Monday, February 8, 2016

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The botched call that wasn't

Photo Courtesy Seahawks.com

I know this isn’t Vikings news, but it’s on my mind and it’s my blog so I’m talking about it. The final play from the Super Bowl—or rather, the final meaningful play aside from some smart chicanery by Belichick to draw an encroachment penalty—will probably go down in history as one of the worst calls in sports, up there with Red Right 88.

The fact that Red Right 88 was probably a much more defensible call than fans would have you believe is besides the point, because the call for a slant off of a receiver pick is too being unfairly maligned. End-of-game decisions are the easiest decisions to model in theory, but present with them a degree of complexity created by the clock and the down system that actually make end-of-game decisions the most difficult decisions of all to model in real-time.

There are a couple of different points in the process where the Seahawks were presented with a decision, and throughout those different decision points, the Seahawks made defensible calls.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Before I get started on this week’s roundup, I want to take a second to recognize this week’s Blind Squirrel Award recipient:

Okay, now that we got that out there for the world to see, let’s take a look at the topics currently surrounding our greatest enemies.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

As if the Vikings needed another reason to continue their defensive growth under Mike Zimmer, Aaron Rodgers is again the NFL’s reigning MVP and is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the guy only seems to get better.

Rodgers ended the season with a 65.6% completion percentage that produced 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns. He threw only five interceptions over the course of the 2014 season. He got 31 of the the 50 possible MVP votes and J.J. Watt came in second with 13.

I personally think Watt should have been the MVP this season, but that has more to do with my opinion of Watt than it does Rodgers. It is impossible, even for the most devoted Viking fan, to deny that Rodgers is playing at anything other than a truly elite level.

It’s the question everyone will be asking until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are finally at the podium with the first overall pick in April’s NFL draft.

Recent momentum has swung toward Jameis Winston as the favorite to land the top spot, however, in my 2015 mock draft, I have Marcus Mariota as the first overall pick.

I think he’s the right fit for one major reason… on January 8th the Buccaneers officially hired Dirk Koetter as the team’s new offensive coordinator.

Koetter worked eight seasons with Mariota’s current head coach, Mark Helfrich, as part of the same coaching staff at Boise State and Arizona State.

Koetter’s strong connecting with the current Oregon staff might be a telling sign that the Buccaneers already know the direction they are headed.

You can checkout more of my mock draft here.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[Note:  This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period.  This is the fourth article, focusing on the tight ends.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterback preview hererunning backs are here, and the fullbacks are here.]

In theory, the Vikings have their tight end depth chart pretty much set.  They have the powerful veteran in Kyle Rudolph, the semi-proven backup in Chase Ford, and the journeyman blocker in Rhett Ellison.  They also have some camp fodder in Ryan Otten.

Rudolph just signed a huge deal that runs through 2018 and is highly unlikely to go anywhere.  Ford is entering a contract year, but is inexpensive and likely to be a restricted free agent in 2016, so there is no real reason to actively oust him from the Vikings roster.

Ellison is also fairly cheap, with a 2015 cap hit of $735,146, and appears like a guy the Vikings want to lock up for the long-term.  While unspectacular within the offense, Ellison is a great blocking tight end and solid special teams player.

The Vikings seem highly unlikely to spend heavily on the tight end position this offseason, with actual value more likely to be found in the Draft for a talent worth bringing aboard, but let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.

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Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

Per Mark Craig, Mick Tingelhoff has been selected to the Hall of Fame.


There’s a lot to say about his HOF case, so, I’ll just copy and paste everything I wrote about Tingelhoff back when he was announced:


Peter King, in his MMQB column, makes Tingelhoff’s case to be in the Hall as well as anyone:

I think I have one name to keep in mind as the Pro Football Hall of Fame senior committee gathers this week in Canton to nominate one old-timer for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 2015: Mick Tingelhoff. Think of Tingelhoff’s greatest accomplishment:

For the last 358 games of his 17-year career—99 preseason games, 240 regular-season games, 19 postseason games—Tingelhoff started. He failed to start only once—the first exhibition game of his career for the Vikings in 1962. Amazing. He dressed for 359 games in 17 years, and started the last 358. “He never missed a practice either,’’ his onetime quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, said.

He made first-team All-Pro seven times; no NFL center was voted first-team All-Pro more times. Back when the Pro Bowl meant something, a back playing behind Tingelhoff made the Pro Bowl 13 times.

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