Friday, August 28, 2015

jared allen

When Percy Harvin, early in the offseason, expressed great displeasure with the Vikings organization and demanded a trade, Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier had conversations with their star receiver that quickly made him change his tune.

Harvin recently said that his issues were rooted with players not really knowing their role within the offense, but that things were clarified and that he now thinks offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is doing a great job.  Presumably, the Vikings brass were able to convince Harvin that things would be different in 2012 and that he would know exactly what type of role he would be asked to play… a huge one.

On one hand, Spielman and Frazier could be applauded for giving Harvin the tune up he needed to have the season he is currently having.  On the other hand, however, some could argue that Spielman and Frazier may have empowered Harvin and showed a little too much favoritism towards him.

Now, we have another case in which the Vikings uber-talented have approached the coaching staff with hopes of increasing productivity by, for lack of a better term, undermining the original wishes of the coaching staff.

Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, following a horrible week two loss to the Colts, say they approached the coaching staff about “simplifying” the line calls on defense and letting the defensive line just do their thing.

“You know how sometimes, like a formation (will) come up, and they’ll be like, we wanted to do so and so to this formation and this to that formation?” Williams told 1500 ESPN. “Just let us go and work through it and play off of each other. That’s the best thing we’ve got going for us up front.”

“We just stopped trying to make a call for everything,” he continued. “The defensive front has been successful the last few years. We didn’t do a lot of trick ’em stuff. We just lined up and went after people, and that’s basically what we were trying to get ’em to do.  Just take the reins off and let us go. We can take care of the rush. We don’t need to design stuff for the rush. Just let the guys go. We’ve all pretty much had experience rushing the quarterback and playing this defense. Just basically, let us go and we can handle it. We don’t need plays or schemes to handle what we’re doing up front.”

Williams is right in saying that the Vikings front line has had success in recent times.  Their 62 sacks since the start of the 2011 season are tied for the most of all NFL teams.  Frazier doesn’t seem to take a very rigid stance on his schemes, unlike previous head coach Brad Childress who was notorious for trying to force square pegs into round holes, and essentially acknowledges that the defense was getting too tricky.

“It’s huge for our players, for the coaches, to be able to generate that type of pressure without having to put the secondary under adverse situations,” Frazier said.  “It was big. It increases our confidence. You go into your next ballgame feeling a lot better about your rush when that happens, especially against a team that throws it as much as the team we played last Sunday and you go into the game knowing that and the fact that we didn’t have to resort to a lot of pressures — it’s a big deal, and hopefully, it’ll be something we can continue.”

So, while some might view Frazier’s willingness to have players take control of how things are done, in the cases of the defensive line and Percy Harvin… there is little arguing with the results so far.

One thing that didn’t go well when control was given to the players, however, was the choice of music during the stretching portion of Friday’s practice.

“Gangnam Style” and “Party Rock Anthem” apparently drew some groans and jeers.

“There were a group of guys [who picked that],” Frazier said. “I don’t know if you’ll get a repeat. There were a lot of guys voicing their displeasure. So I don’t know if that will be repeated.”

by -
12

As the Vikings approach their week five matchup against the Titans, a number of high profile Vikings have unexpectedly been added to the injury report, and here is the report from Wednesday:

LIMITED PRACTICE:  Erin Henderson (concussion), Charlie Johnson (back), Christian Ponder (knee), Marcus Sherels (quadriceps), and Antoine Winfield (knee).

DID NOT PARTICIPATE:  Jared Allen (groin), Michael Jenkins (ribs), Mistral Raymond (ankle), and Andrew Sendejo (ankle).

Christian Ponder wore a wrap during practice on Wednesday but is expected to play on Sunday.  Henderson, who suffered his head injury in week two, is being worked back into the practice routine with great caution.

Allen was able to return to the Lions game after stretching his groin, so it seems likely that the Vikings are just giving him some rest so he can be ready to go against the Titans.

by -
26

The Vikings host the Buffalo Bills tonight at Mall of America Field in their second preseason game of the year. Last week when the Vikings traveled to San Francisco, I saw some positive signs of improvement but I also saw some all too familiar shortcomings. While watching the game tonight (7:00 PM CDT), I’ll be paying close attention to the items below and, in general, looking for more signs that this is an improved unit who can surprise some doubters this year.

