Monthly Archive: August 2011

Aug 28

Antoine Winfield: Committed to Minnesota

Winfield is here to stay.

Antoine Winfield has been a staple of the Vikings’ defense for many years. Minnesota fans everywhere love his hard-hitting approach and his pleasant off-field persona. He regularly appears on the Paul Allen show during the season to break down the previous weekend’s game and part of his charm is that he consistently remains positive, even in the face of defeat.

With the way the NFL has evolved over the last 2 decades, a player’s commitment to the community in which they play has been reduced. Players now go to the highest bidder and the average tenure with a team has dropped, so you don’t see as many players staying in town after their careers are over.

Antoine Winfield is not only committed to the success of the Vikings, he’s committed to Minnesota. A native of Akron, OH, Winfield stated on Vikings Weekly this week that he intends to stay in Minnesota post-retirement. This commitment from a player is something we can all celebrate!

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Aug 28

Vikings vs Cowboys: Preseason Game #3 – The Dress Rehearsal

I was out with friends last night watching the game in a bar, so my review of the game had to wait until today after I had a chance to rewatch it. Let’s break it down:

The Good

Berrian should focus less on looking pretty and more on making catches.

After not doing much the past 2 seasons, it looks like Bernard Berrian might actually achieve something this season. McNabb targeted him several times during the the first-string playing time and ol’ Bernard actually made a great catch for a TD. For this exercise, I’m going to pretend he didn’t miss what should have been a catch in a subsequent series.


AD can tear up the turf!

Adrian Peterson may have had 150 yards on the night, had he played the entire game. He was looking solid on the field and the o-line didn’t overly suck in creating holes for him. Peterson was running hard and looked as good as he ever has. No signs of any lingering effects of the T-Jack collision last season.

Ballard had a tremendous sack on Romo. I don’t know why, but seeing Romo get the crap sacked out of him is almost as great as seeing Rodgers hitting the turf for me. We’ll address the obvious issue (lack of sacks in general) later.

Webb knows how to get in the end zone.

Joe Webb makes me smile. Yeah – he’s a little rough around the edges. He rabbits out of the pocket more than he should. He overthrew Robinson in the red zone… BUT he also ran for a TD. He’s got a great arm (as evidenced by his terrific fade to Arceneaux – who actually held on this time) and a ton of charm. I love when he’s on the field. It always makes me want to re-watch last year’s Philly game (which I still have on DVR).

I’ll wrap up the good with this: EJ Henderson is looking great as the mike and Greenway is setting the tone for a long-term contract (which better happen sooner rather than later).

The Bad

Erin Henderson ran into the punter. There were too many soft spots in the zone coverage. Jared Allen may have been the only one to get consistent pressure on Romo – but he’s still not looking like the be-mulleted stud of 2009. Loadholt needs to step up – he blew it several times over the course of the game. Ponder’s mad scramble for a huge loss was avoidable – Fusco should have snapped the ball properly, but failing that, Ponder should have paused long enough to throw the ball away. Kluwe’s punt through the back of the end zone was miscalculated… a fairly significant mistake for a veteran.

The Ugly

It doesn’t get worse than a blocked field goal returned for 6. This was a horrendous failure on the part of special teams. I liked Sensabaugh a lot better when he was getting burned by a Favre-Rice connection for a TD in the divisional play-off game in January 2010.

McNabb threw late and was intercepted near the red zone. Last year, the Vikings were AWFUL in the red zone. We need to make sure that isn’t repeated in 2011… but throwing INTs like that isn’t going to get us there. C’mon Donovan – you’re a veteran. No silly mistakes.

Net Result

I thought we did ok in this game. It didn’t fire me up, but I don’t feel entirely hopeless either. I think there were some great things that came out in the game, but I also think we have a ways to go to get back to that stout run stopping defense and accelerating the pressure on the opposing QB. I hope Pagac has a lot of blitzes in the plan for 2011. I love seeing us go after the QB. I think this Vikings team will be better than last season’s team, but by how much, I’m not yet sure.

