Thursday, May 28, 2015
Blog Page 177

Well, that was a crazy game.  It didn’t mean a whole lot, but here are ten random things you should know following all the chaos:

1.  The Vikings are currently slotted to have the 4th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Houston, St. Louis (via Washington), and Atlanta are the only teams currently slotted to pick in front of the Vikings.  Assuming the Vikings lose to the Eagles this week, they should end up with the third slot a week from now, because Atlanta and Washington play each other this week.  Houston will play Indianapolis.

2.  The Ravens and Vikings saw six lead changes in the fourth quarter on Sunday.  That is an NFL record, officially making it one of the craziest endings in history.

3.  As if the double fist pump by the official upon announcing the Ravens final touchdown on Sunday wasn’t enough, the refs’ performances from Sunday are under heavy scrutiny.  Almost every Vikings coach, player, fan, and media member have stated publically that the game was handled in ridiculous fashion.  Leslie Frazier said he got a call from the NFL on Monday, and that it was unsolicited, so it wouldn’t be too big of a surprise to hear that others higher up the chain also felt our team was at an artificial disadvantage.

4.  Adrian Peterson immediately took to Twitter following the game to call out the refs and said Ravens fans are a no-good snowball-throwing fanbase.  Both Peterson and Frazier have mentioned getting hit by snowballs in Baltimore.  I’m not sure that calling out an entire city was Peterson’s smartest move, especially after a loss, but I could certainly understand the frustration.  Hey, at least these next two years playing outdoors in Minnesota are sure to be void of drunken fans that think it is acceptable to throw… umm, uh oh.

5.  Peterson gave us all a scare when he went to the ground on Sunday and didn’t get up, but instead lay on the ground flailing around in obvious agony.  Peterson will see a foot specialist soon, but the good news is that they have yet to find any major breaks, tears, or other horrible things.  The team, in my opinion, should still consider shutting him down for the season, but it seems unlikely that this foot injury will have any impact on the 2014 season.

6.  The crazy day didn’t end at the stadium.  Vikings players took to Twitter to complain that their team plane was sitting on the runway when a catering truck struck the plane, causing them to seek an alternate aircraft.  A plane had to come in from Detroit to pick them, delaying their takeoff by about three hours, and it just seemed like a fitting end to the day.  Somewhere, regarding caterers, Randy Moss is saying “Told Ya’ll.”

7.  Peterson is big news, but he isn’t the only injury plaguing this team right now, and the list is actually quite lengthy.  The Vikings have officially placed tight end Kyle Rudolph on injured reserve and wide out Greg Childs on the PUP list.  Tight end John Carlson will have to pass concussion tests this week in order to continue filling in for Rudolph.  Toby Gerhart has filled in nicely for Adrian Peterson at times this season, but a strained hamstring suffered in Baltimore could slow him up a bit.  Xavier Rhodes has really started to look like a top-tier cornerback in recent weeks, but he is also hobbled from a sprained ankle.

8.  While the injuries are stacking up, at least one promising young player is on the mend and appears close to returning.  Safety Harrison Smith is rumored to be set to return this week.  The big-hitting safety could breath some life into this defense upon his return, but it is too little too late, and one has to wonder if the Vikings shouldn’t just keep him out and focus on being more successful next year.

9.  This team is discovering some of it’s less experienced talent is looking to be quite talented as the get more experience (got that?  good.).  Cordarrelle Patterson had the best overall performance of his young career and is looking like one of the best rookie wide outs in the NFL, and is certainly the most versatile.  Andrew Sendejo got his first career interception on Sunday, had a second called back on that Chad Greenway interference call, and should easily be a starting safety on this team moving forward even after Smith returns.  Xavier Rhodes may have been hurt on Sunday, but not before he broke the record of Orlando Thomas for passes defended by a rookie with 20.  Audie Cole led the Vikings with 13 tackles and had another decent showing in his third consecutive start.

10. The Vikings are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.  Just in case you were still holding out hope.

Don’t forget, during today’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, we here at VT will be hosting a discussion all game long on our Chat Page.  Join us if you can!

The Vikings inactives for this game are:  CB Josh Robinson, DT Chase Baker, G Jeff Baca, TE Kyle Rudolph, QB Christian Ponder, WR Rodney Smith, and T Mike Remmers.

With Ponder inactive due to the concussion suffered last week, Matt Cassel will get the start under center and Josh Freeman will act as the primary backup.  Both Chris Cook and Erin Henderson are expected to start today, with Henderson moving to the weak side spot and Cook reeling from an awful performance against the Bears that ended with an ejection.

The Vikings are fairly healthy and preparing to do battle with a team that has perhaps been even more disappointing this season than Minnesota has been.  It should be an interesting game with plenty of individuals to keep an eye on as we get closer and closer to the 2014 offseason.

Linebacker Erin Henderson hasn’t seen any playing time these last two weeks, after his drunk driving arrest was made public, but that will change this week.  Also, after getting ejected from last week’s game for making contact with an official, cornerback Chris Cook should return to his starting post.

Cook’s disappointing contract season hit an all-time low last Sunday as Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery repeatedly abused Cook on his way to a record-setting performance.  Cook’s early exit was the result of frustration on his part, supposedly because the referee had failed to call a penalty for what Cook thought was offensive pass interference on Jeffery.

Cook has been fined $26,250 by the NFL, a standard fine for making contact with an official, but already had his agent appeal it.  It’d be a pretty big shock if he won any sort of appeal.

Cook, who avoided the media following the game and has stayed away from social media (presumably to avoid people like me) all week, admitted he needs to keep his cool and that he has a lot riding on these last four games.

