Wednesday, March 29, 2017

jake long

The Road to 50 — About the Labor: Episode 50 (!!!!!)

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald discuss the Minnesota Vikings’ signings of Latavius Murray and Datone Jones, re-signing Adam Thielen and Terence Newman, the team’s six remaining internal free agents, the departures of Jeff Locke, Cordarrelle Patterson and Andre Smith and plenty more on Episode 50 (!) of About the Labor.

PRIMARY TALKING POINTS

  • The New Guys: Reviewing free-agent signings of EDGE Datone Jones and RB Latavius Murray
  • The Old Guys: Discussing the re-upped contracts of WR Adam Thielen and CB Terence Newman
  • The Exodus: Thoughts on the departures of P Jeff Locke, WR Cordarrelle Patterson and OT Andre Smith
  • The Other Stuff: Hashing over the Minnesota Vikings’ six remaining internal free agents

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Improving the OL a top priority

T.J. Clemmings is the only Minnesota Vikings tackle under contract heading into free agency. Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Jake Long, and Jeremiah Sirles—the rotation of subpar 2016 starters—are all set to hit the open market next week. Some will become restricted free agents, others exclusive rights, and a few unrestricted, but one thing remains true: the Vikings are lacking any sustainability at a position critical to long-term success.

That’s a problem.

Even if general manager Rick Spielman were to retain their talents, he’d still enter 2017 with arguably the league’s worst rotation of tackles. Fortunately, the Vikings are flush with cash, thanks in large part to the decision to forego Adrian Peterson’s future contract option.

The NFLPA also did the Vikings—and the rest of the NFL—a favor by raising the salary cap to $167 million. An increase of seven percent over the 2016 figure gives Spielman nearly $38 million to spend on premier tackles, running backs, and other positions of need — if he so chooses.

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Interest in OT Russell Okung

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman knows he needs to address his team’s offensive line woes. According to Jason La Canfora, Spielman isn’t wasting any time, as he’s already begun the search for help at tackle.

The Vikings join the New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, and New York Giants as potential suitors for Russell Okung, the recently-released Denver Broncos left tackle. Okung, a first-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2010, has started 88 games in his seven-year career. The 29-year-old veteran appeared in the 2012 Pro Bowl and finished 2016 as Pro Football Focus’s 38th-ranked tackle.

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What Went Wrong: Week 10

Third and a Long One Yard
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Down a point to the Pittsburgh Steelers with nine seconds remaining, Ezekiel Elliott burst through the line of scrimmage and carried the Dallas Cowboys to an improbable win. His 32-yard touchdown sealed the game for Dallas, launching himself and the Cowboys into the NFL’s rarified air.

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings experienced similar joy — albeit, in a losing game — from Adrian Peterson. Down 10 to the Denver Broncos, facing a fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter, Teddy Bridgewater handed the ball to Peterson. Minnesota’s All-Pro running back exploded through a crease and jaunted to the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown, pulling the Vikings within three.

Fast forward to the present day, and such short-yardage situations aren’t a gimmie for the current Vikings offense. Gone are the days of a push by the offensive line and decisive running between the tackles. Sure, the Vikings try to play “power football,” but the results have been alarmingly disappointing.

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Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings have mercifully released kicker Blair Walsh to the boisterous cheers of a Purple fanbase who demanded blood, anyone’s blood, for this four-game losing steak. So what now? Walsh was indeed under performing, but he didn’t play offensive line, running back, or defense. There are still many items on this suddenly 5-4 football team that need addressing beyond punting a kicker with three years left on his contract.

Eric Thompson (The Daily Norseman) joined me at Blue Door Pub to throw back some Indeeds and talk about our suddenly crappy team and how Zimmer can hopefully Make the Vikings Great Again. Also Jason the GM of BDP Como chimed in on the Vikes and what’s going down at Blue Door.

All that and more “Kicking Is a Helluva Drug” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

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