Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Matt Birk: Raven

Matt Birk is no longer a Viking (SI, Strib).

Five years ago Matt Birk was an incredible center. When I would watch replays of successful running plays, very frequently there was Matt Birk pulling and leading with terrific blocking. In recent years I've found him much less noticeable. That may not be because Birk's skills diminished, but that perhaps Brad Childress' version of the West Coast offense doesn't call for a center to be out in the open field making noticeable plays. Either way, I don't know that the Vikes will miss Birk's blocking that much at this point.

What they will miss, however, is his intelligence and leadership. When Matt Birk was injured in 2005, the Viking offensive line became...well, terrible, at least for the first half of the season. He seemed at the time to be the mind holding the Viking offensive line together. Whoever replaces him at center (Ryan Cook?) may make the blocks, but I doubt he'll be able to do all the things Matt Birk does.

Birk will be 33 in the fall; he should have good football games left to play. It's not entirely unreasonable that the Vikings decided to let him go, but it wouldn't have been entirely unreasonable for them to resign him either.

UPDATE: read about potential replacement centers John Sullivan and Anthony Herrera at the Star Tribune.

4 comments:

  1. I don't like this at all.

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  2. Anonymous12:42 AM

    This will be an interesting test of the Vikings personnel office and coaching staff, assuming that Wilf did not discourage signing him. If the Vikings replace Birk with someone who plays as well as Birk (given Birk's age and compensation, the replacement need not be better), it shows management is capable of wise allocation of resources, in terms of maximizing wins. If the new guy falls short of Birk, it suggests that the personnel guys may not have good evaluation skills.

    Jim Hueber and Pat Morris are going to have to earn their pay this year.

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  3. Yes, my sense is that Birk may not be "essential" to the Viking offense, and the Vikings recognize this, and are willing to go with a cheaper, younger center. Or maybe that's just my hope: that Birk's name recognition, reputation, and popularity outweigh his performance at this point, and the Vikings are being efficient, not sentimental.

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  4. Anonymous7:54 AM

    sorry to see Birk go. He was another fine center in a long tradition of very good-to-excellent centers in Viking history.

    thanks for the memories Matt Birk!

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