Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's the Offseason...

Real world obligations, a lack of inspiration and a writing gig over at MN Gameday mean that it's time for me to make like a veteran unhappy with their contract and sit out the rest of the offseason. I'll be back for training camp (I've already got my money ready for Football Prospectus 2007) and if you really need to read my stuff, you can get my weekly take on the Twins every Monday evening.

And, if you really need your Vikings fix, there are a host of great sites--let me recommend the Daily Norseman and Pacifist Viking--I know I'll be checking them regularly.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Ragnarok--Your Tyler Thigpen Leader!

From Bob D., our friendly neighborhood Coastal Carolina fan:

Tyler Thigpen is going to be on a few ESPN2 shows this week.

Former Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen could be on ESPN2 as many as three times this week.

Thigpen, who expects to be asked about his path from high-school wingback to drafted quarterback, said he is scheduled to be on the station's show "Cold Pizza" at approximately 11:30 a.m. today

An e-mail from Dan Quinn at ESPN also said Thigpen and CCU coach David Bennett will be on "First Take" on Thursday. That show begins at 10 a.m.

Lastly, Thigpen said he has been asked to appear on "The Hot List," another ESPN2 program, on Friday.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

AP Juking a Packer in '08

From the SI.com Madden '08 sneak preview: Adrian Peterson

Friday, May 04, 2007

Don't Sign Keyshawn...

Unless he comes really cheaply. He was awful last year and mediocre the season before. He's old (He turns 35 this summer), he's slow, and he doesn't actually catch that many of the passes thrown to him. Not to mention there's that whole "attitude problem". Keyshawn would actually be a downgrade from Travis Taylor. Keyshawn's statistics for the last two seasons from Football Outsiders:

Year DPAR DPAR Rank PAR PAR Rank DVOA DVOA Rank VOA Passes Yards TD Catch %
2006 6.7 55 9.1 50 -7.60% 60 -4.30% 128 821 4 55%
2005 10.9 37 10.2 36 -0.90% 52 -1.90% 123 839 6 58%
2004 23.6 20 20.1 28 13.5% 35 8.6% 125 976 6 56%

Taylor's DPAR was 8.6, his DVOA was .9% and he caught 65% of the passes thrown his way. The Vikings would be lucky to get that out of Johnson, considering his statistics have declined the past three years and he's not going to get any younger. If Johnson is content to be a cheap veteran presence for a year while imparting his wisdom to Troy Williamson, Sidney Rice and Aundrae Allison, that's one thing. If he expects to be a centerpiece of an offensive attack, get a decent size contract and generally be treated like a star, the Vikings should let him go elsewhere, since he no longer plays like a star.

[Explanations of DPAR can be found here, while the DVOA explanation is here.]

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Series of Tubes: Draft Retrospective

There's a lot going on around these here tubes and, oddly enough, not all of it's draft related:

  • Erasmus James says he's going to be ready for the season opener. He hasn't been cleared for contact yet, however, so whether or not he'll be able to participate in training camp is still in question.
  • After having a successful first draft, Rick Spielman explained the Vikings' thought process and draft day philosophy. And as obvious as it sounds, picking the best player on your board when it's your turn is not an easy philosophy to stick to when you're on the clock.
  • Access Vikings has collected the names of most of the rookie free agents the Vikings' have signed. The most intriguing one to me is Alex Reyes, a punter out of Texas Tech. Reyes was a four year starter for the Red Raiders and has a legitimate shot at challenging Chris Kluwe. This might be the biggest storyline in training camp and is a definite reason to head down to Mankato in August.
  • I really wish Jimmy Terwilliger, a QB out of East Stroudberg University in Pennsylvania, had actually said what he was thinking to his "buddy".
  • Ex-Viking Travis Taylor pleaded guilty to the charge of disorderly conduct in relation to his "scuffle" outside a club on New Year's.
  • Don't mess with Bob Stoops.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Pessimist's Take on the Draft--Part 2

Yesterday, in an effort to keep my enthusiasm to a dull roar, I evaluated the Vikings' first four picks in the most negative way possible. To avoid confusion, I am ecstatic about the players the Vikings' drafted and I think they can make a big impact this upcoming season--I just don't want to be crushed if they play like the rookies they are.

#146 Aundrae Allison

With their fifth round pick the Vikings drafted a speed demon (4.39 forty) ,out of East Carolina. Of course, there are usually reasons why fast wide receivers last until the fifth round. In this case, they include a lack of season due to spending two years at junior college, poor work ethic, lack of toughness and some major concentration issues. 44 drops in one season is pretty Troy Williamson-esque, I'd have to say. That's not a good sign when he has questions about his commitment to football, stemming from the numerous times he was late to practices, workouts and meetings over the course of his college career. Scouts seem to think with proper coaching he can develop good habits, but let's be honest here--that rarely happens. And he needs those good habits to develop his route running and hands.

