Sunday, October 4, 2015

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Shyam Das, the arbitrator in the hearing over Adrian Peterson’s time on the Exempt/Commissioner’s List, has ruled in the NFL’s favor. This hearing determined whether or not the NFL violated a contractual agreement with Adrian Peterson when they didn’t take him off the exempt list; this has nothing to do with Adrian Peterson’s current appeal about his discipline, but entirely about the fact that the NFL didn’t take Adrian Peterson off of the exempt list when he pled no contest to an assault charge.

The arbitrator ruled that the NFL “failed to establish” the NFL violated the letter agreement or the CBA by keeping him on the list. This means that instead of being active while the appeals process for his suspension goes through, Peterson will not count towards the Vikings’ roster or be eligible to be activated on game day.

I suppose the wording of the signed letter did not match the NFLPA’s insistence that there was a clear violation of good faith.

The NFL has released a statement indicating that they will suspend Adrian Peterson indefinitely, and for at least the rest of the year.


  • Adrian Peterson will be suspended for the rest of the year, possibly longer pending review. It’s an indefinite suspension that Peterson can end through a series of steps.
  • He must complete counseling and therapy towards a rehabilitative effort
  • He must not violate league policy or the law during the suspension
  • He must not violate any conditions imposed upon him as a result of the no contest plea
  • The NFL did not receive information outside of “some court papers related to the November 4 plea agreement.” They drew on statements from the pediatrician and “contemporaneous media reports.”
  • They will consider reinstatement on April 15.

The NFL argued that the severity of the decision came from three things:

  1. The age and power difference between Adrian Peterson and the child. “While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse,  none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child.”
  2. In the hands of an accomplished athlete, the switch is functionally a weapon.
  3. He has not shown “meaningful remorse” or understanding of what he did.

The NFL reiterated that the personal conduct policy gives them broad powers in this case, and that deferred judgments (the no contest plea) have historically been used by the NFL when enforcing policy. The CBA as negotiated gave the NFL enormous leeway, and the players are paying for it.

Though I didn’t predict this specifically, it’s not surprising. I had long predicted that counseling would be a big part of the punishment. Adrian Peterson has appealed the decision through the NFLPA, which have released a statement (in full below). In that statement, they argued that an NFL executive told them the NFL would consider any time on the exempt list as “time served,” which they clearly did not here. They further accuse the NFL of being inconsistent and arbitrary, and DeMaurice Smith went on air to say that the NFL has been “winging it,” which is almost certainly the case.

UPDATE: The NFL has responded to the accusation of reneging on a promise to consider any time on the exempt list as time served, per Albert Breer. 

There were aggravating circumstances in this case. The time (Peterson) missed on paid leave was taken into account in the discipline.

That means the NFL would have suspended him for at least 15 games before review.

For now, Peterson is back on the exempt list because of his appeal and will continue to be paid. He will meet with a doctor on December 1 to design his program.

For what it’s worth, I find it surprising and unlikely that an NFL executive said they would consider time on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List as time served, as they gave out a number of statements in the past week saying the opposite—though I would be equally surprised if Smith was outright lying.

Regardless of the appeal, Adrian will be out for quite some time. Florio reports at Pro Football Talk that despite rumors of a rift in the Vikings organization, they want Peterson back, universally. The statement from the NFL contains a misleading sentence, that he pled no contest to the reckless assault of the child. While that’s all technically true, the way it reads is inaccurate—he pled no contest to reckless assault, different from reckless assault to a child.

UPDATE: The Vikings have released a statement.

The NFL has informed the Vikings of today’s decision regarding Adrian Peterson. We respect the league’s decision and will have no further comment at this time.

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Though I have a full player review and rant on the coaching staff available at Vikings Journal, the greatest takeaway for me was not whether or not the offensive line did well (they didn’t) or whether there were hidden gems in Teddy Bridgewater’s performance (there sort of was, but it’s irrelevant amidst the bad play) or even if Josh Robinson played poorly (that’s complicated). The Vikings knew what they were up against and didn’t adjust throughout the game.

Though I have massive issues with the offensive playcalling, I saw the defense as more critical to the loss, because it wasn’t the points per game that was the issue, it was the points per drive. And the defensive playcalling and adjustment was the issue.

The biggest issue on the defense wasn’t the individual performance of the players, which when summed was excellent overall, but the use of the players. After learning that Josh Robinson was the alpha and omega of the Bears’ gameplan, the Vikings did exactly nothing. They didn’t bracket over Robinson, they didn’t give him help, they didn’t transition his coverage assignments and they didn’t switch up their approach.

Though the Vikings love to blitz and send additional pass rushers, often necessitating man coverage, the Bears have struggled against zone defenses in general, pitting a defender’s instincts and ability to read the quarterback against Jay Cutler’s decisionmaking. More importantly, they diminished the impact that specific matchups would have and minimize the problems of a smaller defender.

The Vikings have watched enough Bears film to know this to be the case, but entered the game without another plan just in case the height issues would bite them in the first half. After seeing Robinson get toasted time and again, they didn’t give him help. And in critical moments of the game, they changed very little. Sometimes, the Cover-2 defense is the exact appropriate response, despite what Vikings fans are haunted by in previous years.

