Saturday, April 25, 2015
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adrian peterson

 The Vikings are set to tangle with the division rival Chicago Bears this weekend at the Metrodome. It’s a game that usually has me buzzing all week most seasons… not so much this year.

 The Vikings match up pretty well with the Bears this time around and actually have a solid chance to win this game. Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are coming off a combined season high 239 yards rushing on 40 carries last week at Lambeau Field and you can expect to see more of the same again this week.

The Bears are giving up 4.9 yards per carry and currently ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing defense allowing 145.2 yards per game. Last week the Bears’ defense let the Rams run the ball 29 times for 258 yards. That’s a whopping 8.9 yards per carry! Ouch.

 So, why am I not trash and smack talking to all the Bears fans I work with? I guess because maybe it’s a meaningless game. Or, maybe I’ve just thrown in the towel on this disheartening season? In any case, my psychologist told me that I just need to forget about wins and losses, draft positions, coaching fixes, injuries and arrests… and just focus on enjoying a good football game.

The last Vikings game I really got fired up to enjoy was way back in week two. I was seated one row from the top at Soldier Field during a rainy contest that unfortunately saw the Vikings fall short to the Bears in the final seconds of an exciting 30-31 ballgame. Yes, I know first hand that when these two teams get together it will usually result in an entertaining affair.

I’m counting on another engaging contest between the Vikings and the Bears this Sunday. A week 13 win just seems fitting. Wins have been few and far between lately… so why not enjoy this one? Punching the Bears in the mouth would be the highlight of the year for me.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Metrodome really rocking one last time? And, I think the Vikings can win one more game and still land a quality, gritty, big-armed senior QB like Fresno State’s Derek Carr or LSU’s Zach Mettenberger come draft time.

 Go Vikings! My pulse still beats for the purple.

 

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For the first time this season the Vikings will face an opponent without much-criticized middle linebacker Erin Henderson.  This means reserve linebacker Audie Cole will get the nod, despite having been released and re-signed within the last few weeks.  It is also expected that rookie Michael Mauti will see some time at the spot with the first team.

The Vikings won’t have to be without Adrian Peterson as they face the Green Bay Packers.  Despite a nagging groin injury, Peterson is expected to play, as will receiver Greg Jennings who returns to face the Packers for the first time since leaving in free agency.

The Vikings inactives today:  QB Josh Freeman, LB Erin Henderson, CB Josh Robinson, TE Kyle Rudolph, G Jeff Baca, DT Chase Baker, and WR Rodney Smith.  This marks Freeman’s fifth inactive game since joining the Vikings and the team’s unwillingness to give him another crack at the starting job continues to puzzle many fans.

With the Packers missing Aaron rodgers today, however, Christian Ponder has a chance to finally be the best quarterback on the field.

We will be hosting our live chat for those interest.  If you want to join us:  CLICK HERE.

As the Vikings get deeper and deeper into the 2013 season their losses are becoming more and more embarrassing.  A playoff team one season ago, the Vikings of today are putting some of the most putrid displays of football on the field that I have ever seen, and I’m counting the high school competitions I’ve watched… including junior varsity… in Alaska.

This team has been so awful in so many ways that it is difficult to diagnose any individual problems.  There are some obvious players to pick on, guys that lack certain skill sets, but all 32 teams in the league have guys like that.  There is something different about this Vikings team.  Something that just isn’t right.  Something that can’t be explained away by citing an overall lack of talent.  This team isn’t old, but it isn’t so young that it should be this bad.  In the past I’ve talked about Christian Ponder just not seeming to have that elusive “it” trait, which is a hard thing to explain about an individual player, but now I venture to say that this entire team just doesn’t have “it” this year.  How that happens to a collective group is even harder to explain.

Still, I have to do something other than pretend my website doesn’t exist.  I can’t just let you guys down and stop writing, no matter how much of a chore it feels like these days.  I can clean my gutters before I write, however, which is exactly what I did.  Despite the dirty task, Tuesday night has already been more of a success (and more enjoyable) than Monday night was.

