Wednesday, July 29, 2015

percy harvin

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It never fails.

I spend all day pouring over the Vikings game day media guide, hitting the “sort” button on some statistics page 508 different ways, and spend a couple of hours typing a preview.

Then, like clockwork, the comments from guys like “B. Grant” and “Tomb” end up being far more entertaining (and possibly more informative) than the article they were commenting on.  I recently decided to cut out the middle man, invite B. Grant and Tomb to contribute to VT on an official basis, and to my utter surprise they agreed.

So, when a topic worthy of some salty debate comes up, I am looking forward to seeing these two go back and forth.

Without further ado, I present to you the first installment of “Garbage Time” which features two of VT’s many great readers (and, now, writers).

Enjoy!

Tomb:  Christian Ponder. You probably couldn’t find a more topical debate subject for the Viking faithful in light of recent performance(s). This subject clearly requires the rigorous application of statistics, feelings, instinct, history, visceral emotion etc. It’s something that could really use a technical and measured preface to get things rolling; requires a bit of a football nerd, if you will. Luckily, Coach, ‘nerd’ is right up your alley, so I yield the floor to you. We can pretend I’m doing it as a respectful gesture to a treasured elder of VT, if it feels better. I’m happy to play along!

B. Grant:  Let’s go with the “treasured elder”, shall we? I wouldn’t want to take any of the glory of the full fledged nerd role that you will bring to these discussions.

Yes, Christian Ponder. I actually understand most of what you said there, Tomb, which in and of itself is out of the ordinary. And surprisingly enough (insert sarcastic tone) I fail to agree with much of it. The selection of a QB is not a statistical process, as numbers are a great source of being misled when it comes to evaluating a QB. No position in football is more complex than this one, and no position is more dependent on the performance of others, which is why I tend to withhold my judgment of Ponder at this time. Of greater disappointment to me this season is the offensive line, upon which all QB’s trust their very existence. I thought we would see more protection for him this year, thus giving us a better read on his potential, but alas, that has not been the case. Yes, he may be exiting the pocket a bit early at times, but that is like telling the passengers on the Titanic to wait it out, this thing will level itself off. He’s just trying to save the play in most cases. There is plenty of blame to go around for offensive (both literal and figurative) performances like this past Sunday.

I know I’ve made this difficult for you, Tomb. For any credibility in your response, a position other than “you’re absolutely right, Coach” will be a hard one to take. Do your best, Wordmaster.

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Clear your calendars VT’ers!

Tomorrow the Vikings are going to march into Lambeau Field without Percy Harvin available to them, and attempt to shock everybody in the football loving world.

Join us for all of the action right here at VT where yours truly will be hosting a live chat throughout the entire game.

[Editor’s Note:  While I will certainly be hosting the live chat, I would like to point out that I am officially listed as “questionable” on the VT injury report.  See, my son loves dinosaurs, and sees them everywhere.  Shadows on the wall.  Chip clips.  Everything is a dinosaur to him… and this morning, that included my wife’s hot curling iron.  That “dino” decided to “eat” my hand as I was getting ready this morning.  I might not be 100% healthy, and may not make my cuts to the spacebar as quickly as normal, but I will be here.]

Once again, I solicited questions from you guys and spent some time thinking about the answers.  Here are the results:

Adam, to what degree do you think poor offensive line play and a weak receiving corps are having on the performance of Christian Ponder?

Football is a team sport, no doubt about it.  The thing is, however, that football is a unique team sport in that one position is far and away more important than all of the rest.  Argue all you want, but quarterbacks make and break football teams in the modern day NFL.

Now, I’m not making excuses for the receivers dropping the football or for failings in pass protection, but Christian Ponder has to embrace the leadership role he is lucky enough to have before he flat out loses it.  He has to gather the troops, make clear his expectations, lead by example and demand more of himself with every lesson learned.

I think, especially with Harvin sidelined, Ponder has indeed drawn the short straw when it comes to receiver talent.  However, that offensive line is better than people are giving credit for, and if he stopped imagining non-existent pressure causing him to flee the pocket (and, thus, creating pressure by changing directions) I think the line holds up better than most realize.

Also, apologists can make all of the excuses they want for Ponder, but he has the best running back in football right now making life a heck of a lot easier on him than it could be.

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The man who dominated September and October hardly even saw action in November.

When Percy Harvin sprained his ankle on November 4th, just prior to the bye week, he was able to reenter that game and many presumed that was a sign that he would return to the field in a relatively short time span.

That has not proven to be true, and it appears that the Vikings will be without the multi-talented yardage machine on Sunday, in a must-win game at Green Bay.

Leslie Frazier said Harvin has not had any major setbacks, but simply has not improved as quickly as they had hoped, and the Vikings have officially listed him as “doubtful” for Sunday’s matchup.

This means Jarius Wright will again see extensive action in what will be his third week of activity.  The Vikings coaches say they have designed plays specifically for Wright, so it is fair to say this will be a true test for the rookie.

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When the Vikings got walloped by the Chicago Bears on Sunday, I found myself really missing two players:  Percy Harvin and Chris Cook.

Harvin has been the difference maker in a number of games for the Vikings this season and was in the MVP discussion prior to the ankle injury that knocked him out three weeks ago.  The sure-handed juggernaut was greatly missed in a game that featured far too many drops and not enough explosions from the Vikings receivers.

Harvin’s direct replacement, Jarius Wright, had a decent day while hauling in a team high seven passes for 49 yards.  However, the nice birthday performance for the rookie was overshadowed by an inexcusable drop in the back of the end zone.

In week four Calvin Johnson was held to five catches and 54 yards, thanks in large part to efforts of Chris Cook.  The following week Kenny Britt had two catches for 23 yards.  No Washington receiver topped 50 yards in the next game.  Larry Fitzgerald was then held to 29 yards.  Vincent Jackson had only two catches for 40 yards on Thursday Night Football.

Cook got hurt in that game.  Since then the Vikings have faced Sidney Rice, Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Marshall.  They have combined for 28 receptions, 353 yards, and two touchdowns.

The Vikings secondary wasn’t perfect when Cook was on the field, and it isn’t absolutely disastrous without him, but it is tough to argue that they are a better unit with Cook on the field willing and able to go toe-to-toe with the NFL’s best receivers.

The injuries to Cook and Harvin have exposed what we all know the Minnesota Vikings are: A young team with consistency and depth issues that will take some time to correct.

Until then, the phrase “Next Man Up!” is a scary one for Vikings fans.

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