Timber-Puppies Have Some Things To Work On

You can tell this team is just starting to gel.

Hopefully they can practice this vital part of every free throw… make or miss.

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The Boardroom

It’s borderline painful to write an article about the Minnesota Vikings.  I may just start covering the Timber-puppies… then again maybe not just yet.

Sunday may have marked the last time you see on the Vikings sideline that mustached man hiding behind his laminated, color coordinated cue card.  I know you all are grieving.

Zygi Wilf claimed after the 13-point butt-kicking that Childress’ job was safe, but you have to wonder when enough is truly enough.

I have never been a quick-to-react fan.  I have given and will continue to give Childress credit and criticism when he deserves it.

The truth:  Brad Childress went 6-10, 8-8, 10-6, and 12-4; He oversaw the drafting of Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Cedric Griffin, Chad Greenway, Ray Edwards, etc.; He took the Vikings from Loveboat and Whizzinator to accountable; and coached the Vikings to last years NFC Championship game.

The Ugly Truth:  Brad Childress brought in Brett Favre for one of the most memorable seasons in franchise history, but this year backfired on him – Favre simply is not the same player; the Vikings are currently 3-6; Childress has a painfully hard time adjusting to games that don’t go as scripted; and rubs members of his team and media the wrong way.

Of course that was just a snapshot of a much more detailed picture, but it provides a realistic, fair look at the highlights of Brad Childress as the Vikings head coach.

Fans are far to eager to forget the good.  The good is not an excuse for the bad.  However, both have to be looked at when assessing how Childress is doing.

Removing Brad Childress earlier than this week would have been a mistake.  He didn’t deserve it, the team would have been put in a very vulnerable position, and, from all indications, the players had not quit once in the previous 5 losses (all were very close).

This week was drastically different.  Take away a Favre to Harvin 51-yard strike and this game was a blowout.  The team looked unprepared and more importantly unmotivated.  The Vikings quit.

Huge blame deserves to be put on the individual players, but you can’t cut all the players who were disappointing on Sunday – especially considering how good we know they can be (referencing last year).

This situation reminds me of NBC’s show The Apprentice.  Donald Trump holds a boardroom meeting after every task in which he fires one person from the losing team.  Trump takes into account how the person has performed in the previous tasks, but 90% of the time Donald fires the project manager because they headed and conducted the challenge.  Sure, the people on the team did things wrong and sometimes it’s really unfair for the project manager to get fired, but that’s the life of the business.

Brad Childress is the Vikings project manager.  Zygi Wilf is Donald Trump, or something like that.  Though a lot of blame resides with the players and Childress has accomplished a lot of good things for the Vikings, he is still is the project manager.

This season’s poor performance is a Wilf assigned task gone wrong.  And sometimes, whether fair or not, you have to sit in front of the boss and hear “You’re fired.”

*Sorry for the fifth grade video editing skills.  It’s not exactly my forte.

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Quickies: Vikes @ Da Bears

***Correction: Sidney Rice is going to remain on PUP list until next week.

– Apparently the night before Percy Harvin had serious migraines he was up until like 2 AM (his last Tweet came around 2 AM according to KFAN).  I’m not his mom, but maybe he should get to bed earlier.

– Sidney Rice will get at least 3 redzone targets, and I’m going out on a limb and saying he will score Sunday.

– Childress needs to win this game almost as bad as last week.  If he loses by more than 10 and it’s evident his players quit he will not be the Vikings coach next week.

– Adrian Peterson averages over a 100 YDS/GM and 1 TD/GM.  He’s catching the ball better, and hasn’t fumbled ONCE!  Who ever would have guessed that one?

– AP owns the Bears.  I say 120 running, 35 receiving, and 2 TD.

– Well I asked for 3 sacks last week and got 6.  Can I ask for 3 sacks again?

– Can I also ask for 1 INT?

– If the Vikings win their next two games they will be one game out of first place (5-5 and Packers would be 6-4).

– All but one of the Vikings losses have come against teams with 6-3 records or better (Miami is currently 4-4).

– The Vikings have not won a game on the road in one year, even with all the success they had last year.

– Current Bears victories: Lions, Cowboys, Packers, Panthers, and Bills.  Not exactly impressive.

– Berrian finally picked himself up last week.  He will continue this week against his former team.

