Friday, March 24, 2017

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One Minute:  The Vikings need to come up with a specific stadium plan.

The Next Minute:  We don’t like your plan.

30 Seconds Later:  The Vikings need to come up with a specific stadium plan.

And so goes the Vikings efforts to secure a Minnesota-based home for the team as the distant future is suddenly not at all distant.

As I noted yesterday, I fully expect this thing to play out publically in an ugly manner and that nothing will get done, one way or another, until the game of chicken comes to an end at the very last second and somebody veers off course.

Wednesday, however, another disappointing twist surfaced when Governor Mark Dayton announced that a pre-Thanksgiving special session to address the stadium issue is not going to happen.  Earlier in the day House Speaker Kurt Zellers emailed his fellow republicans to let them know he was not going to support a special session.

Zellers says that he cannot support a special session until he sees a specific stadium plan presented.  No special session means that the issue might not be taken into consideration prior to next spring which is worrisome since the Metrodome lease expires on February 1st and the Vikings can announce their relocation starting on February 15th.

Following the news, the Vikings publically responded via the following statement:

“The Vikings are concerned about the turn of events surrounding a stadium solution in Minnesota. While we have been encouraged by the efforts of Governor Dayton and the four caucus leaders to seriously discuss this issue, these recent developments are very disappointing.”

“The Vikings stadium issue has been heavily debated in the public for over 10 years. With less than 90 days left on the team’s lease, the urgency to act is on us. The Vikings continue to stand ready to work with State leaders on a stadium solution that works for Minnesota and the team.” 

Governor Dayton expressed disappointment that little progress has been made by State leaders and decided to cancel his scheduled meeting with Zygi Wilf on Friday.

There are tons of varying opinions out there right now about what is going on.  Some are blaming Zellers, and our friends over at Daily Norseman point out that he does have a phone (651-296-5502) if any of you want to make your opinions known.  Meanwhile icon Harvey Mackey, who was instrumental in getting the Metrodome built, details reasons why Minnesota should get a deal done and make sure the Vikings stay where they belong.

Not everyone, even one of my favorite Vikings bloggers, is on board with the plans put forth by the Vikings.  Vikes Geek has long been cynical of this whole stadium fiasco and, as with any important issue, I always recommend reading the other side of the story.  His most recent post regarding the stadium situation can be read by clicking here.  In the archives of the site you will find more, similar posts.

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I am glad to see some of you utilizing the “Fran’s Forums” page to discuss items I am not posting about here, hopefully that will continue to happen.

I noticed one post on there that was pondering (seriously, no pun intended) what was now in store for Joe Webb.

First things first, I wouldn’t expect him to overtake Donovan McNabb on the quarterback depth chart this season.  If Christian Ponder were to suffer an injury, I think we would be back to McNabb.

Secondly, some may not have noticed, but Webb actually lined up as a slot receiver for a few plays against the Panthers with no throws going his way.

In a recent interview with the Pioneer Press, Webb indicated that there was been no talk of moving him to receiver at this point.  Webb’s interview was the definition of classy as he said he is willing to play whatever role Leslie Frazier wants him to, but will not pressure Frazier to move in any particular direction.

“I don’t go to them and say, ‘Coach, I want to do this. I want to do that,’” said Webb.  “I just let them tell me where they want me to be for that week and just try to do my job.”

Webb’s presence has been scarce ever since the disastrous unveiling of the “Blazer Package” in week one, but I personally think Webb’s potential lies in some sort of specialty role similar to that one. 

 

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The post below this one details the recent struggles of the Vikings secondary from an injury, legal, and performance standpoint.

Today, Leslie Frazier has indicated that the front office will at least do their due diligence in seeing if anyone can be brought in to solidify the cornerback position.

“I think we have to,” he said of looking outside the organization for help. “I think we have to just explore every avenue. We’re pretty thin there now whether it be by injury or other circumstances. We’ve got to continue to monitor what’s available and what can help us if anything out there can.”

No decision on the fate of Chris Cook has been made public and the Vikings coaches are unlikely to announce anything until at least Monday of next week, after they reconvene following the bye week.