“I know I have to keep my composure, that’s basically what [Frazier] told me, that was the big thing,” Cook said via 1500ESPN. “I was just frustrated with some things that happened in the game, lost my composure. I can guarantee it won’t happen again. ”

Coach Leslie Frazier expressed to Cook that the nature of the cornerback position means you will be on the wrong end of a lot of big plays and that a key part of being successful is handling those moments better than Cook handled it last weekend.  With Cook’s rookie contract nearly up, and with him still struggling as a player and as a personality, it is looking more and more likely that Rick Spielman will let his former second rounder enter free agency unrestricted.

Henderson started this season as the team’s middle linebacker, but has officially lost his job after his arrest open the door for Audie Cole to have back-to-back performances that show promise, and we have now learned what many of us suspected all along.  This week, speaking with the media, Leslie Frazier admitted that having Henderson play in the middle was not the team’s first choice and that the results of the Draft made him the best choice by default.

“He was moved to the ‘Mike’ linebacker position not necessarily because that’s what we wanted to do, but that was the plight that we were in,” Frazier said. “He didn’t come in a year ago as our middle linebacker. There were some things that happened over the offseason that resulted in him being our middle linebacker. He’s a very good outside backer and expect him to play well on Sunday.”

As 4-3 outside linebackers go, Henderson has been one of the better weakside guys in the NFL since Ben Leber left the vacancy open, and it’ll be interesting to see how he plays at his intended spot.  Henderson talked a big game prior to the season, denouncing the critics and the speculation surrounding the team’s decision to sign Desmond Bishop, but now Henderson admits he heard what was being said and that it impacted him personally.

“I have a lot of things to be happy about and thankful for, aside from all the naysayers and haters everybody else who’s had different things to say about me throughout the year,” Henderson said. “Sometimes I let it get to me and get down too much. I’ve come to grips with it and come to terms with it and I’m able to look at myself and know the man that I am and accept it.”

Cole is intriguing.  Henderson moving back to the weakside is interesting.  However, what most has my curiosity up is the question of who the Vikings were targeting in April’s Draft that was going to be the solution, and why Rick Spielman was unable to haul his guy in despite having (by the end of the night) three first round picks at his disposal.

I’m not saying the three picks he made were bad ones, I love this year’s rookie class, but it was no secret all offseason long that middle linebacker was a huge need for the Vikings and Rick Spielman’s inability to find a fix is a glaring mistake on his record.  It isn’t like this problem can simply be blamed on injuries or suspension, this appears to be a flat-out swing and a miss.

And, in somewhat out-of-character fashion, Frazier seems to have gone out of his way to let the world know that he was given second-tier options at arguably the defense’s most important position.

 

With Christian Ponder yet to pass the concussion tests required for him to suit up, and Josh Freeman still mysteriously riding the bench, the Vikings sound as if they’ll ride the hot hand of Matt Cassel for at least another week.

The weekly quarterback updates this season have been almost as tiring as all of the losses, but it is still important to note that Cassel will get the nod against Baltimore this week.  As of now, Leslie Frazier acknowledged that Cassel will start and Freeman will back him up, but qualified his statements by saying that could change should Ponder make quick progress.

“More than likely, Matt Cassel is going to end up being our starter for this ballgame,” Frazier said. “We’ll proceed accordingly, with Josh (Freeman) as his backup, understanding where Christian is, in trying to pass those tests. … It’ll probably be tough (for Ponder). If he were able to practice (Thursday), maybe — but we’re not planning on it.”

By pretty much every unit of measurement, Cassel has been the Vikings most successful quarterback this season, and for a coach who desperately needs to accumulate some wins it seems like the most logical choice by a long shot.

The overtime victory against the rival Bears on Sunday was a positive step for Vikings fans that just wanted the team to prove they still know how to win football games, but a step back for those that want to see the Vikings nab the first overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft.

The mixed emotions about this win don’t end there, though.  A win is a win, but this was not a pretty one, and there is certainly a great deal of things we saw on Sunday that were beyond worrisome.  I’ve decided to split the difference and will look at five things I liked and five things I didn’t following the 23-20 victory.

FIVE POSITIVES

1.  Matt Cassel Shows Stones

When Christian Ponder had to exit early it was Matt Cassel, not Josh Freeman, who was dressed and ready to take the reigns.  Cassel came in as a reserve, but played in a way that should clearly give him a leg up in the quarterback conversation in Minnesota.  He went 20 for 33 and a touchdown.  His lone pick was not his fault in the slightest, as tight end Rhett Ellison bobbled a perfect strike, and it really should have ended up being a second touchdown on the statline.  The only reason it wasn’t a touchdown for the Bears, by all appearances, was Cassel’s hustle as he chased down linebacker Khaseem Greene after he returned the ball for 49 yards.  Cassel may not be the starter next week against Baltimore, because no decision regarding this team ever seems to be the obvious one, but he showed up big after the Vikings offense netted just 16 passing yards through the first half with Ponder at the helm.

2. Nobody Does It Better

Much was written about Adrian Peterson’s greatness Monday, after the future Hall of Famer broke the 10,000 rushing yard threshold Sunday, but I’m so in awe of his everyday accomplishments that I can’t even begin to put into words how prolific his career has been thus far.  Peterson ran for 211 yards on 35 carries (6.0 yard average) against the Bears and seemingly willed the offense down the field at times, including moments in the fourth quarter and in overtime, and you just know he is the still a player that makes his team a competitor week-in and week-out.  Even when they are a bad team.

Get Social

2,725FansLike
5,039FollowersFollow