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When it comes to public embarassments, Mark Dayton wrote the book on the subject. Now he’s calling Adrian Peterson’s behavior embarassing:

It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty.” However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.

However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.

Like many of his worst moments, Gov. Dayton’s statement will give thoughtful people intellectual whiplash. First, he says that Adrian Peterson is entitled to due process and “should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.'” Next, Gov. Dayton said that the Vikings should suspend him until he’s had his day in court.

That doesn’t make sense. What happens if Peterson is found guilty? At that point, the NFL has the right, under its personal conduct policy, to tack on an additional suspension. That additional suspension might be indefinite, meaning Adrian Peterson will have been suspended twice for a single offense.

Actually, that might not be legal because of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association. If that’s the case, Gov. Dayton might’ve just told the Vikings to ignore the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.

I don’t doubt that Mark Dayton will react by saying that he didn’t know about the particulars of the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement. That’s shameful. This was a prepared statement. His staff should’ve done their research. They should’ve known about this provision in the NFL-NFLPA CBA.

The governor of a state should known what he’s talking about. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton hasn’t done what smart governors have done. He’s shot his mouth off for political purposes, only to have to walk his statements back.

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This afternoon, as with most afternoons, I DVRed NFL Live on ESPN. This time, I was disappointed with the demagoguery of Trey Wingo, the host of the show, and Jeff Saturday, one of the panelists on the show. As expected, their lede was the Vikings’ reactivation of star running back Adrian Peterson in the aftermath of Peterson’s indictment in Texas on charges that he abused his 4-year-old son.

During the Vikings’ press conference this afternoon, Vikings GM Rick Spielman faced a barrage of questions questioning how the Vikings could reactivate Peterson. During his press availability, Spielman explained that the Vikings had taken the weekend to gather additional information about Adrian Peterson and the indictment.

Despite that information, Trey Wingo declared that the Vikings reactivated Adrian Peterson even though they have the same information they have today that they had Friday. I might be missing something but I’m pretty certain Mr. Wingo couldn’t possibly know what information the Vikings had Friday, making it impossible for him to know if the information they have today is the same information they had Friday.

I’m more than a little skeptical about Wingo’s statement considering the fact that each NFL team has a sizable security staff. The joke within the NFL is that they have more contacts than the CIA. I’m unwilling to dispute that.

As bad as Wingo’s statement was, Jeff Saturday’s statements were infinitely worse. He said that the Vikings shouldn’t have reactivated Peterson because it was clear to him that Peterson needed to learn how to be a better man, a better husband and a better parent to his son.

It’s unacceptable for Mr. Saturday to not know what Adrian Peterson did long before the indictment was voted on. Had Mr. Saturday read Adrian Peterson’s statement, he wouldn’t have made such an assinine statement:

My attorney has asked me not to discuss the facts of my pending case. I hope you can respect that request and help me honor it. I very much want the public to hear from me but I understand that it is not appropriate to talk about the facts in detail at this time. Nevertheless, I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child.

I never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates. I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.

I voluntarily appeared before the grand jury several weeks ago to answer any and all questions they had. Before my grand jury appearance, I was interviewed by two different police agencies without an attorney. In each of these interviews, I have said the same thing, and that is that I never ever intended to harm my son. I will say the same thing once I have my day in court.

I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate.

I have learned a lot and have had to reevaluate how I discipline my son going forward. But, deep in my heart, I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man. I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.

I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that’s what I tried to do that day.

I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person.

The panelists did their best to paint Adrian Peterson as just another Ray Rice. I take offense with that comparison. When video surfaced showing Ray Rice dragging his then-fiancee out of the elevator, he ran immediately to a diversion program in an attempt to avoid prison time.

That isn’t what a repentent man sounds like.

When Rice held his first press conference at the Ravens’ headquarters, he read off of cue cards. He did what his attorneys told him to do. People watching that theater knew that he didn’t mean a thing he said that afternoon.

Compare that with what Adrian Peterson did. Long before the spotlight shined on him, he sought help to correct behavior that he isn’t defending. He’s admitted, on his first attempt, that he hurt his son. He’s told us that he’s learned from his bad behavior and that he hopes to be a better man and better father going forward.

That’s what a man who’s repentent sounds like.

It’s time for Mssrs. Wingo and Saturday to take a deep breath and collect their thoughts, then think things through. They didn’t look good this afternoon.

I’m not defending Adrian Peterson’s actions. As I just said, Adrian Peterson isn’t defending his actions. I’m perfectly willing to let the legal process play out to determine criminal guilt. That’s fine for the legal process.

