Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Blog Page 145

Another week of preseason “action” has come and gone and Vikings fans have, for the most part anyways, not grown any more confident in the Christian Ponder led offense.  In fact, most seem to be getting less comfortable with how this offense is shaping up after Friday’s 16-20 loss in Buffalo.  The game was overall pretty sloppy, and it was hard to peer through the slop to try and learn anything, but I’ll give it a whirl anyways.

GRADE A

  • While the first team offense looked like Friday was perhaps their first time playing the game known as football, the defensive starters really did a nice job overall.  Were there a few blemishes throughout their time on the field?  Sure, but they were able to cover for each other and really limit Kevin Kolb (11 yds, 1 INT) and C.J. Spiller (27 rushing yards on 7 attempts).  Like we saw many times last year, the first team defense kept the game close while they were on the field, allowing only three points despite the offense hanging them out to dry on a number of occasions.
  • Last week I noted the lack of turnovers by out defense.  I really think they are close to being one of the NFL’s absolute best defenses, but they have to learn how to force turnovers and capitalize on opportunities before they’ll come close to earning such respect.  Jamarca Sanford seems to often be in the right place to make such plays, but frustratingly turns into Mr. McGoo when it comes to catching the ball.  After rookie corner Xavier Rhodes disrupted a Kevin Kolb pass on Friday, however, it was Sanford that made the diving grab that gave Minnesota possession of the ball.  We will need plenty of plays exactly like that one throughout this season to reappear in the playoffs, but we’ll need them against quarterbacks far more talented than Kold, too.
  • I know that the offense needs confidence.  I know that Adrian Peterson makes a big difference when he is on the field.  Still, I think one of the best things to come out of this game is that the NFL’s current MVP came out of it unscathed because he never played.  Leslie Frazier said Peterson is int he game plan for this coming preseason contest, but I can’t say I approve of playing him at all.

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It was a major disappointment when we had to leave our previous live chat host due to a… difference in opinion? In our opinion, it should have been free. In there opinion? Not so much… It was great getting to chat with everyone during the games. Ever since we left our previous chat provider, we’ve been searching diligently for a suitable alternative.

Finally, we have found one.

Better yet? This live chat will not just be during games. We’ve decided to make the chat room 24/7/365. That’s right! Anytime you have even the smallest inkling to talk it up with fellow Vikings fans and readers here at VT you can just visit the live chat.

Obviously, we expect everyone to be on their best behavior. Over time, we will likely incorporate additional “moderators” to keep everything PG-13 and respectable. But, we know that our readers are model-citizen Vikings fans and do not expect any issues.

The LIVE CHAT can be found by clicking that link. So, check it out, enjoy and let us know your thoughts. Also, I will hosting a live viewing of tomorrow’s preseason game at the Buffalo Bills (6 PM Central) in the chat room so make sure to stop by!

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Jerome Felton underwent an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday, according to numerous sources, but the recovery time is typically quick and he is expected to return to action in time for the Vikings regular season opener.

The combination of Felton’s absence, and Adrian Peterson’s extremely limited (if any) live-action reps, brings the battles for backup halfback and fullback spots to the forefront. With two starters mostly sidelined, it opens the door for others to get more reps and give the Vikings more reasons to keep them around in September, or allows the team to build a case that supports their release.

A guy like Zach Line, who scampered for a 61 yard touchdown last week after catching a Matt Cassel pass, seems in line for extra work during these three remaining preseason games.  If he can continue to make big contributions, and shows that he can be a versatile blocker and special teams player, the Vikings may have a very tough time trying to sneak him onto the practice squad.

In short, I’m looking forward to getting an extended look at the guys who play behind two Pro Bowl starters.  Who knows, if enough of the step up and have big-time showings, then maybe we start to hear a little more chatter about the possibility of Toby Gerhart being on the trading block.

One of the key fundamentals of sharp quarterback play is precise footwook. Christian Ponder and Matt Casell on the surface may have similar stats and appear to play the same typical West Coast game-manager style, however, it is their footwork that separates the two and consequently paints a picture of inconsistent play.

 Cassel is a technician when it comes to his 5 step drops. The former Pro Bowl QB has sharp quick strides and he is able to consistently make his reads and release the ball a bit quicker than Ponder. I also think Cassel gets the hand off to the running backs slightly sooner as well. Now, with that said, after 5 steps all bets are off. Ponder is much better at stepping up in the pocket, throwing on the run or making a play when things break down.

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Before Fridays preseason opener against Houston, we took time to check up on how the Vikings three first round selections were fairing in training camp.  Wide out Cordarrelle Patterson impressed on offense and special teams during the contest, while defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd made a pair of splash plays before exiting with what is believed to be a minor knee injury.  Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was held out of the action for precautionary reasons, but the expectation is that he will play this week.

So, as we get a week deeper into the preseason, I wanted to move a little farther down our draft board and see how the next three rookies are doing thus far in their very young careers.

GERALD HODGES, LB

After spending a fourth round selection on the fairly celebrated Penn State linebacker, many Vikings fans were excited about seeing him compete for a starting job on the weakside.  Deals with Marvin Mitchell and Desmond Bishop might just delay that from being a year-one reality.  On Friday, Hodges was a part of a third string unit that didn’t hold up very well, but both Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman went out of their way to praise him following the contest.  Spielman, however, stressed that both Hodges and Michael Mauti had put things on tape that weren’t so great and that they needed to learn from.  Hodges ended the game with three tackles, including one for a loss, and appears to be on the fast track to a special teams role and backup linebacker duties.

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