1. Harrison Smith

The Vikings invested pretty heavily in the Notre Dame safety this past draft. And while reports from training camp say Harrison Smith has looked great so far, we’ve yet to really see what he can do in-game. Tonight though, we should get that opportunity as Harrison Smith is set to make his first start for the Vikings.

What I’ll be looking for: Intensity. Some of the buzz surrounding Smith is that he brings a certain edge to the Vikings secondary that hasn’t been around for a while. It was even reported a while back that the rookie got into a minor scuffle with Percy Harvin during practice after repeatedly trying to strip the ball out of his hands. After the shoving match, Smith said, “I don’t think it was me standing my ground. It’s just football… Football is an aggressive sport played by aggressive people.” I want to see that aggressiveness  in game. I want to see Smith attack defenses. Be quick to the ball on rushing downs and be quick and responsive in coverage. The Vikings really needs their secondary to make improvements this year and I’ll be looking for any glimpse of them tonight.

2. Run Defense

Simply stated, the Vikings defense got torched on the ground last week against the 49ers. The team had a hard time filling gaps and just looked a little sluggish getting to the ball overall. The caveat was that the Vikings defense was missing major contributors who probably wouldn’t have allowed it to get so out-of-hand (or out-of-hand at all). Tonight, there will be no excuses as all healthy players are expected to play. That means Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Brian Robison will all be in with the first teamers. Antoine Winfield, known for his run-stopping and tackling, will also be starting tonight.

What I’ll be looking for: The Vikings not getting ran over. The defensive line needs to show that what happened last week is not a representation of what this defense is going to do in the regular season. The Bills don’t have the best running backs in the NFL, but Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are both very capable. And if the defense performs like it did last week, we could expect to see a similar result.

Beyond stopping the run, I expect Jared Allen to really get after Ryan Fitzpatrick as last year’s leading sacker will be going up against rookie left tackle Cordy Glenn.

 3. The Offensive Line

Much has been made over the offseason about how improved the Vikings offensive line is this year. With the addition of first round pick Matt Kalil and the shuffling around of other pieces, the unit is expected to be much better than last season. Last week against the 49ers, the first team offensive line performed pretty well overall against one of the toughest defenses in the league. Tonight, they will be tested even further going against what could be one of the best defensive lines this season. A defensive line that features Mark Anderson, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and, Buffalo’s big offseason signing, defensive end Mario Williams. Phil Loadholt, the lineman in charge of covering Williams, will definitely be tested tonight as goes up against one of the best ends in football right now (behind our Jared Allen, obviously).

What I’ll be looking for: I’m looking for Kalil to continue to impress and show everyone why he was worth such a high pick in the draft. I’m also looking for Ponder to not even come close to being touched. He should have adequate time to complete his drop, go through his reads and get the ball out before defenders are in his face. If that can happen tonight against the Bills first team defensive line, I think it would be safe to say that our new and improved offensive line is legit.


Make sure to check back tomorrow for my in-depth analysis and notes from the game.

1. Schwartz Sports Hernia

Joe Oberle of CBS Sports reported yesterday that Geoff Schwartz suffered an abdominal injury Friday at practice. Schwartz was sent back to the Twin Cities to have some tests done. The tests came back showing Schwartz has a sports hernia surgery. He is set to undergo surgery and will likely be out of the action 4-6 weeks. Geoff Schwartz, in my opinion, was one of the better signings of the offseason and the right guard position was shaping up to be a well fought for spot on the roster. Now, it is likely Schwartz competition for the spot, Brandon Fusco, will get the nod to start.

2. Vikings Sign New Guard

Apparently, the Vikings offensive line is in worst shape than I thought. According to this article at Star Tribune, the Vikings are dealing with several injuries up front – Pat Brown (knee), Kevin Murphy (heat-related illness), DeMarcus Love (shoulder) and Geoff Schwartz (see above).

As a result of these injuries, the Vikings have signed some help for the line – Grant Cook, a rookie from Arkansas. The Vikings let undrafted rookie defensive end Eric Latimore to make room for Cook on the roster. Cook originally signed with the Packers as an undrafted rookie but was released by Green Bay late last month.

Cook should feel a little more at home with two fellow rookie Razorback alums on the Vikings roster – wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs.

3. Josh Robinson Returns

The fastest man in this year’s draft class, Josh Robinson, returned to practice after pulling his hamstring while trying to cover rookie wide receiver Jarius Wright the first day of training camp. Robinson wasn’t heavily involved in practice and instead just ran some individual drills. But still, the fact that he’s back on the field is a good sign.