Disagree with my assessment? Think I missed something? Leave a comment!

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Aug 28

Shank Shakes Off 2010 Craziness

"It's VisanTAY!"

Taking a lesson from The Fonz, Visanthe Shiancoe has put the “Ayyyy” back in Visanthe.

During the 2010 season, Shiancoe made a big deal of changing the pronunciation of his first name, removing the familiar “ay” at the end in favor of a soft “T” sound. I thought it was weird at the time and find it even odder that he’s tacking the “ay” back on to the end this year. Why change it in the first place?

Could it be that he wants to shake off a disastrous 2010 season in which his first name wasn’t the only thing not working for him?

There wasn’t much fanfare to this switcharoo – just a mention of it in a sideline interview during last night’s game. Randy Shaver seemed amused and I believe I may have rolled my eyes.

Let’s hope this change signals big things for Visanthe this season. Get that hammy right, Shank, and show us what you can do!

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Aug 25

Body Parts of Glass

Why does this photo make me smile?

Some guys have a glass jaw and go down with just one well-placed punch. Aaron Rodgers has a glass skull and suffers concussions at the drop of a helmet. Which, I don’t find funny, by the way, because head injuries are nothing to joke about – but it’s true he isn’t nearly as durable as his predecessor. And then there’s Visanthe (not VisanTAY, as we once thought) Shiancoe, who seems to have a glass hamstring.

At the start of the last 3 seasons, Shank has had a hammy issue of some kind. When I was at training camp last year, he was sitting out due to a hamstring “tweak”. This year, we haven’t seen hide nor hammy of him during the first 2 pre-season games. Coach Frazier said today that Shank won’t be playing this weekend, either, because apparently he suffered a set-back yesterday.

Shank rocks the purple pants.

Will Visanthe (with or without the “ay”) even be ready for the regular season? How will this absence affect his chemistry with McNabb? Shank has been a key player for us since the 2009 season, when he really came into his own.

It’s not that we don’t have a plethora of TEs on the roster right now. We had Dugan, Kleinsasser and Shiancoe as the core team and then drafted Kyle Rudolph as the #43 pick in the second round in this year’s draft. Additionally, on the current expanded roster, we have 2 undrafted free-agent TEs in Allen Reisner and Ed Barham. But can any of these rookies be the go-to TE that Shank has been?

What happens with Shank remains to be seen. Stay tuned!

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Aug 23

Bryant McKinnie Goes from Viking to Corvus Corax

PFT is reporting that Bryant McKinnie has signed a 2-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens. I guess it’s fitting that he went from one purple team to another. Why not? There are only 2 of us! Of course, the Vikings are the original purple team – so obviously he’s taking a step down. And AFC… who cares!

Unofficial Team Photo aka MUG shot

Baltimore has some issues on their o-line, which leaves me verklempt, because who doesn’t right? Our solution was to steal Peyton Manning’s “blind side” LT (who’s no Michael Oher – and doesn’t have his own movie, either)… who is totally underachieving from everything we’ve seen to date. The Ravens decided to take a different approach: snatching up other teams’ offal.

McKinnie was unceremoniously dumped from the Vikings earlier this month for showing up to training camp at nearly 400 pounds and totally out of shape. I was *shocked* by his entitled attitude. It’s not like he’s shown us in the past that he has no self-control or desire to succeed. I mean… he’d NEVER get invited to the Pro Bowl, for example, and then decide to show up when he wanted to… only to eventually get kicked off the team, right? Wait… um. Oh yeah.

What do you think about this move by the Ravens?

In other news, there’s some speculation that Kevin Williams’ Star Caps suspension may be reduced. All I can say is that I hope they leave it at 4 games. These guys only seem to care about ethics and fairness when there are actual consequences. We need to make sure this sends a message.

More to come….

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Aug 22

Kooistra Out, Stylz In… and Other Oddities

Big news day for Vikings fans everywhere.

