

It does, however, fit another study done by Jason Lisk (now at the Big Lead) that specifically looked at home field advantage (against away record) when moving to a new stadium. Depending on what in your opinion causes home field advantage, the results are what you’d expect.

Home field advantage in the NFL is about +16% for a generic team—they win at a rate 16% higher at home than they do on the road. For teams in new stadiums, the first year is slightly higher than expected (consistent with Chase Stuart’s research) but perhaps not meaningfully so at +19.2%. The second year in the new stadium, however, is +22.7%—and it’s not because teams somehow get worse on the road (that record did not meaningfully change).

That difference is not all that extraordinary; an 8-8 team gets pushed to an 8.44-7.56 team. But teams that have a tendency to get into close games (say, like the Vikings last year) could use that additional push to grab a win they otherwise would not have. Using Game Scripts, which calculate the average point differential over every second of every game (and therefore doing a lot to eliminate the effects of garbage time), the Vikings’ “true ability” was that of a 6.5-9.5 team, not the 5.5-10.5 team they really were. Having a small push here or there would have very likely improved their record and the home field advantage in 2015 may make a team like last year’s Vikings into a 7-9 team.

For the most part, this is largely trivia. The fact that teams are better at home is not news, nor is it particularly shocking to learn that teams who visit more often have a smaller road penalty. The familiarity/comfort hypothesis for home field advantage carries a lot of circumstantial evidence in its favor, including the fact that teams that visit more often do better than teams that don’t. Divisional games only carry a 1.8 point penalty for road teams (vs. 3.1 points for non-divisional opponents) and home teams win divisional games 54 percent of the time instead of the 59.5 percent of the time they win against non-divisional opponents. First-time visitors to a stadium do worse than their spread projections by over a point.

The familiarity hypothesis also carries weight because home field advantage is strongest in the first quarter (of multiple sports) and decreases as the game goes on.

The Vikings, in theory, will not be all that familiar with TCF Bank Stadium in their first year, but will be somewhat more familiar than their opponents (aside from, I suppose, the Chicago Bears—meaning Corey Wootton should feel right at home). In their second year at the Bank (I swear I’ve heard that nickname for it before), they will be significantly more familiar with the stadium than the majority of their opponents and should have a more pronounced advantage.

HFA likely comes from a number of things, though I do think familiarity is the biggest cause—things like crowd noiseevolutionary biology, travel time/distance, climate and so forth do not have a large effect (though some do have a significant effect, it’s simply small) or are difficult to test. The most popular thesis, referee bias, usually relies on data (penalty differential) that does not extract opponent performance from actual bias (teams who are behind or players who are uncomfortable may be more likely to commit penalties) and doesn’t hold up to high-sample scrutiny—except in environments where referees may actually fear for their personal safety.

Regardless, it should be fun to see warm-weather teams visit during the winter. The only one on the schedule in 2014 seems to be the Carolina Panthers, on November 30th (they play the Dolphins in Miami).

Cornerback has been a consistent problem for the Minnesota Vikings ever since, well… I kind of want to say “forever.”  If the struggles continue over the next few seasons, however, it will not be due to a lack of investment.

Xavier Rhodes was a first round selection last year and Captain Munnerlyn will make his Vikings debut with high hopes after signing a lucrative free agent deal.  This month, the Vikings used later draft picks to select Kendall James and Jabari Price.  Marcus Sherels was retained on a nice two year deal and Josh Robinson hopes to move outside and rebound from a troubled sophomore campaign.  Veteran Shaun Prater was also retained while Derek Cox joined Minnesota with hopes of reestablishing himself as an NFL-quality cornerback.

The competition at cornerback is almost certain to be much discussed from today (first day of OTA’s) until the final cut.  For the sake of discussion and interesting debate, I’ve created a poll that will allow you to predict up to six cornerbacks to make this roster, so cast your votes now.  Rhodes and Munnerlyn are locks, and Sherels is close to a lock I’m betting, but after that the vote counts have a potential to get a little interesting.

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