4. Alan William’s Plans For The Defense And Jared Allen’s Disapproval

New Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said in a press conference that he plans to use a “hockey-style philosophy with his defensive line.” In other words, he wants to frequently swap players on the defensive line out to always have a fresh front four. As you can probably imagine, Jared Allen (you know, the guy that played 99.9% of snaps last season) wasn’t ecstatic about the news. Allen told reporters that he had heard nothing about this new defensive scheme and that if it was actually implemented, he would fight it to remain on the field as much as possible. What did Leslie Frazier have to say?

“Believe me, we’ve talked about this a number of times. So contrary to what Mr. Allen had to say, we’ve talked about this subject. We’re going to try to keep our guys fresh. We want him fresh. He knows. We talked about it even this morning. We always go into it every season talking about we’re going to try to cut his reps down. And then lo-and-behold, it doesn’t always work that way … We’re going to play him but we are going to try to get him off the field when we can and make sure he’s fresh in those key moments. It does a disservice to him and our team if we play him every snap. And then when we need him in key situations, he’s fatigued. That’s just not smart. We’re going to try to manage that. We did a pretty good job of it at times a season ago. We need to do more of it and we’re going to make a concerted effort to try to get him off the field at times. Without hurting the team. We don’t want to hurt the team. He’s our best pass rusher, one of the best in the NFL.”

5. Greg Childs Impresses and His Injury

Let’s start off with the good news first: Rookie wide receiver Greg Childs has looked pretty good so far during training camp. He’s made a number of really good grabs and looked like he could potentially see some playing time in four or five-wide sets this season. Childs even had a really great highlight grab the other day in practice (check out the video below).

And now, for the bad news. Unfortunately, that may be the last highlight we see from Childs for a while as last night he tore the patellar tendon in both knees during a scrimmage. Yes, you read that correctly – both knees. The Vikings released the following statement: “Greg Childs suffered a torn patellar tendon on his right and left knees last night. He is expected to have them surgically repaired within the next few days.”

It is likely Childs will miss the entire season.

6. Kyle Rudolph. Best Tight End In The NFC North?

Kyle Rudolph continues to gather steam as training camp continues. It is obvious him and Christian Ponder have developed a great chemistry. That coupled with the fact that he has all the physical skills to be special and because he’s on an offense that plans on heavily relying on tight ends could mean a break out year for the sophomore tight end. His performance in training camp already has Kevin Seifert from ESPN.com asking if Kyle Rudolph could be “as good as any player at his position in the NFC North.”

 7.  Guys Off To Great Starts

Mike Wobschall (also known as Wobby) has done a great job covering training camp this year. In this post on the Vikings.com blog, Wobby lists 10 Vikings players who are off to a great start. Who made the list? Some of the more surprising names are CB Bobby Felder, DT Letroy Guion, TE Rhett Ellison and RB Derrick Coleman. Kyle Rudolph, Matt Kalil, Antoine Winfield, Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson, Chad Greenway and Rick Spielman (?) also make the list.  Head over to Vikings.com to check it out and see Wobby’s reasoning.

8. Doleman In Canton

Chris Doleman was inducted into the Hall of Fame last night. The Vikings Age has a good summary of Doleman’s career that you might like to check out. You can also head over to NFL.com if you’d like to see video of Doleman’s induction speech.

by -
10

Jared Allen seems to be plenty aware of the incredibly low expectations that fans, the media, and analysts have for the Vikings in 2012.  Allen, however, doesn’t seem to think of low expectations as a particularly bad thing.

“I truly don’t know what our expectations are,” Allen said. “That can actually be a good thing. There are no preconceived notions of where you have to get, so you just work your butt off and everybody goes out there and lays it on the line. Everybody is working toward one common goal and that’s to win this game.”

“When we had Brett, you’re expectation goes through the roof that you’re going to make it to the Super Bowl,” Allen continued. “Anything less than that is unsatisfactory. Coming off a 3-13 season, no one expects us to do anything. So, we can fly below the radar and focus on being a solid team and just try to put win after win together.”

I have iterated a number of times that I am genuinely looking forward to watching this young Vikings team play, grow, and improve over the course of the 2012 season.  “Win after win” isn’t a phrase you hear projected very often, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility and it is nice to hear the leader of the defense express it as a possibility.

Get Social

2,739FansLike
5,744FollowersFollow