As for whether Adrian Peterson should sit for another 3-7 games, I’d just ask a simple question. Would suspending Adrian help him learn the lessons these blowhards think he should learn that they think he hasn’t learned? Finally, I’d ask Mssrs. Wingo and Saturday whether they thought a) Ray Rice showed even a tiny bit of repentence and b) Adrian Peterson showed true repentence.

The difference, in my opinion, is night and day.

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Roger Goodell’s time as the commissioner of the NFL is all but officially history. Today, league owners like Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft and John Mara had voiced their support of him. This AP article will force these owners to withdraw their support of Commissioner Goodell:

A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive three months ago, while league officers have insisted they didn’t see the violent images until this week.

If this is verified, which I suspect it will, then Goodell will have made a less-than-truthful statement to CBS host Norah O’Donnell on national TV. At that point, Goodell’s ability to mete out discipline on players and executives will be demolished. At this point, he doesn’t have any credibility left.

Here’s the NFL’s reaction to the AP’s story:

“We have no knowledge of this,” the NFL said in a statement Wednesday. “We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it.”

It isn’t likely that the AP would’ve published this article if they couldn’t verify this information multiple ways. I can’t imagine the AP publishing that article that tarnishes the NFL’s reputation without extensive verification.

There’s no way the AP would publish that article if it wasn’t completely verified. Publishing an inaccurate article that tarnishes the NFL’s reputation would trigger a lawsuit by th NFL.

That’s the last thing the AP would want because the NFL has a fleet of the best lawyers in the United States on retainer. Running a story against the NFL that’s based on gossip is financial suicide. That isn’t a risk the AP is willing to take.

What that means is that Roger Goodell’s credibility is pretty much tarnished for at least a decade. That won’t sit well with NFL owners.

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Predictably, the Ray Rice/Roger Goodell disaster isn’t going away anytime soon. Thankfully, outsiders are forcing the NFL to do the right thing. Jonathan Capehart’s post provides a sensible solution to the NFL’s lack of integrity problem:

Condoleezza Rice made a startling admission to the New York Times in 2002. The then-national security adviser to President George W. Bush said it was “absolutely right” that she wanted to be commissioner of the National Football League. This was no joke. Rice was serious, but she wanted it to be known that she wouldn’t want to do it “before Paul Tagliabue is ready to step down.”

Well, Tagliabue is long gone and his successor Roger Goodell has made a mess of it. Time for the former secretary of state with an intense love of the game to step in and save the NFL.

Despite the NFL’s statement that they hadn’t seen the in-the-elevator video before TMZ published it Monday morning, despite the Ravens’ insistence that they didn’t know, essentially, that Rice was a monster, the reality is that Roger Goodell and the Ravens got this sickeningly wrong.

These are phony excuses made by people who think they can do whatever they want. The reality is that TMZ’s video should’ve been irrelevant. When the NFL and the Ravens saw Ray Rice dragging his unconcious then-fiancee out of that elevator, they should’ve ended his career. The Ravens should’ve said that they were releasing Rice that morning. The NFL should’ve said that they wouldn’t tolerate that type of violence. Period.

Players, coaches and executives who committed such heinous acts of violence don’t have the right to wear an NFL jersey. Period.

If there’s anything that Condi Rice would bring to the commissioner’s job, it’s integrity and gravitas. Goodell essentially did what the owners wanted him to do. Since he’s employed by them, that isn’t unreasonable. What’s unreasonable, though, is turning a blind eye when a thug pummels a woman.

At that point, Goodell had an affirmative obligation to step forward and say ‘This isn’t about promoting the NFL. It’s about doing what’s right.’

On that count, Goodell and the Ravens failed miserably.

It’s apparent that Goodell tried his best to protect a star player from a recent Super Bowl champion. Suspending Ray Rice for 2 games isn’t getting it wrong, like Goodell claims. He’s making an alleged $44,000,000 a year as commissioner. People who aren’t bright don’t get hire into $44,000,000-a-year jobs.

The Ravens are complicit in this, too. They accepted the suspension without complaint, figuring they’d gotten a gift from the NFL. They even posted this tweet on their website:

The Ravens should be criticized mercilessly for their role in this humanitarian disaster. Yesterday on ESPN’s NFL Live, SportsNation Ravens beat reporter Jamison Hensley reported that the Ravens’ initial reaction yesterday morning after TMZ published the video, the Raven’s initial reaction was to not terminate Rice’s contract. It wasn’t until they saw the public’s outrage that they decided to terminate Ray Rice’s contract.

