Friday, October 20, 2017

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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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Mike Florio recently ran an item over at PFT that discusses the notion that Brad Childress will be considered for a head coaching position this offseason (or maybe sooner) as a result of the Vikings struggles after his departure.

Florio goes on to opine that the Vikings current struggles are a result of Childress and his time spent in Minnesota, not because of his absence in Minnesota.  I, at least partially, have to agree with that assessment.

Florio goes on to list a bunch of reasons that Childress is a poor head coach, and I’ll refrain from dredging up all of those reasons that you all know far too well, but I will mention one new one that should at least get a grin out of most of you.

Florio says that Childress proved to have far too thin of skin for a head coach and provided a personal example of what he meant.

“He’s too thin-skinned,” wrote Florio, “as demonstrated by a pissy email I received earlier this year after mentioning that Percy Harvin’s migraines cleared up completely after Childress left town.”

So, for all of you that have asked in recent months what Brad Childress is up to, there lies your answer.  He is doing exactly what you all are doing:  reading about football on the internet, disagreeing with Mike Florio, and counting his millions.

Okay, that last one probably doesn’t apply to you… if it does, please email me regarding a great investment opportunity involving a little-known blog.

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The Vikings are expected to get their top cornerback, Antoine Winfield, back onto the field following the bye week after he has missed three games with a neck injury.  Winfield recently said he will “without a doubt” be ready to play the Packers after the bye.

Getting Winfield back will be a plus, but it is far from a true fix at the cornerback position.

The Vikings have put forth the draft picks and the money in recent history in an effort to solidify the position.  Winfield and Cedric Griffin were both awarded long term contract extensions, but both have been unable to avoid the injury bug for very long.

Draft picks have been spent on Asher Allen, Chris Cook, and Brandon Burton as well.

Cook has been a promising young cornerback that has enough respect within the organization to be tasked with single coverage against the likes of Calvin Johnson.  A recent firearm related allegation, combined with a more recent and extra troubling domestic abuse allegation, has left Cook’s status with the team as a big unknown.

“We’ve got a lot of things to talk about,” Leslie Frazier said recently when asked if Cook could be released during the bye week. 

That is not exactly a flowery outlook for Cook’s chances of remaining employed by the Vikings.  His next court appearance is scheduled November 22nd, and the Vikings can only suspend him without pay for three more weeks before they have to decide whether to activate him or send him packing.

The 24 year old cornerback was expected to make a $450,000 base salary in 2011, while also getting a $1 million roster bonus this year.

Griffin has not played the same after coming back from his second ACL injury in as many years.  Asher Allen, while he drew some praise from Frazier on Monday, has been the cause of many “cringe” moments for Vikings fans this season.  Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels are relative unknowns in terms of how they could contribute on defense right now.

Fraizer recently stated that the coaching staff will take advantage of the bye week to “peel back the onion” and consider any possible lineup changes, including the possibility of rookie safety Mistral Raymond working his way into the rotation.

Frazier also didn’t completely reject the idea of replacing Cedric Griffin in the starting lineup with Asher Allen, which would be a surprising shakeup.

Through the first half of the season, the Vikings pass defense ranks 29th in the league, giving up an average of 273.6 yards per game.  Cedric Griffin leads the cornerbacks with 42 tackles, Marcus Sherels has the only sack of the group, Griffin and Antoine Winfield have each forced a fumble, and Winfield and Asher Allen are the only corners with an interception so far. 

It is tough to say if a shakeup is going to help the Vikings to win games, but with the season nearly 100% lost, it might be a good evaluation opportunity to put these young guys (i.e. Sherels, Allen, and Burton) on the field and challenge them to hold their own or be replaced next offseason while also sending a message to under-performing veterans that they are replaceable.

It is also possible that the team will look to the streets for help.  Veteran Leigh Bodden, who has had 12 interceptions over the last three seasons, was waived by the Patriots recently and is now a free agent.  He is a guy built for the cover-2 scheme and could at least help the Vikings in the short term, and could be a possible long term prospect as well.  The front office would be insane not to at least consider him, at least after getting the details on why the Patriots parted ways with him.

Unfortunately, the Vikings investments into the secondary over the last three years has only provided marginal improvements to the unit, and “peeling back the onion” is just another way of saying the Vikings might be “going back to the drawing board” to come up with a more consistent group of pass defenders.

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As I work on getting today’s Live Chat set up, I wanted you all to have something to chew on, and what better than today’s inanactives?

Cornerback Antoine Winfield, kick returner Lorenzo Booker, and guard Anthony Herrera will all be inactive for the Vikings due to their various injuries. The other inactives are linebacker Xavier Adibi, tackle DeMarcus Love, and defensive end D’Aundre Reed.

The Panthers inactives are quarterback Jimmy Clausen, safety Jordan Pugh, running back Mike Goodson, lineman Lee Ziemba, defensive tackle Frank Kearse, running back Richie Brockel, and cornerback Darius Butler.

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