Saturday, April 18, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "Rick Spielman"

Rick Spielman

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.

When Rick Spielman decided to win a bidding war with Chicago for the services of right tackle Phil Loadholt, he was willing to make veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield a casualty by sending him packing.  At the time, I opined that the Vikings not only lost their best cornerback as a result, but that they also lost their best linebacker and defensive leader.

Then, through free agency and the NFL Draft, the Vikings refused to make considerable investment into the linebacker position despite numerous opportunities.  Some third day Draft picks, and injury-prone free agent Desmond Bishop, amounted to no immediate upgrade to the starting linebacker positions.  Instead, the team was willing to move forward with Erin Henderson manning the middle.

Now, I am on record as being supportive of Henderson.  I think he has played better than many fans give him credit for.  Until last week, he led the team in tackles.  Only ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison have more sacks than his three.  He leads the Vikings with nine tackles for a loss, is tied for a team lead with two interceptions, and leads all the linebackers with three defended passes.  Those stats, however, have not been enough for fans and analysts to grant Henderson immunity from criticism as the Vikings currently place 29th in pass defense and 24th against the run.

Henderson was expected to step up, take command of the defense, and instead the entire unit has been on a season-long campaign of collapse.  With Winfield gone, and Kevin Williams and Jared Allen clearly on their way out, it seemed natural to look for a leader on defense to ease the transition.  Instead, Henderson has been at the center of a defense that has shown no ability to stop opponents, and instead of being a vocal leader that speaks of consistency and accountability he has found himself in the center of controversy.

That is exactly what you don’t look for in a team leader.

Last week, news broke that Henderson had been picked up for DWI and possession of a controlled substance.  The details are murky right now, and he claims this isn’t the “personal reason” he had for missing last week’s game, but Henderson has a long ways to go before anybody will consider him a legitimate leader on defense.

Henderson counts as the third Vikings player in three weeks to hit the police blotter, which prompted General Manager Rick Spielman to release a public statement, and the Vikings brass cannot be happy about any of this.  Surely this issue will come up when end-of-season evaluations of Henderson’s value are being performed and I can’t imagine the front office will be content relying so heavily on him in 2014 and beyond.

Perhaps the best case scenario, for Henderson, is to end up back at the weakside spot.

That would certainly seem like a preferred alternative to being out of a job.

The Vikings season is not over yet, but it is certainly dead, and before we get too far ahead of ourselves by looking towards the offseason for quick fixes, I wanted to look closer into the causes of death.  In this series we will look at the long list of reasons this season has been such an epic failure.  Up first, my good buddy, cornerback Chris Cook.

Today, I had a bit of an online scuffle with Cook, after he let the world know that he was “still in bed” on his day off I noticed that many of his teammates were volunteering at a Children’s Hospital at that very moment.  Then, chippy bastard that I am, I suggested that maybe Cook’s tweet about taking a day off was actually meant to be posted on Sunday.  He then decided he had seen enough of me and told me to “get a life” and promptly blocked our VT account from communicating with his.

He then went on a little rant stating “I swear some people live to try and make other people look bad” and “I guess I’m not allowed to have a day off!”  I assume the people that he is referring to are all NFL wide outs.

He then went on to say “laptop thugs are the worst.”  I would actually argue that, you know, real thugs are worse.  Whatever, though, different chokes for different folks.  He then suggested that he would like to be rude, presumably back to me, but that the “little birdie called media” prevents him from doing so.

Now perhaps I didn’t utilize much tact in my tweets, and didn’t show much respect, but the fact is Chris Cook is my least favorite Vikings player we’ve had in a long time and his social media habits in contrast to, say, Greg Jennings is one of the reasons for it.  I can’t think of a single moment, in almost four full seasons, that I have been proud to see Cook wearing a horn on his helmet.

Injuries, an arrest involving a firearm, and an arrest for felony domestic assault by strangulation have caused him to be one of team’s least reliable players over the last four years.  He only played in six games his rookie season, six in 2011, 10 in 2012, and eight so far this year.  When he does manage to stay on the field, however, the results have not been very impressive.

