Archive for the ‘Adrian Peterson’ Category

Judge Doty’s 16 page ruling in the NFLPA’s lawsuit on Adrian Peterson’s behalf against the NFL contains some bombshell statements. This part of Judge Doty’s ruling is particularly stinging:

Moreover, Henderson’s conclusion that the New Policy is consistent with the previous Policy is contradicted by the Commissioner’s own statements in which he acknowledged that the New Policy included “changes” to the Policy. See, e.g., id. Ex. 65, at 1 (“I made a mistake. I’m not satisfied with the process we went through, I’m not satisfied with the conclusions. And that’s why we came out last month and said: we’re going to make changes to our policies. We made changes to our discipline.”); see also id. Ex. 35, at 99:21-100:15.

At the heart of the NFL’s defense was that the Commissioner had great latitude in determining Adrian Peterson’s punishment.

Judge Doty’s ruling didn’t just criticize Commissioner Goodell. It criticized Henderson, too:

The NFLPA next argues that Henderson exceeded his authority by adjudicating the hypothetical question of whether Peterson’s discipline could be sustained under the previous Policy. The NFL responds that the NFLPA submitted that issue to Henderson. The record belies the NFL’s argument. The NFLPA submitted to Henderson “the pure legal issue” of whether the New Policy could be applied retroactively. NFLPA Ex. 122, 21:22-22:24; see also id. Ex. 20, at 4. Nothing in the record supports a finding that the NFLPA asked Henderson to determine whether the discipline imposed was consistent with the previous Policy.

In other words, Harold Henderson tried justifying his decision by saying that the NFLPA asked him to. That isn’t the only time where Judge Doty criticized the NFL’s arbitrator:

Henderson was an NFL executive for nearly two decades and apparently continues on in a part-time capacity, earning $2.5 million in compensation from the NFL since 2009.

This footnote was found at the bottom of Page 8 of Judge Doty’s ruling. This information, by itself, isn’t damning. The fact that Henderson’s ruling sounded like the NFL’s press release, coupled with his less-than-impartial ruling, however, all but state explicitly that Henderson was Commissioner’s self-appointed hatchet man against Adrian Peterson.

ProFootballTalk stated that the NFL hasn’t had a good year in the courts. That’s what happens when a tyrant thinks he has the authority to make the rules up as he goes. That’s what third world dictators get away with. High profile CEOs of major corporations don’t get away with that very often.

This afternoon, the Minnesota saw the difference that a great quarterback makes. This afternoon, Teddy Bridgewater became the face of the Vikings, running for a touchdown while completing 19 of 30 passes for 317 yards. This was the first time a Vikings quarterback threw for 300 yards since the year Brett Favre took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

Bridgewater’s play, though, wasn’t the only noteworthy accomplishment for the Vikings’ offense. This was the first game the Vikings quarterback threw for 300 yards, a Vikings runner ran for 100 yards and a Vikings receiver got more than 100 yards receiving in the same game since Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice turned the trick against Detroit on 11/15/09. This time, Touchdown Teddy threw for 317 yards, Jerrick McKinnon ran the ball 18 times for 135 yards and Jarius Wright caught 8 passes for 132 yards.

It’s gotta be intimidating for the Packers, the Vikings opponent this Thursday, to think that the Vikings offense cooled off in the second half because they still gained 207 yards in the second half. The Vikings gained 351 yards in the first half.

For the second straight game, the Vikings’ opponent threw tons of exotic blitzes at Bridgewater. For the second straight game, Bridgewater handled it like a veteran. It’d be wrong to highlight the fact that Bridgewater had tons of time thanks to his offensive line playing their best game since 2012. Then again, Atlanta’s defense will never be mistaken for the original Steel Curtain defense led by Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Greene, LC Greenwood and Mel Blount.

The offensive line of Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Ducasse and Loadholt dominated Atlanta’s defensive line. McKinnon gained an average of 7.5 yards per carry. Matt Asiata scored 3 rushing touchdowns, with McKinnon and Bridgewater each scoring a rushing touchdown, too. The Vikings gained 241 yards rushing on 44 carries. That’s a 5.5 yard per carry average.

