Friday, August 31, 2007

Almost the End of the Beginning...

I'll be honest--I didn't watch the game last night. I don't live in the Twin Cities and I don't have Sunday Ticket. I'm willing to head to a bar for the real games and maybe even for a preseason game, but not for a game full of backups. There are advantages (the blackout won't affect me here inD.C.), but mainly, it means an extra level of effort, something I'm just not willing to put in for the last preseason game.

But enough of that pseudo negativity. The Preseason is almost over (the only thing left between the Vikings and their opener is 22 players), so now's a good time to check in with the rest of the internet, something I spend a lot of time on. If you're interested in thoughts on the game, Access Vikings and Skol Vikes have game recaps.

  • Vikings Frenzy found a preseason highlight film on Youtube. If you missed any of the first three preseason games, or just want to watch Kevin Williams destroy D'Brickashaw Ferguson again, it's worth checking out.
  • Sports Illustrated has their season preview up, including an article on the best and worst units (the Vikings didn't get worst offense or worst wide receivers. Progress!!). They have the Vikings going 6-10, good for third in the NFC North.
  • Pacifist Viking has tips on dealing with the negativity in the mainstream media.
  • Lipgloss and Baseball went to the game last night, and had a hard time making the transition from baseball to football season.
  • Somehow, I doubt our backup QB has a wife as attractive as Brodie Croyle's. Yet another reason why the SEC does so well in football.
  • Thankfully, the Vikings have yet to lose any of their projected starters to injury so far. They're probably the only NFC North team to be able to say that. Greg Olsen, da Bears first round pick, hurt his knee last night. The Packers' running backs are beat up and they might lose Abdul Hodges, who they were counting on to start at LB, is thinking about season ending knee surgery. Finally, Kevin Jones, the Lions stud running back, might be left on the physically unable to perform list and is likely to miss the first five weeks of the season.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

5 Goals for Tonight

The Vikings have one last preseason game to go [Thank God!], and still quite a few questions to answer about their roster. The starters aren't going to play much (with probably one exception), but there's still going to be a lot going on. So without further ado, the five things the Vikings need to accomplish tonight:

  1. Get yo' stats. Get paid. Don't. Get. Hurt.

Pretty self explanatory. The last thing anyone wants is for one of their starters to go down during their one series on the field.

  1. Choose between Mike Doss and Tank "Tank" Williams.

It’s looking like Greg Blue is going to make the team as the third safety, due to his play so far, cost, his upside and his special teams play. That leaves Mike Doss and Tank “Tank” Williams to fight it out for the final spot. Doss didn’t play in the last game and neither one of them practiced this week, which will greatly increase the amount their play tonight factors into the decision. One blown coverage or missed tackle by either player could be enough to get them the pink slip. I see the Vikings keeping Doss because of the similarities between Tank and Blue, but the extent of Doss’ calf injury could be a huge factor.

  1. Pick two of the following: Troy Williamson, Martin Nance, Billy McMullin and Chandler Williams

As I’ve been saying this week, the Vikings seem set to keep Bobby Wade, Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison and Robert Ferguson. They aren’t going to keep more than six receivers, which means there are only two more spots to fill. None of them have done much in the first three preseason games. Williamson has been a non factor in games (except for when he drops passes), but that doesn’t mean the Vikings are ready to admit they got nothing out of Randy Moss. While he hasn’t done enough to win the starting kick returner job, Williams has done a decent job returning kicks so far. Billy McMullin has shown he can be a relatively dependable fourth receiver and Nance has the ability. I think the Vikings are going to keep Williamson and Williams, because they aren’t ready to give up on their former #1 pick yet and because Williams brings skills to the table that Nance and McMullin do not.

  1. Decide on who’s starting on the right side of the line.

Ryan Cook had two false starts last game (not good—false starts correlate with losing. And players that have false started in the past tend to continue to do so), allowing Marcus Johnson back in the picture at Right Tackle. Anthony Herrera and Artis Hicks continue to rotate at guard. Lines that play together perform better, but unless one of the guards can consistently outperform the other and Cook stops making mental mistakes, it won’t matter who starts Week 1. The Vikings are going to use all four of them during the course of the season.

