Saturday, August 1, 2015

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Mike Zimmer announced on Friday that rookie linebacker Anthony Barr will need to have a relatively minor knee surgery and his promising rookie season is over.

Barr was the highest draft pick for the Vikings in Zimmer’s first year as head coach and early indications were that it was a match made in heaven.  This injury is a setback, but he should be fully ready to go in 2015, and all indications are that he will be a key component of this much-improved defense.

Barr last played against Carolina on November 30th which means he appeared in 12 games this season.  In those games he managed to amass 70 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, three deflected passes, and three recovered fumbles.  His best moment came against Tampa Bay when his defensive score resulted in an overtime win.

The ninth overall selection of the 2014 Draft seems like a keeper and we’ll plan on keeping you plenty updated on his status between now and next year’s regular season opener.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Well, we haven’t seen all 16 games of the 2014 regular season and the Vikings still have 120 minutes of football to play, but I think we have seen enough to start up the old Irresponsible Speculation Machine (I.S.M – trademarked!) and look towards the 2015 offseason and what we might expect.

I’ve already compiled an early list of the Vikings free agents potentially headed for the open market, while Arif attempted to project Minnesota’s cap situation, so now we get down to the task of identifying the top needs across the roster moving forward.  Obviously a team that has only won six of their first 14 games, none of which have come against teams with winning records, has plenty of room for improvement across the board.

Still, I’m going to attempt the dangerous task of narrowing it down to five, and in my most daring and harrowing feat to-date I will put them in order.  See you in the comments section, Vikings junkies!

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If you happen to be a professional-caliber offensive tackle, the Minnesota Vikings are currently hiring.

The team waived tackle J’Marcus Webb on Tuesday, presumably due to the role he played in Sunday’s blocked field goal from 26 yards out.  Webb was beaten badly by Detroit’s Jason Jones in the first quarter which contributed to a dreadful day from that particular special teams unit.

Webb was signed after the Vikings placed Phil Loadholt on injured reserve earlier this season.  He previously played in eight games for the Vikings, starting one, during the 2013 season.

For those worried about Blair Walsh after the three missed field goals on Sunday, don’t forget to look at the big picture.  Webb’s miscue resulted in a block, a Jeff Locke hold was identified as the issue on another miss by the broadcast crew, and the other miss was from 109 yards out (or something like that).  It is natural to be worried, but it is also premature to think Blair Walsh can’t return to his rookie year in terms of production and dependability.

The Vikings have not yet filled Webb’s spot on the roster.

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The Vikings jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and looked like they were well on their way to a promising upset win on the road.  Instead, the entire team seemed to stall out all at once, and the final three quarters allowed for 16 unanswered points from the Lions and few individual performances to hang our hat on.

The Lions overwhelmed a makeshift offensive line and rookie quarterback by mixing up the blitz packages.  Field goal misses ended three drives.  The defense couldn’t get a pass rush going.  And even the clock management was highly suspect.

Past Winners of this award:

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

WEEK NINE:  Everson Griffen

WEEK ELEVEN: Charles Johnson

WEEK TWELVE:  Xavier Rhodes

WEEK THIRTEEN:  Everson Griffen

WEEK FOURTEEN:  Teddy Bridgewater

I find it really difficult to nominate anyone for this award this week, so if you feel like I’ve overlooked someone, then by all means hit the “OTHER” button on the poll and write in your vote via the comments section.

MATT ASIATA:  Clearly not a game changing playmaker, the persistent use of Asiata can be quite frustrating, but he did his job fairly well throughout Sunday afternoon.  He rushed 11 times for a team leading 36 yards (3.3 yard average) and scored the first touchdown of the game.  More impressively, he hauled in all seven of his targeted passes and put up an extra 50 receiving yards (7.1 yard average).

CHARLES JOHNSON:  I’m starting to actually buy into the idea that this guy, especially with some offseason hands work, could be the real deal.  Johnson was once again the go-to guy for Bridgewater and caught five passes for 72 yards (team lead).

GREG JENNINGS:  Greg Jennings only caught three passes on Sunday, and only ended up with 43 yards, but one of those catches was a graceful touchdown and the other was a brilliant sideline performance that had to be reviewed in order for everyone involved to believe it actually happened.

GERALD HODGES:  Still playing in relief of Anthony Barr, Hodges is continuing his strong late-season showing.  HE led the Vikings in tackles on Sunday with nine and also led the team in defended passes with two.  He was caught out of position on a couple of occasions, but one could argue he was the most consistent defender this team had in Detroit.

XAVIER RHODES:  A guy like Calvin Johnson is eventually going to make plays, he just is.  Rhodes and the Vikings holding him to only four catches and 53 yards, however, could certainly constitute a moral victory of sorts.  In addition to keeping Johnson contained, Rhodes had three tackles, including a beautifully violent tackle for a loss.

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