Cedric Griffin is also falling out of favor due to his inability to consistently cover top flight receivers, as evidenced by the choice to have Asher Allen shadow Steve Smith all game long on Sunday.

The most obvious choice available on the free agent market would be 30 year old Leigh Bodden who recently cleared waivers after being abruptly cut by the Patriots.  No official word has been given as to why the Patriots cut Bodden, which is worrisome, but rumor has it that he was just not willing to accept the backup role he was asked to fill in New England.

An addition like Bodden, coupled with the return of Antoine Winfield (neck), could bolster the secondary in a number of ways if Bodden could instantly be relied upon as a starter.

If this scenario were to play out and the Vikings signed Bodden, I would be curious to see if any chatter picked up involving Cedric Griffin making the move to strong safety.  He may not be able to mirror the best receivers in the league, but he still has a knack for keeping plays in front of him and making sound tackles, not to mention chipping in on run support.

Former Vikings cornerback Benny Sapp is also still available after the Dolphins made an example of him by cutting him following a dreadful week one performance against the Patriots.

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Before we get too far into this, I want to tell each of you one thing:  Step away from that ledge.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton sent alarmists into a frenzy on Tuesday when he made the unsurprising announcement that the State Legislator would not allow a Ramsey County sales tax to be a mechanism paying for about one-third of the Vikings stadium plan without a public vote.  This is a disappointing development for stadium supporters as the Metrodome lease expires on February 1st of this coming year and a vote would not be able to make it to the public until after that date.

While many are quick to label this is the final blow to Zygi Wilf’s stadium endeavor in Minnesota I immediately jumped over to ESPN’s website to see what Kevin Seifert had to say on the matter, as my experience has been that he has long been the most accurate predictor of the Vikings stadium woes.

Seifert doesn’t deny the severity of the issue but doesn’t seem overly surprised by the legislature’s decision not to raise taxes for a sports stadium when they refused to do so for schools and health.  He also points out that the $350 million is just one-third of the funding needed, and that perhaps another mechanism can be found before it is too late.

Much like the NFL lockout, or even DirecTV’s recent battle with FOX, these big money issues that are in the public eye tend to remain unresolved until the last possible moment.  The big question is whether or not the outcome will be a pleasing one when things finally break.

According to Seifert, Dayton plans to endorse both a stadium site and a funding mechanism by Monday, and that a pre-Thanksgiving special session addressing the issue is likely. 

November is looking to be a big month for the Vikings… no matter how many games they win or lose.

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Against the Panthers, Adrian Peterson was not having a great first half on the ground despite coming into Sunday’s game as the NFL’s leading rusher.

Peterson got the running game going in the second half, and he finished with 86 yards on 21 carries, but it was Peterson’s ability to be an efficient pass catcher that really caught me (and apparently the Panthers) by surprise.

“That was unbelievable. That was his biggest receiving game his whole career,” said quarterback Christian Ponder. “They kept dropping deep and leaving him open and we kept taking it. When it was a two-play drive, both were to him. … I’ll take that all day.”

Ponder is right when he said that was Peterson’s best day in the passing game of his career.  He had 76 yards on five catches, beating his previous record of 73 yards which came against the Panthers, too, back in 2009.

His receiving touchdown was the first he has grabbed in nearly a year and only the third of his career.

As Peterson continues to work on his few remaining faults, becoming a consistent pass catcher could really take this offense to the next level, as well as his Hall of Fame application.  Christian Ponder, of course, deserves credit for recognizing Peterson’s ability to get open after the field has been stretched.

“Five catches for 76 yards. That’s huge. And part of that is Christian beign able to make some plays in the passing game (downfield),” Leslie Frazier praised Peterson and Ponder after the game. “It forces people to loosen up a little bit. He’s smart enough (to know), OK, I can’t throw over the top of your defense, I’ll check it down to a guy, who in the open field is tough to bring down.”

The Vikings now have two weeks to prepare to beat the Packers in Green Bay, and in order to do so logic would suggest that Peterson will certainly have to be a big part of the game plan.  Now the Packers won’t be able to wonder if they will also need to account for Peterson in the passing game.

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