This Week’s Writing Schedule… Update

*** Update: This website has just reached 1,000 all time views.  Not too shabby for a few months writing.  Thank you all for your reading and support.  I feel like I should be having balloons and confetti raining down from the ceiling.

Again, thank you all so much for your continued reading.  The following is my upcoming writing schedule.  I’ve been sick all weekend so I’ve had to push back the schedule a bit.

– Minnesota Basketball – Timberwolves and Gophers (Monday)

In the meantime, please give your vote on what you feel best describes the Vikings season.

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Quickies: Finally!

– No.  Not finally we won.  Finally we looked focused, confident, and motivated.  I can’t remember the last time I had fun watching a Vikings game.  This was fun.

– A lot of people are going to anoint Joe Webb a future Hall of Famer from Tuesday’s game… Okay, maybe not exactly true but usually people go overboard after one good game.

– Now that I’ve said that, Joe Webb looked great from the middle of the second quarter on.  He converted third downs (even third and longs), he scrambled when need be, he didn’t hold the ball in the pocket, for the most part he didn’t stare down receivers, and he beat an excellent Philly defense and team.  Webb out-dueled Michael Vick – please no comparisons to Vick, Webb is more like a Vince Young.  The kid looked the part.

– Now that I’ve said that, whether the Vikings trade for, draft, or sign a quarterback next year, I want Joe Webb in the competition for starting quarterback.  I don’t trust him enough after just one game, but he has shown more – in my mind – than Tarvaris Jackson has in his entire career.  Let’s see what next week brings against the Lions.  If he torches them, I’ll be impressed (even if it is the Lions).

– Adrian Peterson returned to form with a nice 100+ yard game.  He busted two very nice runs – of which one he fumbled while falling to the ground.  That was his first fumble of the season, so I sincerely applaud his success this year on that account.  Bravo.

– Webb looked to have a great repertoire with Rice, Harvin, and Shiancoe.  Rice had a game to forget as he dropped several passes and eventually got knocked out of the game.  The early drops made me hold my breath for Webb because I did not want his confidence to be shaken due to his receivers not holding onto the ball.

– The offensive line held up better than it has all year long in pass protection.  I would have liked to see some holes in the run game, but AP managed.

– The defense played motivated, active, and violent.  It was a joy to watch.  The defensive accumulated six sacks from everywhere.  Winfield had countless blitzes from the edge that gave Vick fits.  The defensive line rushed hard, but didn’t over-pursue Vick.  Interim Defensive Coordinator Fred Pugac dialed up blitzes all night, and it was a welcome change.  KFAN’s Mike Morris said if we blitzed like we did Tuesday against other good, pocket-passers we would have been torched.  I whole-heartedly disagree.  Tell me why it works for other teams but couldn’t work for us (Pittsburgh, New York Jets, Baltimore, Green Bay, New Orleans, New England, etc.).  Teams blitz and it works.  It doesn’t mean you have to be a 3-4 defense or blitz on every play, but you will be torched if you sit back and can’t get a pass rush on a good, pocket-passer.

That’s all I have time for now.  I’m heading to Winter Park, and I’ll have some more Quickies late tonight.

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Christmas Break… and One Thing

*** I’m back and I hope you are too.  I will definitely put something together tomorrow afternoon after the most enjoyable Vikings game this season. ***

I know I said I was going to be done for Christmas, but I have to share one thing.  Most of us enjoy ripping Brett Favre for not knowing when to hang it up and some of his off-field antics.  But I encourage you to listen to this story courtesy of KFAN and The Common Man Progrum.  There is no doubt Favre has a large ego, but it seems he has a large heart as well.

———————————————————————————————————-

Hello all.  I just wanted to let you all know I will not be writing until after Christmas.  I should be able to write something following the Vikings game Sunday night against the Eagles.

Also, thank you all so much for reading.  It has been a great experience to use my access at KFAN and my love of sports to write some honest-to-goodness, realistic sports articles.  Feel free to tell friends and family about the site – It’s great motivation to have you all as my readers.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God Bless.

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The Miseducation of Tarvaris Jackson

*Another spectacular editing job by your’s truly (from the album cover of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill).

This is my first and probably last piece dedicated to Tarvaris Jackson.  Oh the times we’ve had (video).  The 64th overall selection of the 2006 draft and prized project of the late (but still very alive) Brad Childress never really received his proper education.

Tarvaris Jackson was greeted as a rookie by fellow teammates and position-mates Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger.  Johnson had a serviceable career (his Super Bowl with Tampa Bay was as impressive as Trent Dilfer’s with Baltimore) and Bollinger was no better than a third-string quarterback.

