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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cordarrelle Patterson is still Cordarrelle Patterson



His rocky Vikings tenure having come to an end in somewhat whimpering fashion, Cordarrelle Patterson is now trying to hit the reset button on his career in Oakland. And by all accounts things aren't going so well. Signed by the Raiders primarily for his return skills, Patterson is currently in camp trying to show his coaches that he deserves to be in the wide receiver mix as well. But if Patterson's showing on Wednesday is any indication, he shouldn't count on getting too many reps at receiver. Tweets from the scene give an account of what happened when Patterson got a case of the drops and started hearing it from Raiders fans.






Dropping passes. Getting openly frustrated. Showing a lack of class in his interactions. Sounds like nothing much has changed for Patterson. He's still the same limited receiver he was in Minnesota (and big whining wet diaper). Not a playmaker. Not a dependable player. A bit of a baby. He can still get you something as a return man and occasional gadget weapon, but the ship sailed a long time ago on the notion of Patterson being a genuine offensive cog. He simply doesn't have the route-running discipline, the hands, the grasp of nuances like body positioning. He gets jammed too easily at the line. Patterson is no longer the green rookie the Vikings drafted out of Tennessee in the first round after trading away a bunch of picks to move up and get him. He's 26 now and going into his fifth year. He is what he is. He'll get you a few big returns, he'll break off a couple huge gimmick plays, but outside of that he's a non-entity. Right now he's fighting for the #4 receiver spot in Oakland and frankly I don't know what else the Raiders have at receiver, so maybe he will even win the job. But he won't put up numbers during the season, he won't be a reliable target for Derek Carr. Eventually Derek Carr will stop looking for Patterson. He'll figure out that Patterson won't be there for him. He'll look for other receivers. Raiders fans who accept now what Patterson is - a return weapon - might even end up satisfied with his signing. But any Black Holers looking for Patterson to pop as a big-time weapon in their offense are going to be very disappointed. Sounds like a few fans are already fed up with Patterson's drops. Patterson would do well to keep his mouth shut and not snipe at Raiders fans. Those people are fucking nuts and a lot of them are armed.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Stupid douchebag Matt Kalil takes shot at Vikings coaches

Matt Kalil was drafted #4 overall by Minnesota in 2012 and would go on to play 66 regular season games at left tackle for the Vikings, mostly at a mediocre level. Though Kalil showed flashes of above-averageness in his rookie season, his Vikings tenure would largely be marked by the sort of almost-adequacy that starts off inspiring frustration but ultimately leads to mere shrugging resignation. A not-bad run blocker, Kalil never did develop into the stalwart pass protector the team envisioned him becoming when they spent the #4 overall pick to get him. Though Kalil was typically unspectacular in 2015, the Vikings brought him back in 2016 for $11 million, having previously picked up his fifth-year option. Kalil, who over the course of his career had at least been durable, suffered a hip injury and played just two games in 2016. With the Vikings retooling their offensive line, free agent Kalil shambled off to Carolina in 2017 to join his brother Ryan. Few Vikings fans were sad to see Kalil go. As Vikings draft busts go, Kalil was hardly the biggest or most painful or franchise-hurting. Even as a bust, he was decidedly middle-of-the-road.

Kalil is now in Carolina and appears to be enjoying the coaching he is receiving there, as reported in the above tweet. Contained within Kalil's praise for the Carolina coaching staff is a less-than-subtle shot at the coaches he worked under in Minnesota, first Jeff Davidson and later Tony Sparano. That Kalil never realized the potential the Vikings thought he possessed when they spent a high first-rounder on his dopey ass is certainly not all the fault of the coaches tasked with molding and shaping the player. Certainly, Kalil's failure to live up to expectations is at least partially on him and his stupid fat moon-face. But if you watched Kalil in Minnesota, and more importantly observed his off-field behavior, you will not be the least bit surprised to see him taking a childish shot at his former coaches. Kalil was nothing if not a big, snot-encrusted, whimpering titty-baby in Minnesota. We all remember the time he got mad at a fan for heckling him outside a game and slapped the hat off the fan's head. Trumpian show of maturity Matt!

