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Jun 23, 2024 12:50:41 GMT -6 1 Replies
It’s strange that big mountain carvings in South Dakota have become a thing in pop culture. It’s probably how some now know about that tourist attraction. Like “GOATS,” Mount Rushmores are a fun sports debate. It’s fun to pick and debate the four best of anything. It’s tough to pick only four. Here are swings at some Minnesota Vikings Mount Rushmores.

Favorite Minnesota Vikings Mount Rushmore

Alan Page
Cris Carter
John Randle
Justin Jefferson

These are my favorite players in Vikings franchise history. Alan Page has been my favorite Vikings football player since my first day as a Vikings fan. He may even have been the reason this little kid from California became a Vikings fan. He was certainly a big reason for my falling for the team. Perhaps the worst day in all my days as a Vikings fan was the day that Page was waived. I didn’t understand it then. I don’t understand it now. The first NFL game and first Vikings game I ever attended was later in that 1978 season. I dreamed of seeing Alan Page in person. I dreamed of seeing all of those Vikings players and coaches in person but especially Page. Instead of playing the Raiders in Oakland, he had played the day before in Washington for the Chicago Bears. Sad. Very, very sad.

I’ve always been particularly fond of receivers. It was the position I played. It’s the position that routinely draws my attention. I’d been a huge fan of Cris Carter since his Ohio State days. It was his hands. I’ve never seen better hands. I hoped that the Vikings would select him in the Supplemental Draft. I was very disappointed when they didn’t. I was thrilled when they grabbed him off of waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles. I’ve never been more ecstatic over a Vikings waiver claim. I can’t imagine I ever will be. Carter was a fantastic receiver. I attended a Vikings-49ers Monday Night game in 1995. As a fan of receivers, the game was a dream pass-catching duel between Carter and Jerry Rice. The 49ers jumped all over the Vikings from the start. It was 21-0 after the first quarter. Sitting in the stands, it felt like Carter put the team on his back and hauled them back into the game. It was 27-20 at the half. Sadly, the 49ers held on for a 37-30 win. With Steve Young throwing to Rice and Warren Moon throwing to Carter, it really was a pass-catching dream. The crazy thing was the final receiving numbers. This truly felt like a duel between two of the best to ever catch a football. Carter vs Rice. It was 1995. It was long before everybody had a computer in their hand. It was even before fantasy football took over as a passion parallel to the real game. Statistics weren’t blasted to everyone in the stands. I had no idea what sort of numbers Carter and Rice were posting. It truly felt like Carter and Rice were doing a bit of “anything you can do I can do better.” So, I was stunned to see the game statistics in the Tuesday morning newspaper.

Cris Carter:
12 catches
88 yards
2 TDs

Jerry Rice:
14 catches
289 yards
3 TDs

I learned a lot about statistics that night. Watching the game from the stands, I never would’ve guessed that Rice had gained 200 more yards than Carter. It did not feel like the one-sided receiving duel found in the statistics. That’s because every one of Carter’s catches meant so much to the team. Every catch moved the chains. The Vikings had to really grind for every yard they gained. Every Carter catch was crucial. For the 49ers, defending Super Bowl champs, everything came so much easier. Anyway, other than the score, it was a beautiful night for a fan of receivers. That night, Cris Carter joined Alan Page as my favorite players in franchise history.

John Randle also became a franchise favorite of mine while watching a prime time game from the stands. I was in the Oakland Coliseum stands in 1996 for a Sunday Night game against the Raiders. In a game the Vikings would win in overtime, John Randle took over the game in the fourth quarter. It felt like he was in the Raiders backfield as often as Jeff Hostetler. Randle had two sacks in the game. He harassed Hostetler with such frequency that it felt like he had 10 sacks. Randle was so easy to like. He’s probably a favorite of every Vikings fan that lived through the 1990s. His social media presence today only enhances his appeal. I looked forward to his “Purple Friday” posts.

I never thought a Vikings receiver could ever approach Cris Carter and Randy Moss. Then along came Justin Jefferson. Everything about his first four years in Minnesota has been ridiculous. So ridiculous that I still can’t believe that he’s already one of my four favorite Vikings in franchise history. Instead of rationalizing it, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy his ridiculous Vikings career.