After one year of “grooming,” Tarvaris saw the most extensive starting time of his career thus far.  He finished the season with 9 TD, 12 INT, and a 70.8 Rating.  Jackson led the Vikings to an 8-8 record.

In 2008, Jackson lost his starting job to Gus Frerotte after opening the season with two losses.  Frerotte had a decent run until getting injured leading to Jackson reclaiming his starting job.  Tarvaris redeemed his poor start with key victories pushing the Vikings into the playoffs.  The Vikings faced the Eagles, and Jackson was simply outmatched (see video link above).

2009 and 2010 marks the years of the Silver Fox.  One year was one play away from the Super Bowl, and the next year was and is a lost cause as Brett Favre could not duplicate his 2009 magic.  Jackson took over for an injured Favre two weeks ago against the Buffalo Bills.

Tarvaris Jackson was drafted out of Alabama State – not exactly a mecca for NFL talent.  Jackson was surrounded by an offensive minded coach (at least in theory), washed up quarterbacks, and no offensive talent aside from Adrian Peterson.  Every time Jackson was given the starting job, it was pulled out from under his feet with little time to prove himself.  He had two poor games in 2008 and lost the job to Frerotte.  The following year the job was all his until Brett Favre hopped off his tractor and started throwing to Mississippi high schoolers.

Now those may sound like excuses for his poor performances.  In all honesty they are.  However, they are a part of his history that cannot be ignored, and these elements have contributed to his miseducation.

Many thought learning under Brett Favre would be a good thing.  There surely are things to learn from a future Hall of Fame quarterback.  But ask yourself if the ole gunslinger can teach him how to be a good quarterback from a mechanics standpoint.  Favre is known for throwing off-balanced, throwing across his body, and holding the ball too long.  For the most part, it worked for Favre throughout his career.  Tarvaris Jackson is struggling with these exact issues.  His mechanics are awful.  Recall the last two weeks.  Jackson threw interceptions off his back foot, into double coverage, and simply ignoring defenders.  Jackson stood in the pocket too long, and showed he possesses no clock for when to get rid of the ball or even leave the pocket.  And although immeasurable, his confidence is fragile.

Tarvaris Jackson is a great guy and a quick learner (according to many former players and coaches).  But the ugly truth is great guys who work hard and posses lots of talent do not necessarily make good quarterbacks.

Tarvaris Jackson handled the Favre situation perfectly.  He has always worked hard, and stayed out of trouble.  But even when you do everything right, sometimes it doesn’t translate into success.

That is where we stand now in the miseducation of Tarvaris Jackson.

Quarter… Back to the Future

As the Vikings get ready for the Chicago Bears, one thing seems certain.  Joe Webb will be the only returning quarterback for the Vikings next year.  This all-but-fact is slightly unsettling.  As depicted in the picuture above my favorite options are either trading for Kevin Kolb or drafting Ryan Mallet (or Luck, Newton, or Locker).  Kolb is only 26 years-old, and reminds me of a poor-man’s Aaron Rodgers with high upside.  He almost would assuredly cost less than the rookie pool (1st round pick).  However, Mallet has a rocket arm, Newton is dangerous but has the most downside if he doesn’t develop, and Locker has his own question marks.  Luck will in all likelihood be the 1st overall pick in next years draft, which will be well out of the Vikings pick.  I will discuss Vikings future QB possibilities more in depth after the conclusion of the season.

*I do not have Winter Park this week, but I will write some Quickies to set up Monday nights game.  I will also be writing a piece on the Wolves and the Gophers Basketball team (I am going to the Gopher’s game tonight against Akron).

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The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on Fire!

***Update: I am spending a lot of time putting together a good piece on Tarvaris Jackson and the Vikings quarterback situation.  After I finish a college final tomorrow morning I will finish the article and post it.  Please check back Wednesday afternoon for the finished product.***

Okay, not on fire, more like on ice.  With a big hole in it.  And caved in.

Most of you probably know the game will be moved to tomorrow (Monday night) at 6:20.

I will be forced to miss the majority of the first quarter due to a final exam.  I would normally skip class, but these finals usually mean a little something.

I will reflect on the Motor-City Bowl on Tuesday.

Enjoy the snow.  Cheers!

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Quickies: He’s Back… Oh, and the Vikings Win

– It was like the ghost of Christmas past grabbed us all and took us back to last year’s Sidney Rice.  Rice caught 5 passes for 105 yards and 2 incredible touchdowns.  Three of the catches were absolute jaw-droppers (Click here to see highlights).

– Leslie Frasier is now 2-0 as a head coach.  Vikings face the Giants at noon next Sunday.  The Giants are very Jekyll and Hyde, but are coming off a very nice win against the Redskins.

