Tuesday, July 7, 2015

brian robison

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(photo used with permission)

Whether you’re a fellow Vikings fan at autograph signings, games, the tailgate lot, or just the wonderful world of social media, you are probably familiar with Erin Darsow, aka “Panda.”

Darsow is by far one of the most dedicated Vikings fans I have ever met. And she wears her fandom on her sleeve—literally. From decked-out team spirit outfits to tattoos of Vikings players’ autographs on her arm, she leaves no question marks about her allegiance to the purple and gold.

She has an interesting story, too. Unlike most of our featured fans, who were born into Vikings fandom, Darsow didn’t have that same experience.

“I had to learn about [the Vikings] on my own,” she said.”

Darsow first became a fan in 1998; although she was only in middle school at the time, she started attending football games at the local high school and “begged the guys to explain the basics” to her. She soon realized she had to choose a team, and there was no question for this Minnesota girl: the Vikings it was.

“I think that, the fact that my first football season was our traumatic 1998 year, and I still stuck with it, meant it was to be for life,” Darsow said, smiling. 

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

When news broke that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived Michael Johnson on Wednesday, many wondered if the Vikings would make a push for the 29-year-old defensive end — Johnson played under Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati from 2009-2013, when Zimmer was the Bengals’ defensive coordinator.

It looks like the Vikings are serious contenders — per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Michael Johnson will make Minnesota his first free agency visit:

Under Zimmer in 2012, Johnson recorded 11.5 sacks for the Bengals and vaulted himself into the top tier of the free agency market. His success in Cincinnati led the Buccaneers to sign Johnson to a five-year, $43.75 million contract in 2014 — the same year the Vikings rewarded Everson Griffen with a five-year, $42.5 million deal.

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(UPDATE): It seems like the Vikings are genuinely interested in Michael Johnson:

Original story below


 

Wednesday afternoon, Chris Tomasson reported that a source close to defensive end Michael Johnson said he expects the Vikings to be “in the running” for Johnson’s 2015-2016 destination. Tampa Bay waived Johnson earlier Wednesday, and he is not expected to make an immediate decision. However, Minnesota could hold the upper hand as head coach Mike Zimmer has already worked with Johnson. “Zimmer’s his guy,’’ said the source. “He almost went (to Minnesota) last year.’’ Two days ago, ESPN’s Ben Goessling reminded us of just that:

 

Johnson played with the Bengals from 2009-13, when Zimmer was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator. Although considering Minnesota last year, he instead signed a five-year, $43.75 million contract with the Buccaneers. It was at that point the Vikings re-signed Everson Griffen.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[Note: This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period. This is the ninth article, focusing on the defensive ends. In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterbacksrunning backstight endsfullbackswide outsspecialistssafeties, and cornerbacks.]

With free agency fast approaching, front offices are preparing to make moves that will shape their franchises in 2015 and beyond. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has never been one to sign “splashy” free agent names, but his decisions have generally been “low-risk, high-reward” moves.

This year, the Vikings will need to address their defensive ends — specifically,  the situation surrounding Brian Robison’s backup. The team drafted Oregon State’s Scott Crichton 72nd-overall in the 2014 NFL Draft hoping he’d fill that role, but the former Beaver recorded just 2 tackles in 8 games.

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Photo provided courtesy of Vikings.com

Don’t you love the NFL offseason?  If you thought the wait for the NFL draft was bad, we’re currently experiencing the worst part of the year for football fans. For those finding ways to supplement your withdraws with another type of football, I’m jealous. For myself, in hopes of filling the void, I’ve watched and re-watched the practice highlights looking for something to stand out.  I’ve also done a great deal of thinking around the current depth chart, trying to predict where the 2014 Vikings will make their greatest strides.

When looking at a defense full of holes in 2013, it isn’t difficult to identify the area in need of the largest improvement. Second to only the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings ranked 31st in total passing defense in 2013, surrendering an average of 287 yards through the air per game. To throw salt on the wound, the Vikings allowed 37 passing TDs and a completion percentage of 64.7%, a completion percentage so high that only 6 quarterbacks averaged a higher number for the 2013 season.

The Vikings secondary wasn’t just the weakest spot on the field, it made an opposing quarterback look like a pro bowler week in and week out.

The defensive collapses were frustrating to watch. Each week, fans watched in agony as the defense gave up more 3rd & long completions, some of which cost the Vikings wins and ultimately cost Head Coach Leslie Frazier and staff their jobs. There is no quick fix for a defensive unit as broken as the Vikings secondary. Was it the scheme or the personnel? Let’s take a closer look at how General Manager Rick Spielman has addressed the troubled secondary entering the 2014 season.

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