Tuesday, September 1, 2015

by -
10

Wide receiver Charles Johnson is set to start for the Vikings against New York on Sunday.

According to the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, offensive coordinator Norv Turner confirmed that Johnson will retain the starting split end position after getting the opportunity last week.

Cordarrelle Patterson generally holds the starting position, but his production has been much lower than anticipated this season. The sophomore WR seems to still struggle with route running, and Johnson has been given more reps recently. Last week, the official roster swap took place. After Patterson missed practices due to a personal matter, head coach Mike Zimmer reduced Patterson’s playing time.

Minnesota utilized Johnson on all 50 snaps in the win against Carolina, while Patterson played on just three overall—and not until the second half. Sunday was the first time in Patterson’s NFL career that he did not catch a single pass. While Vikings fans are surprised—and disappointed—with Patterson’s less-than-mediocre performance, Johnson is certainly earning his keep.

“C.J. is playing at a high level,” Turner said. “C.J. is the starter at X, that’s the position Cordarrelle plays. We’re going to do what we can to get him some opportunities to play there, but C.J. is playing at a real high level right now.”

Over the Vikings’ last three games, the 25-year-old has played 141 snaps and made 11 receptions for 180 yards.

Originally drafted by the Packers in 2013, Johnson suffered a knee injury early on and is just now getting his chance to prove himself in the NFL. He caught his first pass with the Vikings in Week 5, and Johnson is proving that he could play a significant role on this team.

And as for Patterson? No. 84 has been vocal about his disappointment with last week’s situation, and he told reporters that he will approach the coaching staff if he doesn’t play a larger role against the Jets. Patterson said the following:

“I’ll have to see how this week goes first and see how my reps and how my playing goes this week. Then next week if I my reps [aren’t] what I need them to be and I’m not feeling good about it, I have to sit down and talk with them.”

Regardless of what happens with Patterson, one thing is clear: Charles Johnson was handed a chance, and he isn’t looking back.

 

by -
7

Not too long ago, I noted some eerie parallels between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Brees in terms of their first years as starters—in particular how Drew Brees was perceived, what his weaknesses and strengths were. The idea of that piece was to do an extended case study, but how it turned out was pretty interesting. The whole piece is pretty long, but the part that stuck out to me was the set of scouting reports that Jim Trotter produced for the Sporting News, including these gems:

Brees has been asked to manage games rather than win them. Injuries along the offensive line and at wide receiver have limited his effectiveness, but Brees has had problems with his accuracy, regularly failing to hit receivers in stride. He has been at his best throwing between the numbers and sidelines, but he still must show he can work the middle of the field, particularly on the deep post. Coach Marty Schottenheimer believes Flutie’s scrambling ability makes him a greater threat coming off the bench. No. 3 quarterback Seth Burford has a strong arm but heavy feet. He played on a lower level in college and still must show he can perform in the NFL.

One of QB Drew Brees’ best qualities is that he has a short memory. He can throw an interception on one series and not let it affect him on the next. He threw two interceptions in the first three quarters against the Chiefs but responded by throwing two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 35-34 win. Privately, Brees has been longing for more responsibility. The Chargers wanted to bring him along slowly, but they need to balance the run and the pass to consistently beat elite teams. Brees is showing he can handle the load and has a feel for making plays in the fourth quarter.

The Chargers were doing almost nothing on offense, a nasty trend in recent weeks as they have tumbled back to the pack after a 6-1 start. Brees has thrown only three touchdown passes in the last seven games, and had problems today dealing with the wind and a Buffalo defense that sacked him three times and whacked him often. His receivers didn’t help, with at least six drops.

Regardless, that sparked an interesting idea in one of my Twitter followers, @semacks—who took a look at the raw statistics from Brees’ first year to do a side-by-side comparison:

After a discussion about era adjustments, I did a quick-and-dirty look at the two quarterbacks profiled most readily in the piece—Peyton Manning and Drew Brees—and moved on from there. The natural extension of that was to look at all the Hall of Fame quarterbacks in their first year to take a look at where they were at.

When it comes to firing on all cylinders, this week’s win over the Carolina Panthers may have been the best of Mike Zimmer’s young head coaching career in Minnesota.  With efficient play on both offense and defense, and a huge boost from Mike Priefer’s special teams, the Vikings sent Cam Newton packing to the tune of a 31-13 final score.

Before we attempt to crown a player from this week, here is a look at previous winners as voted on by the readers here at VT.

