Wednesday, September 2, 2015

jay cutler

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With only two days remaining until the NFL Draft, there is more and more speculation about who the Vikings will select at No. 11 (unless of course, they trade up or down). Let’s take a look at some of the notable No. 11 picks throughout the league’s history.

Michael Irvin, WR, 1988
As a rookie,  Michael Irvin became the first freshman receiver for Dallas to start a game in 20 years; he caught his first touchdown that same game. Irvin helped the Cowboys out of a slump, and in 1991 he led the team to the playoffs, finishing the season with 93 catches, an NFL-best 1,523 yards and eight TDs. The receiver played in five consecutive Pro Bowls. During Irvin’s career, Dallas won three Super Bowls: XXVII (Bills), XXVIII (Pittsburgh) and XXX (Steelers).

Irvin’s best season was 1995, in which he set Cowboys records for receiving yards (1,603) and receptions (111).

Daunte Culpepper, QB, 1999
Remember him? As Vikings fans, we’ll probably never forget “the roll” when Daunte Culpepper threw for touchdowns. The QB didn’t prove an instant success, as he did struggle during his first few seasons in Minnesota.

His first highlight season of course came in 2004, when he led the Vikings to the playoffs for the second time in his career. Culpepper threw for a league-leading 4,717 yards and set a Vikings record with 39 touch downs. That same year, he traveled to his third career Pro Bowl and broke Dan Marino’s NFL record for combined passing and rushing yards, totaling 5,123. Culpepper ranks fourth best in NFL QBs with his rushing average of 26.1 yards per game.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

One of the things Mike Zimmer has to do next season is improve on his 1-5 record within the NFC North Division (I know, I’m a broken record about this) and so I am happy to bring back the weekly “NFC North Roundup” segment.  It’ll allow us to keep track, throughout the offseason, of what our three worst enemies are up to.

Chicago Bears

The Bears blew apart their organization after another disappointing season that will possibly be Jay Cutler’s last in Chicago.  The newest head coach to join the NFC North is non-other than John Fox who was no longer welcome in Denver after their playoff performance left plenty to be desired.  Fox is obviously a well respected coach that is now inheriting a roster with turbulent times ahead.  The Bears players are already buying into their new coach, however.

“From everything I’ve heard from people that I trust in the league who are football guys, John Fox is the guy for the job,” Kyle Long recently said of the hire. “He’s a leader of men. He’s a players’ coach. And he’s somebody who really values having a strong locker room. [General manager] Ryan Pace couldn’t have done a better job getting the right guy.”

Quarterback Jay Cutler isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  His personality rubs some the wrong way, his leadership has been questioned countless times, and he won’t be winning any Mister Congeniality contests anytime soon.  Still, he is an accomplished veteran at the NFL’s most important position, and recent rumors stating the Bears might let him walk after this season are sure to grab attention.

It is an especially intriguing scenario for Vikings fans who are as hungry as ever for some new hope at the quarterback spot.  For every rumor in the NFL a counter-rumor is sure to follow, and some are wisely betting that the Bears don’t simply let Cutler leave, but let’s pretend for a second they do.  Should the Vikings be interested?  Would they be?

First off, they clearly will enter the offseason in the market for a new quarterback or three.  The Christian Ponder experiment is pretty clearly on it’s last legs, Matt Cassel can opt out of the second year of his deal, and Josh Freeman can’t be happy riding the bench after migrating north from Tampa midseason.  None of the above have proven they can lead the Vikings in an overly impressive way and so it seems they will once again be looking for the guy that just has “it.”

Secondly, they are preparing to play the next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, and finding a quarterback that can have success outdoors in Minnesota could be even trickier than trying to find one that can succeed in the Metrodome… which hasn’t been the easiest task ever.

Cutler, now 30 years old, has played outdoors in every home game of his professional career.  He has three seasons in Denver under his belt, and four in Chicago, and so that experience could be mighty attractive.  He has not only played in the cold and wind, but he’s also been fairly successful.

Cutler has a career passer rating of 84.4 and 23,224 yards on 3,220 attempts.  He’s thrown for 149 career touchdowns and has thrown 108 interceptions.  Durability has been a concern lately, however, as he hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009.

The Vikings showed some interest in Cutler when he was on the trade block in 2009.  They were reportedly involved in a three-way negotiation that would have sent Cutler to Minnesota and Matt Cassel, of all people, to Denver.  The story goes, though, that head coach Brad Childress was not as sold on Cutler as the front office was and put a stop to the talks.  Of course, the rest is history.

Childress is gone now, though, and much of that same front office remains intact.  While intra-division trades are very rare, and Cutler would almost certainly have to become an unrestricted free agent to make this scenario possible, I am curious as to how receptive our readers would be to having Cutler be the next starting quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings.  Keep in mind while voting that signing Cutler would not necessarily kill the team’s chances of drafting a young quarterback in May’s NFL Draft.

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Today the Vikings have travelled to Chicago (and there is no truth to the rumors about Adrian Peterson not making the trip) and we have your inactives list for Game Day:

Vikings:  QB Bethel-Thompson, WR Percy Harvin, CB Brandon Burton, LB Audie Cole, OL Mark Asper, TE Allen Reisner, and DE D’Aundre Reed.

Bears:  WR Alshon Jeffery, QB Josh McCown, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, DT Matt Toeaina, T James Brown, DT Amobi Okoye, and DE Chets Ozougwu.

Nothing on that list should be too big of a surprise (other than that I didn’t know there was an NFL player with the name Chets Ozougwu, which is completely awesome) but the fact that Jay Cutler is active, and Percy Harvin is not, will be the biggest pre-game news.

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