Sunday, March 29, 2015
Blog Page 148

Quarterback Josh Freeman will continue to ride out the 2013 season as the third-string quarterback for at least another week.  Freeman is inactive for today’s game against Chicago.

The rest of the Vikings inactive players are:  CB Josh Robinson, DT Chase Baker, G Jeff Baca, T Mike Remmers, WR Rodney Smith, and TE Kyle Rudolph.

Linebacker Erin Henderson is active this week, but Audie Cole had a nice debut in his absence last week and is again expected to get the start.

The Bears will be without S Major Wright, QB Jay Cutler, and LB Lance Briggs today.

Join us in our VT Chat Room during today’s actions.

When Rick Spielman decided to win a bidding war with Chicago for the services of right tackle Phil Loadholt, he was willing to make veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield a casualty by sending him packing.  At the time, I opined that the Vikings not only lost their best cornerback as a result, but that they also lost their best linebacker and defensive leader.

Then, through free agency and the NFL Draft, the Vikings refused to make considerable investment into the linebacker position despite numerous opportunities.  Some third day Draft picks, and injury-prone free agent Desmond Bishop, amounted to no immediate upgrade to the starting linebacker positions.  Instead, the team was willing to move forward with Erin Henderson manning the middle.

Now, I am on record as being supportive of Henderson.  I think he has played better than many fans give him credit for.  Until last week, he led the team in tackles.  Only ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison have more sacks than his three.  He leads the Vikings with nine tackles for a loss, is tied for a team lead with two interceptions, and leads all the linebackers with three defended passes.  Those stats, however, have not been enough for fans and analysts to grant Henderson immunity from criticism as the Vikings currently place 29th in pass defense and 24th against the run.

Henderson was expected to step up, take command of the defense, and instead the entire unit has been on a season-long campaign of collapse.  With Winfield gone, and Kevin Williams and Jared Allen clearly on their way out, it seemed natural to look for a leader on defense to ease the transition.  Instead, Henderson has been at the center of a defense that has shown no ability to stop opponents, and instead of being a vocal leader that speaks of consistency and accountability he has found himself in the center of controversy.

That is exactly what you don’t look for in a team leader.

Last week, news broke that Henderson had been picked up for DWI and possession of a controlled substance.  The details are murky right now, and he claims this isn’t the “personal reason” he had for missing last week’s game, but Henderson has a long ways to go before anybody will consider him a legitimate leader on defense.

Henderson counts as the third Vikings player in three weeks to hit the police blotter, which prompted General Manager Rick Spielman to release a public statement, and the Vikings brass cannot be happy about any of this.  Surely this issue will come up when end-of-season evaluations of Henderson’s value are being performed and I can’t imagine the front office will be content relying so heavily on him in 2014 and beyond.

Perhaps the best case scenario, for Henderson, is to end up back at the weakside spot.

That would certainly seem like a preferred alternative to being out of a job.

 The Vikings are set to tangle with the division rival Chicago Bears this weekend at the Metrodome. It’s a game that usually has me buzzing all week most seasons… not so much this year.

 The Vikings match up pretty well with the Bears this time around and actually have a solid chance to win this game. Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are coming off a combined season high 239 yards rushing on 40 carries last week at Lambeau Field and you can expect to see more of the same again this week.

The Bears are giving up 4.9 yards per carry and currently ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing defense allowing 145.2 yards per game. Last week the Bears’ defense let the Rams run the ball 29 times for 258 yards. That’s a whopping 8.9 yards per carry! Ouch.

 So, why am I not trash and smack talking to all the Bears fans I work with? I guess because maybe it’s a meaningless game. Or, maybe I’ve just thrown in the towel on this disheartening season? In any case, my psychologist told me that I just need to forget about wins and losses, draft positions, coaching fixes, injuries and arrests… and just focus on enjoying a good football game.

The last Vikings game I really got fired up to enjoy was way back in week two. I was seated one row from the top at Soldier Field during a rainy contest that unfortunately saw the Vikings fall short to the Bears in the final seconds of an exciting 30-31 ballgame. Yes, I know first hand that when these two teams get together it will usually result in an entertaining affair.

I’m counting on another engaging contest between the Vikings and the Bears this Sunday. A week 13 win just seems fitting. Wins have been few and far between lately… so why not enjoy this one? Punching the Bears in the mouth would be the highlight of the year for me.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Metrodome really rocking one last time? And, I think the Vikings can win one more game and still land a quality, gritty, big-armed senior QB like Fresno State’s Derek Carr or LSU’s Zach Mettenberger come draft time.

 Go Vikings! My pulse still beats for the purple.

