Thursday, November 26, 2015

Chris Tomasson, reporter for the Pioneer Press, loves to bring up Pro Football Focus grades for better or worse when talking to and about players and he did so once again when talking to struggling Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil (ranked as their third-worst offensive tackle). Kalil, like head coach Mike Zimmer had earlier in the season, didn’t take too kindly to Pro Football Focus’ grades (or their use in reporting, blogging or generic fan impressions).

“You can’t listen to some people who don’t know what they’re talking about, who want to go on Pro Football Focus, the website who they hire random fans and give them a training camp on how to grade people,’’ Kalil said Thursday. “And people want to live on that site when it’s not really a credible site.

“I’m not going against them because they hammer me. But I mean, it’s not a credible site. … They don’t know the blocking schemes, they don’t know who’s fault (a bad play might be).’’

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After a Week One performance that made it appear as if utility man Cordarrelle Patterson was ready to build on his impressive rookie season, something changed and he has been fading into the background of this Vikings team with haste.

Speculation has been everywhere regarding Patterson’s sudden dropoff in production and playing time.  There have been theories about undisclosed injuries or personality issues or clashes with the coaches.  The most popular theory, and the one that makes the most sense, is that Patterson is still the project we thought he was when he was drafted and that he needs to improve his route running before he can expect an increase in playing time.

The release of Jerome Simpson opened the door for Charles Johnson in Minnesota, but nobody can honestly tell you they expected Johnson to surpass Patterson on the depth chart at the time of his signing.  But that is exactly what has happened and it is clear, despite public endorsements of Patterson from Zimmer, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner clearly prefers Johnson in the lead wide out role.

Patterson has opened up at times throughout this frustrating season, previously expressing that he is not having as much fun in his sophomore season, but he recently took his concerns straight to the man in charge of the Vikings roster.

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Every now and then we get someone that wants to give this ol’ blogging thing a try.  Of course, we are happy for the added content and often hope the author succeeds as a Vikings writer, either here or elsewhere.  This is another post, of which I am particularly impressed with, so I hope you will all give Seth Forst’s first article here at VT and give him some supportive comments.


Author:  Seth Forst

One year ago, at this time, Teddy Bridgewater had just turned 21 years old. He was enrolled for his junior year at the University of Louisville, beginning preparation to play the University of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl.  Between then and now, Teddy has been up, down, and in-between.

From fans calling for their team to “Tank for Teddy” to the debacle that was his Louisville Pro Day, his perceived draft stock fluctuated in a volatile way. Fast forward to the afternoon of September 28th – Viking fans at TCF Bank Stadium loudly expressed their satisfaction with the play of Bridgewater (TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY), as he led the Vikings to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Then came the inevitable rookie struggles perhaps summed up by his performance in Chicago on November 16th, when Bridgewater finished the game 18/28 for 158 yards (5.6 YPA), 1 TD, and 1 INT. That’s a passer rating of 76.2 and a QBR of 21.3, for those keeping track at home.

Since the Bears game, however, the general consensus has been that Bridgewater is improving, and things are once again looking up (TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY).

Is perception reality? Let’s take a look at the passing numbers, and see what they tell us. I included his total ‘yards in air’, passing yards before any yards after catch, as a reference to how much he’s pushing the ball down the field. This can also shed light on completion percentage, given shorter passes are more likely to be completed than deep throws.

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According to Jason La Canfora at CBS, owners were informed that the 2015 Salary Cap for the NFL will rise, possibly up to $142 million.

The fact that it could rise even higher than that means a lot when it comes to contracts. Because the amount of space a player takes up on a team’s overall payroll is the only thing worth caring about when it comes to player contracts (unless you have a moral objection to a particular player or group of players drawing large sums of money), this changes the 2015 landscape for a number of teams, including the Vikings.

Here’s a table (courtesy of below with the 2015 cap hits for Vikings players and what percentage of the cap they take up. Next to the two different columns for the different caps is a column that looks at how much of the cap their average cap hit took up in the year they signed with Minnesota:

