Sunday, November 19, 2017

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Anyone who took part in Sunday’s live chat knows that I was not impressed with the “coverage” provided by the Twitter accounts of Minnesota’s local beat writers and columnists.

Setting aside their weird objection to the fact that Tim Tebow’s fumble was confirmed as a fumble during a review, Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan was incredibly annoying in his persistent criticism of the Vikings coaching staff during times in which none was warranted.

The criticism continued on Monday in a half-assed column, which is half-assedly titled “Bad Day Coaching,” and attempts to pin Sunday’s loss on the Vikings coaching staff. 

“Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave often left Kyle Rudolph, perhaps his best possession receiver, on the sideline on obvious passing downs,” writes Souhan.

There were two plays in which Souhan pecked some tweets about this tragedy.  The first came on the second to last play of the first half.  The Vikings were inside the ten with eight seconds on the clock, and Christian Ponder quickly rolled out right and threw the ball away.  It was clear that Ponder was instructed to take an easy touchdown if one was immediately available, but that the play was mostly devised to run a few seconds off the clock and ensure the Broncos didn’t get the chance to return a kickoff following the field goal.  In this scenario, especially after the first half pounding that Ponder took, it made sense to have the league’s best blocking tight end, Jim Kleinsasser, on the field instead of Rudolph.

The second play was on a 3rd and long screen to Percy Harvin.  Since the play was obviously designed as a screen to Harvin, it made perfect sense to again have Kleinsasser leading the way rather than the weaker blocking skills of Rudolph.  The play came up about one yard short.

“He sometimes even left Percy Harvin,” continues Souhan, “the best player on the field, on the sidelines, too.”

Is it just me, or is it just simply ignorant to criticize Harvin’s use after posting some of the best numbers of his career?

“And Frazier once again allowed his faith in his players to overwhelm logic,” Souhan writes about the Vikings final moments.  “Saying that he didn’t allow the Broncos to score because believed his players could block a short field goal attempt, well, that defies logic.”

“Frazier is a man of faith and likes to believe in his players. But the NFL is a game of probabilities. Frazier needs to learn how to play the odds…”

I don’t know about logic, but Kevin Seifert (who is a far more logical writer than Souhan) recently dove into the actual probability statistics behind that scenario and determined that Frazier actually gave his team the best chance of winning by hoping something went wrong on the short field goal attempt.  You can read more of Seifert’s article, which lacks bullheaded opinion but makes up for it with even handed analysis, by clicking right here.

Near the beginning of the article Souhan writes, “Writing opinion for a living can make you look pretty silly.”

For once, Jim, I agree with you.

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The Vikings seem destined to land somewhere in the range of the second to fourth selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.

With Zygi Wilf’s recent (and unsurprising) omission that Leslie Frazier will probably get at least one more year as the head coach, it seems very likely that the team will not be in the market for another first round quarterback provided that Andrew Luck does not somehow fall to them.

With that being said, Vikings fans should pay close attention to this year’s potential crop of quarterbacks.

The Vikings will likely be faced with plenty of options at their drafting slot this year and one of those options, which will be much discussed leading up to the Draft, is that of trading down.

Last year, the Cleveland Browns got a boatload of firepower when they were willing to let the Falcons move up from the 27th spot to the 6th spot in a blockbuster deal.  The Browns received first, second, and fourth round picks in 2011 and a first and fourth round pick in 2012 in exchange for the ability to draft wide receiver Julio Jones.

With the Vikings having so many pressing needs in all phases of the game, a similar deal in 2012 would be a much welcomed way for things to play out.

In order for Rick Spielman to construct suck a coup, however, there would likely have to be a team very hungry for a quarterback… not to mention a quarterback worth taking that high.

There are three underclassmen to keep an eye on as the Draft approaches.  If they declare for 2012, each possesses the potential to rise into top five consideration this coming year, setting the Vikings up for possible success.

Here they are:

Robert Griffin, Baylor (6’-2”, 220 pounds)

Known for a strong arm and high intelligence, Griffin’s attributes have translated to extreme success on the football field.  In 2011 he completed 73% of his passes for 3,678 yards, 34 touchdowns, 612 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, and only five interceptions.