  1. Fill the final defensive lineman spot with Fred Evans, Khreem Smith or Jayme Mitchell

The Vikings aren’t keeping more than nine defensive linemen. Right now, they have five defensive ends (Udeze, James, Robison, Scott, Edwards) and three defensive tackles (The Williams Brothers and Spencer Taylor) with roster spots. Smith and Mitchell have both played well during the preseason, but both are defensive ends, something the Vikings have a surplus of. Evans had a limited impact in his time against the Seahawks (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble) and he’s a true defensive tackle. While the Purple could get away with keeping another end due to Darrion Scott’s ability to play DT, it’s better to keep another true defensive tackle. That, combined with the fact they’re looking for Pat Williams heir, means that Evans will make the team.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Look at Possible Wide Receiver Acquisitions

The Vikings' final preseason game is tomorrow night (and the final cuts have to be made on Saturday), but there's still quite a few questions about who's going to make it. One of the biggest questions is at wide receiver. Bobby Wade had a breakout game against the Seahawks, Robert Ferguson stepped into a starting role, Aundrae Allison continued to be the primary kick returner and Sidney Rice chipped in with three catches for 21 yards. Those four seem to be locks to make the roster, meaning that there are still two spots up for grabs.

Todd Lowber is already gone (likely to the practice squad), leaving Chandler Williams, Martin Nance, Billy McMullin and Troy Williamson (that's right--the #7 pick from two years ago might not make the team) to fight for the last two spots. Their fates are going to be decided tomorrow night. Just because those four are the only wide receivers on the roster, however, doesn't mean the Vikings can't try and upgrade through trades (or by signing a player cut by another team). The Viking Age has realized this, and the fact that there are three "name" receivers that are available: Reggie Williams of the Jacksonville, Michael Clayton of Tampa Bay and Chris Chambers of Miami.

While a lot depends on what they could be acquired for (nothing would be best, of course), but it's also important to ask whether they would actually help the Vikings? Are they worth cutting a Martin Nance or Chandler Williams for?

Reggie Williams has increased his catches, yardage and touchdowns in each of his last three years. Last year, he hauled in 52 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns. He's not a huge deep threat, only catching seven passes for more than twenty yards, but he's improving. The improvement can also be seen in Football Outsider's advanced statistics. He's increased his DPAR from -7.7 his rookie year to 3.3 last year and his DVOA increased as well, from -36.3% to -9.9%. Neither of those numbers are great (he was 62nd in both categories), but they're better than pretty much anything the Vikings had last year (only Travis Taylor finished ahead of him. His Catch Percentage has increased as well, going from 50% his rookie year to 57% last year. Again, not great, but still better than anything the Vikings had last year and the same as Bobby Wade's percentage. He'd be a great pickup for the Vikings, if available. The problem, of course, is that he's probably not available, as he's moved up the Jaguars depth chart during training camp.

Michael Clayton is more likely to be available. Of course, there's a reason for that: he's gotten worse the last three years. After an outstanding rookie season where he caught 80 passes for 1193 yards and 7 TDs, he's fought injuries the past two years and only caught 65 passes for 728 yards and 1 TD. In 2004, he was fourth in DPAR with 39.8 and 7th in DVOA with 33.9% and he hauled in 66% of the passes thrown to him. In 2005, he was 83rd in DPAR, with a -1.2 DPAR and 82nd with a -18.2% DVOA. His catch percentage dropped to 58%. To put that in context, Troy Williamson was 61st and 54th in DPAR and DVOA respectively that year. His statistics fell even further last year, to -3.8 DPAR and -24.0% DVOA, which were 77th and 78th respectively. His catch percentage continued falling as well, to 51%. Clayton's career seems like it's in a free fall. He's dropping more passes and not getting open as much. And his confidence seems to be shot as well. The Vikings already have a receiver from the 2004 draft whose career is falling apart--they don't need another one.

