January 20-25 - Senior Bowl
January 26 - Pro Bowl
February 17 - First day of franchise / transition player designation
February 19-25 - Scouting Combine
March 11 - Free Agency begins
March 23 - Owner's Meeting
April 7 - Off-season workouts begin for teams with new HC
April 17 - 2014 Schedule Released
April 21 - Off-season workouts begin for teams with returning HC
May 2 - Deadline for RFAs to sign offers
May 8-10 - NFL Draft
A nice Brian Robison sack followed shortly by an impressive Marcus Sherels return set Christian Ponder up for the best drive he has had in quite some time. Two runs, including a fourth down scramble, resulted in the young quarterback using his mobility to score the game’s first touchdown.
Then, with one Rams drive aside, it was all Vikings from there on out. A Chad Greenway fumble recovery, an Everson Griffen pick six, an 82 yard touchdown run from Adrian Peterson, and a pair of big field goals from Blair Walsh has all but given the Vikings a win in just one half of football.
The second half is sure to feature plenty of Adrian Peterson as he continues his quest for immortality. Enjoy!
The second quarter started with the Vikings defense giving up yardage on both the ground and through the air, pinning them back against the end zone. In the red zone, however, the defense toughened up and a Kevin Williams coverage sack brought it to an end with a field goal being the only damage done.
The Vikings offense then had a nice, methodical drive down the field that featured big runs from both Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder. A dropped pass by Stephen Burton inside the ten doomed the Vikings chances of a touchdown, and they had to settle for a short field goal.
A solid defensive effort was capped off by great coverage by Jasper Brinkley and the Vikings got the ball back with 2:28 left in the half. A three and out, however, gave the ball back to the Lions at the two minute warning after some very questionable clock management.
A very impressive defensive stand, including a third down sack by Everson Griffen, actually gave the Vikings the ball back with 1:30 left in the half and two timeouts. The Vikings then went three and out.
So, with both offenses unable to do anything with their chances at the end of the first half, the Vikings lead by a score of 13-3.
Monday’s are never quite as fun after a loss like the one the Vikings suffered yesterday. Your boss being a Packer fan and informing you that the football universe is now back in alignment after their hearty win over the Texans (and the Vikings loss) makes it all the more worse.
But it’s okay – today is a new day separate from the angst and irrationality of last night. I’m not quite ready to start sipping the purple kool-aid again but Adam has some notes from yesterday’s game that I promise are more level-headed than mine.
For whatever reason, he wasn’t able to post them himself. So, on his behalf, here are some of our favorite Vikings blogger’s opinions on last night’s travesty.
I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe Erin Henderson should have replaced Jasper Brinkley on nickel downs. Maybe Jared Allen needed to ease up on his pass rush and focus more on containment. Maybe Everson Griffen needed to take more snaps. Whatever the issue, this Vikings defense struggles with mobile quarterbacks, and that could prove to be an issue down the stretch. Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler are both on the schedule, twice each, between now and the end of the season.
I have said it a few times that the week two performance against Indianapolis was one of the worst games the Vikings have played in recent memory. A huge part of that reasoning is the disdain I have for penalties and this most recent game against Washington had that same feel. Too many penalties, too undisciplined.
The Vikings performed better against Washington than they did against Indy earlier this season, and had some better individual performances, but once again Percy Harvin is the biggest silver lining following the “L.” I want to make a fresh point about Harvin, however. After watching Matt Stafford flip the football, Victor Cruz salsa dance, Jared Allen rope a cow when his team is losing, and RGIII act like he is auditioning for Glee, I love how professional and sensible Harvin is during his moments of dominance. After a big play, it seems to take him about a nanosecond before he is focused on making the next big play. Chris Kluwe called Harvin the hardest working player in football following Sunday’s loss, and I believe him, because he is all business for 60 straight minutes.
I keep hearing that Jerome Simpson is the Vikings only deep threat. If that is truly the case, then the Vikings front office and coaching staff have pinned themselves into a corner that is inexcusable. If your only way to stretch the field is a street free agent beginning the year on suspension, then you have screwed up.
I don’t think that is the case, however, so it frustrates me to see Bill Musgrave act like the Sunday morning pre-game shows know what they are talking about in the way he calls plays. The Vikings begin the game by finding great success in the run game, Washington adjusts to stop the run, and then the Vikings fail to adjust their own plan and take advantage of them stacking the box. That is not a good blueprint to have on tape.