– I hate predicting final scores, but I will say Minnesota wins 27-20.  It may be the Bears kicking away the game, but either way I’ll take the victory.

– Final note: Kevin Love of the Timberpuppies had 31 points and 31 rebounds yesterday.  He was the first person to have a 30/30 game in 28 years (Moses Malone).  And they won.  Incredible!

I will hopefully have game analysis up Sunday night or Monday morning.  Till then, enjoy the game and Skol Vikes.

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Update

Apologies for not having too much content this week.  School is taking its toll on me.  Check back Saturday for “Quickies: Vikes @ Da Bears” to get you ready for Sunday’s game.

It was a very quiet week at Winter Park this week – an odd thing considering we won Sunday.  Most starters were nowhere to be seen or heard.

I have put the following poll up on my Poll of the Week (POW) section, but I want people to keep voting to see how they really feel about this weekend’s game.  Interesting to note that thus far no one believes last Sunday’s comeback win was a mirage.

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Childress’ Secret Weapon

No, it’s not a nuclear bomb that would obliterate everyone who doesn’t follow him.  It’s a play so devious and deceptive that it just might work against the Bears.

Be sure to check out this week’s Stud of the Week (SOD), Dud of the Week (DOW), and Polls of the Week (POW)!

Also check back Thursday and Friday for reports from Winter Park.

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Quickies: Zona @ Minny

No extreme breakdown of this game is really needed.

– The Vikings need to win to keep this season respectable let alone make a chase at the playoffs.

– Brad Childress needs a win to save his head coaching life.

– If this season gets out of hand, do the Vikings make a QB change or let Favre ride out his career?

– Not only would Leslie Frasier be a great head coach (think Tony Dungy), but Carl Dunbar would be a great defensive coordinator.

– Just think, this week the Vikings could be missing Rice, Harvin, and Berrian, and next week they all could be back.

– If we win this week, the previous quickie statement makes me drool thinking of last year.

– Rookie CB Chris Cook needs to get his groove back.

– Toby Gerhart is slowing getting his feet under him, and I want to see more.  Kid can straight bull you over.

– I want to see at least 3 sacks today.  Heck, I’ll take just one.

– No matter who is his coach come Monday, I want to see Harvin play and practice hard, and with a good attitude.

Hope everyone enjoys watching the game.  Check back soon for a breakdown of the game, and whatever comes of the result (coach status, possible riots, etc.).

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The Moss Effect

The Locker Room Individually

Wednesday, not one Minnesota Vikings player said one bad word regarding Randy Moss’ second tenure in Purple.  The media received a lot of the standard (using a robotic voice): “Randy was a great teammate.  We are sad to see him go.  We must support the organizations decision.  Etc.”

However one player in particular, while choosing his words carefully, could not hide his frustration.  Let’s just say Percy Harvin was not and is not thrilled with Brad Childress or the Vikings’ brass.  Instead of giving you my take or quotes, let’s give you the words from the lips of Harvin himself:

Percy Harvin Audio

The frustration could not be hidden on his face either.  Harvin’s words were carefully chosen (notice the “ums” and silence in the clip).  You could also easily gather Percy and others felt blindsided.

The Locker Room as a Whole

This is what struck me so odd.  The locker room, while confused, frustrated, insert negative adjective, had a much lighter mood than in past weeks.  Players were jovial with one another, and those who actually made their way into the locker room at least gave the media the time of day.  I kid you not, the media felt like it could breathe again, and didn’t have to hold their breath as Randy ignored, glared, and harshly spoke to any journalist who approached him.

Judgement Day

Let’s make this quick.  Like it or not, Brad Childress is going to be head coach of the Vikings this Sunday against the Cardinals.  Beyond that, his job is up in the air.  I would be surprised if the Vikings lost this Sunday and Childress remained as part of this organization.  The Wilf’s leash on Brad is getting shorter and tighter.  If Childress gets things somewhat on track, his job will very much be in question come offseason.  Childress admitted during his press conference Wednesday that the Wilf’s judge him on wins and losses, and last time I checked the Vikings are 3 under in that column.

Show and Tell

Finally, I’d like to share two things with you all.

First, I was standing amongst the heard of reporters surrounding Tarvaris Jackson.  About two minutes into questions I hear a deep, southern voice coming from directly behind me asking, “How’d your hamstring feel on that long scramble?”  I turn around to see Brett Favre about a foot away from me trying out his reporter skills.  Jackson quickly responded light-heartedly, “Almost popped… I gotta run some sprints.”  Not only was it a quite funny moment, but it shows that players still enjoy each other.  I know I don’t joke often with people I don’t like.