The final receiver that might be available to the Vikings is Chris Chambers of the Dolphins. He had his worst year last year, only hauling in 59 passes for 677 yards and 4 TDs. Of course, that's still better than what any of the Vikings' receivers did. He's entering his seventh year, but he's only one year removed from an 82 catch, 1198 yard season in which he caught 11 TDs. The talent is there...or is it? Chambers has only posted a double digit DPAR once, in 2003 (15.1). That was also the only year he had a positive DVOA. Last year, he posted the worst DPAR of any receiver who was thrown to more than 50 times (-19.8) and the second worst DVOA (-36.0%). So why do the conventional and advanced stats differ? Because Chambers can't catch. Lots of passes are thrown his way, padding his receptions, yardage and TDs, but most of them are not caught. He only caught 39% of the passes thrown to him, also the worst of anyone receiver with more than 50 passes thrown his way. His catch percentage has been below 50% since 2002. If Vikings fans are frustrated with Troy Williamson's drops last year (his catch percentage was 49%), they'll hate Chambers. The Vikings should stay as far away from him as possible.

As you'd probably expect, of the three receivers that are rumored to be available, the only one that would be worth acquiring, Reggie Williams, would be the hardest to get, if he's available at all. The Vikings would be better served to just stick with the receivers they have.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Unanswered Defensive Questions

Remember when Brian Robison and Ray Edwards were the Truth, the Answer, the Solution? Remember when they were going to team with a healthy Erasmus James to crash down upon opposing quarterbacks with unstoppable force?

Yeah...That was fun while it lasted.

Robison, Edwards and James (who was in for 18 plays) couldn't get past the Seahawks backup left tackle on Saturday. It's definitely not a good sign that a team can keep its All Pro LT on the bench and still not have any problems keeping the Vikings away from its quarterback. And it's not like the ends were opening things up for everyone else either, as the Vikings failed to record a sack. The good thing is that James was seeing his first action of the year and he didn't have any setbacks. The bad thing is that, well, the Vikings only had 30 sacks last year (7th least in the NFL), despite the fact other teams dropped back to pass 629 times against them(Most in the NFL). The Vikings weren't planning on counting on Edwards and Robison to turn around their pass rush--that's James' job. And while he didn't accomplish much in his 18 plays, his knee responded well. Finding out whether or not he can get to the quarterback will have to wait. It's too bad we already know that the other starting end cannot.

The Vikings' also avoided providing more info on which of their five safeties they are going to keep. Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith are locks for the team, which means Mike Doss, Greg Blue and Tank Williams are fighting for two roster spots. Doss didn't play against the Seahawks due to a calf injury, and neither Blue nor Williams made too much of an impact that I saw. Due to an undisclosed injury to Tank Williams and the fact that Doss continues to miss practice, it appears that Greg Blue is going to have all the opportunity in the world to win a roster spot against Dallas on Thursday. He's already got an advantage because he's younger and he's cheaper. He also, as you may recall, made "JACKED UP" last year for a hit against Buffalo. Definitely doesn't hurt.

Vikings Fans' New Favorite Player

Let's all extend a warm welcome to everyone's new favorite player, Kelly Holcomb! The Vikings acquired him yesterday evening from the Philadelphia Eagles for a sixth round pick so he can backup Tarvaris Jackson, a welcome addition after watching Brooks Bollinger "play" quarterback in the preseason. Holcomb's a 34 year old veteran (who, apparently, is graying already) who was undrafted out of Middle Tennessee State. He didn't see the field last year while backing up J.P. Lohsman with Buffalo, but he has played in 35 games, completing 64.6% of his passes while throwing 34 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

It's time for Kelly to buy some Just for Men

Those stats may not be eye catching, but they are competent, something the Vikings could not say about Brooks Bollinger. Holcomb will provide a veteran presence for Tarvaris to learn from, another thing the Vikings couldn't say about Bollinger. He seems content to play the mentor, ready to step in, but happy to stay on the sidelines if his protege succeeds. And he wasn't too bad the last two years.