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIVE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK SIX:  Linval Joseph

WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen

WEEK EIGHT:  Anthony Barr

WEEK NINE:  Everson Griffen

WEEK ELEVEN: Charles Johnson

WEEK TWELVE:  Xavier Rhodes

by -
16

No long writeup like usual (and I did miss a week or two here, so no surprise either), but I’d like to keep my power rankings up to date and delve further in to which teams are most likely to win what games and by how much.  One interesting note: the Bills are almost universally ranked by the media to be the 18th-ranked team in the NFL, which is odd.

Subjective Media Rankings
Team ESPN NFL.com B/R CBS Yahoo Fox NBC AP SBN Avg
New England Patriots 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1.00
Green Bay Packers 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2.00
Denver Broncos 3 3 3 5 4 4 6 3 4 3.89
Arizona Cardinals 4 4 4 3 3 5 3 4 5 3.89
Dallas Cowboys 5 5 6 4 7 3 4 5 6 5.00
Philadelphia Eagles 6 6 7 6 5 7 5 6 3 5.67
Indianapolis Colts 8 7 5 10 6 8 9 8 7 7.56
Seattle Seahawks 7 9 9 8 8 6 10 7 9 8.11
Kansas City Chiefs 12 8 13 11 9 10 13 10 8 10.44
Cincinnati Bengals 10 10 12 7 16 15 7 10 10 10.78
Baltimore Ravens 11 14 10 14 10 9 11 12 11 11.33
San Francisco 49ers 9 13 11 9 12 14 14 9 13 11.56
Detroit Lions 13 11 8 13 13 13 12 14 14 12.33
Pittsburgh Steelers 14 12 15 12 17 17 8 12 12 13.22
Miami Dolphins 17 15 17 17 11 8 16 15 16 14.67
Cleveland Browns 16 16 14 16 14 16 15 16 17 15.56
San Diego Chargers 15 17 16 15 15 18 17 17 15 16.11
Buffalo Bills 18 18 18 18 18 15 18 18 18 17.67
Houston Texans 20 19 19 20 19 21 19 19 20 19.56
Chicago Bears 19 20 22 19 21 20 20 20 24 20.56
St. Louis Rams 23 21 21 25 20 19 23 20 19 21.22
New Orleans Saints 21 23 20 22 23 23 21 22 23 22.00
Atlanta Falcons 22 22 23 21 27 26 24 23 24 23.56
Minnesota Vikings 24 24 26 26 22 22 22 24 22 23.56
New York Giants 26 25 24 23 26 24 25 25 27 25.00
Carolina Panthers 25 26 25 25 25 27 26 26 26 25.67
Washington Redskins 27 28 27 30 27 28 30 29 25 27.89
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29 27 30 29 29 29 27 27 29 28.44
Tennessee Titans 28 30 31 28 28 25 29 28 30 28.56
New York Jets 30 31 29 27 30 30 28 30 28 29.22
Oakland Raiders 31 29 28 31 31 31 31 31 31 30.44
Jacksonville Jaguars 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32.00

Those are from various media outlets. Biggest disagreements are Bengals, Steelers and Dolphins. Biggest agreements are the Jaguars, Packers and Patriots. The tie between the Broncos and Cardinals is interesting, but mostly irrelevant, given that more media outlets have the Broncos ranked higher; there are simply some odd ducks that have the Broncos ranked 5th or 6th. Compare that to opponent-adjusted point differential:

Opponent-Adjusted Point Differential
PD Rank PD Team
1 13.1 New England Patriots
2 9.4 Denver Broncos
3 8.9 Miami Dolphins
4 8.6 Green Bay Packers
5 7.8 Kansas City Chiefs
6 6.3 Seattle Seahawks
7 5.0 Baltimore Ravens
8 4.6 Buffalo Bills
9 4.6 Arizona Cardinals
10 4.4 Indianapolis Colts
11 3.9 Philadelphia Eagles
12 3.6 San Diego Chargers
13 2.1 Dallas Cowboys
14 1.3 Detroit Lions
15 0.3 Cincinnati Bengals
16 0.3 Houston Texans
17 -0.5 Pittsburgh Steelers
18 -1.1 New Orleans Saints
19 -1.3 Cleveland Browns
20 -1.9 San Francisco 49ers
21 -2.4 St. Louis Rams
22 -3.5 Minnesota Vikings
23 -4.8 New York Giants
24 -5.5 Oakland Raiders
25 -5.6 Chicago Bears
26 -7.0 Washington Redskins
27 -7.6 Carolina Panthers
28 -7.7 New York Jets
29 -7.7 Atlanta Falcons
30 -8.7 Tennessee Titans
31 -9.3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
32 -9.7 Jacksonville Jaguars