If the NFL fires Goodell and replaces him with Condi Rice, they won’t have to worry about doing the right thing when it’s the only option left. Under Condi Rice’s leadership and integrity, they’ll do the right thing the first time.

That’s why Goodell must go. ASAP.

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The Baltimore Ravens have terminated Ray Rice’s contract:

DEVELOPING: The Baltimore Ravens fired running back Ray Rice after new video emerged showing the vicious punch he used to drop his then-fiancée in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel.

The team confirmed the move in a tweet that came hours after video obtained by TMZ showed the 5-foot, 8-inch, 220-pound athlete delivering a left-handed blow to the face of Janay Palmer, appearing to knock her unconscious. The video was shot from inside the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, and is the footage shot before the previously circulated video that showed Rice dragging his unconscious wife-to-be out of the elevator on Feb. 15.

I just saw the unedited video of Rice punching his then-fiance. Saying that it’s a disturbing, emotion-jarring video is understatement.

This afternoon on ESPN, the entire crew of analysts (Louis Riddick, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson) expressed outrage at everyone involved in this disaster. Schefter said that law enforcement messed up by not getting the video to the NFL. He said that the prosecutors screwed up by not charging Rice with a felony, instead letting him off the hook with a slap on the wrist. He criticized the Ravens for letting Rice use their facilities to hold a press conference after the incident.

That press conference included testimonial after testimonial about Rice being “a good man.” It included Janay Palmer, now Rice’s wife, apologizing for the part she played in Rice’s violence. (That, by the way, is still the most bizarre part of this horrific incident.)

Riddick said that the league needs to do a better job of doing what’s right rather than doing what it needs to do to promote the sport.

Finally, Mortenson got after Goodell, hinting that it isn’t good enough to say that he “got it wrong.” He said that, while the NFL didn’t have the video, they certainly had the report of what Rice did.

Goodell should be suspended for getting this horrific incident woefully wrong. He should lose a hefty chunk of his alleged $50,000,000 a year salary, too. It looks like he isn’t the impartial arbiter that his job requires him to be. Honestly, I wouldn’t feel bad if he lost his job over this.

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Now that this video has been released, it’s hard to justify Roger Goodell’s 2-game suspension of Ravens running back Ray Rice:

ProFootballTalk is reporting of players’ reactions to the newly published video:

NFL players and prominent former players are beginning to speak out, with the same kind of outrage others have.

“That man should be thrown out the the nfl and thrown into jail,” Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton tweeted a few moments ago. “Shame on those deciding his punishment. Smh.” Knighton continued, calling his fellow players to action.
“As players we must speak up,” he wrote. “Stand up for what’s right. I don’t give a damn who u are or how much money you make. No place for this.

Longtime linebacker Scott Fujita, a former vice president of the NFLPA’s executive committee, had equally harsh words. “I’m glad no one this morning seems to care about yesterday’s games,” Fujita wrote. “This piece of s— needs to be out of the league. Period.”

It’s impossible to support Commissioner Goodell’s 2-game suspension of Ray Rice. From the outside, it looks like he was protecting a star player from a recent Super Bowl championship franchise. The NFL is nothing if not the most PR-concious pro sports league in history.

It’s insulting that the NFL claims that they didn’t see this new video until this morning:

“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today,” the league said in its statement.

The NFL’s statement won’t help them. In that statement, the NFL admitted that they knew about the video. Further, they apparently didn’t put pressure on law enforcement or the hotel for the footage. Finally, it says that they didn’t wait to see all of the damning evidence before slapping Ray Rice’s hand.

First, Commissioner Goodell should be suspended for his misconduct in the matter. He’s suspending players for smoking pot or using performance enhancing drugs, aka PEDs, or suspending owners for getting DWI tickets to clean up the NFL’s beahvior. Should Commissioner Goodell be immune from suspension without pay when he harms the NFL? I don’t think so.

Next, after Goodell is suspended, the acting commissioner should re-open the Rice assault case. The acting commissioner should then suspend Rice indefinitely.

If that ruins Ray Rice’s life, I’m ok with that. This winter, he demolished another person’s life. In this instance, he destroyed the life of the woman he claims to love.

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Going into this season, lots of experts thought of them as one known quantity (Adrian Peterson) and lots of unknowns. While it’s foolish to make bold predications based on just one game, there are some things that’ve clearly changed for the Vikings, starting with their defense.