Football Outsider's metrics back that assertion up (sorry about the table's formatting):

Passes Yards TD TO
2004 13.7 11.4 21.4% 15.7% 92 706 7 5
2005 1.8 1.7 -11.5% -11.6% 251 1360 10 12

He played in four games in 2004 and ten in 2005. His stats are better in 2004, based on a game against the Bengals where he put up a QB rating of 128.5 while throwing 5 TDs and 2INT. His next start (which came five weeks later), he only had a 75.1 QB rating while throwing 1TD and 2INT. That inconsistency would continue to plague him in 2005, where he made seven starts. His first game, he had a QB rating of 106.1, but followed it up with an 80.9 and then proceeded to alternate good starts with mediocre ones, posting ratings of 110.0, 83.3, 88.0, 105.3, 53.0.

His inconsistency means he's a backup. His experience means he'll be a good one, able to help Tarvaris learn and grow as a QB. And if Tarvaris isn't able to go, he's shown he can be a solid replacement. The only real drawback to his acquisition is that it'll force the Vikings to put Tyler Thigpen on the practice squad. Well, that, and the fact it gives Vikings' fans a legitimate backup QB to pine for.

Later: Unanswered Defensive Questions
After that:
How awesome are Chester and AD? Darren Bevell's calling plays! And more!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Putting Off the Questions

Saturday's game was an interesting one, in that in answered some questions well...actually, it didn't really answer too many questions. Rather, it put them off, showing us glimpses of both positive and negative answers.

The biggest question everyone had coming into the game was whether Tarvaris Jackson had what it took to be the starting quarterback. And based on what we saw, the answer is: kind of. He started out the game by completing 9 of his first 13 passes, but then finished it with five straight incompletions, many of them on deeper throws, something he needs to improve considerably. He also showed that he's willing to stay in the pocket and make his reads, rather than pulling the ball down and running at the first hint of pressure. Of course, the fact that he didn't scramble meant that he failed to use a potent weapon in his arsenal. And there was the fumbled snap. Not the best way to start out the game. Finally, Jackson has yet to throw or run for a touchdown. I'm not sure whether or not that's something Vikings' fans should be worried about, however, since he has lead two drives that culminated with touchdowns (One of which was Bobby Wade's pass to Visanthe Shiancoe on a nifty play that SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN USED IN THE PRESEASON. There's no need to use trick plays in games that don't count. Especially when you have a quarterback that could use the red zone experience.)

That wasn't the only question that the game didn't answer. Those hoping to see whether the newest Vikings, Robert Ferguson and Fred Evans, would make an impact were left wondering if Ferguson's one catch for 11 yards (He had one other pass thrown his way) and Evans' two tackles were signs of bigger things to come or if that's all the Vikings can look forward too from their "big" training camp picks.

Not all of the ambiguous answers leaned to the positive, however. The Vikings special teams continued to be awful. Ryan Longwell missed another field goal, his third miss of the preseason. Chris Kluwe had a twenty yard punt. And that was from the Vikings' 31 yard line. The kickoff team gave up returns of 26 yds, 13 yds (after Longwell's squib kick was fielded at the 13 yard line) and 38 yards. And the return squad didn't do much better, with Aundrae Allison and Chandler Williams averaging 23 yds and 22 yds respectively.

Williams didn't make much of an impact in the return game and he also failed to make much of an impact as a reciever, catching one short pass for 4 yds. Of course, that was one more reception than Martin Nance, Billy McMullin or Todd Lowbar caught. The first round of cuts (trimming the roster to 75) comes tomorrow afternoon, with those surviving getting one more preseason game to make an impression before the roster has to be cut down to 53.

Next: Defense questions that weren't answered
After that: Can Kelly Holcombe play backup QB? How awesome are Chester and AD? And more!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Seahawks-Vikings: THE REMATCH...

