Monday, October 5, 2015

Rick Spielman

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If you’re like me — hundreds of miles from Minnesota — the chance to attend a Vikings game comes once in a blue moon. This year, I’ll be fortunate enough to see Teddy Bridgewater and Co. twice, when the team travels to California for matchups with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders.

For the lucky fans living in Minnesota, each season brings a handful of home games to TCF Bank Stadium, and soon, to U.S. Bank Stadium. This year, the Vikings face a number of new opponents at home, as laid out in the picture below:

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The first two games listed are preseason games, so we’ll ignore those for now. Preseason means little to most fans, unless you’re a diehard like most of us here, right?

Seeing as single-game tickets go on sale today, there’s no better time than now to play the hypothetical polling game! Many of you own season tickets and attend every game, but let’s throw reality out the window for a second —at least until training camp begins and the news cycle kicks into high gear.

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What do you do when you’re out of material & have no guest lined up? A MAILBAG! We put it out to you the listeners and we came back with some great Vikings, food, and life related questions.

Andy Was Lazy and Did a Mailbag Questions Include:
• What to watch for in this year’s preseason?
• Even after the draft, are there concerns with the roster?
• How do I convince my gf to go to a Vikings game when we do Honeymoon drive around the US?
• F-Marry-Kill: Zimmer, Spielman, Teddy
• Gas or charcoal?
• Realistically when can we hope to take back what is ours? The NFC North?
• What fruit do you not have with breakfast?
• Who wins in an arm wrestling contest: Everson Griffen or Danielle Hunter or [me]?
• 2015 Statline predictions for the major Vikings
• Would you rather the Vikings win the Super Bowl this year & in 2018, or [my daughter] get into an Ivy League school?
• Game Day Food?
• What 80s rock song best describes your feeling about the 2015 season?
• Also promo our Mankato dates, support us on Amazon!, and listen to the Dad Mode Podcast

All that and other “Is it Mankato Time Yet? on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Firing a head coach in the NFL is like wielding a double-edged sword. With one swing, you can eliminate problems like poor game management or outdated defensive schemes. Or, you can catch the wrong side of the blade and fracture team chemistry, as the Vikings did when they parted ways with Leslie Frazier after the 2013 season.

Fans of the team rejoiced, but one player — Adrian Peterson — was reportedly frustrated with the team’s decision to fire Frazier. According to ESPN’s Ben Goessling, Peterson contemplated leaving the Vikings near the end of the season:

“I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t feeling good about being here in Minnesota at the end of last season,” Peterson said in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN. “Coaches change, but everything was shaken up.

General manager Rick Spielman made sure to right the ship quickly, hiring Mike Zimmer as the Vikings’ newest head coach less than a month later. The move to bring in Zimmer — a no-nonsense, football-first mind — stabilized the franchise and rallied a young team to aim higher in 2015.

Under Zimmer’s leadership in 2014, the Vikings went 7-9 and succeeded in the face of multiple obstacles, including Adrian Peterson’s absence, Teddy Bridgewater’s rookie growing pains, and the implementation of a new defensive scheme. Unlike Tice, Childress, or Frazier before him, Zimmer has won over his players and quickly navigated the trials and tribulations that come with being a head coach in the National Football League.

While there’s room for improvement in year two, its safe to say Zimmer has established himself as the captain of the Vikings ship, and its time everybody climb aboard.

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If I were to ask any Vikings fan what they thought of Mike Zimmer, they’d likely tell me he’s the greatest head coach since Bud Grant. In one season, Zimmer has started to erase memories of the past 12 seasons, when Mike Tice, Brad Childress, and Leslie Frazier led the Vikings to a combined 92 wins and 99 losses. It may be too early to proclaim Zimmer a top-flight head coach, but he’s well on his way to a long career in Minnesota, and that starts with a winning season in 2015.

But, what if the Vikings had never hired Zimmer? What if, in some cruel, twisted universe, the Wilf brothers were forced to choose one of three head coaches — Tice, Childress, or Frazier — to lead this team? What if Zimmer had never inherited Xavier Rhodes, or even worse,  what if Teddy Bridgewater was forced to operate from Musgrave’s minuscule play card?

Optimism around the team definitely wouldn’t be as high, and Minnesota’s faithful sports fans would suffer yet another year of futility. Luckily, that’s not the case, but it’s always fun to look back and remember our favorite head coaching blunders and mishaps. After the jump, I’ll share a few quotes that encapsulate everything that made each of the Vikings’ last three coaches such disastrous hires:

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An American flag flutters in the wind over the Vikings' new stadium

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In a move expected by many, the NFL’s 32 owners approved the Competition Committee’s proposal on extra points for the 2015 season. The rule changes, which were passed on a 30-2 vote Tuesday, are as follows:

  • The extra point will now be kicked from the 15-yard line with two-point conversions remaining at the 2-yard line.
  • If the defense returns a blocked extra point or failed two-point try for a touchdown, they will be awarded two points. Under the previous rule the ball was dead on a failed try.

Blair Walsh, the Vikings’ ace fourth-year kicker, has been nearly perfect when kicking extra points — in 109 attempts, he’s missed just one kick, giving him a 99.1 career percentage in such situations. With the changes, extra points will now move to the 15-yard line, where Walsh has been nearly as successful.

In 31 career attempts between 30-39 yards (extra points are now 33 yards), Walsh has connected on 28 kicks. His leg from this distance is close to perfection, as he’s a 90.3 percent kicker in this range. When news broke of the rule changes, Walsh shared his response on Twitter:

For Walsh, the change in distance is negligible. His percentages from either distance are above average, and 33-yard field goals are routine for most NFL kickers. Defensive coaches and special teams coordinators will adjust their gameplans, scheming more “block” concepts into these plays, but I expect minimal effect on box scores next season.

If anything, the news is beneficial to players like Walsh; an increased importance on the extra point equates to an increase in value for kickers who can deliver from this range. Walsh, in turn, may enjoy a salary increase once his rookie contract expires.

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