Why all the slapping of tags?
I keep reading about players getting "slapped" with the franchise tag, about teams "slapping" the franchise tag on various players, yada yada yada. But players and franchise tags are delicate things. I encourage teams thinking of just up and slapping that tag on to be a little more careful. Tenderly apply the tag, gently and with care. Don't be so callous as to just slap that tag on.
The Safety Position for the Vikes
I don't have a problem with the Vikings cutting Dwight Smith (Star Tribune, Pioneer Press). The Viking pass defense was routinely destroyed by competent quarterbacks last season: they ranked 32nd in yards allowed, 15th in touchdowns allowed, 20th in interceptions, and 17th in net yards per attempt allowed. Opponents completed 64% of their passes against the Vikings (the league completion percentage is around 61%). By even the best of assessments, the 2007 Viking pass defense could only be described as mediocre--but they're mediocre because they generally contained bad quarterbacks, and got slaughtered by good quarterbacks.
So what are the Vikings to do? Stick with the status quo in the secondary? They're probably OK at cornerback: Antoine Winfield is good, and though Cedric Griffin and Marcus McCauley often looked shaky, they were in their second and first seasons, and can improve. Should they just stick with Dwight Smith and Darren Sharper at safety again? I think they're right to try and go in a different direction at safety.
They've clearly got deficiencies in their pass defense. The first step toward improvement is improving the pass rush. For anecdotal evidence on the need for a strong pass rush, look at the New England Patriots in the playoffs this season. The Jaguars failed to rush Tom Brady, and he calmly and easily sat in the pocket and completed 26 of 28 passes, leading the Pats to 31 points. The Giants put a consistent and fierce pass rush on Brady, and he had just 5.5 yards per attempt in getting the Patriots to just 14 points. Perhaps because of the changes in rules regarding pass coverage, the only way to stop a really good passing team is to pressure the quarterback.
But that doesn't mean the secondary shouldn't be tinkered with as the Vikes add defensive ends. If your pass defense is bad, you have to look a the secondary and find ways to improve yourself.
Signal to Noise talks about Prince Fielder going vegetarian. On a related subject, I Dislike Your Favorite Team shows the indirect connection between Daniel Snyder and torture of chickens.
Access Vikings reports that Troy Williamson's agent will be meeting with the Vikings (well, not all of them, I assume). I'm just trying to picture the meeting. Can you imagine Williamson's agent making any request, or any complaint? Would the Viking officials just laugh? Stare in wonderment? Pro Football Talk says Williamson is on the trading block.
John Hollinger grades all of the wild and zany NBA trades this season. I don't remember an NBA season in which so many teams--and championship contenders--made big name trades.
Fanhouse says the Vikes might draft a DE again. Here are some of the defensive linemen the Vikes have drafted in the first round in my spectating period: Derrick Alexander, Duane Clemons, Demetrius Underwood, Chris Hovan, Erasmus James. No, I'm not terribly excited about the prospect of another defensive lineman selected in the first round (though we did get Kevin Williams, which is 1,000 levels of awesome). DE is a big need for the Vikes--but WR is bigger. Of course, unlike Madden video games, free agency comes before the draft in real life, so we don't know what the team needs might be on draft day.
Enjoy your weekend, folks. You know how I feel about weekends: they come during a week, and they're at the end. Just as you know how Travis Cole feels about the homeless: they're human beings, and they have no homes.
At Epic Carnival, wwtb? takes our Bad Luck Number and wonders who's the next long-suffering team to win a title.