Saturday's the Vikings' third preseason game (which, loyal readers, I'm sure you already knew), meaning that Saturday night will be the closest we get to watching a real football game until Week One, as well as the last chance for players to make a good impression, lest they get sent to the chopping block (There's a solid breakdown of the Vikings' likely cuts over at . And hopefully, it'll involve a few more passes by the Revolution. Aside from hoping that Tarvaris will be a tad bit more involved, there's quite a few other things to watch for:

  • How will the newcomers fit in? Can Robert Ferguson show off the talent that lead the Packers to draft him in the second round? Has Fred Evans time in the legal world left him rusty and forlorn? Or will he take out his anger and frustration on the Seahawks?
  • Will any of the safeties stand out? It's not that any of them have played poorly, rather, they've all played well, which likely puts Tank Williams as the odd man out, since Greg Blue is a cheaper, younger version of him. So will Tank Williams, Mike Doss or Greg Blue step up their game and insure they get a roster spot?
  • Can the special teams units do a better job in winning the field position battle? Will Alex Reyes pull a Bo Jackson after another of his kick offs doesn't go past the twenty and just keep running into the locker room and right off the roster? Is Aundrae Allison going to be returning kicks for the Purple, or will Robert Ferguson or Chandler Williams steal the spot away?
  • Which of the wide receivers are going to make the team? Troy Williamson, Sydney Rice, Robert Ferguson, Bobby Wade and Aundrae Allison seem to be locks for the team. That leaves Williams, Martin Nance, Billy McMullin and Todd Lowbar competing for the sixtha and final spot. I'd hate to see the Vikings lose Chandler Williams, their seventh rounder. He hasn't caught a pass in a preseason game yet, but he's played well in practice and has the longest kick return for the Vikings' so far (28 yards).
  • The Vikings have had a lot of success rushing the passer with Brian Robison and Ray Edwards at defensive end. How will the return of Erasmus James play into that? And how is James knee going to hold up in live action? Does he still have the speed and quickness he had prior to the injury? I certainly hope so, because, with the way Robison and Edwards are playing, a healthy James could be the difference between a pass rush that's "better than last year's" and a "great pass rush".
  • Drew Henson sucks. Will he continue to be a bad quarterback, or will he tantalize the coaching staff with a good performance, thus costing the Vikings the man, the myth, the legend(#16)--Tyler Thigpen. [Thanks to Bob D. for the Youtube link]

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Even the Vikings Aren't Perfect

Before I go into some of the negative aspects of last Friday's let me a take a moment to welcome Robert Ferguson to the Vikings. I wrote about his potential earlier, and while he's not quite a "good" receiver, that doesn't mean he won't be able to contribute. Hopefully, he'll also be able to impart some veteran wisdom to all the young'ins the Vikings have at the position.

Now, back to Friday. First off, the Vikings need to address their kick off units. Alex Reyes is awful at kicking off. His inability to kick it past the fifteen yard line played a large role in the Jets' great field position, but the coverage team should share the blame as well. It seemed like the Jets' kick returner was breaking into the second and third levels of the coverage almost every time. Not good. And the Vikings' kick (and punt) return games looked about as mediocre as last year's.

Now, this might seem tremendously important, but it is. Field position has a huge impact on a teams' ability to score and it's ability to prevent the other team from scoring. This is especially true when you consider the way the Vikings' offense and defense work. Every fewer yard the Vikings' offense has to go to score makes it that much more likely they'll actually get into scoring position. It works the same with the Tampa-2 defense the Vikings employ. Every additional yard the opposing offense has to go makes it more likely that they'll screw up their drive somehow, something the Tampa-2 is designed to lengthen anyway. This concept has been part of the conventional wisdom for awhile, and the Football Outsiders have done some work with it as well (Scroll Down to "Field Position is Fluid"). Add in the fact that the Vikings are clearly trying to emphasize the importance of field position by their style of play and it's not a good sign that they spent most of last year losing the field position battle and will likely continue to do so this year.

The other concern that arose from Friday's game was the Jets' focus on attacking Cedric Griffin. Obviously, his half hearted "attempt" at tackling Justin McCareins was inexcusable, but it was the Jets' obvious desire to throw to his side of the field (and by obvious, I mean even the announcers noticed) that worries me. Eric Mangini is a pretty good coach and if the Jets were throwing left every time, you can be sure there was a reason for it. I'm not worried about Griffin's abilities however. He earned that starting position last year by playing well. The Pro Football Prospectus had him as the 14th most successful defensive back in coverage, breaking up 58% of passes thrown his way. While he was only thrown at 61 times, that success rate was better than Antoine Winfield's, who successful defended 56% of the 91 plays in his coverage area (oh, and don't worry too much about Darren Sharper--he was the 4th best defensive back in coverage last year, successfully defending 69% of the plays targeting his coverage).