Second, I just wanted to share a photo I took with the phone on my camera.  I’ll give you one guess what it is.

I’ve touched on the attitude in the locker room, both good and bad, but all that matters is what happens on the field.  I will break things down on Saturday in a preview of the Vikings-Cardinals game.  Till then thanks for reading.

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State of the Vikings’ Nation

Alright, so it’s time for a little opinionated scribbles from your’s truly.  I am sitting in one of the hearts of the beast (KFAN studios), and I have to get a couple of things off my chest.

Although I only make it into the Vikings’ locker room for one day a week, I see things.  So please, make no mistake…

Randy Moss is not misunderstood. 

I appreciate that Moss came into the league and dominated with his superior set of skills.  He is undoubtedly one of the greatest receivers of all time.

However, his attitude and complete disregard for the media, Vikings’ coaches, some players, and even a mom-and-pop food caterer, display the exact reasons for the Moss dump.  And I haven’t even addressed #84’s ever digressing on the field performances and effort.

Do I regret the Vikings taking a chance on Randy?  No.  Was it a failure bordering on one of colossal size?  Yes.

Before I address Childress, I have to reiterate the importance of the dark cloud Moss brought to the team.  Prior to Moss’ arrival, the team, even while facing a losing record, answered questions openly and with confidence.  After the first week of Randy’s second stint in Purple, the locker room was diseased.  The majority of the team was avoiding the media, and if you could physically feel the tension in the room, I promise it was thick.

Quickly onto Childress.

Should he be fired right now?  No.  Despite what you may think, the Vikings could still make the playoffs, and things theoretically could be turned around.  And I am not speaking as a rube – I’m just addressing what is possible.

But if you ask me the same question – regarding Chilly’s job in – in a couple of weeks, the answer could be much different.  Everyone wants to be so quick to react, but we (fans) need to calm down, take a breath, and realize waiting two or three weeks couldn’t hurt us anymore than the current state of this team.

I will address more this Thursday after I experience the locker room on Wednesday.

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Week 8 – Preview: Vikings at Patriots

Four Downs of Doom and Domination

1st Down:

QB Play.  Whether the name on the back of the jersey reads “Favre” or “Jackson,” a quarterback who takes what is given and protects the ball will be step one in winning this game.  The Vikings are minus 6 in the turnover ratio, much due to the careless QB from Favre.  As the days move along and Favre loses his boot, the prospects of a mobile, strong armed quarterback seems less and less.  Fans may be clamoring for TJack, but Brett has too much pride to not make every effort to get to game 292.  If Taravaris plays, look for more running, play-action passes, bootlegs, and more importantly quick, simple passes.  If Favre starts, look to see if the offensive line is up to the task of protecting a standing duck in the pocket.

2nd Down:

Pressure from the D-Line.  The Minnesota defensive line has six sacks in six games.  Sacks do not tell the whole story, as we have occasionally gotten pressure in the form of hurries and hits on the opposing QB.  But occasional pressure is not enough.  Last year the Vikings led the NFL in sacks.  This year opposing teams are single blocking Jared Allen, something that was unheard of in the past.  Opponents are also max protecting when needed allowing a comfortable pocket where QBs like Aaron Rodgers strive in.  Tom Brady is too wise to expect many sacks against, but pressures may just do.

3rd Down:

Early lead.  The Vikings have played without an early lead in nearly every game.  The result is abandoning running game and nearly no pass rush.  However, with a lead you can let AP loose and the D-Line can pin their ears back.  Brad Childress used to be able to count on at least three points on his opening drives, especially last year.  A smart, well-scripted first drive that results in points could be what the Vikings need to get their mojo rolling in Sunday’s game.

4th Down:

Win the close game… and on the road.  The Minnesota Vikings have been outscored by 5 total points this year, and only 22 in four losses (or an average loss of 5.5 points).  Every single loss has been capped by an unsuccessful attempt at winning or tying the game in the final minutes.  I do not expect a game against a top-3 team such as New England to be any different.  Can Favre snap out of his funk and lead a game winning drive?  Can AP carry the Vikings to a victory?  Can the defense hold on a final drive lead by Tom Brady?  And finally, the Vikings are 0-3 on the road this year.  Last year they were a .500 team away from the friendly confines (4-4), and with a loss Sunday the Vikings would equal last years total, and exceed their total losses from last year with five.  Gillette Stadium is not an easy place to break that streak, but you have to try.