Teams that point differential likes more than the media: Miami and Buffalo. Teams that point differential likes less than the media does: San Francisco and Dallas. The Miami trend will continue once we get into the systems. The losses Miami took are all good: Buffalo (who has a good point differential), Kansas City, Green Bay, Detroit and Denver. Playing Denver within three, Lions within four and Packers within three are all good signs. Their wins (including big ones over Buffalo, New England and the Chargers) tend to have a big margin of victory, too. 37 points over San Diego and 13 over New England and Buffalo are worth noticing.

Which is to say the Dolphins may not be going to the playoffs, but they’re better than teams that will be and are cursed with one of the most difficult strengths of schedule in the NFL (the highest of any team with a winning record, per Pro-Football-Reference and Football Outsiders—third-toughest by both systems).

Now for the different statistical outlooks. Again, these are from Advanced Football Analytics, Football Outsiders and my own efficiency system. Their systems do not express in terms of point differential, but I converted their scores into point differential. As a reminder, my own efficiency system takes into account the offensive and defensive opponent adjusted version of these variables: pass success rate, net yards per attempt, yards per carry, run success rate, touchdown rate, interception rate and fumble rate.

Statistical Systems Power Rankings
Effective Rank Effective PD AFA Rank Effective AFA PD FO Rank Effective FO PD Home Eff Rank Effective Home Eff PD Team
1 10.3 1 9.9 1 9.7 1 11.2 Denver Broncos
2 7.6 2 8.5 5 5.3 2 9.2 Miami Dolphins
3 6.7 3 6.6 3 6.7 4 6.9 Green Bay Packers
4 6.1 6 3.8 2 7.0 3 7.4 New England Patriots
5 3.9 8 3.3 7 3.9 8 4.3 Kansas City Chiefs
6 3.8 4 4.2 6 5.1 13 2.1 Seattle Seahawks
7 3.6 9 2.8 10 2.4 5 5.5 Dallas Cowboys
8 3.5 4 4.2 12 2.0 9 4.2 Indianapolis Colts
9 3.2 11 2.4 9 2.6 6 4.7 Buffalo Bills
10 3.0 12 1.9 4 6.1 14 0.9 Baltimore Ravens
11 2.7 6 3.8 11 2.1 12 2.3 San Francisco 49ers
12 1.8 15 1.4 15 1.0 10 3.1 Cincinnati Bengals
13 1.6 12 1.9 18 0.3 11 2.7 New Orleans Saints
14 1.0 22 -1.9 16 0.4 7 4.5 San Diego Chargers
15 0.6 16 0.9 8 3.4 23 -2.6 Philadelphia Eagles
16 0.5 17 0.5 13 1.9 19 -1.0 Pittsburgh Steelers
17 0.3 12 1.9 14 1.3 22 -2.2 Detroit Lions
18 -0.2 18 -0.5 17 0.4 17 -0.7 Arizona Cardinals
19 -0.7 9 2.8 19 -0.9 25 -3.9 Cleveland Browns
20 -1.5 21 -1.4 21 -2.5 16 -0.5 Houston Texans
21 -1.7 22 -1.9 22 -2.6 15 -0.5 Chicago Bears
22 -2.8 20 -0.9 30 -5.8 20 -1.5 Tennessee Titans
23 -3.0 25 -4.2 25 -4.2 18 -0.7 New York Giants
24 -3.3 18 -0.5 27 -4.8 27 -4.7 Washington Redskins
25 -3.7 30 -7.5 20 -1.7 21 -1.8 Atlanta Falcons
26 -4.3 29 -6.1 24 -4.0 24 -2.8 St. Louis Rams
27 -4.9 24 -2.4 29 -5.3 29 -7.1 Carolina Panthers
28 -5.4 26 -5.7 23 -3.7 28 -6.8 Minnesota Vikings
29 -6.0 26 -5.7 31 -8.1 26 -4.2 Jacksonville Jaguars
30 -6.9 31 -8.0 26 -4.8 30 -7.9 Oakland Raiders
31 -7.5 26 -5.7 28 -5.1 32 -11.7 New York Jets
32 -8.4 32 -8.5 32 -8.4 31 -8.4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As much as we look to immediate record and most recent results to inform our decisions, it turns out that the Denver Broncos are still performing better than any other team. Of course, we can be surprised by Miami’s ranking here, but maybe we shouldn’t be: they played bad teams out of the water (beating Oakland, Chicago and Jacksonville by 17 points on average), beat some good teams by a good amount and only had close losses to good teams.