Player Signed Cap Hit Percent (138.6M Cap) Percent (141.8M Cap) Original Avg When Signed
Adrian Peterson 2012 $15,400,000 11.1% 10.9% 12.2%
Greg Jennings 2013 $11,000,000 7.9% 7.8% 7.3%
Chad Greenway 2011 $8,800,000 6.3% 6.2% 6.6%
Everson Griffen 2014 $8,200,000 5.9% 5.8% 6.4%
Phil Loadholt 2013 $6,750,000 4.9% 4.8% 5.1%
Kyle Rudolph 2014 $6,550,000 4.7% 4.6% 5.3%
Matt Kalil 2012 $6,290,644 4.5% 4.4% 4.1%
John Sullivan 2012 $5,750,000 4.1% 4.1% 3.9%
Brian Robison 2011 $5,450,000 3.9% 3.8% 4.3%
Matt Cassel 2013 $4,750,000 3.4% 3.3% 3.8%
Linval Joseph 2014 $4,600,000 3.3% 3.2% 4.7%
Captain Munnerlyn 2014 $3,833,333 2.8% 2.7% 2.9%
Brandon Fusco 2014 $3,550,000 2.6% 2.5% 3.2%
Ben Tate 2014 $2,950,000 2.1% 2.1% 2.2%
Anthony Barr 2014 $2,896,272 2.1% 2.0% 2.4%
Charlie Johnson 2011 $2,500,000 1.8% 1.8% 2.4%
Jerome Felton 2013 $2,500,000 1.8% 1.8% 1.8%
Harrison Smith 2012 $2,271,355 1.6% 1.6% 1.5%
Sharrif Floyd 2013 $2,202,600 1.6% 1.6% 1.7%
Xavier Rhodes 2013 $2,129,046 1.5% 1.5% 1.6%
Cordarrelle Patterson 2013 $1,969,376 1.4% 1.4% 1.5%
Teddy Bridgewater 2014 $1,556,705 1.1% 1.1% 1.3%
Marcus Sherels 2013 $1,250,000 0.9% 0.9% 0.9%
Andrew Sendejo 2013 $1,066,668 0.8% 0.8% 0.7%
Josh Robinson 2012 $950,250 0.7% 0.7% 0.6%
Jarius Wright 2012 $765,027 0.6% 0.5% 0.5%
J’Marcus Webb 2014 $745,000 0.5% 0.5% 0.2%
Rhett Ellison 2012 $735,146 0.5% 0.5% 0.3%
Robert Blanton 2012 $712,763 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Scott Crichton 2014 $705,507 0.5% 0.5% 0.6%
Gerald Hodges 2013 $690,027 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Blair Walsh 2012 $689,483 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Shaun Prater 2013 $660,000 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Audie Cole 2013 $660,000 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Jerick McKinnon 2014 $648,750 0.5% 0.5% 0.5%
Jeff Locke 2013 $631,048 0.5% 0.4% 0.5%
Michael Mauti 2013 $600,682 0.4% 0.4% 0.5%
Chase Ford 2013 $585,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Joe Banyard 2013 $585,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Zach Line 2013 $585,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
David Yankey 2014 $561,725 0.4% 0.4% 0.5%
Antone Exum 2014 $538,947 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Shamar Stephen 2014 $526,287 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Brandon Watts 2014 $525,612 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Jabari Price 2014 $525,455 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Antonio Richardson 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Austin Wentworth 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Charles Johnson 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%
Adam Thielen 2014 $510,000 0.4% 0.4% 0.4%

The total adds up to $129 million, which doesn’t account for the fact that perhaps half of the young players will end up cut cap-free or on the practice squad. the Vikings have a negligible dead space hit for 2015 (so far) at only $264,000. With new rookies coming in and some of these young players being pushed out, expect the cap number to be somewhere between $131-$133 million or so without any changes. That gives the Vikings somewhere between $5.6 million and $10.8 million. I’m not comfortable with that number, so expect to see some restructuring, trading or outright cutting when it comes to Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Greg Jennings and perhaps Brian Robison.

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Oft-injured linebacker Michael Mauti, who didn’t appear in last week’s injury report, has been placed on injured reserve by the Vikings, the team announced. There’s still no word on what kind of injury it was, but if it’s another knee injury, that may be it for Mauti’s career.

While at Penn State, the former stud linebacker prospect suffered from three separate ACL tears between both of his knees (as well as an ankle and shoulder injury). Once considered a late-first round, early-second round prospect, Mauti was drafted by the Vikings in the seventh round. Folks have had high hopes for him, both inside and outside of the organization, but he had yet to capture a starting spot or a primary backup spot with the team, instead operating as a special teams ace for the time being, despite the weakness the Vikings have had at the position.

With the open roster spot, the Vikings have signed tackle Carter Bykowski, a Minnesota native from Eden Prairie (which means he played for Bud Grant’s son, Mike Grant). He was picked in the seventh round by the San Francisco 49ers after playing for Iowa State, and spent two years on their practice squad before the Vikings signed him. The scouting reports on him from the 2013 draft are fairly varied. Gil Brandt loved his size and thought he deserved fourth-round consideration because of it. Here are the scouting reports from Draft Insider, FF Toolbox and ESPN:

Draft Insider:

Positive: Athletic offensive line prospect with nice upside to his game. Solid position blocker who makes good use of angles, keeps his feet moving, and seals opponents from the play. Works to bend his knees, quickly gets into blocks, and stays with the action. Large enough to turn defenders off the line and shows good footwork in pass protection. Improved as a pass blocker last season and shows better than average footwork off the edge.

Negative: Ducks his head and overextends in blocks. Possesses average strength and doesn E(TM)t finish off opponents.
Analysis: Bykowski is a late bloomer, yet a prospect who watched his game take off the past 18 months. He’s a practice-squad prospect who must improve his playing strength and refine his technique, but he is worth the investment on a practice squad.

Iowa State Cyclones offensive tackle Carter Bykowski began his career as a tight end and transitioned to the offensive line in his redshirt freshman year. Lacks ideal foot speed. Could play multiple spots depending on his development. Potential swing tackle that can provide depth. Above-average physicality when blocking. Finishes strong and always plays to the whistle. Developmental prospect who can be groomed into a specific role. Some suggest an eventual move to left tackle, but that may be a few years away as he learns to better handle speed on the edge.

Bykoski plays with an edge. However, he is a bit heavy-footed and struggles to move laterally against more explosive edge-rushers. He might be best suited to bump inside to guard at the NFL level.

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