Sunday, August 30, 2015

percy harvin

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It took about a whole two, maybe three, hours before the disappointment from getting our butts handed to us via the Green Bay Packers vanished and the excitement for the offseason completely consumed me. Free agents? The draft?! Possible trades? Veterans leaving? New talent?

I love it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was as bummed about the loss as the next hardcore Vikings fan (well, maybe not as much as this guy…) but the postseason letdown didn’t feel as bad this time. Maybe it was because deep down I knew once it was announced Christian Ponder wouldn’t be starting that we would lose the game and then the next three to four hours was just a realization of that fact. Maybe it’s because nothing could have happened in the playoffs that would take away from what an amazing season 2012 was. (And, folks, it was an amazing football season.) Who knows, really.

What I do know is that I was, and am, at peace with what the Vikings did this year and what I think they’ll do in the near future.

There’s a lot to be excited about with this team. There’s a ton to look forward to this offseason and some great stories to look out for.

Here are five of the biggest stories headed into the offseason. Stories that we will be covering in [exhausting] detail here at Vikings Territory, I’m sure. Of course, there will always be a few (maybe more) developments that catch us all by surprise. You can be sure we’ll have those, too.

(Note: These do not include general things like “the draft” or “free agency.” It’s a given those will be huge. I tried to think of specific storylines that will provide intrigue, mystery and excitement.)

5. The New Stadium

I almost didn’t include the stadium on the list because it seems that, now that we’ve got our stadium, it’s more of a “I don’t care how it happens, just get it here” type thing. But, after Adam mentioned it to me when I queried the inner-workings of his very knowledgeable Vikings mind, I started to see why it could become something we talk about frequently during the offseason.

It shouldn’t be long until we start seeing a real design for this thing.  And that will be pretty dang cool. We’ll finally get to see what this thing will look like. What features it will have. Does it have a retractable roof? Seat warmers? Does it have a mammoth monitor floating eerily above the ant-sized players a hundred or so feet below? Who knows.

It will be something tangible at that point. Something we can look at and say, “Okay. So that’s going to be where I take my children to watch my Minnesota Vikings a few years from now.” (Maybe more if you’re me).

It’s been an idea up until this point. A finalized design that we can see is a big step to it becoming a real, real reality. (A real one.)

4. Backup Quarterback Backup Plan

Christian Ponder’s late season surge (and potentially even his absence from the playoff game at Lambeau) solidified his role as the Vikings starter at quarterback next season. Head coach Leslie Frazier has even already made it public. That’s all good and fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings still need to figure some things out at the quarterback position during the offseason.

I’m not going to torch Joe Webb too much because I honestly feel like he’s better than what he showed Saturday in Green Bay. The guy was thrown into an incredibly difficult situation under an offensive coordinator who remained steadfast in his stubborn ways and refused to adjust his game plan to increase the likelihood of success for Webb. Nevertheless, I don’t think Joe Webb is somebody who can really threaten Ponder for the starting position and light a fire under his butt, so to speak.

I think Ponder is going to be a good quarterback with a little more development. I take a lot of heat for that position but I’ve held it since he was drafted and I still hold it today. But I’ll be the first one to tell you that it is not a sure thing. He is not a sure thing. And the Vikings need to have a Plan B just in case it doesn’t pan out with #7.

Personally, I’d like Spielman and Co. to do some superb scouting and find a quarterback in the middle rounds who has a lot of upside. It’s also possible the team could just to go the free agent route. (Also, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s entirely possible the Vikings could not address it at all…)

Nevertheless, I think how the roster shapes up behind Ponder is something to keep an eye on.

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Today, Leslie Frazier did exactly what every head coach begins a season hoping he doesn’t have to do, he gave his end of the season press conference without being able to boast an NFL Championship.

That doesn’t mean, however, that this three-win team from a year ago doesn’t have plenty of positives to hang their hat on as they leave Winter Park and Frazier made sure to point out each of those.

As anyone could predict, Frazier said all of the right things that one would expect him to say at the presser, which you can watch by clicking here.  Because of these expectations, I hardly feel that things he said are really newsworthy because we all knew exactly what would be said.

Christian Ponder is the starter next year.  Frazier would like to see everybody back to training camp no matter how old they are getting, how much they are getting paid, or how little they produced this season.  Joe Webb will compete for a backup spot again.  Percy Harvin has no attitude problems and has no reason to not come back next season.

All positive… but all predictable.

I’m not suggesting he is not genuine when touching on the positives, I simply mean to point out that not much stock should be put into his words when it comes to the touchier subjects.

I will say this, however, I cannot remember a Vikings head coach in my lifetime that presents himself as well as Leslie Frazier.  The guy is pure class, and I am excited about him getting his contract extension, which both he and Zygi Wilf indicated would be worked out at some point this offseason.

Leslie Frazier improved greatly in his second season as Head Coach and he represents the Minnesota Vikings organization about as well as, if not better than, any coach in the NFL represents their respective teams.