For other teams who are undervalued by power rankings (or perhaps other teams whose performances and win totals don’t align yet): Washington and New Orleans are both performing better than the power rankings would suggest. On the other end of the spectrum: Arizona and Philadelphia are both overperforming relative to their national expectation.

Finally, the picks—each system has its record against the spread since Week 7 in parenthesis:

System Picks
AFA (.488) FO (.424) Eff (.500) PD (.505) Vegas
Detroit Lions by 6.8 Detroit Lions by 6.9 Detroit Lions by 1.9 Detroit Lions by 5 Detroit Lions by 7
San Francisco 49ers by 2.5 San Francisco 49ers by 0 San Francisco 49ers by 3.1 Seattle Seahawks by 2.6 San Francisco 49ers by 1
Dallas Cowboys by 4.9 Dallas Cowboys by 1.9 Dallas Cowboys by 8.4 Dallas Cowboys by 0.6 Dallas Cowboys by 3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 1.6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 1.3 Cincinnati Bengals by 3.5
Miami Dolphins by 11.1 Miami Dolphins by 7.4 Miami Dolphins by 11 Miami Dolphins by 6.8 Miami Dolphins by 7
Jacksonville Jaguars by 1.6 New York Giants by 1 Jacksonville Jaguars by 0.6 New York Giants by 1 New York Giants by 2.5
Pittsburgh Steelers by 1.6 Pittsburgh Steelers by 4.6 Pittsburgh Steelers by 0.5 Pittsburgh Steelers by 1.8 Pittsburgh Steelers by 4.5
Houston Texans by 2.5 Houston Texans by 6.3 Houston Texans by 3.7 Houston Texans by 6 Houston Texans by 6.5
Baltimore Ravens by 6.8 Baltimore Ravens by 8.7 Baltimore Ravens by 0.6 Baltimore Ravens by 2.2 Baltimore Ravens by 6.5
Indianapolis Colts by 7.7 Indianapolis Colts by 9.7 Indianapolis Colts by 8.9 Indianapolis Colts by 7.2 Indianapolis Colts by 10
Arizona Cardinals by 4.1 Atlanta Falcons by 0.9 Atlanta Falcons by 2.3 Arizona Cardinals by 4.6 Arizona Cardinals by 2.5
Carolina Panthers by 0.3 Minnesota Vikings by 4.6 Minnesota Vikings by 3.2 Minnesota Vikings by 3.5 Minnesota Vikings by 3
Buffalo Bills by 2.5 Buffalo Bills by 6.5 Buffalo Bills by 8.7 Buffalo Bills by 4.4 Buffalo Bills by 7
St. Louis Rams by 4.9 St. Louis Rams by 3.8 St. Louis Rams by 6.4 St. Louis Rams by 3 St. Louis Rams by 7
Green Bay Packers by 5.8 Green Bay Packers by 2.7 Green Bay Packers by 2.7 New England Patriots by 0.8 Green Bay Packers by 3
Denver Broncos by 3.6 Denver Broncos by 2.8 Denver Broncos by 1.6 Kansas City Chiefs by 0.7 Denver Broncos by 2

Go Vikings!

by -
0

Head coach Mike Zimmer, who usually doesn’t say a lot about injuries, indicated to the media earlier today that Jerick McKinnon wouldn’t be playing against the Carolina Panthers, according to Brian Hall.

Per Ben Goessling at ESPN, McKinnon said he had injured himself lifting weights.

What this means in terms of the Minnesota running back timeshare is unclear; now that Matt Asiata has been cleared for play after returning from his concussion and is the nominal number two. But with the addition of Ben Tate to the backfield, along with Joe Banyard’s excellent performance from last Sunday, nothing is guaranteed.

It may be best to assume a split between Banyard and Asiata, if only to have  a back known to get consistent yards (though that aspect of Asiata’s play is overstated) along with a running back that the Vikings may want to put on the field more if only to get a true evaluation of his ability as they figure out the running back position for next year.

Adjust your fantasy rosters accordingly.

Get Social

2,740FansLike
5,769FollowersFollow