Matt Kalil was not total garbage in Minnesota, he was just hopelessly not-quite-up-to-snuff. At times he was a turnstile and there were moments in 2014 and 2015 when you were sure he would get Teddy Bridgewater killed. At other times he was almost not-terrible. On average, he was almost good enough. Needless to say, sort of okay most of the time (but sometimes brutally bad) is not what you want out of a #4 overall pick. Had Kalil been drafted in the third round and turned out to be the player he turned out to be, you'd call it not a bad pick. You would think of him the same way we think of Phil Loadholt now. That he was expected to be a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle and never really got into that vicinity makes his time in Minnesota look like more-or-less of a bummer. The fact that he's now sort of calling out his former Vikings coaches, strongly implying that he needed more pushing in Minnesota, is kind of a sad statement. But it doesn't seem the least bit out-of-character for Matt Kalil, a giant marshmallow-looking bag of shit with a dumb smugly grinning face that fairly cries out to be smashed in with a bag of bricks. I wish Matt Kalil had just gotten out of Minnesota and allowed me to forget about his numbingly run-of-the-mill existence but he had to go and say mealy-mouthed trash-talking stuff about the coaches who tried and failed to extract a level of performance from him that would have allowed us to feel good about where he was drafted. The funny part is Kalil suggesting his real problem was that he did not receive ENOUGH coaching in Minnesota. As if any amount of beating could have mended the pace of that particular dull ass. I wish stupid douchebag Matt Kalil would just shut up and be a Carolina Panther already, and stop vaguely referring to his wholly unremarkable time in Minnesota. I wish he would let us forget he was ever a thing.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Did I sense a rumbling of discontent from Teddy Bridgewater?






All may not be entirely well as regards the Vikings' relationship with Teddy Bridgewater. Under the seemingly placid surface of things there may be rumblings of discontent. I am certainly not the first to put two-and-two together when it comes to Bridgewater's intriguing tweets of a couple nights ago after news broke that Miami QB Ryan Tannehill had suffered an injury and was potentially looking at missing a lot of time. Given Bridgewater's Florida connections, and connections via Louisville to Miami receiver DeVante Parker, it took four seconds for folks to begin speculating on a possible trade of Bridgewater to the Dolphins. Then things seemingly went a step beyond mere idle trade speculation thanks to a few Bridgewater tweets. KFAN first jumped on the story in a post with the totally non-hysterial title "The Internet is bracing itself for a Bridgewater to Miami Trade..." laying out the timeline of events:

 - Tannehill gets injured late in the morning on Thursday
 - Late last night former Vikings cornerback and Miami native Demarcus VanDyke put out a tweet calling for Teddy to be traded to the Dolphins...and Teddy "liked" the tweet on Twitter. The tweet has since been "unliked" but there are screenshots to prove it.
 - Within the same hour Bridgewater puts out a barrage of tweets highlighted in the image below. 


Jackals in the Twin Cities media began frothing at the mouth over the possibility of an honest-to-goodness Teddy Bridgewater controversy in Minnesota. Radio people turned it into an instant talker.