Everson Griffen replaced Jared Allen at right defensive end. Anthony Barr starts at the strongside linebacker, which allowed rookie head coach to move Chad Greenway to middle linebacker. Perhaps the most glaring difference compared with last year’s defense is the secondary.

Captain Munnerlyn was all over the field. Most impressive was his sure-handed tackling in the open field, although his coverage was pretty impressive, too. Josh Robinson had a difficult pre-season, missing time with injuries. Today, he got the Vikings’ first takeaway just before the half. Norv Turner’s offense quickly turned that interception into a spirit-killing touchdown with seconds left in the first half.

With a 13-0 halftime lead, the Vikings defense pinned their ears back and pressured the QB. For the game, the Vikings finished with 5 sacks, with Griffen leading the way with 2, and 2 interceptions. Harrison Smith picked off a pass that never should’ve been thrown, returning it for an 81-yard pick-six touchdown.

It’s hard telling whether the Vikings shut down a great offense of if St. Louis is mediocre offensively. I suspect it’s a little of both.

The Rams offense hasn’t produced during the Jeff Fisher era. Still, the Vikings did a bunch of things right today that they have a right to feel good about. They essentially shut down Tavon Austin, the 8th overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Speaking of the 2013 draft, the Vikings got major contributions from 2 of their picks from that draft. Cordarrelle Patterson broke the game open with an electric 67-yard broken-field run. Turner lined CP up in the backfield on the play. After taking a pitch, he cut up field, breaking free 10 yards down the field. Once in the open field, he deployed the skills that make him the most feared kickoff returner in the game.

Going into the 2013 draft, the buzz was all about Tavon Austin. Cordarrelle Patterson was essentially an afterthought. Today, Patterson showed why that was a huge mistake.

Sharrif Floyd, the 23rd pick in the draft that year, also played well. He was an integral part of the Vikings dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Matt Cassel was an efficient 17-for-25 for 170 yards with 2 touchdown passes, the first to Greg Jennings, the other to Kyle Rudolph.

It’d be a mistake not to credit the Vikings offensive line for playing a solid game. The Rams entered the game with one of the best defensive lines in football. Still, they weren’t much of a factor. When a journeyman QB finishes with a QB rating of 113.8 and the Rams give up 180+ yards rushing, that’s getting manhandled.

One last thing to talk about is how fundamentally sound the Vikings defense played. The Vikings’ tackling was solid. They pressured the Rams’ QBs all day. The Vikings secondary was opportunistic at times, but solid throughout.

Today’s game is a great start to Mike Zimmer’s head coaching career. Next week, though, they get to face the Patriots, who are coming off a stunning 33-20 defeat in Miami. Brady and the Patriots aren’t likely to be in a good mood so that’ll be a good test for the Vikings.

UPDATE: I went back to the Vikings-Rams stat sheet because I got to thinking about how little I noticed Robert Quinn. My memory served me well this time. Quinn finished with just 2 tackles and no sacks. This ties into how well the Vikings O-line played. Jeff Davidson, the Vikings’ O-line coach, must be pleased with their play.

For the game, the Rams much-celebrated defensive line got a grand total of 1 sack while giving up over 180 yards rushing.

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Blogging has been light the last few days because I watched (obsessed over?) the NFL Draft. I’ll admit that I’m a homer. That doesn’t mean I’ll just blindly trust that GM Rick Spielman and Coach Zimmer picked players that they couldn’t believe were still there. Still, Spielman has built some trust with his last 3 drafts.

Let’s see what others are saying about the Vikings picks, starting with LB Anthony Barr:

“He’s only been a defensive end for two years. He needs experience. When you watch the tape, does he look like Jason Taylor or what? There’s a lot of upside, and (new head coach) Mike Zimmer and his staff will get it out of him.” — Mike Mayock

Barr started his time at UCLA as a running back. The fact that he was a feared pass rusher the last 2 years tells me he’s got great natural talent but that he’ll become a great player with Zimmer’s coaching. NOTEWORTHY: Anyone that’s 6’5″ and runs a 4.6 forty is a freakish athlete.

Teddy Bridgewater:

“That (pro day) workout is something I’ve been fighting for a couple months now. His pro day didn’t confirm what I saw on the game tape. But he needs to get stronger. Bridgewater has the intangibles; he’s smart.” — Mike Mayock

Bill Polian, the guy who drafted Peyton Manning said that Bridgewater a) was excellent at manipulating safeties with his eyes” and that he was excellent with his pre-snap reads. Those statements tell me that Bridgewater a) is willing to work hard to be the leader of the offense and b) has the smarts to be a top quality QB. Finally, Bridgwater’s character is off the charts outstanding.