Matt Barkley, USC (6’2”, 230 pounds)

Barkley has had a record breaking season for the Trojans, and it is unfortunate that they are ineligible for a bowl game, so we won’t see much more of him from here on out unless/until he declares for the Draft and heads to Indy for the Combine.  This season he completed 69% of his passes for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.  He did all of this while running what is essentially and NFL offense.

Landry “Lance” Jones, Oklahoma (6’4”, 216 pounds)

Jones is a big, strong armed quarterback that could probably stand to stay in college for another year in an attempt to further prove himself.  In 2011 he connected on 64% of his passes for 4,052 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.  Jones has continued to show growth and improvement ever since seeing his first action as a freshman replacement for the injured Sam Bradford.  NFL coaches love to see production out of prospects, especially when that production trends towards improvement from one season to the next. 

So, while the Vikings may not be targeting a quarterback on the first day of this year’s Draft, whether or not these guys declare, and subsequently see their stock rise, could have a major impact on the Vikings drafting success in 2012.  Keep your eye out for news regarding these three.

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The NFL’s best kept secret is their formula for determining how compensatory picks are dished out to NFL teams every offseason.  Evidence surfaces each year that suggests the NFL doesn’t even share this formula with front offices around the league, and even the best general managers are often caught by surprise at the results.

So, it stands to reason that any prediction this hack blogger makes should come with a grain of salt, especially considering we don’t really know if the formula changed, like so many other things, as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Still, I’ve had success with these predictions in the past, and the possibility of being wrong has never stopped me before… so why should it now?

The NFL hands out 32 extra picks each year which are determined by unrestricted free agents that have left a club versus unrestricted free agents that are joining a club.  The formula is thought to take into consideration each players prior contract, their new contract, their age, their production during the current year, and numerous other factors.

WHO THE VIKES LOST

Tarvaris Jackson (2 year, $8 million deal)

Sidney Rice (5 year, $41 million deal)

Ray Edwards (5 year, $30 million deal)

Ben Leber (1 year, $1.25 million deal)

Frank Walker (1 year deal)

Lito Sheppard (Undisclosed contract)

NOTE:  Fahu Tahi and Jimmy Kennedy remained unsigned so they shouldn’t count.  Madieu Williams was cut by the Vikings instead of seeing his contract expire, so he shouldn’t count.

WHO THE VIKES ADDED

Charlie Johnson (3 year, $10.5 million deal)

Remi Ayodele (3 year, $9 million deal)

Devin Aromashodu (1 year deal)

NOTE:  Donovan McNabb was obtained via a trade and Michael Jenkins had been cut by the Falcons, so neither should count against the formula.

PREDICTION

First off, every year the NFL awards “supplemental compensatory draft picks” at the end of the seventh round when they don’t hand out 32 regular compensatory picks in rounds three through seven.  Given that the Vikings are likely going to be between second and fourth in the draft order, they have a good chance at getting one of these, and could possibly end up drafting “Mr. Irrelevant” to close out the 2012 Draft.

Now, it is obvious that the contracts of Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards dwarf everything else listed.  Neither have had fantastic years, but their age and size of their contracts should net the Vikings at least some compensation.  In fact, I think these are the only two players for whom the Vikings will receive compensation, with the contracts given to Charlie Johnson and Remi Ayodele cancelling out the loss of Tarvaris Jackson and the remainder of that group.

My official prediction is that the Vikings will receive three extra draft picks in April.  A fourth rounder, a sixth rounder, and a seventh rounder.

If more information becomes available regarding this topic, I will be sure to keep you all updated.

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Almost one year ago, the Metrodome roof collapsed in the midst of a blizzard that dropped about 17 inches of snow causing the Vikings to play two home games elsewhere.

In the months following the near disaster, I attempted to get answers to some serious questions while the rest of Minnesota’s media occupied themselves with topics such as seating arrangements and the sale of alcohol.

Just hours before the collapse occurred, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission’s director of facilities and engineering declared the Metrodome to be structurally sound.

“There is no structural issue occurring [to the dome],” said Maki on that Saturday night. “But we have a pretty heavy snow load up there and the way the wind was blowing it was getting really nasty for our crews so we pulled them down and we’re going to have them back up there [Sunday] morning to remove the snow.”

