Tuesday, December 1, 2015

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For the most part, the Minnesota Vikings are playing a bit part in the opera the Redskins are putting on at TCF Bank Stadium, with the actual play on the field a potential afterthought to everything surrounding what is seemingly a dysfunctional organization.

Aside from the fact that things were fated to go awry with the Washington team as soon as a team bus carrying the players and coaches got involved in a bus wreck with a police escort, but even before that we heard news of protestors organizing against the Washington team name—and they expected 5000 people to show up, evidently the largest such showing against Washington’s team name ever.


That wasn’t the entirety of the dog-and-pony show, however, as ESPN reported that the quarterback starting for Washington today hasn’t just lost the locker room, but the faith of the coaching staff (at least this week). Further, reports are floating around that the players may have been happier with their other quarterback options even if it meant an RGIII injury, but no credible sources I’ve seen have said the same.

UPDATE: The Washington beat reporters have compellingly argued that Schefter misinterpreted the reports on locker room drama

I do a lot to dismiss psychological factors (confidence, momentum, etc) either implicitly or explicitly when I break down games or players, but that’s mostly because these things are both impossible to determine and verify. Psychological factors often have unpredictable effects, and it’s disingenuous to speak about a player’s mindset from speculation alone.

In this case, I think it makes sense to question the ability of Washington to get up and play the game with all of the “distractions” swirling around them. Regardless, if they do well, the narrative will be flipped to the superiority of the Gruden coaching staff and mental resilience of Robert Griffin. If not, then we know what stories they’ll write. Either way, it looks like the story will be about Washington, not Minnesota.

Although, if the Vikings lose 14-10 on a last-minute interception, then it was previewed on the giant Madden game played on the TCF big video board. Perfect blogging material.

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The inactives report has been released for the Vikings, listed below:

Rudolph, Kyle TE Abdomen/Groin DNP DNP DNP Out Inactive
Price, Jabari CB Hamstring DNP LP LP Questionable Inactive
Exum, Antone S Ankle/Shoulder LP FP FP Probable Inactive
Watts, Brandon LB None N/A Inactive
Line, Zach FB None N/A Inactive
Yankey, David G None N/A Inactive
Wentworth, Austin G None N/A Inactive
Hodges, Gerald LB Hamstring LP FP FP Probable Active
Ford, Chase TE Foot LP LP LP Probable Active
Floyd, Sharrif DT Ankle/Knee LP LP LP Probable Active
Robison, Brian DE Glute DNP LP FP Probable Active
Robinson, Josh CB Ankle LP LP FP Probable Active

Every linebacker who has played significant snaps for the Vikings is active for the first time since late September, and this may shift Anthony Barr’s role on nickel downs to a defensive end at times. At the very least, it will give the Vikings the linebacker depth they seemingly haven’t had for some time.

Price was the only player who was questionable, and both he and Exum (also inactive) committed multiple special teams penalties. It seems as if Mike Priefer made good on his word to take players off the special teams units if they aren’t performing. Hopefully this doesn’t lead to a long term impact with the team.

There doesn’t seem to be anything that implies a significant strategic change in value and the Washington injury report didn’t seem to indicate that they would have the same issues (the Robert Griffin III drama aside). We’ll know soon enough, but Washington did get some extra time because of their bus incident.

UPDATE: Washington has released their inactives report

Cousins, Kirk QB None None Inactive
Robinson, Aldrick WR None None Inactive
Redd, Silas RB None None Inactive
Ducre, Greg CB None None Inactive
Jeffcoat, Jackson LB None None Inactive
Polumbus, Tyler OT None None Inactive
Long, Spencer G None None Inactive
Breeland, Bashaud CB Knee FP Questionable Active
Clark, Ryan S Ankle/Shoulder LP LP LP Probable Active
Griffin III, Robert QB Ankle FP FP FP Probable Active
Kerrigan, Ryan LB Wrist FP FP FP Probable Active
Murphy, Trent LB Knee FP FP FP Probable Active
Porter, Tracy CB Hamstring FP FP FP Probable Active
Riley Jr., Perry LB Knee FP FP FP Probable Active
Robinson, Keenan LB Shoulder FP FP FP Probable Active
Williams, Trent T Knee LP LP LP Probable Active

As you can tell, the injury report had absolutely no bearing on their inactives list. Washington is playing who they want to play, barring coach and quarterback drama.

Adam Schefter reported on ESPN that Adrian Peterson and his legal team is currently in the middle of negotiations to reach a plea deal with Montgomery County, and they may be able to reach that deal as soon as Tuesday. While this case doesn’t have a lot of precedent, the presumption is that as soon as a plea deal is reached, Peterson will be removed from the exempt list and then suspended—with the further assumption that time spent exempt will not count towards a suspension (as he was paid during it and the NFLPA does not, as far as I know, have a provision for this).

Should that be the case, it is likely that he will face suspension from the league, not the team, as the team has less flexibility in regards to this decision (they can suspend for a maximum of four games and a player may not be suspended by a team and the NFL for the same offense as far as I know) and the NFL is very sensitive to how it will be handled.

For what it’s worth, the NFL does not need a conviction to suspend players. In this case, a plea deal will necessarily involve a guilty plea, but for a lesser charge. That may not matter to the NFL. The Vikings suspended Simpson for violating probation even though he never was actually charged for a DUI.

Given that the Vikings will be coming off of Week 8 and that Peterson may be suspended for anywhere between two games and the rest of the season, there remains the chance he could be on the roster by the end of the year and carrying the ball. For fantasy players willing to take a risk to boost an on-the-bubble roster, I would think picking him up would be a good idea—if the plea deal gets resolved, then the suspension may not be long enough to keep him out of fantasy playoffs in Weeks 14-16, depending on your league.

For now, we don’t know what caused the change in strategy for Peterson, whether it was his lawyer convincing him or seeing his negotiating position drop as rumors of a trade swirl.

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UPDATE: It seems as if kickoff time won’t be affected, per Dianna Russini. In order to keep things on schedule, the bus originally designed to pick up the team sponsors is being repurposed to pick up the players stranded by the accident. The Vikings PR staff has confirmed the kickoff time.

The accident has closed off a highway, for those looking to get to the stadium

UPDATE: Everyone from the Washington organization (who is relevant to playing the game) has arrived safely:

Per Mike Garafolo and Dianna Russini, the bus carrying the Washington Redskins crashed on the way to TCF Bank Stadium, as a result of an error by what seems to be both the police escort and the bus drivers. There were no major injuries (UPDATE: It sounds like one of the police escorts went to the hospital with minor injuries, per Leah Beno), just “bumps and bruises” per both reporters. Adam Schefter reported on ESPN that the crash was jarring enough that players fell onto the floor from sitting.

Pictures (they’re not graphic) included in some of the tweets embedded below:

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In Adam’s absence, I forgot to do a player of the game poll! Once again, the defense did more than enough to put the offense in a position to win, regardless of the final drive, and they didn’t quite execute. Regardless, a win feels better than a loss, and there are definitely a lot of performances to celebrate, mostly on the defense.

Past Winners:

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIVE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK SIX:  Linval Joseph

WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen

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