Kevin Williams

Let’s start with Kevin Williams. Not only does he have a possible suspension looming from the Star Caps case, but apparently came into training camp with a foot injury, that may prevent him from playing in the season opener in San Diego.

Coach Frazier indicated that the foot was troubling enough that it affected Williams’ performance during the game on Saturday. More to come on this soon.

Scott Kooistra: Out for 2011

In a scary turn of events, Scott Kooistra, playing right guard on Saturday night, suffered a neck injury in the vicinity of his C2 vertebra.

He was able to walk off the field during the game, but was unable to move his neck side to side due to what Leslie Frazier calls a “serious injury”.

In 2009 I had my C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae fused. To this day, my neck isn’t the same so I really feel for Scott. The neck is far more delicate than people without neck injuries realize. At this point, there’s no indication if he can even come back from this – everything I have read is very guarded in prognosticating the future – but all agree that he is done for the season. I wish him a complete recovery.

I didn't pick this picture for any particular reason. Uh hem. (Smack him down, Stylz!)

This is where the “Oddities” section starts. With Kooistra’s injury, the Vikings find themselves with an open spot on the expanded roster. So naturally they picked up “Stylz” G. White – who used to just go by “Greg”. My thought here is two-fold: 1) Anyone who has to change their first name to show they’re “unique” is compensating for something… but I’m not gonna speculate on what. 2) Anyone still out there for the taking at this point probably isn’t worth taking. Just sayin’. Of course, if Stylz wants to sack the crap out of Aaron Rodgers all day long, I’m for it.

Caleb King Sporting a "G" that makes my skin crawl.

Let’s end this tome with the following questionable acquisition: Caleb King. He sounds like a real winner. Arrested and suspended during the 2010 season as a Bulldog. Determined to be academically ineligible for the 2011 season. Hopefully he’s not planning on renting a party boat on Lake Minnetonka or drive over the foot of a parking maid. Dear Vikings coaching staff: our team does not have to be the Celebrity Rehab of the NFL. And honestly, do we really need another running back? Don’t we have 80 or 90 already? I don’t mean to be grumpy, but we have real issues on the o-line and in the defensive secondary. Shouldn’t we be solving for those? Let me know what you think.

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Aug 21

Wondrous or Ponderous?

The Vikings drafted Christian Ponder during the first round of this year’s draft. I didn’t know much about him at the time, but I’ve had several guys at work give me the scoop from his college days. The consensus is that when Christian Ponder is “on”, he’s on. When he’s not on, he’s totally off.

Ponder Joining the Vikings

I have to tell you that I haven’t been impressed with Ponder to date. Yeah – I know it’s game #2 of the preseason and my expectations should be calibrated accordingly… but I have not moved from my original reaction to the Vikings selecting him in the 1st round, which was: WTF?

Sure, we heard great things about him in the off-season (aka Babies R Us Lock Out Season).

He grabbed the play book as soon as he could… He was busy committing the plays to memory. He hosted a non-league sanctioned practice in Florida – to which the Vikings veterans could not be bothered to travel, of course. I’m not saying the kid isn’t trying.

But really – what have we seen so far? Being the football dork I am, I DVR all the games and watch them twice. What can I say? There’s just something about watching my team running around on the field that makes me happy. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t very fun to watch last year’s games twice, but we’ll set that aside for now.

Ponder is inconsistent. Moments of brilliance with moments of deer in the headlights. He aired it out twice last night and overthrew both receivers. He’s frenetic in the pocket… dancing around with happy feet until he bolts to the sides where he seems to be more comfortable.

I don’t want to sound alarmist – but is this a guy that should be our franchise QB of the future? For me, the jury is out yet, as it should be. But I’m not sure this guy has what it takes to lead this team to where we need to go: first, the top of the NFC North, then NFC Champions and finally – our long-anticipated Super Bowl victory. What do you think?

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Aug 21

Favre Sighting in Green Bay?