Even Mike Florio of PFT got in on the act, drawing the amusing ire of his pal Paul Allen.
First off, there is no way in hell the Miami Dolphins are going to trade anything to the Vikings to acquire Teddy Bridgewater knowing that Bridgewater is likely not yet ready to play. The Dolphins, if they even think they need a quarterback, will want someone who can step in right away. They will not want someone who is coming off his own catastrophic knee injury. So even if Bridgewater is pining to get out of Minnesota and play with Parker in Miami, it's not going to happen any time in the near future.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get down to what the real story is here. Even if a trade is not realistically possible, the fact is Teddy Bridgewater did like that tweet about getting traded, did unlike the tweet somewhat suspiciously and did follow it up with a three-tweet run about sensing God about to perform a miracle in his life. Hard as I may try to ignore the implications of this Twitter activity, chalking it all up to coincidence, I can't quite bring myself to do so. There may not be smoke there, but there's definitely a burning smell. It is not unreasonable at all to surmise based on Bridgewater's tweets that Bridgewater is not happy with the way the Vikings are handling his situation. Publicly Bridgewater is saying all the right things, because that's the kind of classy guy he is, but who knows what his true feelings are. It could very well be that Bridgewater believes he's ready to play now and is cheesed off that Minnesota has him sitting on PUP while Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke get all the reps.

The thing is, looking at it in purely strategic terms, the right play for Rick Spielman is to do exactly what he's doing. Having Bradford around means he doesn't have to risk putting Bridgewater out there a second too early. He can hold Bridgewater back as an insurance policy in case Bradford gets hurt. He can also try to stash Bridgewater on PUP during the season, forcing Bridgewater's contract to toll, essentially adding an extra year to the QB's deal (after the team wisely elected not to pick up his fifth-year option). Some have argued the union would rush to Bridgewater's defense in the event Minnesota tried any such shenanigans with him and his contract, and maybe they would, but one assumes if that were a real possibility Rick Spielman would already be well-aware of it. We'll find out what happens when the season starts. For now, Bridgewater is sitting, and there is genuine evidence that he's not entirely happy with having to sit.

This would be much less of a story - or potential story, if you so far refuse to believe it rises to the level of an actual story - if Bridgewater did not have such a reputation for being a nice guy. It truly is hard to imagine a more amiable, likable, non-controversial figure than Teddy Bridgewater. And let's be honest - from the point-of-view of the media, Bridgewater's niceness makes him just a little bit bland. If the media had their way, they'd rather cover an ass like Jay Cutler. The media love QB-related headlines. Even before Bridgewater's minor tweet outburst, some were trying to foment a QB controversy in Minnesota by pointing out how healthy Bridgewater always looks in the team's video releases of him. Controversy sells, so it's no shock media people in the Twin Cities and elsewhere are now trying to make one around Bridgewater, who otherwise seems totally controversy-proof. The hell of it is, Bridgewater is the one responsible for fanning this particular smoldering pile of charcoal. If he was trying to send a message to the Vikings with his tweets, mission accomplished. Personally I think it's a positive sign that Bridgewater possesses a little ass potential underneath his nice-guy exterior. I don't trust anyone who seems totally nice.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dalvin Cook is well on his way to making Vikings fans forget Whats-his-name



At the risk of endorsing what may in fact be nothing but standard camp hype, I have to say I'm very excited about reports concerning Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook. How good has Cook been in Mankato? So good even the national media are taking notice (via CBSSports.com):

Walkthrough lineups had Cook, Minnesota's second-round pick out of Florida State, commanding all but a few looks as the team's starting back, and that trend continued later, when he was regularly positioned behind Bradford in full pads. In between a playful pat on his own back, Jerick McKinnon acknowledged everybody has "seen what (Cook) can do" with the ball on his hands.
But all the good talk about the rookie isn't even as impressive as Cook himself. The first-year back passes the eye test with flying colors. Every ounce of his listed 5-foot-11, 213-pound frame is rock solid, and he moves like someone a whole lot lighter. There's a lot to be proven yet, of course, but Cook at least gives the impression that Minnesota isn't even fretting Latavius Murray's absence.

