Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's FIESTA Time!

With the Free Agent signing of this guy it now means that the Vikings roster (at least for a bit) will contain the two electric running backs that tantalized fans way back in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Count me as one person who is somewhat intrigued as to what he might bring to the team. Find his place on special teams and maybe work his way up the running back depth chart as his career progresses (and we all hope that doesn't mean all the way up the draft chart to #1 because we don't want to think what that would mean for us as fans).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Viking Draft Reviews Vikes take WR Percy Harvin and OT Phil Loadholt

Percy Harvin
Judd Zulgad (Star Tribune)
Chip Scoggins (Star Tribune)
About Percy Harvin (Star Tribune)
Tom Powers (Pioneer Press)
Scouting Report (Viking Update)
Anthony Hall (Vikings War Cry)
more (Skol Vikes)

Phil Loadholt
There's nothing more exciting than an offensive lineman's college statistics (Viking Update)
Anthony Hall (Vikings War Cry)
Actually, both (Viking Vigil)
more (Skol Vikes)

Other Comments
Thank you to the Indianapolis Colts for saving my fantasy season.  I stick with my irrational infatuations far too long (see Vince Young, and when you're done looking at him, see Laurence Maroney).  By drafting a running back, the Colts prevent me from crashing the '09 season on Joseph Addai.

Luckily, I did not have to dump a beverage on my head.  I did get some marinara sauce on my pants earlier today, though.

It's incredibly easy to get loads and loads of school work done while watching event in which meaningful events occur roughly every 15 minutes.  Usually I'm exhausted at the end of draft day for wasting my day; now I'm exhausted from doing too much work.

I will say, ESPN is probably better for watching the draft than the NFL Network for one reason: hype.  ESPN works hard to make everything seem like a really big deal, and when you're watching an event consisting primarily of a dull man reading names at a podium every 15 minutes, it's good to have this event artificially hyped.  Though for the getting work done bit, NFL Network is better for the background.

To follow a draft, there are three things you want to get informed about: the draft order, the top prospects, and team needs.  No matter how wrong mock drafts are, they do help inform you about those three things.

Percy Harvin

At this point, I can conceive a scenario in which the Vikings go 14-2, cruise through Thunderdome to the Super Bowl, and then dominate for their first Super Bowl victory.

But don't take that too seriously; it's not all hoots and hollers.  I can also conceive a scenario in which the Vikings go 11-5, get into the playoffs as a Wild Card, and score a run of road upsets en route to their first Super Bowl victory.

Pre-Draft Blizzard

The Viking talk centers on Percy Harvin (Star Tribune).  The only thing that frustrates me will be the "Oh, the Vikings say they want accountability and character, what about this guy's baggage, they're hypocrites blah blah blah" angles.  I don't care about those things at all.

Matt Stafford to Lions (SI).  It might not yet be accurate to say the Vikes have by far the worst QB situation in the NFC North.  It is accurate, however, to say the Vikings have done the least to try make their QB situation good.  Considering their ages, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matt Stafford could be going wild in the division for a long time.  And what are the Vikings doing?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reusse on the Viking Offseason

In his recent column on Zygi Wilf, Pat Reusse builds a narrative. Wilf was a free-spending owner, but because his other businesses may be struggling through recession, because the Vikings still struggle to sell out the Metrodome, and because the Vikes have made little progress in getting state funding for a new stadium, Wilf has tired of spending money. Thus in the 2009 offseason, the Vikings have spent little money acquiring new (expensive) talent.

There's only one problem: the flaw in Reusse's narrative is exposed early in his column:

"The Vikings were basically non-participants in 2007 free agency, bringing in receiver Bobby Wade, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and linebacker Vinny Ciurciu. The offseason became a success when running back Adrian Peterson fell in their laps at No. 7 in the draft."

The "This owner was spending loads of money to try win before but now something has changed and he's not" narrative only works if you lump '06-'08 together, and then view '09 as a dramatic shift in strategy. But the '09 off-season bears similarity to the '07 off-season, when the Vikings were, as Reusse says, "basically non-participants." Unless Reusse is trying to emphasize that after '07 "Zygi told his personnel department to go nuts," in which case Reusse is trying to make one wild-spending off-season into the norm, and one little-spending off-season a break from that norm.

Either way, the narrative doesn't quite work. In '06 and '08 the Vikings acquired expensive, attention-getting veterans. In '07 and '09, the Vikings acquired lesser, cheaper veterans. Reusse structures his column with words like "You are entitled to embrace," "You can cite," "You can embrace," "You are allowed to accept," "You are entitled to accept," and "Go ahead and embrace these things," citing theories Reusse clearly doesn't embrace or accept. I would respond that Reusse is entitled to conjecture on the meaning of a low-spending '09 off-season, and to create an artificial narrative to explain what it means. I even think Reusse might on to something--the near-blackouts (likely blackouts in '09, if the Childress-Jackson experience continues or even if the Childress-Rosenfels experience begins) and difficulty getting public money for a stadium may be influencing how the team spends money. But I don't see it in the narrative Reusse has constructed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What the Vikes WON'T do in round one

Let's eliminate options: here are some positions the Vikings will not fill in round one of the draft this weekend.  Though I probably shouldn't say that; I should say if the Vikings do draft a player at these positions in round one, I'll pour two beverages over my head.  I'm of course ignoring kicker, punter, returner, long-snapper, etc.--business like that.

