Friday, February 5, 2016

jared allen

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I didn’t understand it. How could the Vikings be getting absolutely demolished at home against a 2-4 Buccaneers team? This isn’t possible. This just cannot be happening.

And then it happened. It hit me hard – harder than Chris Kluwe pu… Nevermind…

But I just didn’t understand it until NFL Network shared this wonderful stat with us: The Buccaneers broke their 10 road game losing streak with a win over, our beloved purple, the Minnesota Vikings.

Why didn’t anyone mention the Buccaneers hadn’t won an away game in 640 minutes of football. This thing could have been much easier to endure.

Nevertheless, here we are. The Vikings are 5-3. We got decimated at home by a 2-4 team. The sky is falling. I’m on the ledge. Take your positivity elsewhere. Angry Brett has arrived.

This venting session brought to you courtesy of Angry Brett

Where to begin?

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Ever since I made the switcheroo from Vikings Gab to my own site, one of the most disappointing aspects of the whole thing is that I was no longer included on a bunch of marketing mailing lists that resulted in me getting a bunch of free Vikings stuff.

Today, however, I received an email that perhaps made me wonder if Vikings Territory isn’t getting a little bit of notice these days.  The timely email provides not only me, but all of us, with a fun little treat for the Halloween season.

I present you with the Sack-O-Lantern (my name, not theirs, TRADEMARKED!):

A full and free set of stencils and instructions can be found by clicking here, and Jared Allen isn’t the only player available.  Should you decide to channel your inner-child this October, you could also opt for an Adrian Peterson or Percy Harvin pumpkin carving kit.

Anyways, I thought I’d pass this along on the off-chance one of you (or your kids) might enjoy celebrating some of these victories with a customized Vikings pumpkin.

So, that’s all for now… until somebody else sends me something free to promote, ahem, here’s looking at you DirecTV and Cabela’s.

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.”

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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.

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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.

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