More Minnesota Vikings Mount Rushmore Fun:

Greatest Minnesota Vikings Mount Rushmore

Alan Page
Randall McDaniel
Randy Moss
Adrian Peterson

Other than the first one, all of these Mount Rushmores are going to be very subjective. Alan Page, Randall McDaniel, Randy Moss, and Adrian Peterson are in the conversation for the best to ever play their respective positions. That helps me in selecting each as the greatest players in Vikings franchise history. Fran Tarkenton, Carl Eller, Paul Krause, Ron Yary, Mick Tingelhoff, Joey Browner, Chris Doleman, Cris Carter, John Randle, Steve Hutchinson, and Justin Jefferson are in the conversation but I’m sticking with the above four.

Most Important Minnesota Vikings Rushmore

Jim Marshall
Bud Grant
Jim Finks
Fran Tarkenton

I often include this “Most Important Minnesota Vikings Mount Rushmore” so I can have Jim Marshall on it. He wasn’t the best player on the Super Bowl teams. He wasn’t the best player on the defense. He wasn’t the best player on the defensive line. He wasn’t even the best defensive end on the team. However, he was the most important player. He was the heart and soul of those great teams. He was their leader. That’s why his Hall of Fame omission is such a sensitive issue for Vikings fans.

Bud Grant. That’s all that really needs to be said about the best coach in Vikings history. It would take a coach actually winning a Super Bowl to challenge Grant for that title.

Jim Finks was the architect of the great Vikings teams of the late 1960s and 1970s. The only negative to his great career as a general manager is that he left the Vikings for the Bears and built a Super Bowl champion in Chicago. Finks was the second general manager to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He made it before the introduction of the Contributor category. So, he made it while being in voting competition with players.

Fran Tarkenton had a weird Vikings career. It’s weird because he had two distinct and significant stints as the Vikings quarterback. He was an exciting and fun young quarterback for an expansion team from 1961-66. He was also an exciting and fun old quarterback for an annual Super Bowl contender from 1972-78. During the first stint, he had a rocky relationship with head coach Norm Van Brocklin. It was so rocky that he demanded a trade after the 1966 season. The Vikings obliged and traded him to the New York Giants. Strangely, Tarkenton still wanted out of Minnesota even though Van Brocklin resigned about a month before the trade. Grant was named the new head coach three days after Tarkenton was traded. While he was with the Giants, Finks and Grant built and molded the Vikings into one of the best teams in the league. They just needed a quarterback and in 1972 they brought Tarkenton back to Minnesota. Two of the picks the Vikings received from the Giants were used to select tackle Ron Yary and guard Ed White. Those two would form an impenetrable right side to protect a now older Tarkenton. I only got to see the older, post-Giants sabbatical Tarkenton. He was great. As a naive little kid I thought that he’d always be the Vikings quarterback. I didn’t think that he’d ever retire. I didn’t think any of those Vikings greats would retire. Fortunately, I did get to see Tarkenton play from the Oakland Coliseum stands in his last regular season game. He was a great quarterback.

Some positional Mount Rushmores:

Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Mount Rushmore

Fran Tarkenton
Tommy Kramer
Daunte Culpepper
Kirk Cousins

This feels pretty straightforward.

Since their first season in 1961, the Vikings have selected five quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Tommy Kramer (1977)
Daunte Culpepper (1999)
Christian Ponder (2011)
Teddy Bridgewater (2014)
J.J. McCarthy (2024)

It’s an understatement to say that the Vikings have had a frustrating quarterback history since Fran Tarkenton retired after the 1978 season. Tommy Kramer was selected in the first round to be the team’s next quarterback. He was a fun gunslinger. Over his first four years as the Vikings starting quarterback he only missed three starts. Injuries peppered his next seven years in Minnesota. His is a quarterback story of what might’ve been. Daunte Culpepper was on an upward trajectory until a knee injury ended his time in Minnesota. Christian Ponder was drafted to be a quarterback that he never had the talent to be. As with Culpepper, a horrible knee injury ended whatever future Teddy Bridgewater might’ve had with the Vikings. Each of the four quarterbacks was drafted to be the next great Vikings quarterback. Two showed great potential, one had potential, and the fourth was Ponder.

