Friday, December 2, 2016

adrian peterson

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Taking a dive into veteran reporter Mark Craig's new book on Vikings history.

Mark Craig

I’ll start with a bit of unbridled truth: I really wanted to like Mark Craig’s book, 100 Things Vikings Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books, available October 1, 2016). For one, I’ve admired Craig’s work with the Star Tribune for years, and consider him a gifted writer and one of the more astute NFL minds in the market. Me criticizing him on sports writing would be like Ashlee Simpson giving Beyonce voice lessons. Two, as someone who has written a few books myself—and gotten my share of…um…mixed reviews—the last thing I want to do is drop the hammer on another author. Nothing changes the way you look at criticism quite as much as being on the receiving end.

So when I accepted the offer to review 100 Things, it was with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was excited to read Mark Craig’s first endeavor into book-length Vikings journalism. On the other, I was scared it wouldn’t be that good. That would make things complicated, and awkward.

I promised myself before I dove in, when I was done with the book, I’d write an honest review no matter what. I’d give my thoughts and overall impression as an admittedly half-baked reviewer, but one who tells the truth, because I cannot think of many things less interesting than reading a biased or otherwise insincere review. I’ve read my share of thinly veiled press releases, and I had no interest in spending time writing one.

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VT QOTW

how surprised are you by Minnesota’s 3-0 start
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings weren’t supposed to start the season undefeated. The losses of Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, and Sharrif Floyd spelled doom for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

But led my head coach Mike Zimmer and the NFL’s most dangerous defense, they’ve overcome the odds, beating NFC powerhouses like the Packers and Panthers along the way. It’s been an exhilarating run for fans, and one that may only improve with time.

Still, had you asked any fan before the season whether Sam Bradford could carry the Vikings or T.J. Clemmings would seemingly outperform Kalil, they’d have laughed in your face. This has been a surprising stretch of success in Minnesota, one that few outside the state or fan base expected.

Inside the Vikings Territory writer’s room, I asked the same question and received a few surprising answers:

“On a scale from 1-10, how surprised are you by Minnesota’s 3-0 start to the season?”

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In this episode of Bump & Run, I celebrate making it two straight videos without being shut down by the powers that be. We also discuss the fact that injuries are now irrelevant in football, the proper pronounciation of “Sirles”, and the idiots over at NFL Network. Plus, how badly the Vikings will beat the Giants, and which somewhat random player will score a touchdown this week.

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Five Thoughts from the Vikings' win at Carolina.

zimmer suffocates cam
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

1. Zimmer suffocates Cam.

Since Mike Zimmer became the coach of the Vikings, the team has played the Panthers twice, and in those games, Cam Newton is a combined 39 of 70 for 456 yards, with one passing touchdown and four interceptions. You can clearly see the impact Zimmer’s schemes and gameplans have on the 2015 MVP, and on Sunday, the Vikings stifled Newton in a way that few defenses can (21/35, 262 YDS, 0 TD, 3 INT). They also sacked him eight times. It was, quite simply, a magnificent performance, especially considering how prolific the Panthers’ offense usually is at home.

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Alex Boone Injured in Vikings Win
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Lost in the excitement of yesterday’s win over the Carolina Panthers is the potential loss of Alex Boone. The Minnesota Vikings’ starting left guard was injured in the second quarter and did not return to the game. His hip injury will require an MRI this afternoon and adds another offensive lineman to Eric Sugarman’s cadre of “patients.”

Boone’s status is up-in-the-air, leaving the Vikings without two starters up front. Matt Kalil underwent hip surgery of his own on Thursday, ending his season just two games into the 2016 campaign. Second-year tackle T.J. Clemmings stepped into Kalil’s role on Sunday, performing well enough to keep Sam Bradford upright against the Panthers.

Jeremiah Sirles replaced Boone midway through the second quarter and held his own against a stout Carolina front. Asked after the game if he was worried about the injury, Boone simply told Brian Murphy, “All fine, all good.”

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