ProFootballTalk is reporting that a fake Brett Favre has been sighted signing autographs in the fine city of Green Bay.

Brett in the RIGHT colors.

Imagine my glee upon reading this report. To envision a bunch of drunk Packer fans vying for the attention of a fake Brett Favre just makes me laugh. As if he would waste his time going back there unannounced? How delusional are these people?

It’s as if those cheddar wedges they love to sport on their heads has cut off the oxygen, causing brain cell death. Keep on rocking Green Bay!

This report, plus a Vikings win, has ensured that I have a fabulous weekend!

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Aug 21

The Vikings Are Back… and so am I.

I’ve been gone for a while. And by “a while” I mean almost 8 months. A lot has happened since January. A horrendous event in the form of the last last game of the 2010 season happened and a team I detest sucked less than another team I dislike. The game and the teams that played it shall remain nameless… but I’m sure you know who & what I mean.

A close friend of mine passed away. I got a promotion at work. There was the whole NFL lockout – which I wasn’t in the mood to report out on at all – but will sum it up like this: what a bunch of overpaid, whiny babies… on all sides. Imagine how insufferable all of those people would be if they actually had to WORK for a living. But I digress.

Vikings 20, Former Vikings 7

Donovan McNabb... the Viking?

The preseason is here. Tonight was game 2. Previously I stated that I didn’t want Donovan McNabb on our team. It’s now apparent that Leslie Frazier doesn’t give one fig about what I think.

#5 not only got Kluwe’s number, but also got $5MM for his troubles for a 1 year contract. Let’s hope he’s one and done. Unless he magically turns out to be great. I reserve the right to change my mind.

I wasn’t too excited about our performance in the first preseason game. In fact, I predicted (via text) to a friend of mine that I thought we were going to suck even more than I originally thought. Naturally, I reserve the right to change my mind on that, too. And I’ll be damned if tonight I didn’t get a little bit excited about the tempo the 1st string offense was able to generate. They seemed to have the one thing that was missing last year: chemistry.

UFL Acquisition Lorenzo Booker

Lorenzo Booker has caught my eye. Not only did he pay part of his acquisition fee when we picked him towards the end of the 2010 season from the UFL, but he plays his heart out on the field. Sure, he’s had a couple of mistakes (i.e. the close call on the punt last week), but he’s been solid both running and receiving. I’m looking forward to seeing him play hard during the regular season.

Speaking of mistakes, let’s talk Emmanuel Arceneaux.

Emmanuel Arceneaux: Lots of time for tweeting!

Arceneaux has tons of time to tweet inspirational bible verses to fellow Christians, but perhaps his time would be better spent learning how to protect the ball when he’s running with it towards the end zone.

In the time-honored tradition of Adrian Peterson pre-2010, Arceneaux let that arm with the ball swing around like a limp noodle when being pursued… and next thing you know, instead of celebrating a touchdown, we got to watch the stripped ball fly through the back of the end zone as the Seahawks celebrated their touchback. Really Emmanuel??? You had like 3 yards to go. Ugh.

You know who impressed me?

Marcus... where have you been all my life?

Marcus Sherels. Yeah, he had a fumble. That wasn’t so hot. But he had a Pick 6, too. And he was flying around like a crazy person on the field, making open field tackles and big plays.

Marcus, I hope you make the squad. You have a ton of heart and we could use that. Especially after the disastrous 2010 season that I wish I could forget… but somehow cannot purge from my Viking-horned head.

So – I have a tiny glimmer of hope for the 2011 season. I’ve been a Vikings fan for decades so I can’t allow more than a glimmer of hope because I’m a realist… but I feel pretty confident in saying that we’re going to win some games this year. Don’t ask me how many – but I know it’ll be more than 1!

I was going to end this post with some  snarky commentary about Sidney Rice and his renewed career catching jump balls from T-Jack… but I’ll let the score between the Vikings & Vikings West speak for itself.

Tell me what you think of our team so far this season:

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