Needless to say, Cook is an unbelievably important piece of the puzzle for the Vikings as they try this year to mount a more well-rounded and explosive offense. Sure, Jerick McKinnon can be a contributor too, and maybe Latavius Murray if he ever gets healthy - and certainly the offensive line is a big part of this story too (which makes Riley Reiff's ongoing physical issues that much more concerning) - but Cook is the player to really get excited about. By all accounts, Cook has the physical tools to be an explosive offensive weapon both as a runner and receiver. And apparently Cook is good at pass protection too. Wow, a running back who can catch the ball and block? Who doesn't have to come off the field in third down situations? Who actually has the versatile skill set to become a genuine weapon in a modern-day NFL offense with spread looks and shotgun and all those fancy things other teams have been doing for years while the Vikings plodded along as one of the last proponents of "old school" offense? Whose limitations don't back the offensive playcaller into a situation where he's forced to be more predictable? Amazing.

Thanks to Dalvin Cook, the term "old school ground-and-pound offense" may soon become a distant memory in Minnesota. And it's about fucking time. Welcome to 2017, Minnesota Vikings offense. Welcome to the Dalvin Cook Era.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Laquon Treadwell proved he can scrap, now he must prove he can play


A good old training camp scuffle broke out yesterday between second-year WR Laquon Treadwell and fourth-year DB Antone Exum. It was actually pretty entertaining as these things go. Video of the incident can be seen below. Treadwell beats Exum for a catch in the end zone during a drill, then some trash-talking I guess breaks out, then Exum goes after Treadwell. Initially Adam Thielen tries to get between the two, but Exum won't be denied. The two men are going at it on the ground by the time it's over, surrounded by a huddle of teammates. Thankfully no one gets injured.
Afterwards Exum insisted there's no bad blood between him and his friend Treadwell (via Scout.com):

 “I just think it’s something that happens in training camp. There are guys that are going to compete. He’s one of them,” Exum said of Treadwell. “We’re friends, so it’s not like we have any beef towards each other or anything like that. I want the best for him, he wants the best for me and we just get out there and try to make each other better. The physicality part happens sometimes.”

The positive takeaway from all this? Treadwell actually beat a DB to make a catch in the end zone. True it was in a training camp drill and the guy he beat is barely hanging on to a roster spot, but still, progress!

Apologies for the sarcasm concerning Laquon Treadwell, but sarcasm just occurs naturally when one discusses the former first-round pick. It's hard to not be skeptical about Treadwell after his awful rookie season which saw him catch just one pass all year. Excuses flung out on behalf of Treadwell include the classics: he was hurt all year; he was still learning; the offensive upheaval hampered his development. Maybe those things are even partially true. Perhaps Laquon Treadwell was behind the 8-ball last year for a bunch of reasons and is now ready to take a huge leap and prove himself worthy of the first-round pick Rick Spielman spent on him and his supposed talents. I'm waiting to see the evidence.

After yesterday's scrum, I know Laquon Treadwell can scrap, but now I need to see some proof that he can play. In an actual regular season NFL game against NFL defensive backs. I'm pulling for Treadwell to prove me and all the other doubters wrong. If Treadwell can get it together and contribute, the Vikings' offense immediately becomes more dangerous. With Diggs, Thielen, a productive Treadwell, Michael Floyd eventually giving you something, Rudolph and Dalvin Cook and Sam Bradford as the trigger man...there are pieces in place. Let's hope Treadwell does some special things this season and shakes off the "potential bust" label. It's not great that the most exciting thing I've seen him do on a field as a Viking is get in a fight with Antone Exum. You don't want that to be your whole highlight reel.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Vikings secondary could be special, but kids need to step up



Xavier Rhodes is going to be a Minnesota Viking for a very long time. Yesterday's contract extension, for five years at up to $78 million, makes Rhodes one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. The Vikings have been busy of late locking up their defensive stars, recently giving DE Everson Griffen a new five-year contract worth $58 million. Last offseason the Vikings signed star safety Harrison Smith to a 5-year deal worth $51 million. The size of Rhodes' contract relative to those of Griffen and Smith points up how prized cornerbacks have become in the pass-happy NFL. Rhodes is one of those rare corners who combines shutdown coverage skills with sound run-support ability, making him the total package. The versatile Smith had a bit of a down year in 2016, but he has the talent to be one of the top safeties in the league if he pulls it all together. With Smith and Rhodes both arguably top-5 in the league at their positions, Mike Zimmer has two key pieces in place as he tries to build a dominating secondary. But what about the other pieces? That's where things become a little bit troublesome but also potentially exciting.