– Brett Favre will be questionable all week with a sprained throwing shoulder (injury occurred on first pass of the game).  One of two things will happen.  Either Brett Favre heals entirely and starts next Sunday, or he heals enough to be wheeled out to continue his consecutive starts streak.

– T-Jack looked great… if you can look past the three interceptions.  It’s not so much that he turned the ball over three times as much as how he turned the ball over.  The first interception was reminiscent of the pick-six against the Eagles years ago in the playoffs.  The second was not entirely his fault – the ball was a yard behind his receiver, but Camarillo tipped the ball up into the air where it was easily picked.  Lastly and worstly (I can make up words), the final interception showed that this is the same ole T-Jack – throwing off his back foot into double coverage while he was getting demolished by a Bills player.  T-Jack can look like the biggest present under the tree one play and the present that you know is an ugly sweater the next.  Okay, this was not a quickie point, but things needed to be said.

– Adrian can play with a sprain, Adrian can play in the rain.  He can play on a train sitting next to a great dane.  I sincerely believe that Dr. Seuss-like poem, but seriously, the fact that Adrian can look like crap in practice on Wednesday (from a health standpoint) and run for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns on Sunday is beyond incredible.  In the post-game press conference T-Jack said, “He’s not human.”  Exactly what I was thinking.

– This was the most active and aggressive I have seen our defense play this year.  They forced five turnovers, and had Fitzpatrick running for his Harvard degree.  Kind of sad we only won the turnover battle by one – thank you four interceptions from Vikings quarterbacks.

– I was so excited to see Joe Webb get a crack at kick returns and WR.  Too bad he tweaked his hammy a few plays into the game.

– Leslie Frazier does not care what people think of him, but he does it in an incredibly respectful way.  Frazier can only do this because he handles himself right, and thus far has made all the right calls.  I have a feeling when things do go wrong he will handle himself right once again.

– Finally, I want to thank KFAN for allowing me the opportunity to attend the game, sit in the press box, and help out in the locker room post-game.  It was fun, and I hope it was not my last chance.

– I have an extremely busy week because it’s my last week of classes this semester.  I’ll be back at Winter Park Wednesday, and I will try to finally get to some Wolves and Gopher basketball talk Friday.  Thanks for reading and goodnight.

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Rumblings from Winter Park

It’s Not Brain Surgery

Visanthe Shiancoe handles the spotlight better than any other Minnesota Viking player (although Ryan Longwell loves the cameras).  At a time when the locker room is just getting back to normal, Shiancoe provides refreshing and respectful answers to questions about the old regime, the new regime, and accountability.

“It’s all about accountability… We’re out there playing the game.  The coaches aren’t playing the game.  They tell us what to do.  If you don’t execute what they tell you to do, I mean, who’s to blame?  If you drop a ball is the coach to blame or are you to blame?  If you miss a block is the coach to blame or are you to blame?”

Shiancoe knows the only way to move forward is to look forward.  “We just focused on the future… We can’t get derailed by the past.”

After consecutive blowouts against the Bears and Packers, Visanthe says the difference is, “Effort, energy, griminess, you see people playing a little nasty.”  He attributes Frazier’s hard and physical practices for the change of play.

The problems plaguing the Vikings all year are not a complicated issue according to Shiancoe.  “It’s not brain surgery.  It’s effort.  It’s scheme.  It’s just being a professional.”

The Backup’s Gameplan

Toby Gerhart got his first major run of the season last Sunday toting the rock for 76 yards and one touchdown.

Through the first half of the season, Gerhart showed little vision finding the holes.  Gerhart admitted early on “I was a little bit of a line runner.”

Patience is not something that comes easy to everyone.  Adrian Peterson struggled to slow down when approaching the line of scrimmage during his rookie season as well.

Gerhart knows things will come to him the more opportunities he receives.  “The more touches you get, you get a feel for the game, you get a feel for how the defense is playing.”

Excuses

Ray Edwards is a hard working, tough young man, but Wednesday he seemed to be in excuse mode.

Edwards blamed the lack of pass rush on the defensive line receiving “max protect” and “eight man protection” thus far this season.

While this may be true, it is quite the contrast from Shiancoe’s theme of accountability.

Ray Edwards said now they’re just “having fun.”

Too bad they couldn’t just have fun prior to a 3-7 start and a fired coach.

This Weekend

I am attending the Bills game with KFAN, so I will report my experiences either Sunday night or Monday morning.

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Quickies: Tenth Times the Charm

– For a road win that is.  Finally!

– Frazier took a noticeably simpler game plan than his predecessor.  And it worked.

– The true question: Why did it take a coaching change for Vikings players to not turn the ball over and only commit three penalties?