Hail Mary:

I’m going to remain silent on predictions because they are always wrong.  Expect a close game regardless of who starts at QB for the Vikings.  Unfortunately my money would have to ride on Tom Brady and his massive amount of man hair for the win.  I would love to be proved wrong.

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Wk 7 – MN at GB: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Tonight the Minnesota Vikings fell to the Green Bay Packers in Brett Favre’s second return to Lambeau Field.  For the fourth time this season, the Vikings had a chance to tie or win the ballgame in the final minutes and failed.  With Sunday night’s 24-28 loss, the Vikings move to 2-4 on the season.  Next week Minnesota travels to New England to play the co-AFC East leader Patriots at 3:15.  The Patriots are coming off a 23-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers, and are 3-0 at home on the year.

The Good:

The running game.  Adrian Peterson toted the rock to a tune of 131 yards on 28 carries and 1 touchdown.  All-Day added 2 catches for 41 yards.  Adrian was relentless and aggressive for the entire game.  Toby Gerhart had the most productive game of his young career (5 carries, 24 yards).  The running backs are not the only productive unit contributing to a great night on the ground.  The offensive line had possibly their best game of the season, creating holes all night long.  John Sullivan’s return sparked the unit, and Anthony Herrera made numerous in-play adjustments that paid dividends.

Percy Harvin is turning into one of the most dynamic offensive players in the game.  Although his position says WR, Harvin can found all over the field.  Tonight, Percy had 3 carries for 41 yards and 1 touchdown.  Add in 5 receptions for 65 yards and a near game winning touchdown, the former Florida Gator is an explosive Jack-of-all-trades.  Harvin also provides a much-needed threat on kickoff returns.

Finally, the Vikings offensive was palatable and moved the ball for the majority of the night.  This could not be said for the pervious 5 games, as sometimes this talented offensive roster seemed anemic.  402 yards of offense is nothing to hang your head by.  Unfortunately the 3 interceptions – one returned for a touchdown – proved enormous, leading to The Bad of tonight’s game.

The Bad:

Not all blame can be placed on one man, however Brett Favre has had to many flaws and mistakes thus far this season.  First the flaws:  not feeding Moss who plays harder the more targets he receives; Favre’s unwillingness to value not turning the ball over.  Brett does not want to throw picks or hold the ball too long, but the fact is he is.  Second the mistakes: 3 interceptions of which 2 were entirely his fault (Nick Collins INT resulted from a poor route by Harvin), held the ball far too long leading to unnecessary sacks, interceptions, and possible injuries.  Brad Childress understand Brett Favre is had the greatest upside of any QB on the roster, but is Favre really giving the Vikings the best chance to win?  The Vikings fans are growing restless, and the call for Tarvaris Jackson is growing louder.

The defense played sub par to their standards.  Chris Cook got burned numerous times early in his first game back from his second knee injury of the season.  Cook looked uncomfortable, and it appeared he may not be fully healthy from that injury.  More importantly though, the front four created no pressure all night.  Aaron Rodgers in a clean pocket will slice a defense apart.

And The Ugly:

The referees outrageous penalties and decisions for the majority of the night.  There are human mistakes and then there are complete disregard for rules.  The Shiancoe catch was a complete travesty.  The ruling on the field was a touchdown, which means there has to be conclusive video evidence showing the contrary to the original ruling on the field.  The ball never moved, shifted, or bobbled in Shiancoe’s possession.  Brad Childress said following the game this was the worst officiated game he has seen in years.  Other ridiculous calls included the offensive pass interference call on Randy Moss (did not shove or extend his arms, Moss’s hands were simply feeling where the defender was as his eyes were focused on the ball), holding call on Frank Walker, numerous missed holding calls on the Packers offensive line, the unchallenged Packer touchdown by TE Quarless, and more.  All games have poor calls, and on occasion the cumulation of poor calls influences if not decides the game’s result.

Game Ball:

No game balls will given out for this game, although a couple popped balls could be given to each side and officials.

Thanks for reading, and check back throughout the week for news, notes, and opinions.

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