Running Back
The Vikings have Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor: there's no chance they use a first round pick on one of their biggest strength, especially when their superstar running back is entering his third season.  Fullback is a major weakness, though I don't know if there's a fullback they'd draft in round one.

The Vikings aren't going to draft a replacement for either E.J. Henderson or Chad Greenway.  I doubt very much the Vikings are trying to replace Ben Leber (he's a quality starter), they're extremely unlikely to try replace him this season with a first-round pick, and it's virtually impossible that they'd draft a linebacker in the first round to improve depth or gain a starter later than 2009.  The Vikes lack depth at linebacker, but starting linebacker is another team strength.

And that's all I've got.  They have serious needs at offensive line.  I think they could use improvement in the secondary (I'd like to see them draft a cornerback).  They could always use another wide receiver.  They might try to get a young defensive lineman (to eventually replace Pat Williams, or to immediately replace Ray Edwards).  Things could get freaky and they could find themselves with a quarterback.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

E.J. Henderson

E.J. Henderson has been one of my favorite Viking players for the past few years.  I think it's great fun watching him run around the field making plays.

Henderson suffered a bad injury that cost him most of 2008, but Henderson tells the Star Tribune he's excited to play in 2009.  I'm excited to watch him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 Vikings Schedule


I see 2009 as a season of streaks: a manageable opening five games, followed by three games of which the Vikes will be lucky to win one (Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at Green Bay), followed by what should be a good stretch (three straight and four of five at home), then a tough finish.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Torture of Rumors

Just when I had mentally moved on and admitted to myself that T-Jack or Sage was going to be the QB leading the offense this year, I go and read about this guy and think to myself that it better be the Vikings who are offering a 1st rounder. If it isn't the Vikings who are offering the 1st rounder then they should be the team offering a better deal like their 1st and 5th rounders.

Rumors, O how I loathe thee!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Viking Blizzard

Ross Tucker thinks the Vikings will miss Matt Birk more than the Vikings think they'll miss Matt Birk (Sports Illustrated).  I think good teams with good quarterbacks can replace a center without losing much (though the Vikings may not be a good team and probably don't have a good quarterback).  I'll cite two examples (as anecdote, not evidence): the '94 12-4 Cowboys replaced Pro Bowl center Mark Stepnoski with Ray Donaldson, and the '95 Cowboys went 12-4 and won the Super Bowl.  And the '99 Vikings went 10-6 and ranked 5th in scoring (24.9 ppg); they replaced Pro Bowl center Jeff Christy with, oh yeah, Matt Birk; the '00 Vikings went 11-5 and ranked 5th in scoring (24.8 ppg).  Perhaps losing a player doesn't matter quite so much as the quality of the player you replace him with.  Or perhaps quality teams can make replacement centers look good.

Don Banks' fifth mock draft: Vikings take WR Kenny Britt (Sports Illustrated).  I'd like to see a new defensive back.

Adrian Peterson is trying to put on weight (Star Tribune).

Viking center John Sullivan (Pioneer Press).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Antoine Winfield

The Vikings are working on a contract extension for Antoine Winfield (Star Tribune). Winfield has been an extremely productive cornerback for the Vikings, and he has been incredible fun to watch. I will feel good if the Vikes can secure his services beyond this season.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The New NFC North

The 2008 Chicago Bears were an average team: 14th in points scored, 16th in points allowed, 17th in point differential.  But they were a 9-7 team with Kyle friggin' Orton at quarterback, and now they'll have Jay Cutler (and Orlando Pace) to boost the offense.  And suddenly, yes, the Bears are the NFC North favorite.  I don't think they're the runaway favorite--the Bears don't look that dominant, and both the Vikings and Packers are talented and competitive.  I don't see the Bears going into either Thunderdome or Lambeau Field and blowing away the opponent.  And let's also note that Jay Cutler is not the runaway #1 QB in the NFC North; Aaron Rodgers had extremely good numbers all around last year.  And the Tarvaris Jackson/Sage Rosenfels combo might just top them both.*


Cutler Trade: Fantasy Implications

When a trade of this magnitude is made, I think it is rather obvious that the Bears instantly become a very scary opponent in the NFC North (another reason the Vikings should have pursued Cutler is to keep him off of a competitions roster....Bears win the North I think the Vikings will have alot of answering to do towards their fanbase).

However, let's look at the fantasy implications.

The Winners

The Bears Defense- Simply put this helps the Bears defense out tremendously. Now they have a workhorse running back and a very talented QB to help them win the field position battle and help them stay off the field and remain fresh. With Cutler at the helm this should really help an already talented fantasy defense.