Since the Dennis Green years, the Vikings have often relied on bringing in old-timers to quarterback the team. When it’s worked, the results have been exciting. Three of the best, most fun seasons of the past 26 years have been guided by old Randall Cunningham (1998), old Brett Favre (2009), and journeyman Case Keenum (2017). Unfortunately, all three seasons ended painfully, one game short of the goal. Even the old Warren Moon years of the mid 1990s were fun. Moon threw such a beautiful ball.

Hopefully, J.J. McCarthy cracks this Mt. Rushmore.

Minnesota Vikings Receiver Mt. Rushmore

Cris Carter
Randy Moss
Justin Jefferson
Anthony Carter

The Vikings have a tremendously rich receiver tradition. It’s probably the league’s best. Cris Carter and Randy Moss are easy picks. Justin Jefferson’s four years are already enough to join them. He has a Gold Jacket in his future. There’s certainly debate for the fourth. I’m going with Anthony Carter. For a few of his nine years in Minnesota, he was arguably the second best receiver in the league to Jerry Rice. There was one particular day in which he was the best receiver on the field and Rice was on that field. Carter should be in the team’s Ring of Honor. There are many contenders for that fourth spot. Gene Washington, John Gilliam, Sammy White, Ahmad Rashad, Jake Reed, Percy Harvin, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs.

If receiver isn’t the Vikings greatest position tradition, it’s the defensive line. It’s so strong that I’ve separated it into ends and tackles.

Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Mount Rushmore

Carl Eller
Jim Marshall
Chris Doleman
Jared Allen

The first three are fairly easy. Carl Eller and Chris Doleman have busts in Canton. There’s an easy argument that Jim Marshall should join them. I expect Jared Allen to join them next summer. I want Danielle Hunter on this Mount Rushmore but, right now, I’m leaning Allen.

Minnesota Vikings Defensive Tackle Mount Rushmore

Alan Page
John Randle
Kevin Williams
Keith Millard

For me, this one’s easy. Alan Page and John Randle are Hall of Famers. Kevin Williams should be. He has the All-Decade, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, performances, and numbers to get there. I fear that he might have a ridiculous, Carl Eller-like wait. After Richard Seymour made it a few years back, I thought that Williams would be next. I’ve always thought that Seymour and Williams had similar careers. The only difference being that Seymour has Super Bowl rings. That’s why he probably deserved to go first. I believe that Williams will eventually get the bust that he deserves. Keith Millard would have a bust if injuries hadn’t cut his career short. His best years were as good as any defensive tackle I’ve ever seen. He was unstoppable in 1988. He was even better in 1989. That year, he was named Defensive Player of the Year and was third in the MVP voting. Millard was incredible. Like Anthony Carter, he should be in the Vikings Ring of Honor.

That’s enough Mount Rushmore fun. For now.



It’s strange that big mountain carvings in South Dakota have become a thing in pop culture. It’s probably how some now know about that tourist attraction. Like “GOATS,” Mount Rushmores are a fun
Click here to read article
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Jun 16, 2024 20:15:35 GMT -6 0 Replies
We discuss some positional group battles we'll be looking at when camp opens next month, and we profile 6th round pick Walter Rouse.


We discuss some positional group battles we'll be looking at when camp opens next month, and we profile 6th round pick Walter Rouse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM1C1JtA9ng
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Jun 9, 2024 18:57:00 GMT -6 0 Replies
Special guest Matt Fries joins us to break down the good and bad of 4th round pick Khyree Jackson:


Special guest Matt Fries joins us to break down the good and bad of 4th round pick Khyree Jackson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yV94D-FNRg
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May 26, 2024 9:06:50 GMT -6 0 Replies
In an effort to pass the time between OTAs and before the start of training camp, I decided to come up with a somewhat interesting fact for each NFL team. Yesterday, it was the NFC. Today, it’s the AFC.

Pittsburgh Steelers
For the past fifty years, the Steelers have consistently been one of the league’s best teams. Six Super Bowl titles, eight Super Bowl appearances, and seemingly annual playoff involvement. They were consistently one of the league’s worst teams for their first forty years.

Cleveland Browns
This is more disappointing than interesting. Founded in 1999, the current Browns team is an expansion team. The Browns team with a great history (4 AAFC titles and 4 NFL titles) is the Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore Ravens
For some ridiculous reason the Ravens have former Baltimore Colts players in their Ring of Honor.

Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals of the 1980s were so close to being the Giants of the 2000s. The Giants famously upset the mighty Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011. The Bengals were close to upsetting the mighty 49ers in the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1988. Granted, no one knew that the 49ers were mighty in 1981.

New England Patriots
Formed in 1960, the Patriots have played for a league title in every decade of their existence except the 1970s. The Oakland Raiders robbed them of that chance in the 1976 playoffs. In that sense, the “Tuck Rule” game was payback. If not for some very questionable calls, the Vikings would’ve played the Patriots in Super Bowl XI.

New York Jets
The Jets were originally the Titans. They were a mess as the Titans. Everything changed when they drafted and signed Joe Namath and hired Weeb Ewbank as head coach.

Buffalo Bills
The Bills were an AFL powerhouse. They won AFL titles in 1964 and 1965. They may even have been a better league representative than the Kansas City Chiefs for the first Super Bowl in 1966.

Miami Dolphins
Formed in 1966, the Dolphins were terrible for their first four seasons. Then they pried Don Shula away from the Baltimore Colts and everything changed. From 1970-85, the Shula-led Dolphins made the playoffs 12 times and appeared in five Super Bowls. They were the NFL’s dominant team at the start of the 1970s. They went to three consecutive Super Bowls from 1971-73, winning Super Bowls VII and VIII. The 1972 Dolphins are the NFL’s only undefeated champion.

Indianapolis Colts
One of the NFL’s greatest “what ifs” is “what if” then Baltimore Colts owner Robert Irsay wasn’t such a maniac and let general manager Ernie Accorsi do his job in 1983. Apparently, Accorsi was close to signing top pick John Elway when Irsay swooped in and traded the quarterback to the Denver Broncos. With excitement surrounding the possibilities with Elway perhaps the Colts never bolt to Indianapolis. The league would be a very different place. The Colts would still be in Baltimore. No Ravens. Perhaps the Browns stay in Cleveland without Baltimore being available.

Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars made it all the way to the 1996 AFC Championship game in their second year of existence.

Tennessee Titans
The Titans were much more interesting when they were the Oilers in Houston.

Houston Texans
The Texans are the third professional football team named the Texans. There was the NFL’s short-lived Dallas Texans of 1952. They were terrible and packed it in after a single season. There was the Dallas Texans of the AFL from 1960-62. They were pretty good. They won the AFL title in 1962. Then they moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were the Dallas Texans for their first three years (1960-62). During those three years they shared the Cotton Bowl with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The Texans were the better and more entertaining team, winning an AFL title in 1962, but they lost the war for fans and attention. The Texans left Dallas for Kansas City after winning that title.

Las Vegas Raiders
If the Raiders can win a title while in Las Vegas, they would join the Rams as title-winners in three cities. The Rams won in Cleveland, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. The Raiders have won in Oakland and Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are on their second stint in Los Angeles. They played in Los Angeles in 1960 before moving to San Diego in 1961.

Denver Broncos
The Broncos of the early 1960s wore some of the most hideous uniforms ever seen.




In an effort to pass the time between OTAs and before the start of training camp, I decided to come up with a somewhat interesting fact for each NFL team. Yesterday, it was the NFC. Today, it’s the
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May 25, 2024 10:42:38 GMT -6 0 Replies
In an effort to pass the time between OTAs and the start of training camp, I decided to come up with a somewhat interesting fact for each NFL team. Today, it’s the NFC. Tomorrow, it’s the AFC.

Minnesota Vikings
This one’s tough as I find everything about the Vikings interesting. I’ll start at the beginning.
The Minnesota Vikings were originally aligned with the American Football League. They even took part in the AFL’s first draft. A nervous NFL pried the Vikings away about a month after the draft. The departure forced the AFL to add the Oakland Raiders. So, the Raiders were an original AFL team because the Vikings weren’t.

Green Bay Packers
If there’s anything interesting about the Packers, it’s probably their funky “public” ownership deal. It’s fun that fans can “own” a piece of the Packers. I’m no fan of the team but I own the Packers. That’s fun. It might be interesting as well.