So why were the Jets so focused on throwing at Cedric Griffin? The Star Tribune postulated that it was partly due to a respect for Antoine Winfield's abilities and partly due to the Jets' success last year against Griffin last year. To be honest, I don't really buy the first rational. Make no mistake--I think Winfield is a tremendous cornerback (I even have his jersey). A lot of that is due to his ability to stop the run (PFP had him as the best corner in the NFL at stopping the run by a long shot). He's good at coverage, but he's not Deion Sanders. And something about the second reason bothers me. Griffin is a good corner, possibly as good as Antoine Winfield in coverage. And it's not like any of the other teams the Vikings played after the Jets really went out of their way to target Griffin.

So is the benefit in targeting him so great that it outweighs the benefits of throwing to all parts of the field? I wouldn't think so. But the last time a good coach decided to focus on one part of the Vikings' defense, the Patriots waltzed out of the Metrodome with an easy win and in the process created the blueprint for success against the Vikings' defense.

Robert Ferguson--an Interlude

I'll have my final thoughts on Friday's game up later today, but first, I wanted to discuss the news that the Vikings may be close to adding a veteran wide receiver. Robert Ferguson, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, appears to favor the Purple. And to add even further fuel to the fire, he missed his original flight to Houston, although he did eventually make the trip.

So it seems the Vikings are about to add a new receiver to their much maligned group. But is that a good thing? Gonzo, over at the Daily Norseman doesn't think so. Personally, I'm not so sure.

Ferguson has a few things going against him, starting with the fact that he's had injury problems the last three years, missing four games in 2004 due to a hit that temporarily paralyzed him, five games in 2005 because of a knee injury and 12 games last year due to foot problems. And when he has been healthy, he hasn't exactly light the world on fire--his best year came in 2003, when he caught 38 passes for 520 yards and 4 TDs.

Here's the thing though--when he is healthy, he has the ability to be a deep threat. He has six catches that went for more than 30 yards for his career, which doesn't sound all that impressive, until you realize that the current career leader on the Vikings roster is Troy Williamson with four.

So would the addition of Robert Ferguson be a huge one? No. However, if he can stay healthy, he'll definitely be an improvement over roster filler like Cortez Hankton. It's better to take a risk on a player with talent than to play it safe with a player that doesn't have any.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nothing Like a "W"

I started with the Ugly from the Viking's second pre-season game yesterday, which means I'm a bit out of order, but that won't stop us from getting into the good signs from Friday's victory over the Jets. So without further ado, what I liked from the game (aside from the turnovers and the win, of course):

  • Chad Greenway is a stud. There was the interception, but that wasn't the only time his coverage was impressive. He was all over Leon Washington like cheese on pizza, white on rice, or Pacifist Viking on an overused cliche. He led the team with four tackles and generally looked like he'd actually played last year. What was that other guy's name? Napoleon something?

  • For those who've been saying that the addition of Adrian Peterson gave the Vikings one of the best two back tandems in the league--I agree. Jesus--the breakaway speed, the moves (I think he gave Andre Dyson whiplash with that spin move), the punishing of the defense--it was so beautiful. That all being said, I wouldn't mind if he avoided unnecessary contact. I'm still a little worried about his shoulder and the Vikings need Peterson's breakaway ability, something Chester Taylor can't provide (aside from his 95 yard run, Taylor's longest runs were 42 yds and 33 yds and those were the only three rushes he had over thirty yards.)

  • Ray Edwards and Brian Robison look like they're going to be the answer to the Vikings' pass rush needs. Robison has two sacks and a forced fumble already and Edwards has constantly been in the backfield. It's already paying dividends on the interior as well by preventing defenses from focusing on Kevin Williams as much, allowing him to pressure the quarterback as well.

  • Ryan Longwell's 54 yard field goal, combined with his two conversions on two other field goals, were reassuring after he missed a potential game winner from 42 yards in the first preseason game.