Luckily, however, the Vikings do have deep threats besides Simpson and soon they will have to realize it. I have seen Percy Harvin be successful downfield with Brett Favre throwing him the ball. I know John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph can be dangerous running streaks down the seam. Heck, even Devin Aromashodu has made plays deep every year since joining the Vikings. If Michael Jenkins can’t get there, then how about giving Stephen Burton a chance to show us what he can do? The options are there but Musgrave has to acknowledge them and Ponder has to take advantage of them.
No matter what, though, put receiver at the top of your offseason priority list for the Vikings in 2013.
I have always thought that mid-season contract extension should be used as a way to reward excellent play and motivate others on the roster. Last week, news broke that the Vikings had begun negotiating with starting right tackle Phil Loadholt whose contract expires after this season. I didn’t get a chance to give my opinion on the matter, so I’ll take the opportunity now.
Does Phil Loadholt deserve a reward for his play this season? Is he easily enough replaced or upgraded via the Draft or free agency? Will cheaper options be available?
I like Loadholt okay. He is serviceable. I just don’t see him, as he gets older, somehow becoming more athletic and quicker on his feet, however. I’m just not convinced he is worth a larger, long-term investment at this point. If I had a vote (which I won’t and never will) I would say to leave it be until January and then see where things stand.
The Vikings fell to second place in the NFC North with their loss on Sunday, but they came out of it largely unscathed and have a chance to get their confidence back against a pair of lesser teams. Leslie Frazier indicated that the team suffered no major injuries on Sunday, so that is great news moving forward. The Vikings had back to the Metrodome to host the atrocious-looking Cardinals and then get to play the lackluster Bucs. It is possible, if not somewhat likely, that this Vikings team will soon be 6-2.
When one dedicates a good portion of his week reading, researching, and writing about football it can be difficult to remember that there are more important things in life. I imagine that it is a gazillion times harder for players and coaches to remember that, which could lead to some shocking situations like Brad Childress docking a player’s pay for attending his grandmother’s funeral and Torrey Smith playing lights out football only hours after finding out his brother was dead.
Yesterday, Vikings defensive lineman Everson Griffen found out he will be living the rest of his life with his mother there to help him along. His mother reportedly died suddenly, cause unknown at this point, while visiting her son in Minnesota.
“As you can imagine, it was tough,” Leslie Frazier said on Thursday. “There was nothing that could have prepared him for that news. He wasn’t here [Thursday]. I’m not sure what his status will be going forward.
“Our prayers as an organization, as well as his teammates, are with him and his family. This is a difficult time for him, as you can imagine, and we’ll be there to support him as best we can. . . . He loved his mom, like we all do. And to have no clue that something like this was on the horizon it was tough. It’s still tough, obviously.”
“Everson means a lot to me, like all our guys do, and I’ve seen the maturation in his life,” Frazier continued. “I told him that [Wednesday] night. I know his mom would be so proud of how he has grown up and become a young man that has made her very proud. It’s hard to see him hurting. I lost my mother not long ago, I know what that experience is like, and it’s hard. It’s hard.”
Unlike the Childress situation mentioned earlier, Frazier is giving his player all the time necessary to properly grieve and says Griffen can return whenever he is ready to do so.
“It’s purely up to him when,” Frazier said. “There’s no timetable. I explained that to him,” Frazier said. “He needs to go through the grieving process properly and don’t be thinking about football. Just doing whatever he needs to do away from football. His mom was very, very close to him. This is going to be a tough deal for him.”
We here at Vikings Territory would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to Everson and his family during this trying time.
The 4-1 Minnesota Vikings have faced quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Matt Stafford, and Matt Hasselbeck so far this season. Through five weeks these guys have rushed 59 times for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
Robert Griffin III alone, however, has rushed 42 times for 241 yards and four touchdowns (and a concussion).
That concussion could keep RGIII off the field this Sunday, giving the Vikings their second backup quarterback in a row, but all of the reports on Monday suggest that Leslie Frazier’s Vikings will, at the very least, need to spend this week preparing to face their first uber-athletic quarterback of the season.
RGIII has taken the league by storm, right up until he got blown up this week, and is making a strong bid to be 2012’s rookie of the year. The Vikings have struggled against scrambling throwers in the recent past, but this defense has a very different feel to it.
