Thursday, July 30, 2015

jared allen

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Before I get started on this week’s roundup, I want to take a second to recognize this week’s Blind Squirrel Award recipient:

Okay, now that we got that out there for the world to see, let’s take a look at the topics currently surrounding our greatest enemies.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

As if the Vikings needed another reason to continue their defensive growth under Mike Zimmer, Aaron Rodgers is again the NFL’s reigning MVP and is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the guy only seems to get better.

Rodgers ended the season with a 65.6% completion percentage that produced 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns. He threw only five interceptions over the course of the 2014 season. He got 31 of the the 50 possible MVP votes and J.J. Watt came in second with 13.

I personally think Watt should have been the MVP this season, but that has more to do with my opinion of Watt than it does Rodgers. It is impossible, even for the most devoted Viking fan, to deny that Rodgers is playing at anything other than a truly elite level.

Being the NFL’s best running back does not place Adrian Peterson above the law. It certainly will not gain him any leniency when it comes to the investigative and disciplinarian arms of the NFL.  The court of public opinion won’t hesitate to hang him.  He is not immune to the scorn of his own family and his own children.

That last one, and arguably the most important one, are consequences that might not be fully realized until Peterson’s children are old enough to grasp the idea of forgiveness for themselves.

All the facts are not known. Peterson hasn’t even even addressed the issue, yet.  The legal process is only just beginning, as is the personal conduct review by the NFL and the Vikings.  Still, it seems evident that Adrian Peterson’s legacy has forever changed and irreversible damage has been done.

I’m plenty willing to admit a cultural difference exists between Texas (where Peterson grew up) and Minnesota (where I grew up), and that parenting is an unique challenge that doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but I don’t really care.  As a father of beautiful two and four year old children, you can bet your ass that there would be lawyers (and, perhaps, other things) if anyone ever returned my children to me in the condition described in the police report from this case.

I think what he did was unequivocally wrong and that he has no good excuse for not knowing that, given the events that took place last year when another man beat another one of Peterson’s son to death, and the All Day Foundation’s commitment to Cornerstone and “Breaking the cycle of domestic violence.”

I have pondered in the past about Peterson’s attitude towards off-field trouble and been in favor of punishing him, via benchings and fines, if it meant preventing issues larger than speeding tickets and bar brawls from arising.  Obviously, the punishments that were doled out didn’t do the trick.  I’ve been harsh on him, and other prominent Vikings players, during past instances of off-field turmoil.

I say all of this because what I am about to write might be construed, in the minds of some, as me aligning myself with the crowd sympathetic to Peterson and abusers of children.

I assure you, that is not my intent.

I think the government, the NFL, the team, and the money-spending public should all fairly and justly punish Peterson.  I’m not going to pretend to know what exactly that punishment is, but I’m in favor of just about anything within reason.

However, there are going to be people in each of those groups, and within the Peterson family, that might be inclined to actually help Peterson become a better man and a better father.  If the outrage being expressed by the masses really boils down to the well-being of a young child, then the handling of the punishment and the distribution of support should carry the same priority.

I’m not saying that prison time, or an NFL suspension, or a release from the Vikings are not good options.  I’m saying I don’t know. Only people close to Peterson, those that know him well, can possibly have an idea of what it will take to improve Adrian Peterson as a person.

Many Vikings greats, like Cris Carter and Jared Allen, had to make major changes in their lives before they could be fully respected as football players.  Peterson was already fully respected as a football player, and has lost that respect by most accounts, and has a long ways to go before he earns it back.  It isn’t impossible, though, and for the sake of his children I hope he works his ass off to make it happen.

This stream of thoughts isn’t particularly insightful, and it certainly isn’t well organized, but I’m just as furious and disappointed and conflicted as the rest of you.  I don’t know if Peterson will ever play for the Vikings again, but I do hope that he is able to make peace within his family, even if the healing has to happen over years or decades.

In the end, this is a sad situation, and I really hope it has the best of all possible outcomes.

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Our weekly look throughout the NFC North at what is the hottest topic for each of our foes:

GREEN BAY PACKERS

This is the time of year when overreactions to OTA’s are a dime a dozen.  Out of Green Bay, however, one rookie is making clear strides towards an unlikely landing spot on the starting roster.  With Jermichael Finley still looking like a giant question mark, and Andrew Quarless reeling from an injury, third round selection Richard Rodgers is turning heads in Green Bay.  We all hope that Mike Zimmer can fix a lot of things on this Vikings defense, but in the recent past they have struggled to match the size and athleticism presented by opposing tight ends, and Rodgers seems like the type of guy that could feast against a Leslie Frazier defense.  If you are looking for a late-round fantasy sleeper, however, being a potential starter in Green Bay’s offense can’t possibly be a bad thing.

