Sunday, February 1, 2015
Blog Page 123

Well, the Warwas clan has officially purchased their first house and are all moved in, albeit with much chaos and little organization.  Very importantly, however, we have our DirecTV tuned in and the internet working.  In other words:  I’m back.

I’ve missed a lot in the last couple of weeks, so here are a gathering of thoughts for you to chew on during this (yawn!) bye week.

QUARTERBACKS

Christian Ponder’s bruised rib seems sketchy.  Almost as sketchy as expecting Matt Cassel to be any sort of real answer.  Both players are failing the “eye test” and the Vikings delayed the inevitable, via a well-timed sack of Big Ben, which is blowing up the quarterback position and starting fresh in 2014.  I still firmly believe it is coming.

BILL MUSGRAVE

Remember when the Vikings reportedly pursued Josh McDaniels as their offensive coordinator before settling for Musgrave?  I find myself wondering if Christian Ponder’s career path would be different under new direction.  I also find myself wondering if Musgrave’s scheme is too complicated for the now-truncated preparation period NFL teams have in the offseason and preseason under the new CBA.  His offense seems to have started slow two years in a row now.

THE DEFENSE

Things are such a mess right now on defense that I can’t even begin to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong.  Is the idea that they could gamble more backfiring despite Xavier Rhodes being as good as advertised?  Did the defensive line really age that much in one year?  Are the linebackers just not talented?  Is the scheme outdated?  You tell me, because I’m at a loss, and apparently Alan Williams is, too.

 Ben Roethlisberger marched the Steelers down to the 6-yard line in the final drive looking to tie the game with a touchdown. With 19 seconds left in the game and the Vikings clinging to a 34-27 lead, Everson Griffen strip-sacked Big Ben and Kevin Williams recovered the ball to seal the first win of the season for Minnesota.

 The 83,518 fans that packed Wimbley Stadium in London saw a hard-fought exciting football game that was full of big plays.

Greg Jennings made two touchdown grabs, Adrian Peterson had two touchdown runs, Matt Cassel was 16 of 25 for 248 yards and no turnovers, and the defensive line lead by Jared Allen’s 2.5 sacks put pressure on Roethlisberger all game.

It’s hard to get excited after just one win in four tries, but the Vikings took five important steps forward:

 A) The defense got the monkey off their back by making a play late in the game to preserve a win.

B) The offense didn’t turn the ball over or make costly mistakes.

C) The offensive line looked more like the O-line from last season.

D) The wide receivers finally found the end zone.

E) The defense was able to consistently put pressure on the QB.

 

 If the Vikings can continue to do those things well… they will be a very difficult team to beat.

 

 A fractured rib will sideline Christian Ponder on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in London. Matt Cassel will get his first start for the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings as he takes on his former head coach Todd Haley who is now an assistant with the Steelers.

 Cassel is still considered the “backup” to Ponder… but a good performance could land him an extended opportunity to lead the Vikings after next week’s bye week.

 Cassel has started three times against the Steelers in his career. He has thrown for 571 yards, two touchdowns, three picks, completed under 50% of his attempts and has a 60.5 passer rating during those games.

 Those stats look very Ponderish to me, so I guess I will just keep my optimism to myself and hope for the best. Let’s just say I have my fingers crossed that a Vikings’ wide reciever will finally catch a touchdown pass.

 Go Vikings!

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, friend and former teammate of Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel, may have accidentally broke some inside news.

According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, Brady was talking about his former backup quarterbacks, Cassel and current Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, in general when he said the following:

“I’m friends with both those guys,” Brady said. “Matt Cassel, who may be starting this weekend. Brian, I text back and forth.”

It was discovered Wednesday that Vikings starter Christian Ponder has injured ribs from  last week’s loss and was limited in practice. Cassel got more repetitions in practice while Ponder rested.

“If I can’t fulfill my duties, then Matt’s going to step in and play,” Ponder said, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today.

Head coach Leslie Frazier wouldn’t comment much on the subject, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

“We want to see how Christian does today,” Frazier said. The coach said he hasn’t necessarily started game-planning for backup Matt Cassel, but wouldn’t really have to alter the game plan if Cassel is the starter.

Meanwhile, Cassel says Ponder looked just fine.

“He looked like Christian,” Cassel said. “He looked great, and he was throwing the ball fine.”

Yeah.

There is some fishy business here. Remember last year’s Wild Card game? Ponder’s injury was revealed early in the week leading up to the game, but the team was coy about the injury and was vague leading up to the game. The team had both comments of optimism and vagueness on different occasions in their comments to the press. They did not reveal that Ponder would not play until minutes before the game. But looking back, there was no way he was going to play in that game, based on the severity of the bruise on his throwing arm.

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With plenty of blame to go around in the Vikings’ disappointing 0-3 start, fans are calling for a change at quarterback.

For those at Mall of America Field on Sunday afternoon, fans were heard chanting for backup quarterback Matt Cassel at various moments of the game—including the final play when quarterback Christian Ponder was sacked to end the game.

Ponder is reportedly on a much shorter leash than people think, but head coach Leslie Frazier said after the game that he doesn’t foresee making a switch at quarterback after he watches film from the game.

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