Chicago Bears
In their long history, there have been three iterations of the Bears
Decatur Staleys
Chicago Staleys
Chicago Bears
They won an NFL title as the Chicago Staleys (1921).

Detroit Lions
The 1936 Lions team averaged an NFL record 240.4 rushing yards per game.
More recently, the Lions have more associated with disappointing football. The Lions were a beast in the 1930s and 1950s. They won an NFL title in 1935. They won three titles in the 1950s (1952, 53, 57).

New York Giants
The Giants won their first NFL title in their third year of existence (1927). They won their second in 1934 in the league’s second scheduled championship game. Losing 10-3 at the half to the Chicago Bears, the Giants switched to sneakers for better footing on the frozen turf of the Polo Grounds. Scoring 27 points in the fourth quarter, the Giants “easily” defeated the Bears in the Sneakers Game, 30-13.

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles that we know today are actually the original Pittsburgh Steelers. In 1941, Art Rooney sold the Pittsburgh Steelers to Alexis Thompson. With that money, Rooney bought part ownership of the Philadelphia Eagles. At that point in his life, Eagles owner Bert Bell had everything but money. Being a city boy, Thompson was no fan of Pittsburgh. Bert Bell and Art Rooney are prominent in NFL history. Alexis Thompson is not. There’s a terrific reason for that. Rooney loved Pittsburgh. Bell loved football. Thompson loved the city lights. Rooney and Bell essentially traded cities with Thompson. Rooney and Bell took the Eagles to Pittsburgh to become the Steelers. Thompson took the Steelers to Philadelphia to become the Eagles. As a result, the Eagles team that we know today is the original Steelers team. The Steelers team that we know today is the original Eagles team.

Washington Commanders
This team would have a much less tragic history if someone had removed George Preston Marshall and taken ownership control when they were the Boston Braves. The NFL has a colorful, interesting history. Marshall is the worst part of that history.

Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys entered the league as an expansion team without the benefit of any sort of expansion draft. They didn’t even benefit from a regular draft. Their first season was in 1960. Their first draft was in 1961.

Carolina Panthers
The Panthers made it all the way to the 1996 NFC Championship game in their second year of existence.

Atlanta Falcons
It took the Falcons 32 years to make it to their first NFC Championship game.

New Orleans Saints
It took the Saints 40 years to make it to their first NFC Championship game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers started their NFL days in the AFC. They were in the AFC West as a rookie team. Then the league jammed the new Florida team into a comfortably northern NFC Central. The Buccaneers competed against the Vikings, Packers, Bears, and Lions until the league-wide realignment of 2002. They’ve been in the much more geographically appropriate NFC South ever since.

San Francisco 49ers
If they hadn’t been celebrating so heartedly at halftime, the 49ers might’ve been playing for their first NFL title in 1957 rather than 1981. The 49ers led the Lions 24-7 at halftime of the ‘57 playoff game. They assumed a win and started celebrating. The Lions could hear that celebration through the thin locker room walls of Kezar Stadium. Properly motivated, the Lions came back in the second half for a 31-27 win. The 49ers had even started printing tickets for the NFL Title game against the Cleveland Browns at halftime. One of the tickets to the 1957 NFL Championship game that never happened is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks were initially placed in the NFC West in 1976. They moved to the AFC West in 1977 and remained there until 2001. They returned to the NFC West in 2002 and have remained there ever since.

Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have won NFL titles in each of the three cities that they have played.
Cleveland: 1945
Los Angeles: 1951 and 2021
St. Louis: 1999

Arizona Cardinals
With a history easily traced to the 1890s, the Cardinals are the league’s oldest team.

In an effort to pass the time between OTAs and the start of training camp, I decided to come up with a somewhat interesting fact for each NFL team. Today, it’s the NFC. Tomorrow, it’s the AFC
Click here to read article
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May 19, 2024 11:57:14 GMT -6 0 Replies
We start looking at all the draft picks, one by one. This week we take a look at the 10th overall pick, JJ McCarthy, and we bring in special guest Thor Nystrom, who was a big JJ McCarthy fan long before it was cool to be a JJ McCarthy fan.