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[NOTE FROM ADAM:  I’m all about encouraging new, young writers to take that leap of faith and put their work out there for everyone to see.  It can be an intimidating step to talk, as the internet isn’t always the nicest of places, but there is no better way to gain experience and to improve as a writer than to just do it.  Please join me in welcoming the newest Vikings voice:  Chris Serri.  Chris recently started a Twitter account for Vikings fans to interact with (@MN_VikingsFans) and we got to talking about him potentially contributing to VT.  Enjoy his first post!]

By Chris Serri

Earlier this morning, the public was informed that Jared Allen,  the former fan-favorite defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, was signed by the Chicaco Bears to a four-year deal, per the team’s official Twitter account. Prior to signing with the Bears, he had also visited with the Seahawks and the Cowboys. The overwhelming majority of Vikings fans, myself included, will dearly miss Jared Allen, as he was one of the faces of our franchise, and definitely was the personality of the team. Moreover, the fact that he is staying in the NFC North and playing for a rival of the Vikings will obviously sting. Two or three years ago, most fans could never have pictured Jared Allen going on to play for another team.

The question remains, however, whether or not we as fans should show anger or  resentment towards Allen. This situation is somewhat similar to the Greg Jennings’ departure from the Packers a year ago. Jennings wanted more money than the Packers were willing to offer, so he signed with the Vikings, the only other team to show significant interest in him. The situation is not completely similar though, as it was already widely assumed by most fans that he would be gone this season. The fact of the matter is that Jared Allen was not getting younger, and because of this, he wanted to move on and finish his carrer playing for a “contender.” Whether or not the Bears are truly contenders is debatable, however, it is important to realize that the Vikings have a young talented pass rusher in Everson Griffen with tremendous athletic ability, and resigning him made the decision to part ways with Allen much easier. Had we not been able to resign Griffen, we may have made a greater push to retain Allen.

At the end of the day, it was simply time for both sides to move on. The Vikings went into the offseason wanting to get younger, and there was simply no reason to pay a hefty ammount of change to Allen while his talented backup is here waiting to get his chance to  dominate. We had seen what Griffen is capable of throughout the past few years in limited action, and the Vikings knew that now, with Allen’s contract expiring, is as perfect a time as any for Griffen to step into a full-time role. There is no reason for fans to be angry with Allen. He gave our beloved Vikings several great years, especially in 2011, when he had 22 sacks. He did not end his Vikings career on bad terms with the team, as he simply wants to win a Super Bowl. Instead of being angry that he will be behind enemy lines, Vikings fans should rejoice and be glad that he gave us six tremendous years. He may not be with our team any longer, but Vikings fans will always have a place for Jared Allen in their hearts.

The sudden increase in the league-wide salary cap has resulted in a number of startling contracts through two days of free agency, but one has to keep in mind that the pot of gold has increased quite a bit, but NFL rosters have stayed the same size.  It only makes sense that contracts handed out today will be larger than their three year old equivalents.

Anyways, one of those contracts that might have prompted a few audible gasps was the one the Vikings handed out to defensive end Everson Griffen.  The initial numbers reported included a five year duration, $42.5 million total salary, with $19.8 million guaranteed.  These numbers seem steep for a relatively unproven commodity, but the Vikings claimed they are paying for the future, not the past.

They did, however, build in a little insurance.  By guaranteeing the first two years of salary, along with his $6 million in signing bonus, the Vikings can cut ties with Griffen after two seasons with minimal cap exposure.  The mainstream media has picked on the re-signing a little bit, mainly because Griffen officially only has one career start, but that stat is very misleading as his snap count and in-game impact has exceeded the expectations of most backups.

After the signing, word emerged that the Denver Broncos had been in contact with Griffen’s camp, and were prepared to offer him a contract in the neighborhood of $9 million per year.  Like the Bears did with Phil Loadholt last year, the competitive pressure may have forced the Vikings to quickly up the ante, but that’s the risk you run when you don’t lock up your own players sooner rather than later.

The defensive end market is pretty deep right now.  Who would have thought we’d ever see Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, and DeMarcus Ware all unemployed at the same time?  Still, I think the Vikings got one of the better speed rushers available, and he’s about the youngest option that was available.  With plenty of run stopping ends still available for cheap, and a need to build off of youth, I think Spielman made a decent call here as long as Griffen keeps himself out of trouble.

Adam’s Grade:  B

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