At the time, I couldn’t help but wonder when an investigation into the causes of the collapse would occur.  Did Maki’s decision to douse the roof with water, and then prematurely remove his staff from the roof, play a factor into its collapse?  With so much money being generated by the Vikings over the years, could they not make a stronger effort to gather qualified snow movers to get the job done quicker?

I initially posted these questions and more in this Vikings Gab article.  To the Vikings credit, they didn’t point any fingers at Maki or the MSFC during a time in which they could have used the situation to further their demands for a new stadium, as evidenced in this article.

Then Maki granted me an interview request regarding the whole situation.  After sending him this list of 10 pointed questions, Maki took eleven days to not answer a single one and then promise to keep me updated.

I haven’t heard from him since.

Now, almost a year later, the MSFC has decided to publically pursue a clause in their lease agreement with the Vikings that, in their assessment, could keep the Vikings in town through 2012.

“For each football season, or part of (a) football season, which this agreement is suspended, the term of this agreement…shall be extended by one football season,” the clause states according to the Pioneer Press.

The MSFC is arguing that this clause makes the Vikings legally bound to play football in the Metrodome in 2012.

“I don’t see any scenario where they wouldn’t play there in 2012, and we were pretty clear about that in a letter to the team months ago,” MSFC chairman Ted Mondale said about the issue. “But the Vikings have not responded to our overtures. You can’t have a lease term and ignore it.”

The Vikings have publically responded in a carefully crafted way.

“From our internal and outside legal counsel, and feedback we’ve received from the NFL, we believe we are on firm legal footing,” said Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs. “Our lease expires after this season. It’s in no one’s interest to use the lease as an excuse to further delay a stadium solution.”

The Vikings, of course, feel that the clause was put in place to keep the Vikings from being evicted and not to punish them for the stadium not functioning properly.  This notion was expanded on by an unnamed Vikings source that thinks the thought of the MSFC suing the Vikings is a complete joke.

“Could you imagine them suing us?” asked the anonymous Vikings official. “Talk about running us down the road to try to get us to do something.”

“If you’ve got 10 years left and a $1.6 million (per year) liquidated-damages clause, that’s real money. But if you’re down to the last days, it’s peanuts,” the official said. “Even if they succeeded in adding on another year, we’ll write you a check. You can’t keep us here.”

With business partners like these, who needs enemies?

All-in-all, I can’t feel too jaded towards the Vikings for their stance on this issue.  I have made it clear that I think the MSFC was at least partially at fault for the roof collapsing in the first place, and now the idea of them using that event to their advantage makes me even more suspicious of this group.

This is dirty politics at work, with both sides digging in their heels, but we will hopefully get an answer about this latest issue very soon.  The Vikings and the MSFC have scheduled a meeting to settle the matter of when the lease actually expires.  That meeting will take place in the first week of January.

On Tuesday, both sides were present for a Senate committee hearing to discuss funding options for a new stadium plan.

Even though the two sides are at odds, Mondale admitted that without a bill in place that funds a new stadium for the Vikings they will leave Minnesota “as sure as the snow falls.”

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A number of major developments concerning the Vikings efforts to secure a Minnesota stadium that is at least partially funded by the public surfaced on Tuesday.  This is a result of a Senate committee hearing geared towards stadium funding solutions.

Here are the nuts and bolts of each, with a link to more details if you are interested:

 

  • Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said that his City was willing to put $300 million on the table for a plan that would build a new stadium on the current site of the Metrodome, have a nearby armory as a “fan experience” location, and call for improvements to 4th and 5th streets.  Rybak said the money would come from a series of local taxes that are currently paying for the convention center housed in Minneapolis.  This, of course, means that the money would not be immediately available and that the Vikings would have to play temporarily at TCF Bank Stadium for two or three seasons.  Click here for more.

 

  • Ramsey County finance director Lee Mehrkens continued to tout the Vikings preferred plan of building their new home at Arden Hills.  Ramsey County feels that Minneapolis is getting preferred treatment from the Senate and that Ramsey County is being unfairly brushed to the side.  They felt like they were treated rudely during Tuesday’s hearing.  Click here for more.

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