  • I really, truly enjoyed Kevin Williams destroying the 6'6 310lb D'Brickashaw Ferguson on Darren Sharper's interception return. That might have been my favorite play of the game, aside from Peterson's spin move. Williams just absolutely leveled Ferguson.

Tomorrow: The Bad

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Note to Coach Childress--Let Tarvaris Play!

Now, I’ve generally been a Brad Childress defender. Generally, I’ve argued that he should be given more than one season before he’s considered a failure. He wouldn’t be the first coach to have a miserable first season followed by a good career, that’s for sure.

That all being said, his decision making on Friday night was pretty much indefensible. He went in with a game plan and he refused to alter it, despite the fact that it was clear that it wasn’t going to accomplish what the team needed.

Which meant that rather than allowing Tarvaris Jackson to throw more than four passes, he stuck to his pre game decision to play Brooks Bollinger in the second quarter, Drew Henson in the third quarter and Tyler Thigpen in the fourth. Which worked out great, since I’m sure he was able to get a lot out of watching Tarvaris completing two passes while dropping back four times (Bobby Wade dropped a catchable pass as well) and Bollinger completing two passes on five pass plays (don’t forget to include his fumble in his passing attempts).

I know the lack of passing attempts was due to outside factors, such as the INT returns for touchdowns and the Jets clock control. That doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating as all hell watching the worse than mediocre Bollinger replace Tarvaris in the second quarter when Tarvaris needs the experience. The Revolution has two NFL starts—he needs to be playing as much as possible in the preseason, not sitting on the bench watching Bollinger get sacked like some kind of sack prone version of David Carr. And Brad Childress needs to realize that and give Tarvaris the playing time he needs to develop rather than create a needless competition between the Revolution and Brooks Bollinger.

Tomorrow: What I liked on Friday
Tuesday: What I didn't like

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quick Thoughts and an Apology

So...remember when I was "back"? Yeah, that didn't work--I clearly overestimated my ability to post while traveling for business. Hence the two posts followed by nothing.

But now, I'm back home, no longer traveling and have given up on the Twins season (meaning, that, while I'll still be watching their games, I no longer feel it necessary to spend time thinking about them). Hopefully, that means this post won't be an isolated one.

Now, I must admit that I was not able to watch the Vikings' first preseason game (oddly enough, not every hotel has the NFL Network--who knew?), but it looked like it went well. Tarvis Jackson's stat line was good for the one quarter he was in--8/11 for 83 yds and 2 scrambles for 25 yds. Troy Williamson and B0bby Wade didn't do too poorly and the defensive ends (not counting the Vikings' run specialist, Keneci Udeze) put pressure on the quarterbacks, even if they didn't actually bring them down.

It was a good first step on the long and winding path back to the playoffs. And the team takes the second step tonight against the Jets. Here's what I'll be looking for tonight:

  • Another accurate performance from Tarvaris. I'm hoping he'll once again complete 65%-70% of his passes and avoid throwing interceptions. The biggest question mark with the Revolution is his accuracy and his decision making. The most important thing in Brad Childress' offense are the receivers catching passes in stride on the short and medium routes so they can do something with it.
  • Brooks Bollinger continuing to personify mediocrity. The last thing this team needs is a quarterback controversy. Brad Childress' decision to play Bollinger for a quarter with the first team seems guaranteed to create one. If he's mediocre to bad again, that will hopefully put any possible controversy to rest, so Childress can go back to focusing on developing his young starting quarterback. It makes no sense whatsoever to cut into Tarvaris' playing time, especially if the reason is to give Drew Henson and Tyler Thigpen more playing time.
  • Can any of the rookie wide receivers make an impact in the game? Sidney Rice had one catch last game, but he was the only one.
  • The Vikings are currently have five safeties with the talent to start. Are Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith locks for the position, or do Mike Doss, Tank Williams and Greg Blue have a shot to start?
  • Finally, I'd like to see Tarvaris lead the first team offense to a touchdown, preferably on a completion to Troy Williamson. That would hopefully quiet the nattering nabobs of negativity, at least for a week.