Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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charlie johnson

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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Every now and then we get someone that wants to give this ol’ blogging thing a try.  Of course, we are happy for the added content and often hope the author succeeds as a Vikings writer, either here or elsewhere.  This is another post, of which I am particularly impressed with, so I hope you will all give Seth Forst’s first article here at VT and give him some supportive comments.

THEODORE EDMUND BRIDGEWATER II: By The Numbers

Author:  Seth Forst

One year ago, at this time, Teddy Bridgewater had just turned 21 years old. He was enrolled for his junior year at the University of Louisville, beginning preparation to play the University of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl.  Between then and now, Teddy has been up, down, and in-between.

From fans calling for their team to “Tank for Teddy” to the debacle that was his Louisville Pro Day, his perceived draft stock fluctuated in a volatile way. Fast forward to the afternoon of September 28th – Viking fans at TCF Bank Stadium loudly expressed their satisfaction with the play of Bridgewater (TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY), as he led the Vikings to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Then came the inevitable rookie struggles perhaps summed up by his performance in Chicago on November 16th, when Bridgewater finished the game 18/28 for 158 yards (5.6 YPA), 1 TD, and 1 INT. That’s a passer rating of 76.2 and a QBR of 21.3, for those keeping track at home.

Since the Bears game, however, the general consensus has been that Bridgewater is improving, and things are once again looking up (TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY, TEDDDDY).

Is perception reality? Let’s take a look at the passing numbers, and see what they tell us. I included his total ‘yards in air’, passing yards before any yards after catch, as a reference to how much he’s pushing the ball down the field. This can also shed light on completion percentage, given shorter passes are more likely to be completed than deep throws.

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15

Sorry for the delay on getting this out.  My Adrian Peterson hangover combined with my Thursday Night Football hangover has suddenly made other things feel like a higher priority… like raking leaves, taking naps, and finally watching Draft Day (dreadful).  My excuses have run out, however, so here we are.

After plenty of time to digest the debacle against the Packers I have determined that the Vikings looked exactly like something that has been fully digested.  It is a struggle to point to any individual performances from that game that are “Player of the Game” worthy.  Even in bad losses that is an unusual occurrence, but this game was an extra special flavor of bad.  That is why “none” is actually a legitimate option in this week’s poll.

Past Winners:

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

This week’s nominations are…

 Fresno State’s QB Derek Carr takes on USC in the Las Vegas Bowl. USC has a solid defensive front, so it will be interesting to see if Derek can rise to the occasion and prove he is worthy of a top 10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Nothing wrong with his arm strength or production, but I will be watching to see if he’s a big game performer in the clutch. His 4,866 yards passing this season with 48 touchdowns and 7 interceptions has me hoping the Vikings are in position to draft him.

Ranked just outside the top 50 on some draft boards is Washington State’s hard hitting SS Deone Bucannon. Spielman likes his defensive backs big, and Bucannon fits the mold at 6-1 215 lbs. Not only is he big enough to rattle some bones, but he is also a turnover machine with 5 interceptions on the year and 14 for his career. Bucannon is also the leading tackler for Washington State with 74 solo stops. With a solid bowl and combine performance, Bucannon could see his stock rise.

Washington State takes on Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl in the early Satuday game. The Rams have the 2nd ranked center in the country in Weston Richburg. With Charlie Johnson and Joe Burger set to be free agents, the Vikings are sure to take a look at this talented center from Colorado State. Weston has good NFL size at 6-4 300 lbs and has started 49 consecutive games. Weston blocks for the nation’s eight-leading rusher Kapri Bibbs who gained 1,572 yards this year. If Weston can prove he is versatile enough to also play guard, he just might be a guy Spielman will be tempted to target between rounds 2 and 4.

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The Vikings were hoping some of the dings and dents suffered on Sunday would heal quickly enough to not impact Thursday night’s matchup against Washington.  It is looking like that is just wishful thinking.

The Vikings have already ruled out defensive backs Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford.  Defensive tackle Fred Evans has also been ruled out while starter LeTroy Guion is listed as doubtful, giving way for Chase Baker to see extensive action.  Xavier Rhodes is listed as probable and will likely start at cornerback across from Josh Robinson, with Mistral Raymond and Robert Blanton filling in for Raymond at safety.

On offense, Christian Ponder will have the odds even more stacked against him as he will likely be missing two starters on the offensive line, not to mention tight end Kyle Rudolph.  Phil Loadholt has already been ruled out and J’Marcus Webb will be filling in at right tackle.  Charlie Johnson is listed as doubtful, so Joe Berger is likely to get the start in his place.  Tight end Rhett Ellison is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that has caused him to miss time and backup running back Matt Asiata will miss another game while dealing with the tragic death of his father.

The Indigenous People of the Potomac Region, however, have only one rookie backup running back (Chris Thompson) listed as questionable.  Five others are on their injury report, but they are all listed as probable.

In short, the Vikings are hurting far worse than the Redskins as we forge into the second half of a very, very long 2013 season.

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