David Yankey:

“This is a great fit for the Vikings. They believe in physical players and Yankey is a phone booth brawler. Trust me, I know (Vikings general manager) Rick Spielman and (head coach) Mike Zimmer, and this is the kind of player they bang the table for.” — Mike Mayock

Simply put, Yankey, barring injury, will be the starting left guard for the Vikings by midseason. He’s a Stanford kid so he’s smart. He’s physical and he’s played every position on the line except center. That they got him in the fifth round screams exceptional value.

Antone Exum:

“Exum is a well-built individual, and showed good fluidity in pass coverage and also an ability to track the ball well. Exum was a highly regarded player two years ago, but suffered a knee injury playing basketball in January of 2013. Exum came back to play in the 2013 season, but only played in three games and did not play at the same level as the previous season.” — Gil Brandt

Exum played the side opposite Chicago first round pick Kyle Fuller when healthy. He’s considered to have great versatility because he can play in the slot in nickel packages or play safety. The other thing that’s worth noting is that he isn’t afraid to hit people in run support.

The Vikings did a great job the last day of the draft. Exum and Yankey are excellent examples of that but they aren’t the only examples of how Spielman worked the draft for maximum value:

Shamar Stephen:

Analysis

Terrific size. Very athletic for a big man. Generally plays on his feet. Occupies blocks. Flashes the ability to lock out and reestablish the line of scrimmage. Has raw tools to work with. Scheme versatile. Solid personal and football character.
Draft Projection: Round 3

Anytime a team picks up a third round talent at a position needing depth in the 7th round, that’s an outstanding value pick. While it’s impossible seeing him beating out Vikings NT Linval Joseph, it’s easy to see him providing much-needed quality depth at the position.

Brandon Watts, OLB Georgia Tech:

Rare timed speed. Very quick to the perimeter and covers a lot of ground. Easily keeps stride with tight ends in the slot and offers solid man-coverage ability on backs. Can carry receivers vertically and buzz the flats. Lines up on the edge and offers some pass-rush potential. Is fluid and loose-hipped dropping into coverage.

If Watts makes the Vikings, it’ll be because he impressed on special teams. Still, this is a worthwhile pick because it’s a last round pick spent on a player who has the physical tools to work with.

Various websites have given the Vikings high grades for this draft class. They certainly sent a message to the NFC North QBs that they’d better prepare to get hit often under Mike Zimmer. They also solved their QB problems with Bridgewater. Finally, they stockpiled talent for their secondary in the 6th and 7th rounds, thanks in large part to the outstanding depth in this draft.

Let’s remember that Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman were fifth round picks for Seattle in years that weren’t half as deep as this year’s draft.

This draft, combined with the players the Vikings have picked in the first round in 2012 and 2013, will help the Vikings compete for the NFC North championship within 2 years. Let’s remember that Spielman picked franchise left tackle Matt Kalil and cornerstone safety Harrison Smith in the first round in 2012 before picking DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes and WR/KR extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round last year.

Now that the NFL season is down to the Super Bowl, the offseason has arrived for the other 30 teams. A major part of the NFL offseason, if there is such a thing anymore, is Senior Bowl week. The past few years, scouting was best broken down into sections, starting with the college football season, followed by the minor bowls, followed by the BCS games. Next up after that is the Blue-Gray Game, the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN, then the top prospects’ pro days at their college. This Saturday, they’ll play the Senior Bowl.

In addition to scouts descending on Mobile, lots of people who cover the draft converge to watch the workouts and report on who’s creating positive buzz for themselves. One of the people covering the Senior Bowl, as he’s done for years, is Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com. Follow this link to read Scott’s daily reports from the practices. They’re some of the best in the business. Scott does a daily podcast from Mobile, too.

Thus far, Scott’s reported that Derek Carr, the top QB at the game, has stood out during the South squad’s practices and that Ra’Shede Hageman of the University of Minnesota has stood out defensively for the North squad. The reason I mention these players is because the Vikings need a new QB, just like they need to start restocking the talent on their defensive line. While it’s unlikely that they could get both of these players, rest assured that new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will be paying extra attention to these players this week.

Another sportswriter who’s covering the Senior Bowl is Viking.com’s Mike Wobschall. Follow this link to read Mike’s reporting from Mobile. Hint: Carr has stood out for Mr. Wobschall, too.