– Morale and focus is back.  I’m curious to see how long it lasts, but it is back.

– Adrian Peterson should be back for the Bills game, but he will be questionable until game-day.

– Toby Gerhart filled in admirably.  Numbers were not flashy, but he got some key first downs and wore the Redskins defense out.

– Brett Favre will never scramble for more than five yards again, so I hope you enjoyed it.

– Peterson thought Favre’s scramble was as funny as my dad and I thought.  Hilarious.

– The defense stood strong for the most part.  The painful thing was watching the Redskins convert nearly every third down.

– It was nice to see a few sacks and an INT.

– I told my dad I think this team will be similar next year.  Anyone who thinks this roster will implode is wrong.  My guess for starters who won’t be back is: Ray Edwards, Ben Leber, part of our O-Line, Brett Favre, and Bernard Berrian.  A little roster turnover, but not what the national talking heads are saying.

– I want the Vikings to trade for Kevin Kolb this offseason if they aren’t going to pick a QB with their first round pick.  He reminds me of a poor-man’s Aaron Rodgers.  I think he would blossom with our weapons.

***I will be working this Sunday’s game vs. the Bills with KFAN.  I will share on my experiences on Sunday night or Monday morning.

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The Truth about Chilly being Chilly

In a Sirius NFL Radio interview with Adam Schein, Bernard Berrian said the following regarding whether or not Childress lost the locker room:

“Yeah, you could say it happened, yeah.  I mean, yeah it did.  I mean it just, I think people got to a point where it was just, it was too overbearing.”

“He was just confrontational.  I think that was the biggest thing.  Instead of, you know, going to players like men and just talking and conversating about it, it was kind of brought to their attention in a confrontational way and just people just didn’t really conform to that way of, I guess, him talking and speaking to his team, or players individually.”

You may not witness many players willing to stand up and say this type of thing, so kudos to Berrian.

Childress is not necessarily a bad human, in fact I believe he is a good guy, but he wasn’t everybody’s favorite blend of coffee.  And that is life.  It takes a rare breed of person to be a great head coach.

There is no belittling the importance of X’s and O’s, but football knowledge only gets you so far.  That’s why the term “manager” in baseball is so fitting.  It is more how you manage players than your scheme.

We all have to understand how to deal with people.  How to be blunt while compassionate.  How to be fair and respectful.  And be honest, don’t we all stroke a little ego in our daily jobs to get what we are looking for?

Football is no different… really, it’s not rocket science.  People are people no matter where you are.  Why Chilly was so chilly towards his players beats me.

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Quickies: I’m Flying Coach

– Chilly is flying first class with his $8 million buyout.

– Leslie Frazier has six games to prove his worth, but I have a feeling it will be more.  See the videos from Vikings.com and the NFL Network: Interview, Press Conference, and NFL Network Analysis.

– Frazier will pass his defensive play-calling torch to either Karl Dunbar or more likely Fred Pagac.

– My initial gut feelings about the move is right time and right man.  Anybody who says it should have happened sooner either knows the future or is a very impatient, fair-weather fan.  Frazier looks the part of a calm, cool, and collected man (reminds me of Tony Dungy because he was under the tutelage of Dungy).

– Continuing my thought from the last point, Frazier impressed me with his respect for his players.  He can not simply be their friend, but he knows the importance of managing, respecting, and motivating his players.  Often, Chilly seemed cold and condescending.  You always have to have the players on your side, or you are simply a man with an empty roster.

– The Vikings turned into an empty roster for the following reasons: close-minded head coach, unmotivated, selfish/team-less play, Sidney Rice Injury, failed trade for Randy Moss, mediocre line, Cedric Griffin injury, ridiculously tough schedule, Favre’s turnovers, ZERO CONFIDENCE, and on and on and on…

– Please don’t forget Childress did a lot of good for your favorite team over the years.  However, his time was simply at an end.

– The players deserve much more credit for this depressing season.

– The players reactions were captured in a Star Tribune article here.

– The players were very compassionate towards Childress, and very excited for Frazier.

– I am thoroughly convinced the following is how Frazier feels about our QB situation: Favre will play the remainder of the season unless unforeseen injury occurs; Jackson will not be back next year; and Joe Webb is a question mark – either Frazier wants to see what he has in him or he wants to convert him back to a WR.

– Finally, there are rumblings that Bill Parcells has already been contacted by Zygi Wilf for a possible GM position with the Minnesota Vikings.  If this occurs, Parcells would have complete power over the entire roster, draft, and free agency.  I wonder how Frazier would feel about that?  I also hope Spielman can stick around because he has transformed this roster since he first got here.

 

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