On paper, the Vikings should have the parts necessary to put together one of the top secondaries in the NFL. But for the secondary to realize all that on-paper potential, a few of the Vikings' younger, more unproven players will have to step up big time. The Vikings last year filled out their defensive backfield with Andrew Sendejo at the other safety spot alongside Smith, veteran Terence Newman at the other cornerback spot opposite Rhodes and veteran Captain Munnerlyn in the all-important nickle corner position. This year, Minnesota tentatively has Sendejo at safety again, third-year player Trae Waynes at outside corner and Newman locking down the slot after Munnerlyn's departure via free agency. It's possible Newman could play outside as well and kick inside in nickel situations with Waynes then playing outside. Both Sendejo and Newman could be pushed for playing time by younger players. The top challenger for Sendejo's safety job should hypothetically be Jayron Kearse, the physically gifted but very raw safety the Vikings drafted in 2016 out of Clemson. Newman's main competition at slot corner should be 2016 draft pick Mackensie Alexander, also out of Clemson.

After a very strong 2016, the 38-year-old Newman is someone Mike Zimmer believes he can rely on (notwithstanding the odd communication issue), but ideally I'm sure Zimmer would love for Alexander to push Newman in camp and perhaps even squeeze out the old man. Ideally, I'm sure Zimmer would love for Trae Waynes to show that he was worth the #11 overall pick in 2015, or if that's too much at least become reliable enough that he can stay on the field the majority of the time. The inconsistent Andrew Sendejo ideally is someone Zimmer would love to relegate to the bench in favor of Jayron Kearse, a player who has the physical tools to be a good player. It's asking a lot for all three of the Vikings' young potential secondary contributors to come on strong this training camp and make believers of Mike Zimmer. Or is it asking a lot? Certainly, Waynes is someone it's not unreasonable to expect greater things from given where he was drafted. Last year Waynes only got spot action, but he did show improvement over his rookie campaign. Mackensie Alexander was pressed into service at times last year and did not distinguish himself, but he's also someone who bears the burden of expectations after being taken in the second round. Kearse only cost the Vikings a seventh-round pick and was seen as a project player, so perhaps there are not big expectations on him, but still given his length and range he could potentially be an upgrade over Sendejo.

The Vikings should field a solid secondary this season no matter what happens. Two of the five main spots are being filled by arguably elite players, Newman is still performing at a top level and Sendejo is a serviceable safety. But let's dream big and imagine the Vikings taking the next step to become one of the best secondaries in the league. Can they do that with Newman playing a big role at his advanced age, the underwhelming Sendejo still holding down the other safety spot and Waynes still not earning the full faith of his coaching staff? To my mind, for the Vikings to take the next step as a secondary, the young players in that secondary need to take the next step as individuals. Mackensie Alexander needs to learn the slot corner position and become someone Zimmer can trust to hold down that spot, rather than relying on the aging Newman to chase slot corners all over the field. Jayron Kearse needs to sharpen up his technique, learn to use his physical tools and most importantly stay motivated, and become a player Zimmer can deploy both in single-high coverage and near the line of scrimmage in order to maximize scheme flexibility. Of all the Vikings' young players, perhaps the most pressure is on Trae Waynes, who was taken high in the first round and has not lived up to his potential yet. Waynes seemingly has the talent to be at least a good cornerback, and with Rhodes able to shadow the other teams' best receivers, Waynes seemingly should not often be placed in positions where his deficiencies in coverage really burn the team. A Rhodes/Waynes/Smith/Kearse/Alexander secondary could be special. The more-veteran iteration of that secondary, with Waynes still sharing time at outside corner with Newman, would only be good and might actually take a step down if Newman begins showing his age and Sendejo is exposed.