#176 Rufus Alexander

Alexander seems to be tailor made for the Cover-2. He's got great vision, good speed (4.62) and is better operating in space. And if he wasn't good in space, he'd be in trouble, since he lacks the strength and bulk to mix it up in the trenches. If he gets double teamed, he won't get out of it. And even in space there are problems with his game. His hands are such that errant passes in his zone are will be batted down just like he's Napoleon Harris wearing a cast. His motor is good, but his focus wanes when the play goes away from him and he tends to take out any frustration he feels on the opposing team, which sounds good, but usually ends with yellow on the field.

#217 Tyler Thigpen & #233 Chandler Williams

The Vikings obviously see something in Thigpen and Williams, but realistically neither of them will ever see much playing time for the Purple outside of special teams. Thigpen has one year of running an offense that wasn't copied from 1980s Nebraska and that was at the DI-AA level. If you think Tarvaris is a project, at least he spent four years running a modern style attack. Williams has potential as a returner, but he also has potential as an enforcer, since he played a prominent role in the Miami-FIU brawl and was consequently suspended. Which is nice, seeing as how the Vikings and NFL seem to be cracking down on that kind of thing.

#XX Offensive Lineman

You may have noticed that the Vikings did not draft an offensive lineman. This may have confounded you, seeing as how the Vikings' offensive line, particularly the right side of it, had some troubles last year. Of the linemen Brad Childress tried on the right side, only Ryan Cook, Marcus Johnson and Artis Hicks remain and none of them were able to play well enough last year to inspire confidence in their ability to produce this year. So naturally, the Vikings didn't pick any linemen to compete for the job, or at the very least, to add depth to an area that will likely have a decent amount of turnover. And it's not like Matt Birk is a young guy--he turns 31 this year and is in his eleventh season.

[Thus concludes my pessimistic take on the Vikings' draft. I think they added a lot of quality players, but as you can see, each of them have their question marks and flaws. Whether or not they turn into productive players depends on their own work ethic and the coaching they receive. If the Vikings are going to be successful this year, however, their going to need a lot of help from their rookies.]

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Get to Know 'Em: Tyler Thigpen

Thanks to Bob D. (a Coastal Carolina fan) for this scouting report on Tyler Thigpen:

I need to preface this by saying that I am not unbiased, but I am also blunt and if I don't like something I say it, so you will not get a homer report here.. Feel free to visit our message board www.coastalfans.com
Just an FYI we are the team that is in either TEAL or BLACK in most of these videos.
Tyler is a great QB. His numbers his first three years were very pedestrian because we resembled a 90's Nebraska/80's Notre Dame team where we run the ball 1st and 2nd down and then pass only if we have to. After Tyler's junior year and before his senior year, we changed offensive coordinators and went with a no huddle [not sure if you are familiar with FCS Football (formerly D1aa) but it is similar to Appalachian State's offense] and multiple WR's. Tyler soaked it up like a sponge and threw for about 3,300 yards and29 touchdowns and ran for almost 700 more with 5 TDs. I won't lie to you--he will never break a land speed record but he is very elusive. When we played James Madison the year after they won the national title and were ranked #1, he made more people miss then I have ever seen. He has a great pocket presence and knows when he needs to get the hell outta there and run for yards. He throws a great, and very catchable (yea, I know that's a terribly overused phrase) ball. He can throw a laser in there if he needs to or toss it deep with great touch.

Here is a link to a pass he made against James Madison where our receiver made a ridiculous catch (SportsCenter top 10) but you can see he can just fling it 50 yards without a problem:

About 20 and 35 seconds into this one you can see Tyler running the ball:

At 1:00 and 1:10 are clips of him busting a big run. 1:25 and 1:30 are more of the same. 2:35 in he smokes vmi for about a 70 yard run. 3:42 is a great pass of his as well.

All of those are from his junior year.

Here are his statistics while at Coastal Carolina:
2005: 97 rushes for 437 yards avg 4.5/carry, 4 tds, a long of 77, 39.7 yards/game rushing. 133/246 oassing. 118.20 efficiency rating. 1,589 yards, 11tds, long of 60 yards, 6 ints.144.5 yards/game passing

2006: 113 rushes for 656 yards avg 5.8/carry 5tds, a long of 76, 54.7 yards/game rushing 217/339 passing. 167.4 efficiency rating. 3,296 yards, 29 td/11 int. 274.7/game long of 80

There are some people who don't think he has a WR background (which I saw here) but he was a wingback in high school and could be a WR but is probably too slow for that and too small for TE.