 

The Vikings season is not over yet, but it is certainly dead, and before we get too far ahead of ourselves by looking towards the offseason for quick fixes, I wanted to look closer into the causes of death.  In this series we will look at the long list of reasons this season has been such an epic failure.  Up first, my good buddy, cornerback Chris Cook.

Today, I had a bit of an online scuffle with Cook, after he let the world know that he was “still in bed” on his day off I noticed that many of his teammates were volunteering at a Children’s Hospital at that very moment.  Then, chippy bastard that I am, I suggested that maybe Cook’s tweet about taking a day off was actually meant to be posted on Sunday.  He then decided he had seen enough of me and told me to “get a life” and promptly blocked our VT account from communicating with his.

He then went on a little rant stating “I swear some people live to try and make other people look bad” and “I guess I’m not allowed to have a day off!”  I assume the people that he is referring to are all NFL wide outs.

He then went on to say “laptop thugs are the worst.”  I would actually argue that, you know, real thugs are worse.  Whatever, though, different chokes for different folks.  He then suggested that he would like to be rude, presumably back to me, but that the “little birdie called media” prevents him from doing so.

Now perhaps I didn’t utilize much tact in my tweets, and didn’t show much respect, but the fact is Chris Cook is my least favorite Vikings player we’ve had in a long time and his social media habits in contrast to, say, Greg Jennings is one of the reasons for it.  I can’t think of a single moment, in almost four full seasons, that I have been proud to see Cook wearing a horn on his helmet.

Injuries, an arrest involving a firearm, and an arrest for felony domestic assault by strangulation have caused him to be one of team’s least reliable players over the last four years.  He only played in six games his rookie season, six in 2011, 10 in 2012, and eight so far this year.  When he does manage to stay on the field, however, the results have not been very impressive.

Through 30 games played (26 starts) Pro Football Reference credits Cook with a career stat line of 84 tackles, one sack, and 13 defended passes.  That means he has zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles, zero recoveries, and virtually no big plays to his name whatsoever.  Turnovers aren’t the only measure of a defender in the NFL, but a lack of them has been a big reason the Vikings secondary continues to look miserable.

Cook is far from the worst talent the Vikings have at the position, but he has failed to live up to the hype that caused the Vikings to draft him in the second round in 2010, and he doesn’t seem to have progressed at all since last year.  You wouldn’t expect a player of his size to play so soft so consistently, but he does, and the result is a player as unintimidating in coverage as he is in run defense.

Rick Spielman and Brad Childress made Cook their top choice in 2010, but Childress is long gone and Cook is now in the final year of his rookie deal.  Cook was acquitted of both his felony charges, after the Vikings essentially paid him to stay home, and Judd Zulgad has reported a few times that his presence on the roster didn’t sit well within the locker room at that time.

Cook is going to be a unrestricted free agent following this season.  The Vikings could likely keep him around for another year on the cheap, but it remains to be seen if they have any interest in doing so.  Nearly every week he has been a giant question mark since joining the team and never once has he appeared to be any sort of answer.

One thing is for sure, though, and that is that the Vikings surely won’t be content relying on Cook going into 2014 and will be forced to search for more upgrades at the corner position.

Stay tuned for the next version of our Autopsy Report on the 2013 season.  I might even update you all on whether or not I finally got a life.

This Vikings season is just depressing.  Not only did Sunday’s tie against Green Bay and their fourth round quarterback seem completely unfulfilling, it left us scheduled for the fourth overall draft pick instead of the first.

The failures on the field this season are disappointing and only serve to magnify the failures off the field, and in the front office, every time they become evident.  If the Vikings were three games above .500 right now, and the playoffs within reach, the arrest and subsequent release of an inconsistent reserve would barely register as mentionable.

Instead, Monday’s news of A.J. Jefferson’s domestic assault arrest provides even more venom for frustrated fans to spit at Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier, and the Wilf empire as a whole.  Jefferson has seldom shown us anything better than terrible since Spielman traded away a late-round 2013 pick to obtain him and the arrest made it easy for them to part ways with him.

I’ve said before that one of the reasons I hoped Frazier would not be fired after this season was the lack of arrests and other off-field distractions plaguing the team since he took over.  Frazier had virtually had no players arrested under his watch for over a year until Jerome Simpson was tagged with a DWI last week.

With players landing in the clink two weeks in a row, and Frazier’s on-field product looking mighty miserable, even a supportive sort of guy like me is running out of excuses for the calmest coach in the NFL.

The Vikings needed help in the secondary before Jefferson’s release.  Now it seems all but certain we’ll see a new face on this roster before the upcoming Chicago game.

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