It will be fascinating to watch as camp proceeds to see whether the Vikings' young, promising secondary players begin popping. Because the potential is there for the Vikes' secondary to become very good if not great. But for that potential to be realized, Waynes, Alexander and Kearse have to show that they are worthy of expanded roles. It's great that Minnesota has a pair of elite secondary players on their roster, and a wily veteran in Newman who everyone loves, but for me that's just not enough. I want a truly elite Vikings secondary. Is that asking too much? We'll see.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

After John Sullivan debacle, no one should believe Vikings on Riley Reiff



New Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff suffered some kind of injury on the first day of training camp and has not been seen on the practice field since. This has Vikings fans understandably nervous, in light of last year's rash of offensive line injuries. "Oh no here we go again," is the general sentiment being expressed by fans. The team naturally is downplaying the severity of the injury while releasing the usual statements about how they have total faith in the backup, in this case Rashod Hill. It's all pretty standard stuff from the team and no one should believe for a single second that even one syllable of it is remotely accurate. Most likely, the Vikings are lying to hide the severity of Riley Reiff's injury. And you know what? I don't even blame them for doing it. Teams lie all the time, and they lie for good reasons. But a lie with a sound motivation behind it is still a lie.

Sure, it's perfectly possible that Riley Reiff is okay and everyone is being a little too "the earth is falling" about his condition. Again, such doom-and-gloom is perfectly understandable given the battering fans' psyches took last season with all the injuries and then the collapse after 5-0. Viking fans know how this routine works. There's optimism going into the season, and optimism is almost always rewarded with miserable failure. So maybe Riley Reiff is really fine...but probably he's actually hurt and the team is hiding the severity of his injury for tactical reasons and because they don't want to put a damper on the optimism of training camp. It's the last year in Mankato and they don't want to ruin it with some Debbie Downer stuff about how Riley Reiff, the left tackle they signed for $58 million this offseason, is probably going miss significant time. So until the time comes when they have to make a call on Reiff's status one way or another, they're going to keep saying he's fine. Mike Zimmer, Mr. Tell It Like It Is, is going to keep saying it's not severe...just like he did with John Sullivan, who ended up needing two back surgeries after repeatedly being declared fine.

As fans will remember, it was two years ago that Sullivan went down with a training camp injury that ended up wiping out his entire season. The Vikings in that instance publicly downplayed the severity of the injury, insisting Sullivan was just suffering from back spasms and would "be fine." But week after week Sullivan was held out of practice, until just before the start of the season he was placed on IR-to-return. Even then the Vikings remained optimistic, at least in their public statements, about Sullivan's ability to return. Until Sullivan underwent back surgery and it became clear to everyone that the Pro Bowl-caliber center would not be returning (pretty bad back spasms!). Fortunately for the Vikings, Sullivan's fill-in Joe Berger played exceptionally well in his stead, so well that the following season after Sullivan was healthy again Berger flat out beat him in camp, leading to Sullivan's ultimate release.

Whether the Sullivan situation was a case of the Vikings convincing themselves the player would be okay and being blind-sided by the severity of his injury, or (as is more likely) it was a case of the team knowing the injury was bad and flat-out lying about it, makes no difference. The point is the same either way: Never believe anything the team says about any injured player, ever. Teams will try to finesse a player back to health, hoping that surgery isn't necessary, until the surgery becomes absolutely necessary. And when a player is really injured but for tactical reasons they don't want anyone to know, they will look you right in the eye and tell a falsehood. Regardless of the motivations, the end result is that false information is fed to fans all the time about injuries and no one should ever believe a single word that is said by coaches, front office folks or team-connected reporters. When will I believe Riley Reiff is really okay? When I see him lining up at left tackle for the season opener against the Saints.