Matt Forte- I think Forte is the biggest winner in this trade. He faces some tough defenses in the North and now with a talented QB like Cutler leading the offense, Forte will have the benefit of seeing less men in the box and defenses having to account for the passing game. Forte is a talent out of the backfield as a receiver also and this can only help his productivity in that sense also.

Devin Hester- Hester showed some flashes of brilliance last year with Orton throwing to him. Now with Cutler throwing to him, I can only imagine that those moments of brilliance with be more regular. Cutler has shown that he can get the ball to his playmakers doing it with both Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall last year in Denver. Devin Hester now becomes a serious offensive threat with the added bonus of returning punts. He moves up from a #3 fantasy WR to a solid #2 in my book.

Greg Olsen- If Greg Olsen stays healthy I think he is going to be a fantasy stud at TE. Scheffler was pretty good in Denver and I think that Olsen will see more opportunities now that he has a franchise QB throwing him the ball. I think outside of Matt Forte, Greg Olsen may be the biggest winner of this trade.

The Losers

Jay Cutler- Cutler is talented no doubt, but I doubt he is going to put up the fantasy numbers he put up last year with the Chicago offense. As much as Devin Hester showed flashes of brilliance last year, he doesn't compare to Marshall or Royal. Factor into this the fact that last year Denver's ground game was horrible and the team essentially went pass crazy and then put Cutler now on a talented running offense team and I think those numbers will drop a bit. However, I could be wrong on this because he does play marginal pass defenses in the Lions and Vikings (and possibly the Packers as they convert to their new D scheme). Basically, I think Cutler is a 20 TD QB at best with 3,500 yards max which makes him nothing more than an average QB in the fantasy world.

Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal- These two receivers had the wonderful experience of having a talented QB throw them the ball. They more than likely will still have success, but with Orton or Ramsay throwing them the ball they will see a marked dropoff. Marshall goes from a marginal #1 WR to a #2 WR and Royal goes from a marginal #2 WR to a #3 WR in the fantasy world.

The Denver RB- The days of the dominant running game of Denver in the fantasy world have been fading the last couple years and this officially will put an end to that era. With Shanahan gone and now no Cutler the running back who wins this job will face defenses keyed up on the running game.

The Denver D- The Denver D was never a great fantasy defense, but they would sometimes surprise. However, now they are going to be facing shorter breaks off the field and if they have the same injury problems they had last year they are really going to face some problems. They go from a possible late-round flyer and spot pick-up start to a definite "avoid" in my book. In fact I predict that the Broncos might become one of those teams that you want to start whoever is playing them on offense.

April Fool's a Day Late?

I hope and pray this is just an April's Fools Day joke reported a day late.

Well, actually if it is true then I would be excited. But as Vikings fans know it will only end in heartbreak as we get our hopes up and then have them dashed against the pavement surrounding the Thunderdome. (Especially since our opinion doesn't matter. Only the mighty bald-headed mustache man's opinion really counts)

Last year it was Jared Allen, could we see the same type of deal around the same time as last year to bring us another franchise player?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Brad Childress on the Viking quarterback situation (Star Tribune).  If Nero spoke to the media about sound governance, he'd have no credibility at all, right?  How would you respond if David Lynch talked about the importance of coherent, consistent plot?  Smirk?  Drop your jaw?

Yahoo! Mock Draft: Eben Britton on quarterbacks and win-loss records (I and II).  Really interesting stuff.

Reason for 2009 Optimism
Last night I dreamed that the Vikings were playing the Saints, and scored two defensive touchdowns in the first half (no, my dream is not the reason for optimism).  I woke up thinking about non-offensive touchdowns, and considered that the 10-7 2008 Vikings gave up an insane number of non-offensive touchdowns.  Looking at the box scores, I count 10.  Granted the Vikings also scored a hefty number of non-offensive touchdowns in the past few seasons.  Still, I doubt very much the Vikes will give up that many again.  And given that the 2009 schedule is a bit easier, it's reasonable to believe the '09 Vikings can win 10+ games.

Request for Sports Illustrated's "Truth and Rumors"
I'm very pleased that you now add links to the original stories that you paraphrase--this allows readers to access more information and to find the original context.  But could you be at least a little discerning?  This bit you got from the Pioneer Press about how the Vikings "may" trade their first round pick, about how "it wouldn't be surprising" if they did so?  That's not a rumor: that's idle speculation.  Anything "may" happen, and trading draft picks on draft day is quite common, rarely "surprising."  This is just commentary, not a rumor.  I could amend this as a request never to cite Charley Walters in "Truth and Rumors."  His columns are full of "might" and "It's not out of the question that."  I don't know why anybody takes him seriously.

Pointless Heads Up
I don't think this blog will ever be "exclusively" about anything, but we've been transitioning into primarily covering the Vikings specifically (hence sporadic posting lately) and pro football more broadly.  Sometime during the off-season I'll be cleaning up and re-organizing the links to reflect that trend (since I use my blogs' link lists as my own bookmarks for reading).