Thursday, January 29, 2015
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Vikings Defensive End Chris Doleman

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I told some of our regular visitors on Vikings Territory that I would write about my experience and report back at how amazing it all was. Unfortunately, it was during holiday season, I was visiting family, stuff came up and I just never got around to it.

Needless to say, the Hall of Fame was incredible.

Being surrounded by so much history and the legacies of so many football greats was really humbling and enriched my appreciation for the great sport of football. As an avid Vikings fan, upon entering the actual hall itself, I immediately began scouring the walls for all the Minnesota greats. Fran Tarkenton, Bud Grant, Alan Page, John Randle… I saw all of them. And while I am not lucky enough to have experienced watching [most] them while they were still playing, I stood in front of each – paying my respects.

You can’t help but be bothered by it, though. You know what I’m talking about… Vikings fans know what I’m talking about. How in the world is Cris Carter not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? How is Chris Doleman not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Well yesterday, one of those questions was addressed while the other went unanswered. Chris Doleman, Vikings defensive end great,  has officially been announced as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012. He will be accompanied by center Dermontti Dawson, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, running back Curtis Martin, cornerback Jack Butler and offensive tackle Willie Roaf (notice the name “Cris Carter” is nowhere to be found in that list).

Obviously, it is awesome that Chris Doleman is receiving such a great honor. Unfortunately (at least for me anyway), the disappointment of Cris Carter being overlooked again dampers the occasion a bit. I’m sure Carter will end up in the Hall of Fame eventually – it would be an outrage if he somehow didn’t. But one has to wonder, why hasn’t it happened yet? Carter is undeniably one of the NFL’s greatest receivers of all-time. Only Jerry Rice has surpassed him in career receiving yards. Carter was never able to win a championship, but that isn’t really a reflection of his greatness. Isn’t being granted entrance into the Hall of Fame an acknowledgement of personal achievement (not to suggest that the team doesn’t matter… but you know what I mean)?

I would love to hear the reasoning behind Cris Carter being snubbed entry… again.

And guess what? It doesn’t end there…

Jared Allen, the man who fell short a half a sack behind breaking New York Giants Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record with 22 sacks, was not selected as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Instead, the Ravens Terrell Suggs, who totaled 14 sacks on the year, was bestowed the honor; leaving another Vikings player high-and-dry. Obviously, I’m biased here, but when comparing the stats of these two players, it seems obvious to me that Allen had the better year. Unfortunately, these awards for individual achievement tend to be majorly influenced by how well their team did – a category Allen did not fare well in.

How do you all feel? Is there any justification for Carter being denied (again) entry into the Hall of Fame? Did Suggs deserve the Defensive MVP award more then Jared Allen? Try and be objective (if you can – it’s tough) and tell us what you think in the comments.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Earlier this year (December 4, before his last four games and omitting the hot streak he finished the season on) we looked at how Teddy Bridgewater compared to some of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, as well as many former Vikings quarterbacks. Since then, Teddy had been on fire to close the season and finished the final five games with the second-highest completion rate in that time (behind Tony Romo), the seventh-highest yards per attempt, the eighth-highest passer rating and the seventh-highest adjusted yards per attempt (out of 30 quarterbacks who threw the ball at least 100 times in that span). In those five games, he ended up as Pro Football Focus’ second-highest graded quarterback, behind only Aaron Rodgers.

It’s safe to say that the statistics in the second-half of his season have buttressed those in the first half, providing Bridgewater with more statistical support in these kinds of comparisons.

As a refresher, I’ll quote the original piece to describe the methodology, then show you the updated tables:

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After a few fairly obvious choices in recent weeks, the Vikings edged out a win over Washington with many contributors and few flawless performances, which will likely make this week’s poll a little more competitive.

Here are the winners from the first eight weeks of this season:

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

WEEK EIGHT:  Anthony Barr

Nominations for this week’s award, and the poll itself, can be found after the jump.

Finishing up a road trip combined with hosting the in-laws meant I was a little delayed in my watching of the Vikings first preseason game of the Mike Zimmer era.  I’ll try to make up for the delay by hosting a real-time live chat for the next game.

Overall, what we saw from the Vikings in their preseason debut against Oakland was encouraging.  Tomorrow, I’ll turn around and focus on the “Five Things I Hate About You,” but I first want to ride the optimism and give you five positive takeaways.

5.  Adam Thielen Looks Legit

The Vikings have invested a lot into their wide out position over the last couple of years and it is showing.  Quality depth is still a concern, especially with Jerome Simpson facing a suspension this season, but Adam Thielen is looking like a reliable backup option with special teams value.  He caught a pass for 15 yards, made a hell of a coverage play, and averaged over 17 yards on three punt returns.  He looks fragile to me, and that very well could be my imagination,  but I otherwise can’t think of a single reason he shouldn’t be on this roster in Week One of the regular season.  He made plays all over the field this week.

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Photo courtesy of vikings.com

Aside from a handful of examples including the Brett Favre signing, the Vikings have never been a team to make flashy free agency moves during the off season. However, with ownership and the front office lead by Zygi Wilf and Rick Spielman, the team has been aggressive when there are specific players they’ve identified as priority additions.

This past off season was a great example of this with the Vikings quickly coming to agreement with former New York Giants nose tackle Linval Joseph.

Joseph is a young and talented player entering his 5th year in the league and is positioned to be a mainstay within a Vikings overhauled defensive line. Not only does Joseph add much needed talent to a defensive front seven, but he also fills a role the Vikings have been in search for since the departure of Pat Williams.

Williams was a fan favorite for years among Vikings faithful and for good reason. Williams was a disruptive force in the middle of a very good Vikings run defense. He consistently absorbed double teams while blowing up an offensive line, leaving plenty of space for his Williams counterpart, Kevin and Jared Allen to wreak havoc.

William’s ability to make offenses account for him is a luxury for his defensive teammates. Something Vikings defensive end Brian Robison touched on when he spoke with reporters after Sunday morning’s walk through.

“I can see the similarities with Pat,” Robison noted when asked about Linval. “His ability to take on double teams opens up space for others to play under him and get to the quarterback.”

Joseph has notable size and athleticism, and for a man weighing close to 325lbs, has a quick first step that helps him disrupt an offensive line and create pressure in the backfield. Joseph will undoubtedly help in stopping the run and as noted previously, head coach Mike Zimmer will make stopping the run a priority for the Vikings defense. Joseph’s presence and physicality will certainly help create that kind of mentality along the defensive line.

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