Friday, September 4, 2015

Rick Spielman

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

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

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.

For more Vikings news, check out the links below:

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In the inaugural edition of the Purple FTW! Mailbag, I answer some of your questions tossed in through Twitter, Facebook, and the Purple FTW! Voicemail.

Talkers include:
• Did the Vikings do a good job filling needs in the offseason?
• Trades that could still be made in 2015
• Would I do ____ for a Vikings Super Bowl?
• The affects of Fusco moving to left guard
• Why I got into podcasting
• Why I refuse to watch “The Avengers”

A fun little bite sized morsel to get your through the midweek hunger pains on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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In the theme of Mad Men, Sam Ekstrom (@SamEkstrom) of 105 The Ticket and Cold Omaha joined the show to make it two dark, handsome, mysterious, and creative dudes talking about Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings football. No smoking though because: 2015. And no drinking brown liquor because: 9am on a Monday. (Okay maybe a little brown liquor)

Also in the theme of the final season of Mad Men, I broke up the chat into two parts. Please enjoy! Preferably while sipping an ice cold Coca-Cola.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Before the start of the 2014 season, Rick Spielman rewarded defensive end Everson Griffen with a five-year, $42.5 million contract. Looking back at the deal, “rewarded” may be the wrong word; Griffen had started just one game in his four years with the team, recording just 17.5 sacks in spot duty behind Jared Allen.

But, Griffen showed flashes of a potentially bright future — an interception return for a touchdown against the Rams in 2012, 5.5 sacks in just 699 snaps throughout 2013. Spielman gambled on that future, letting Jared Allen walk in free agency and trusting his roster talent. His commitment to Griffen was more than trust; it was a ringing, $20 million guaranteed endorsement.

Simply put, Griffen delivered in 2014, recording 12 sacks through 16 starts (993 snaps). To the media outside of Winter Park, Griffen’s meteoric rise was unexpected. He earned national recognition, most recently from Pro Football Focus, who listed Griffen as the 98th-best player in all of football. According to the website, Griffen’s 59 quarterback disruptions while lined up on the right side of the line were second most of all 4-3 defensive ends.

That statistic is the perfect opportunity to move down the defensive line and focus on Griffen’s counterpart; Brian Robison. Griffen is a lock to man the right edge for years to come, but Robison’s days may soon be numbered. He’s 32-years-old and played in 932 of the defense’s snaps last year, but saw his production dwindle.

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Photo Courtesy of Ashley Davis

There is no offseason in the NFL. Which means there’s no offseason for Purple FTW! Tom Shefchik (@Shefonomics), co-editor of Sporting Sota, joins us to talk Vikings and what’s new and different at SS. No shortage of Vikings news: Rookie Mini Camp happened over the weekend, Teddy took a high school girl to prom, and Jerry Jones refuses to let his Adrian dream die.

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