I’d be surprised if this wasn’t a hellish week for Atlanta’s D-Line. They were dominated. They got manhandled. They forced 2 punts the entire day. Atlanta’s defense gave up 558 yards of total offense while letting Jarius Wright had a career day receiving and Vikings receivers seemed to be open all day.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk briefly about the Vikings defense. Statistically, it wasn’t a great day. They gave up 411 yards of total offense. They gave up 2 explosive touchdowns in the third quarter. Still, they turned up the heat when they needed to. Rookie first round pick Anthony Barr called the defensive signals today while finishing with 5 tackles and the Vikings’ only sack. After spending lots of time in Coach Zimmer’s doghouse in the preseason, third year corner Josh Robinson essentially finished the game with a great interception down the sideline. Harrison Smith finished with 5 tackles, too, and a 4th quarter interception of Matt Ryan.

Atlanta has too many weapons to be stopped. Still, the Vikings came up with the key stops when they needed them.

It’s too early to make predictions about how many games the Vikings will win this year now that the Bridgewater Era has started. It isn’t too early to say, though, that Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner are putting this team together the right way. Turner’s offense looked positively explosive today. Zimmer’s defense played hard-nosed football. They were opportunistic, too.

Finally, the Vikings have a new face of the franchise in Teddy Bridgewater. What’s fun to watch is that the game seems to play out in slow motion for him. It’s also fun to watch his arm talent, too. Teddy’s the real deal.

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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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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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Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions in the final game in Metrodome history. In a game that only meant something in terms of draft positioning and, possibly, the head coaches’ fate, Cordarrelle Patterson stole the show, scoring a pair of touchdowns. Patterson’s first touchdown came after he chose not to throw a wide receiver option pass, instead finding his way through the Detroit Lions’ defense for a 50-yard TD run. Patterson’s other touchdown was the game winner in the fourth quarter. It came on a back shoulder throw from Matt Cassel with just under 10 minutes left in the game.

It was a fitting game for the Metrodome’s finale because the Metrodome wasn’t a great sporting venue. People have great memories of the Metrodome because of the events, not the facility.

What’s memorable about today’s game was that Cordarrelle Patterson’s play today told defensive coordinators across the NFL that they’d better know where he’s at on every play. Simply put, he’s the bigger-and-faster version of Percy Harvin. That and he doesn’t have Percy’s migraines.

Matt Asiata, who started in place of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, rushed for 115 yards on just 14 carries. Should Gerhart leave after the season as a free agent, Asiata seems like a more-than-adequate back-up for Adrian Peterson.

Another bright spot for the Vikings was TE Chase Ford. Ford’s play might’ve pushed Litchfield’s John Carlson off the Vikings roster. Carlson has battled injuries throughout his career. He signed an expensive contract 2 years ago, coming from Seattle through free agency. The Vikings might just cut him and free up cap space to shore up other positions of need.

Today was likely the last games in a Vikings uniform for Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Erin Henderson, Charlie Johnson, Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart and possibly Eversen Griffin.

Jay Glazer is reporting that Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier will be fired Monday morning:

Frazier will be fired as the Vikings’ head coach Monday, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Frazier is in his fourth year as the head man in Minnesota, after taking over on an interim basis in Week 11 in 2010. He led the Vikings to a 3-3 finish that season before receiving the job full time.

That’s bittersweet news. In his 3 full seasons, Frazier’s records have been 5-10-1, 10-6 and 3-13. Winning 18 of 48 games means winning less than 40% of the games he coached. That said, though, razier’s players played hard most of the time. Unfortunately, NFL head coaches aren’t judged by whether they’re men of integrity or whether their players play hard. NFL head coaches are judged on wins and losses.

That’s why the Metrodome’s finale was likely Leslie Frazier’s Vikings finale.

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Today’s Vikings-Cincinnati game wasn’t as much a contest as it was a pummeling. Cincinnati looked like a formidable team capable of making a strong playoff push from the start. Meanwhile, the Vikings looked like a team that can’t wait for the Leslie Frazier era, and the season, to be over.