There were no hidden treasures in my gutters tonight and, homers be warned, there are no hidden treasures in my analysis of last night’s debacle.  Here are 10 things that the Vikings need to fix prior to 2014 and I attempted to prioritize them:

10.  We Need A New Guard

Whether their regression is permanent or an anomaly, the Vikings will go into the future with their current starting tackles and center on the offensive line.  The guard positions are a different story, however, and if this team is going to make a move along the O-Line it will come at these spots.  Brandon Fusco hasn’t been too terrible this season, but Charlie Johnson should not be starting in the NFL, and these guys collectively need to be held accountable for their share of the Vikings struggles both running and passing.  It is once again time for the organization to bring some serious competition to the line and make a statement:  Continuity within the unit needs to be earned, not gifted.

With Harrison Smith being placed on Injured Reserve (designated to return), the Vikings have signed cornerback Jacob Lacey.  Andrew Sendejo will start at safety in Smith’s place.  Desmond Bishop also was placed on injured reserve this week and Rodney Smith was promoted from the practice squad to take his place.  Meanwhile, quarterback Josh Freeman will be rushed into action Monday night as the starter, with neither Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel showing the organization they have what it takes to command a championship-quality offense.

The mess is widespread.  There are clearly more problems than there are viable solutions.  With four losses to their one win, and the toughest part of the schedule yet to come, things are worse than bleak for the Vikings in 2013.  We are no longer witnessing a slow start, but instead are witnessing a quick death, and their final breath could end up coming on Monday Night Football against the winless Giants.

With nothing less to lose, however, the Vikings can really only win from this point forward.

Perhaps Josh Freeman jumpstarts this team.  Maybe they make a very interesting run at a wild card spot.  Maybe his height and strong arm will finally open up the running game in a way Adrian Peterson’s biggest fans have only dreamed of.  Maybe he knows what it takes to win, to lead a group of winners, and maybe the Vikings have one of the biggest free agency steals of all time on their hands.  Maybe they finally have a franchise quarterback.

Of course, maybe not.

Maybe Freeman doesn’t show us anything special and serves up more of the same.  Maybe the defense struggles even more than they already are with their stud safety sidelined with an injury.  Maybe the coaching and scheme are just not going to get it done.  Maybe this team continues to spiral further into the abyss.  Maybe the are destined to be one of the NFL’s worst this year.

Either way, it is hard to see the downside for this team as the season progresses, outside of (knock on wood) devastating injuries.  Either they get their collective act together and see some promise out of their new, young quarterback or they get closer and closer to securing one of the top picks in a very quarterback-heavy Draft.

We would all prefer they win games.  But, they haven’t been able to do that, and I don’t think it is too early to start eyeballing those consolation prizes.

The Vikings were once again embarrassed at home by a team that, on paper, should have been very beatable.  The 35-10 beatdown delivered by the Panthers was frustrating to watch and served as a loss of all hope for many Vikings fans this season.  The mess that is the 2013 Minnesota Vikings has so many problems that are so widespread, it is difficult to sift through it all and diagnose any problems, but here are eight things that have stuck out to me through the first five games of the season.  Sorry for focusing solely on the negative, but even hack bloggers need to vent.

1.  Musgrave Is Tripping Over Himself

Bill Musgrave made a Monday Night Countdown appearance on the “C’mon Man” segment thanks to his incredibly undersized play card.  I think ESPN deserves the award, however, as there are about 99 other things that Musgrave should be called out on before the size of his playbook.  For starters, how is it that Adrian Peterson only gets 10 carries against Carolina?  Think about what the acronym “MVP” stands for and then tell me that it is truly, honestly, absolutely possible for an opposing team to neutralize him that quickly and that early in a game.  He’s a true game changer and the Vikings should never stop feeding him the ball.  The team abandoning the run game was magnified by the ineptness of Musgrave’s passing game.

Perhaps even worse is the fact that Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton only saw six snaps all game long.  That’s right, the same Vikings team that had no answer for incoming power blitzes intentionally kept a Pro Bowl caliber blocker on the sideline.  I can’t imagine the reasoning here and it is just the latest example of Musgrave, who had already shown an inability to deal with these types of blitz schemes in the preseason against Buffalo, shooting himself in the foot for no apparent reason.

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