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It’s game day, gentleman (and ladies). We’re about eight hours away from the start of one of biggest game the Vikings have played in quite some time. Just rolled out of bed. Got some coffee in hand. Let’s get to those questions, shall we?

Q: Everybody knows it, but why is Adrian Peterson this year’s MVP? (Malte)

Obviously, I can’t look at the debate between Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson objectively. That being said, I do not understand the argument for Peyton Manning as MVP over Peterson. If Manning wins, it should be renamed to Most Valuable Quarterback because he is not more valuable to the Broncos than AD is to the Vikings. For one, Manning isn’t even the best quarterback in the league this year. Last time I looked over the stats for quarterbacks, I don’t remember Manning leading in a single one of them. Here’s what it comes down to: Adrian Peterson willed this team to 10 victories. He threw this team over his shoulder and carried them to seven more wins than last season running through [usually] nine defenders in the box on any given play. Especially once Percy Harvin left, Peterson was the Vikings only offensive weapon. Peyton Manning stepped onto a playoff caliber team with a great defense, great receivers and an already pretty solid foundation. Yes, he gave the team five more wins than they had last year, but I believe you put any other ‘elite’ QB in that role and Denver ends the season with the same (if not better) record. What Adrian Peterson did this season could not be done had any other running back been in his shoes. It’s that simple. That is value. Peterson deserves this award. (Alas, if I had to wager today, I would say that Manning ends up winning the dang thing.)

Well, here we are, fans of a team that nobody expected to make the playoffs.  Now that they have, nobody expects the Vikings to do much in the playoffs.

Here is the best of the best from around the net:

Three players.  The undetermined futures.  Three attempts at an answer.

Antoine Winfield

As readers pointed out to me last night, I was wr-wr-wr-wr-mistaken in saying that Antoine Winfield would be playing for a $3 million salary next season.  Winfield played enough snaps this season to trigger an escalator for 2013, and reverse a de-escalator for 2012, and he will be owed $7.25 million if the Vikings keep him next season.

The way Winfield has been playing at age 35, there is little reason other than the salary to expect the Vikings to part ways with him, as he has arguably been as valuable as any member of this defense.  Evidence of this can be seen by watching last weekend’s game and seeing the passing game of the Packers pick up after Winfield made his early exit.

All indications are that Winfield will do everything possible to play this Saturday night, and he has also reportedly has no interest in hanging up his cleats after this season.  Depending on just how much longer Winfield plans on playing may determine his willingness to renegotiate a contract extension to reduce his 2013 cap number.

Percy Harvin

I got this question more than once since the Vikings qualified for the postseason, and the answer is “no,” Percy Harvin cannot be reactivated from the injured reserve and make a playoff appearance.  In a new rule, teams are allowed to designate one player per season as “eligible for return” when they are placed on injured reserve, but the Vikings has already used this designation on Chris Cook prior to Harvin’s injury.  Cook, of course, has since been able to return and have an impact in the last two games.

Disclaimer:  The rest of this is 100% pure speculation.

Harvin suffered a ligament tear in his ankle and was placed on injured reserve on December 5th, a time when the Vikings playoff hopes looked to be all but dead.  He has since had an emergency appendectomy.

What isn’t know, however, is whether or not Harvin would otherwise be healthy enough to return at some point during a playoff run if the rules allowed it.  Earlier in December, there was some speculation that Harvin has once again grown disgruntled with the Vikings brass and his decision to rehab in Florida instead of Minnesota will only fuel such speculation, whether it is founded or otherwise.

I just can’t help but wonder if we will soon be getting word from Harvin, via Twitter of course, that he feels healthy enough to play football and wishes he were on the field.

This type of development would prove that Harvin is not happy with the Vikings, but also divide a fan base with half of them wondering if Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman prematurely ending his season was a huge blunder.  After all, guys like defensive end George Johnson, who found a roster spot thanks to Harvin’s absence, haven’t exactly had a huge impact at the bottom of the roster.  A guy like Harvin could potentially be a game changer at any point in any game.

His future with the team remains a mystery, but I expect we’ll be hearing much more very soon.

Jerome Simpson

A troubled receiver receives a prove-it deal in Minnesota.  Said receiver proceeds to get himself constantly hurt and underperform greatly.  If that wasn’t enough to guarantee his ticket out of town following the season, then calling one of the local media’s most respected beat writers a “douchebag” ought to do the trick.

Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN said that on Tuesday Jerome Simpson, for unknown reasons, called him a douchebag and that Leslie Frazier later called the reporter to apologize for his receiver’s words.

Now, I don’t know Pelissero personally, but I have spoken with him on a couple of occasions and interacted with him plenty and would not characterize him as anything other than honest, opinionated, and hard working.

I don’t know the whole story, but I am guessing that if Frazier is anything like any boss I have ever had, having to call and apologize for one of his employee’s actions will not sit well with him.

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