Let’s take a look at how the Vikings defense might approach the new challenge that RGIII presents:
One of the most tried-and-true approaches to stopping a flight risk quarterback is to assign a “spy” to that player. A defender with the discipline, intelligence, and instincts to prevent a guy like RGIII from ripping off big chunks of yardage on the ground.
Antoine Winfield, Chad Greenway, and Harrison Smith all come to mind as guys that might fit that bill and they could be key in keeping Griffin under wraps. Ideally, the Vikings would be able to rotate “spy” duties throughout the defense to keep the Redskins guessing, and to perhaps sneak a few plays in there where no spy is actually assigned.
Mix It Up
Griffin has received plenty of praise for his ability to make good reads and stay cool under pressure. He is still a rookie, however, and the Vikings could be well served by showing a lot of different packages and blitzes. The team has recently made a new commitment to “keeping it simple,” but rookie quarterbacks are prone to make mistakes and confusing him could only play to our advantage.
I would be very pleased to see Winfield, Josh Robinson, or even Marcus Sherels blitz fromt eh corner from time to time, aiming for Griffin’s blind side.
Match That Athleticism
Veteran smarts and savvy cannot be undervalued on this young defense, but sometimes athleticism like Griffin’s needs to be matched with athleticism. In this case, matching Griffin with Griffen could be very interesting.
I would, at least slightly, increase Everson Griffen’s snap count this week. Griffen is almost certainly the most athletic player on this defense and he needs to be included in the effort to stop RGIII. For his size, Griffen is incredibly fast and has long limbs, both of which would help him pursue Griffin on the run.
Kevin Williams opened last week’s game by letting a tackle for a loss and then a sack slip right through his fingers. Those types of missed tackles might be a side note in the aftermath of a game against Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans, but Griffin and the Redskins are more dangerous on offense and those miscues can easily turn into important game changers in the blink of an eye.
Williams and the rest of the defense have to make sure to take advantage of the opportunities they do get. This is a tougher task than the Titans were, and missed tackles and dropped interceptions are not something we want to be the main focus after this weekend.
Some of us think that Rick Spielman has put together a roster that potentially has the ability to surprise NFL observers as soon as this coming season. Heck, if you look into the darkest corners and the deepest abyss, you might even find a Vikings fan that thinks the Vikings could soon be in contention for a Super Bowl.
From what I have seen out of the Vikings coaching staff this offseason, however, I think that they are having trouble believing in themselves and instead want to pull every trick out of the hat possible in an effort to simply do well enough to not get fired.
First, as Brett passed along in the post below this one, the team is allowing Adrian Peterson to rush himself back into action. Sure, they are parading Peterson out in front of the press allowing him to talk about his “vision” and make himself out to be some sort of Superman capable of making this comeback in short order.
If Peterson were actually Superman, his knee never would have been shredded in the first place.
Allowing him to push himself during the rehab process is one thing. Allowing him to run with the reckless abandon we all know and love during a meaningless preseason game, or even early in the regular season, is quite another. Make no mistake about it, this is shaping up to be the biggest gamble this team has taken since they swung a certain trade with a certain Texas franchise to obtain a certain high profile running back.
And it could backfire.
Another sign that the coaching staff is in self preservation mode is the handling of Everson Griffen. Griffen was shaping up to be an above-average defensive end that could push Brian Robison for playing time, and also made an impact as the NFL’s biggest special teams gunner. So, they switched him to linebacker for a spell in an effort to give him more snaps.
Now, I have no problem with experimenting and trying to play to the strengths of your roster, but this particular experiment went too far. They have already canned the idea of Griffen playing at linebacker, but not after he shed a significant amount of weight to try and win a job there. Making that type of change to your body in an effort to win a position you clearly weren’t meant to play is just ridiculous.
I am even more perplexed that they would move Griffen away from the end spot while at the same time make a big deal out of putting Jared Allen on a pitch count. Griffen, by all appearances, was at least the third best pass rusher on this roster last season and should be an obvious choice to spell Allen if that truly is the plan. Now, I am concerned that Griffen’s weight loss will at least temporarily hinder his ability to be productive at that spot, let alone as a part of the defensive tackle rotation.
The handling of these two very different situations follow a troubling pattern that cause me to flash back to my objections to the handling of Joe Webb, Donovan McNabb, and Chris Cook.
Troubling patterns are the worst kind, and the fact that I am starting to notice them is giving me an uneasy feeling.