Sunday, January 22, 2017

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Some aspects of following an NFL team are just plain silly and giving two hoots about a mascot are one of them. Unless you happen to be a pet detective, that is.

With that being said, Ragnar employed some attention-seeking (and probably money making) antics on FOX this morning that has drawn some reactions of disbelief and disgust from Vikings fans.

Ragnar, who reportedly wanted $20,000 per game on a ten year contract for his services, was not a renewed feature of the Vikings home experience following 2014.

Joseph Juranitch, the real name behind the Ragnar character, took part in the morning television bit that ultimately ended with him replacing his horns with a cheesehead and chanting “Go-Pack-Go.” This all seemed to leave former Vikings receiver, and current FOX personality, Randy Moss a little miffed.

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Bridgewater hitting his stride in year two

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

What makes a “good” quarterback? Is the idea of being “good” measured by the number of touchdowns a quarterback throws? Is it measured by his passing yards? His completion percentage? Ask any fan, analyst, or sports journalist who the league’s best quarterbacks are, and you’ll get similar answers. Year after year, it’s Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, and so on and so forth. The list remains relatively the same each year, with a select few alternating at the top of the rankings season-to-season. But how do we determine what qualifies them to be considered the NFL’s best?

For some, it’s film study and hours spent breaking down game tape. For others, it’s the statistics and the deeper analytics. And for a select few, it’s the blind faith in one’s quarterback, the unwavering opinion that he is, of course, a “good” quarterback. We can all agree that the tried-and-true quarterbacks deserve to operate in a class of their own. Some have won multiple Super Bowls, some throw for 4,000-plus yards each year, and some win double-digit games each season. It’s easy to see when a quarterback just “gets it;” he intimately understands an offensive scheme, from where to throw the football pre-snap to how to adjust protections at the line of scrimmage.

Fans of teams with young signal callers, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and our very own Minnesota Vikings, would tell you that their respective quarterbacks are the “best of the class.” At times, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, and Teddy Bridgewater display some of the same characteristics that make players like Brady and Brees so consistently effective. But for the most part, they make the mistakes you’d expect from young, inexperienced players, like missing the simple throws, forcing passes into coverage, or taking unnecessary sacks. The growing pains aren’t unexpected, but definitely frustrating in today’s world of instant gratification. As football fans, we expect immediate success from quarterbacks, when honestly, that’s rarely the case.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The final week of the 2015 season has all of the drama we suspected it might when the schedule was released way back at the beginning of the year. A showdown between Green Bay and Minnesota is set to kick off tonight with the division crown on the line.

With such a magnificent ending to the regular season impending we thought it would be nice to again reach east of the border and ask our friends at Packer Ranter another round of questions.

I successfully resisted my urge to ask him five straight questions about the Netflix docu-series Making A Murderer and kept things strictly about tonight’s big game.

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Image courtesy of vikings.com

At the end of a long holiday weekend lies presumably the most anticipated games of the 2015 season. After entering the season with plenty of optimism focused around a lot of rather unknowns, the Vikings have an opportunity to dethrone the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North.

There is plenty of reason to believe the Vikings have their best chance to do so in long, long time, but after taking a 30-13 lopsided loss in week 11 you have to give pause to consider how the Packers have flat out dominated the series in the last decade.

Many will assume that stopping Aaron Rodgers on defense is priority number one. However, if you look into how the Packers have won this season, you’ll realize finding balance on offense is their key to success.

Believe or not, without stopping the run, the Vikings defense doesn’t stand a chance stopping Rodgers.

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A data dump of interesting stats and splits for the Minnesota Vikings.

Random Vikings Stats Overload - Adrian Peterson December Breath
Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

When it comes to football analysis, I’d say there are three major camps. Some believe you can tell most of the story with stats alone. Another feels stats are meaningless, it’s about what your eyes tell you – it’s about watching the game. The final, and the one I believe I’m a member of, believes the truth falls somewhere inbetween.

I’m not an analytics fanatic and am not a football purist who believes there is no place in the game for data and fancy formulas. I see the value of both and think each is critical to form a well rounded opinion (or hot take!).

But there will be no tape discussion here today. There won’t be any screen grabs or animated gifs of interesting plays. What we are about to have here is a complete data dump.

While other people are on Facebook or Youtube, sometimes I randomly find myself on a site like Pro Football Reference using their play index and looking for interesting nuggets. Like who’s the best quarterback in the league in the 4th quarter on 3rd down with more than 15 yards to go? (Andrew Luck) Or which running back in the league has the most 20+ yard runs in away games? (Doug Martin)

See, isn’t that fun?

So because I get so much enjoyment out of digging for stats, I thought It’d be fun to find a bunch of, what I thought were, interesting nuggets and leave them here. I’m going to do my best to omit any sort of analysis or opinion and instead will leave that to you all in the comments.

However, I will point out some things along the way or further explain what exactly it is we’re looking at.

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