Finally, the Vikings are perfectly positioned for a quick turnaround. Whether that happens still remains to be seen. Still, they’ve got high draft picks in each round of the draft, plus a third round pick they got in the Percy Harvin trade with the Seahawks. Couple that with GM Rick Spielman’s stellar draft record recently and there’s reason for optimism for Vikings fans. (Yes, he made a mistake with Christian Ponder but he’s more than made up for that since by drafting Pro Bowl LT Matt Kalil, FS Harrison Smith, and Pro Bowl PK Blair Walsh in the 2012 draft, followed by drafting Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and KR/WR extraordinare Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of last year’s draft.

Other standouts from the Spielman draft classes include former Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, DEs Brian Robison and Everson Griffen and RB Toby Gerhart. While it’s true that Griffen and Gerhart are eligible to become free agents this year, there’s no denying the fact that they’re top talents that Spielman found the last day of the draft.

That’s what separates good drafts from great drafts.

If you’re a football fanatic like I am, you won’t want to miss Scott’s and Mike’s reporting from Mobile.

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One of my favorite Vikings writers is Mike Wobschall. His Monday Morning Mailbag report is essential reading for all Vikings fanatics. For quite awhile, there’s been a debate raging amongst Vikings fans on whether to win as many games as possible each year or whether to tank and get a franchise QB. This Q & A from this morning’s MMMB tees things up perfectly:

Q: After a rough start to the year, I was hoping to get the best draft picks, which unfortunately means losing. Watching the way we are playing right now, it is impossible to hope for losses. Adrian Peterson’s strong finish last week that willed us to that win set the tone for everyone in the organization. It was also great to see Matt Cassel’s fire and leadership today, as well as improved secondary play. You can’t help but love the team dynamic that is showing up this late in the season, despite a tough year. Skol Vikes. — Zach S.

A: One thing to consider on the topic of losing draft positioning with wins in a “lost season” is that when you win games it means certain and various aspects of your team are performing well. Most likely, and in the Vikings case this season, those aspects that play well and thus help yield wins are going to be core members of the team in future years. You have to balance the value of having slightly higher picks with additional losses against having slightly worse picks with a few extra wins.

I’ll take the wins every time, no questions asked.

This is where I disagree with Mike Wobschall from a theoretical standpoint. After yesterday’s games, the Vikings likely won’t get a Top-3 pick, which is what’s needed to get a franchise QB or South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.

Yesterday, Matt Cassel played ok for the first three quarters before lighting things up in the 4th quarter. He has an opt-out clause in his contract, which would allow him to become a free agent after the end of this season. I have nothing against Cassel. It’s just clear that he isn’t a long-term solution to the Vikings’ QB problems.

There’s nothing wrong with losing lots of games one season so you can get that long-term solution at QB. From a tactical standpoint, it’s saying ‘We won’t win this year but we’re setting ourselves up for Super Bowl runs for a decade.’ That isn’t surrender. It’s a tactical retreat to regroup and restock.

The Vikings did that two seasons ago. Their reward was drafting Matt Kalil with the 4th overall pick, then using the pick they got from Cleveland to trade back into the first round and drafting Harrison Smith. They’re Vikings cornerstones for the next decade, with Kalil anchoring the offensive line and Smith co-anchoring the secondary with Xavier Rhodes for the next 8-10 years.

Getting a franchise QB would be huge, especially in light of Cordarrelle Patterson’s monster game yesterday. CP, as his teammates call him, is a total beast. He’s big, athletic, fast and willing to dish out punishment to defensive backs. With a franchise QB, they could become annual threats to win a Super Bowl championship.

One QB who hasn’t attracted much attention is San Jose State quarterback David Fales. CBSSports’ Rob Rang sang his praises in this article.

The Vikings will surely finish with a top-10 pick. That might be enough to get Fales, a QB that Rang describes as being able to make all the throws, is accurate, has good touch and awarenesss.

One thing that Mr. Wobschall and I agree on is that Rick Spielman is the right man making the draft day decisions. In the last 2 drafts, Spielman has picked 6 Pro Bowl-caliber players in Kalil, Harrison Smith, Blair Walsh, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman has put some impressive pieces of a championship puzzle together on this team. What they need is a QB who doesn’t just manage games but a QB who wins games by putting the team on his back. That certainly isn’t Christian Ponder. Long-term, that isn’t Matt Cassel. Long-term, the solution might be David Fales.

Finally, the Vikings need a new head coach. As much as I respect Leslie Frazier as a man of integrity, he isn’t the man to put a championship-caliber system together.

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