If there was any doubt that the Vikings need a major overhaul this offseason, this game put that question to rest almost instantly. On the game’s first series, Matt Cassel fumbled. Cincinnati returned the fumble to the Vikings 4 yard line, where the Bengals scored 2 plays later. Cassel is the best of the Vikings QBs, which says everything about the state of the Vikings’ QB situation.

Of the impending free agents on the defensive line, only Eversen Griffin is worth bringing back. Jared Allen will want too much for the production he’s got left. KWill has been a stud but he’s getting to the end of his career. Letroy Guion and Fred Evans never were productive players. That’s why it was a gift to have Sharif Floyd drop into the Vikings’ lap last year.

Of the linebackers, Chad Greenway is the only player on the roster who’s worth bringing back. Erratic is the kindest adjective for Erin Henderson’s play this year. Worthless might be the most accurate adjective for Henderson’s play.

In the secondary, you’ve got 2 players you can absolutely build around. Safety Harrison Smith is someone to build around, as is corner Xavier Rhodes. Josh Robinson needs to be moved outside, which is his natural position. He clearly isn’t a fit as the nickel. He’s fast, athletic and young. It’s too early to give up on a player like that.

As far as who should be the Vikings next coach, Paul Charchian threw out a name during the Vikings’ Postgame Show on Fox9 that I think is worth looking into: Ken Whisenhunt. He’s coached on 2 Super Bowl teams, which is amazing considering one of those teams was the Arizona Cardinals.

Prior to the Whisenhunt era, I’d argue that the Cardinals were the Chicago Cubs of the NFL. The Bidwill family was the cheapest family in the NFL by far. The joke at league meetings was that the way to make copper wire was to try pulling a penny from Bill Bidwill’s fingers.

Despite the Bidwills’ cheapskate ways, Whisenhunt won. The first thing he did in Arizona was resurrect Kurt Warner’s career. After getting fired in Arizona, San Diego hired him. Now Philip Rivers’ once-dead career is showing signs again.

If you want to strengthen the Vikings quickly, one way is to trade a third-round pick to the Redskins in exchange for Kirk Cousins. The Vikings have Seattle’s third rounder so they can afford trading one of their picks. With Cousins in place to become the Vikings’ QB, the Vikings could then use their first round pick to get a linebacker like UCLA’s Anthony Barr or a dominant NT like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix. At least the Vikings will have started rebuilding 2 defensive units that badly need rebuilding.

The Vikings should keep Rick Spielman as GM, though. It’s true that he drafted Christian Ponder, which is a strike against him. That being said, he also drafted Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and DEs Eversen Griffen and Brian Robison. He’s also drafted Pro Bowl placekicker Blair Walsh and punter Jeff Locke. In short, he’s done more than enough to earn his return.

The Vikings offseason unofficially started today. The coaching staff shouldn’t return, with the exception of George Stewart. Rick Spielman and the scouts need another strong draft to turn this team around.

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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To say that today’s Baltimore-Vikings game was exciting is understatement. For the last 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Baltimore and the Vikings scored at a clip that made the Missouri-Auburn SEC Championship Game look like they were standing still. Here’s the box score…of the final 2 minutes:

2:05 Bal TD Joe Flacco passed to Dennis Pitta to the left for 1 yard gain (2pt attempt converted, Joe Flacco pass to Torrey Smith)MIN 12 – BAL 15
1:27 Min TD Toby Gerhart rushed up the middle for 41 yard gain (Blair Walsh made PAT)MIN 19 – BAL 15
1:16 Bal TD Minnesota kicked off, Jacoby Jones returned kickoff for 77 yards (Justin Tucker made PAT)MIN 19 – BAL 22
0:45 Min TD Matt Cassel passed to Cordarrelle Patterson to the right for 79 yard gain (Blair Walsh made PAT)MIN 26 – BAL 22
0:04 Bal TD Joe Flacco passed to Marlon Brown down the middle for 9 yard gain MIN 26 – BAL 28

Congratulations to the Ravens. They kept their composure throughout the game. Their offense sputtered most of the game. They came alive at the right time.