For those who take stock in Pro Football Focus grades, the Vikings defense only had two players below -1.0 and five above +1.0. The aggregate grade was 11.6. It was a net positive day for the sum of the individual players, but a defense is only as strong as its weakest link, and the Vikings stubbornly didn’t account for that link.

The best players, according to Pro Football Focus were Everson Griffen (+5.4), Sharrif Floyd (+4.3), Captain Munnerlyn (+2.7), Joe Berger (+2.1) and Harrison Smith (+2.0). The worst players were Josh Robinson (-3.3), Corey Wootton (-2.2), Matt Asiata (-2.1), Matt Kalil (-2.1) and Kyle Rudolph (-2.1).

I take exception to Berger’s high grade, because I felt he was playing outside of his assignment on a number of plays and played with confusion in open space. He allowed two quarterback hurries extremely quickly and though helped create lanes in the running game, allowed just as many to collapse.

Phil Loadholt’s low grade is also a bit harsh in my eyes. Though he was responsible for the late Willie Young sack (and it looked bad), I thought his day was largely positive. Their grade for John Sullivan is a little friendlier than I thought it would be because of some miscues on his end, but I’ll not contest it too much.

Advanced stats:

Unit ANYA YPC Run Success Rate Points Per Drive Drive Success Rate
Vikings Offense 4.06 6.00 31.3% 1.40 57.9%
Vikings Defense 6.98 4.45 61.3% 2.33 81.8%


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The injury report and inactives list has been released for the Vikings game at the Chicago Bears. First, the Vikings report:

Crichton, Scott DE Hip DNP FP Questionable Inactive
Harris, Mike T Ankle DNP Questionable Inactive
Prater, Shaun CB None N/A Inactive
Line, Zach FB None N/A Inactive
Watts, Brandon LB None N/A Inactive
Yankey, David G None N/A Inactive
Gray, MarQueis TE None N/A Inactive
Rudolph, Kyle TE Abdomen/Groin LP FP FP Probable Active
Ford, Chase TE Foot FP FP FP Probable Active
McKinnon, Jerick RB Low back LP FP Probable Active

Kyle Rudolph is officially back, like everyone expected, and Jerick McKinnon is active (also as expected). The only players who were questionable were Harris and Crichton and neither of them are playing because they don’t offer much over the players they play underneath anyway. MarQueis Gray is the casualty as the Vikings primary corps of 3 TEs is healthy once again.

It seems like the Vikings are still interested in passing game options, however, as all the receivers are active, including the recently emergent Charles Johnson (which is a relative term, of course). Starting in place of Vlad Ducasse is once again Joe Berger. Ducasse is healthy, but Berger is better. There’s not much from an injury perspective that’s interesting for the Vikings.

Britton, Eben G/T Illness DNP DNP DNP Out Inactive
Mills, Jordan T Ribs DNP DNP DNP Doubtful Inactive
Morgan, Josh WR Shoulder DNP DNP DNP Questionable Inactive
Sharpton, Darryl LB Hamstring LP LP DNP Out Inactive
Mitchell, Terrance CB Illness DNP FP Probable Inactive
Scott, Trevor DE Knee DNP DNP Out Inactive
Annen, Blake TE None N/A Inactive
Bennett, Martellus TE Ribs DNP LP FP Probable Active
Jennings, Tim CB Knee DNP FP FP Probable Active
Marshall, Brandon WR Ankle DNP LP LP Probable Active
Washington, Cornelius DE Illness DNP FP FP Probable Active

We expected both Bennett and Marshall to be active, and that means newly promoted Blake Annen isn’t going to see the field. Unfortunately for the Vikings, the Bears will have their third receiver active for the first time in Marquess Wilson. I was a fan of his coming out of the draft and wouldn’t be surprised if he got some gains against the Vikings.

Michael Ola will start at right tackle for the Bears in absence of starter Jordan Mills (who is terrible anyway), with Brian de la Puente (a center) playing at left guard. Ola has played both guard and tackle positions this year and only has been marginally acceptable at the left guard position, the position he was originally slated to play without the Mills injury. De la Puente has been an excellent center this year for the Bears without Roberto Garza, but I’m not sure how he’ll do in the mentally less demanding but physically more stressful position at left guard. Ola has put together a +8.0 rating in two games at left guard and -7.3 rating in six other games everywhere else. At tackle specifically, he’s pulled together a -4.2 rating in three games.

The Bears are still vulnerable to rushing from the right side of their offense (where Brian Robison resides) and so the Vikings should find ways to seek advantages there, whether that means switching to under fronts on occasion to stress the right guard-right tackle connection or overloading rushers to that side. Either way, the disruption there and potential communication issues give the Vikings their best chance to create uncertainty and overcome any potential matchup problems in the secondary.

Other than that (fairly significant) offensive line report, the injuries don’t mean much except insofar as Wilson may see the field, and that wouldn’t be a great thing (though again, he’s neither Brandon Marshall nor Alshon Jeffrey).

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