Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "Rick Spielman"

Rick Spielman

At the moment, all seems well on the Percy Harvin front if you are a fan of, say, any of the other 31 teams in the NFL.

Us Vikings fans, however, we know better than to get comfortable with anything.  To us, if something looks stagnant, it is probably a ticking time bomb.  Like how nice that big inflatable roof looks?  Like the enthusiasm coming from the guys in that huddle… all twelve of them?  Like your chances on this Gary Anderson field goal attempt?

So, yeah, when sites like PFT or ESPN declare the Percy Harvin storyline “dead” all we Vikings fans are really going to do is sit on the edge of our seats and wait for this thing to blow up.

Rick Spielman, however, wants us to know that Percy Harvin’s previously stated discontent is something he, his staff, and the coaches are prepared to handle.

“There’s different personalities that you have to deal with on a daily basis, but when you look at Percy, what he brings to us on the field, how much passion he has to play football, he gives us a great opportunity to win on Sundays when he’s on the field,” Spielman said recently. “We try to know and understand when we draft a player, sign a player as a free agent, or bring a player into our organization, how we’re going to have to handle this player. Is he going to be handled differently? What do we have to do differently to handle a player? Those are a lot of pre-discussions that we have before we bring players in. And you just have to have a game plan if a guy has an issue or something and then try to work off that.”

“I know coach Frazier really met and sat and talked a lot with Percy. I dealt more with the business side of it and dealt with his agent, Joel Segal,” Spielman said. “As far as I know, the last dialogue I had, we’re expecting Percy to be at training camp and ready to go.”

We still don’t know, and possibly never will know, what caused Harvin’s outbursts last week and the reported request for a trade, but as of today it looks like Spielman and Frazier were able to tag team the issue effectively.

Training camp starts next month, however, and Harvin’s name will almost be the first one called during a much anticipated roll call.

The Vikings have made some fairly low level moves over the last few days, and the most intriguing is their decision to claim Harvard offensive lineman Kevin Murphy, which we mentioned yesterday.

Us fans are always on the lookout for training camp “sleepers” and signs point towards Murphy as a candidate to keep an eye on.  What signs?  Well, for starters, the Vikings weren’t the only team that wanted the young tackle after he was cut by the 49ers.

According to a Scout.com source, both the Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans put in a waiver claim on the 6’ 7” rookie.  So, it should at least be an encouraging sign that Rick Spielman wasn’t the only NFL G.M. that wanted this guy on the roster.

One of the most intriguing things about the remainder of this offseason will surely revolve around Spielman’s willingness to use his waiver priority (the Vikings are third) when other teams part ways with players.  Murphy is surely not the last guy that will join the Vikings via this route between now and the season opener.

Welcome to part six of our ten part series entitled “Welcome to the Big Show” where we attempt to bring you a comprehensive, in-depth look at each of the Vikings ten Draft selections of 2012. In case you missed them, here are links to the first five: Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson, Rhett Ellison, and Jarius Wright.

Make sure to go back and check out Brett’s fine article on Wright.  As we all know by now, Wright and Greg Childs have been friends and teammates since a very young age.  Childs is the subject of today’s “Welcome to the Big Show” segment.

PERSONAL HISTORY

During his junior year at Warren High School in Arkansas he put up 65 receptions and made 15 of them count for touchdowns, and earned a spot on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s all-Junior team.  In 2007, he was an all-State selection as a senior.

Childs left high school as one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation.  He received scholarship offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss, Colorado, Mississippi State, and Texas Tech before deciding to stay close to home and become a Razorback.

Childs turned 22 on March 10th of this year which makes him the youngest receiver on the Vikings roster.

He met fellow Viking rookie Jarius Wright in the third grade when he moved to Warren.  Wright was a popular kid at the elementary school and they decided to target Childs for some old fashioned bullying.  It took about two years for them to finally become friends, and they have been teammates ever since the seventh grade.

I wasn’t all that surprised when the Vikings decided to select a kicker in the 2012 NFL Draft.  I wasn’t surprised that they cut Ryan Longwell.

Most surprising to me, however, was the timing of the move to waive Longwell.  That timing, as General Manager Rick Spielman explains it, was a matter of respect for Longwell.  Spielman wants to give him the best chance possible to find a good fit with another team.

“We felt that Ryan deserved an opportunity to go out and get employment instead of waiting through training camp,” said Spielman.  “Once we made the decision to go with Blair [Walsh], it was the only fair thing to do with Ryan, to give him an opportunity to potentially get hooked on with another team instead of waiting until the end.”

Spielman also indicated that the decision to move on from Longwell was one that was made when he gained full control of the roster.

“I think it all goes back to when we started our whole process of evaluating our roster back in January, when we started our meetings and evaluating everybody on our roster and making those difficult decisions on, like I said, some very good veteran football players,” Spielman said. “It makes it even more difficult because of the type of people they are as well.”

Longwell has always been a class act, at least until he came to his senses and left Green Bay (wink), and I look forward to seeing him kick a game winner or two in 2012… as long as it isn’t against us.

After a long day of work, I was expecting to settle into my laptop and try to motivate myself to write about my two least favorite subjects to cover:  Stadiums & Politics.

Of course, that is all big and important news, but luckily there is some actual football activity to discuss, as well, albeit bitter-sweet.

As Brett mentioned earlier, Ryan Longwell was released by the Vikings and he made a very gracious statement to fans about his time in Minnesota.

Now, on the surface, the move can make little sense.  He has been a special teams captain.  He has been a leader.  He has been one of the most reliable field goal kickers in the NFL.  He has been classy.  He is charitable.

He has been a very well liked Viking for six seasons.

Plus, last offseason, the Vikings gave Longwell a four year deal worth $12 million, with $3.5 million in guarantees.

However, as I eluded to back in February (I even mention Blair Walsh by name), the writing has been on the wall for a while now.

Longwell is a 38 year old kicker on a team that is rebuilding.  His kickoffs averaged 64.8 yards (21st in the NFL), his 19 touchbacks (23rd in the NFL) were a career high but mainly the result of a rule change, and his 79% field goal accuracy (26th in the NFL) were all stats that suggested that not only was Longwell’s leg strength beginning to greatly lack but that his skills were also degrading in general.

There is an old adage in NFL front offices that goes something like this: “It is better to give up on a player one year too early than one year too late.”

The Vikings had the chance, last offseason, to part ways with Longwell at exactly the right time but instead will be parting with him one year too late.

Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN, suggests that the move to extend Longwell last offseason was possibly a result of Leslie Frazier still having a say in the final roster and now that Rick Spielman has full control he was able to impose his will on the kicker position.

Zulgad calls it a reminder that Spielman will not hesitate to “retool” this roster regardless of what it means for the win column in 2012.

I would argue that the move makes sense for not only the future, but for 2012, too.  The Vikings may not be able to rely on the young Blair Walsh on clutch kicks until he proves otherwise, but they should put their defense in a much better position on a regular basis via Walsh’s strong leg pinning opponents deeper into their own territory.  The stronger leg will help the field position battle on a regular basis, which will help both the offense and the defense, and the hope will be he can eventually also develop into a trustworthy field goal kicker.

The Vikings should probably sign another kicker to provide Walsh with some competition, and to have another leg for special teams reps in training camp, but it is clear that the Vikings feel confident in his abilities to replace Longwell not only in the future, but right now.

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