Congratulations to the Vikings for not throwing in the towel…ever. They could’ve done that but they didn’t. They’re now 3-9-1. Today, the Vikings played with the urgency of a team fighting for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. What’s becoming totally apparent to Vikings fans is that Cordarrelle Patterson is a beast. His toughness, his running ability, his physical play and his ability to either outrun opponents or to make them miss makes it likely that he’ll be the next dominant receiver in the NFL. (Follow this link to watch Patterson’s TD catch and run. CP, as his coaches call him, has now scored twice on pass receptions, twice on kickoff returns and once as a runner lined up in the backfield.

Saying CP is special is understatement by orders of magnitude.

It’s apparent that Xavier Rhodes is turning into a shutdown corner. Today, he took Torrey Smith away from Joe Flacco until he got injured late in the game. It isn’t coincidence that Baltimore’s passing attack took off immediately after that.

Matt Cassel played well considering the field conditions, too. He finished 17-for-38 with 265 yards passing with 2 TD passes and no interceptions thrown or sacks.

The only thing the Vikings are missing is a franchise QB. Their defense needs to be restocked but it’s manageable. Mostly, they need a QB who can take them to the next level. With Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson in important skilled positions, the Vikings have some gamechangers.

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Cordarrelle Patterson, aka CP to his coaches and teammates, apparently is off to a fast start with the Vikings. This is the part that stood out for me:

Two days into his first NFL training camp, Patterson has impressed the staff with his ability to retain information and execute pro plays despite his only having one year of Division I college experience.

“It wasn’t like starting from zero like we thought it might be,” said Frazier. “That encourages all of us. Now take that with a grain of salt. We’ve got a lot more football to go, but we like what we see so far.”

This isn’t to say CP is Percy Harvin’s equal. That’d be foolish considering the impact Harvin made while inspired. Apparently, there are some striking similarities between Harvin and CP. Both are dynamic from multiple formations and positions. Both are fast. What’s most impressive about CP is that he’s apparently a fast learner.

When Harvin was drafted, then-Vikings coach Brad Childress threw the playbook at Harvin. Coaches were impressed with Harvin’s ability to learn multiple positions quickly. Based on Brian Murphy’s Pi-Press article, it sounds like CP is a fast study, too.

That isn’t the label he had heading into the draft. If I had a $10 bill for each newspaper article or TV segment that characterized CP as “raw”, I’d be rich.

Harvin was traded to Seattle for Seattle’s first round and seventh round picks in last April’s draft and Seattle’s third rounder in next year’s draft. The Vikings turned Seattle’s first rounder into FSU cornerback Xavier Rhodes, a 6’2″ athlete with a 4.4 time in the forty. Meanwhile, Seattle put Harvin on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. If Harvin’s hip needs surjery, his season is likely over.

Most experts, including ESPN’s Bill Polian, Mark Schlereth and Tedy Bruschi, said the Vikings got the better of the trade long-term, with Seattle winning in the short-term. If Harvin doesn’t play this year, the Vikings will likely win the trade outright.

But I digress.

CP has some unique abilities:

Frazier said Patterson will get every chance to secure the kickoff return job. Unlike Percy Harvin, whose electrifying returns and the pounding he took on kickoffs sometimes kept him on the sideline during offensive possessions, Patterson’s size (6 feet 2, 220 pounds) should allow him to work double shifts.

CP is the type of dynamic playmaker that frightens defensive coordinators. His running skills are elite level. In fact, Polian said he didn’t consider CP a wideout, that he thought of CP as a running back. Watching some of his highlight videos, I’d wholeheartedly agree with Polian’s run-after-the-catch opinion. Being 6’2″ and 220 pounds and able to run a 4.4 forty is something that must be accounted for by defenses, too.

If CP learns the Vikings playbook quickly, as Brian Murphy’s article suggests, the Vikings offense could be frightening. The Vikings offensive line is solid, with Matt Kalil anchoring the unit. GM Greg Spielman added Greg Jennings and CP to a depleted receiving corps. Kyle Rudolph was last winter’s Pro Bowl MVP. And of course, the offense is built around Adrian Peterson, the seemingly bionic running back. If Christian Ponder continues to improve, the Vikings will challenge the Packers for the NFC North championship.

More on that in another post.

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