Through 30 games played (26 starts) Pro Football Reference credits Cook with a career stat line of 84 tackles, one sack, and 13 defended passes.  That means he has zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles, zero recoveries, and virtually no big plays to his name whatsoever.  Turnovers aren’t the only measure of a defender in the NFL, but a lack of them has been a big reason the Vikings secondary continues to look miserable.

Cook is far from the worst talent the Vikings have at the position, but he has failed to live up to the hype that caused the Vikings to draft him in the second round in 2010, and he doesn’t seem to have progressed at all since last year.  You wouldn’t expect a player of his size to play so soft so consistently, but he does, and the result is a player as unintimidating in coverage as he is in run defense.

Rick Spielman and Brad Childress made Cook their top choice in 2010, but Childress is long gone and Cook is now in the final year of his rookie deal.  Cook was acquitted of both his felony charges, after the Vikings essentially paid him to stay home, and Judd Zulgad has reported a few times that his presence on the roster didn’t sit well within the locker room at that time.

Cook is going to be a unrestricted free agent following this season.  The Vikings could likely keep him around for another year on the cheap, but it remains to be seen if they have any interest in doing so.  Nearly every week he has been a giant question mark since joining the team and never once has he appeared to be any sort of answer.

One thing is for sure, though, and that is that the Vikings surely won’t be content relying on Cook going into 2014 and will be forced to search for more upgrades at the corner position.

Stay tuned for the next version of our Autopsy Report on the 2013 season.  I might even update you all on whether or not I finally got a life.

The Vikings signed defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo to the eight-man practice squad joining RB Joe Banyard, G Travis Bond, DT Everett Dawkins, TE Chase Ford, OT Kevin Murphy, WR Rodney Smith and Adam Thielen.

Cornerback Bobby Felder and defensive end D’Aundre Reed were waived/injured and placed on injured reserve after clearing waivers. Both players have ankle injuries sustained in the final preseason game.

Okpalaugo is a 6-foot-4 260 pound defensive end from Fresno State that has the tools to play standing up and with his hand on the ground. The undrafted rookie had a good preseason for the Dolphins racking up 3 sacks, 8 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Okpalaugo is a unique versatile prospect with long arms and explosive leaping ability. He shows good change of direction movement and can drop back into zone coverage and be used in multiple formations.

Okpalaugo was a fan favorite in Miami this preseason, but he was playing one of the deepest positions for the Dolphins. Miami may have been trying/hoping to hide Okpalaugo on thier practice squad, but Rick Spielman will stick it to the Dolphins any chance he gets.

Okay, laughing about a guy’s painful injury and pending surgery is classless.  I just can’t help but think that Rick Spielman, who has never shown us anything to suspect he can be classless (right Antoine?), at least grinned a little as he laid his perfect head of hair on his pillow tonight.

News has broken that Percy Harvin, recently traded to Seattle for a bunch of draft picks, will require surgery on his torn labrum and is likely going to miss significant time this offseason.  The news will calm the nerves of some Vikings fans who felt Cordarrelle Patterson was not an adequate replacement for Harvin, while also making Spielman look like a damned genius.

While we can allow ourselves to be mildly entertained by this saga, and perhaps even give Spielman an extra exuberant high-five, PFT reports it wasn’t quite the heist we think it was.  Well, it was, but it wasn’t on purpose.  They say that Harvin was “100%” when the Seahawks traded for him, and that the injury he now faces was a result of offseason workouts.

While Spielman may not have swindled Seattle, he did swindle Seattle… just in a more ethical way.  In the end, this trade could end up going into the history books with a similar stigma as the Poison Pill fiasco and Walker Trade, especially if Harvin is never again able to regain the spark he had for four years in Minnesota, which is entirely possible with an injury of this nature.

In all seriousness, we wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in action soon.  The Vikings play Seattle in Week 11, however, so maybe he should consider giving that labrum some extra rehab time and sideline himself until at least December.

Get Social

2,726FansLike
4,752FollowersFollow