We start looking at all the draft picks, one by one. This week we take a look at the 10th overall pick, JJ McCarthy, and we bring in special guest Thor Nystrom, who was a big JJ McCarthy fan long
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Apr 22, 2024 9:35:42 GMT -6 0 Replies
Our new show is out and we talk all things Vikings and preview the draft! And don't forget, we're doing a live watch party for the draft starting at about 6:30 CT on our YT channel We hope you join us, but for now, enjoy our show!





Our new show is out and we talk all things Vikings and preview the draft! And don't forget, we're doing a live watch party for the draft starting at about 6:30 CT on our YT channel We hope you join
Click here to read article
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Apr 14, 2024 12:26:48 GMT -6 1 Replies
The 2024 NFL Draft is nearly a week away. It will be the 64th draft in the franchise history of the Minnesota Vikings. There were 20 rounds in the 1961 NFL Draft. There were also only 14 teams in the NFL. There are only seven rounds and 32 teams today. This is a look back at some of the best Minnesota Vikings picks in each round of the past 63 drafts.

Best Minnesota Vikings Draft Picks By Round

Best First Round Pick
1967. Alan Page, DT, Notre Dame

13 Vikings players have busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Six of those players came to Minnesota by way of the first round.

Carl Eller (1964)
Alan Page (1967)
Ron Yary (1968)
Chris Doleman (1985)
Randall McDaniel (1988)
Randy Moss (1998)

Kevin Williams (2003) should join them one day. Adrian Peterson (2007) will be get a bust in a couple years. Harrison Smith (2012) is building a Hall argument. Justin Jefferson (2020) is currently on the right path. Any of them could be the pick here. Alan Page is my pick. Perhaps I’m a bit biased as he’s my favorite player from my six decades with the team. Even with that bias, picking the first defensive player to be named NFL MVP (1971) and one of the finest defensive tackles to ever play isn’t a questionable decision.

Best Second Round Pick
1974. Matt Blair, LB, Iowa State

It’s safe to say that the Vikings don’t have a strong second round history. I have Matt Blair as the best of the bunch. He had a terrific 15-year career in Minnesota. He earned six consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro in 1980. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings and is inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. The dedicated historians of the Pro Football Researchers Association inducted Blair into the Hall of Very Good. That’s the first stop of many players on their way to an eventual bust in Canton. I’m not sure if Matt Blair ever gets there but his career is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration as a Senior candidate.

Some of the second round contenders:

Ed White (1969)
Sammy White (1976)
Dennis Swilley (1977)
Orlando Thomas (1995)
Jim Kleinsasser (1999)
E.J. Henderson (2003)
Cedric Griffin (2007)
Phil Loadholt (2009)
Kyle Rudolph (2011)
Eric Kendricks (2015)
Dalvin Cook (2017)
Brian O’Neill (2018)

Best Third Round Pick
1961. Fran Tarkenton, QB, Georgia

The best third round pick in the franchise history of the Minnesota Vikings is without question.

Best Fourth Round Pick
2010. Everson Griffen, DE, USC

If Everson Griffen didn’t have to wait behind Jared Allen for his starting shot, his career would probably shine even brighter. Once he entered the starting lineup in 2014, he was one of the league’s best pass rushers. He was a terrific, fun football player.

Some of the fourth round contenders:

Roy Winston (1962)
Paul Flatley (1963)
Reggie Rutland (1987)
Mewelde Moore (2004)
Ray Edwards (2006)
Brian Robison (2007)
Camryn Bynum (2021)

Best Fifth Round Pick
1992. Ed McDaniel, LB, Clemson

The best fifth round pick in Vikings franchise history comes down to Ed McDaniel and Stefon Diggs. I’m going with McDaniel because he played well for longer in Minnesota than Diggs. Ed McDaniel is one of the more underrated players in team history. It didn’t help that he was often overlooked during his career. He was named to one Pro Bowl but should’ve gone to a few more. For much of the 1990s he was the Vikings best defensive player not named John Randle.

Best Sixth Round Pick
1998. Matt Birk, C, Harvard

Matt Birk is the only Vikings sixth round pick to make a sustained contribution. Next is probably the player that replaced him at center, John Sullivan. Drafted as an offensive tackle, Birk was soon moved to center. He became the starter in his third season and led one of the better offensive lines in team history for nearly a decade. He was a regular on the Pro Bowl roster, making it six times.

Josh Metellus is a current former sixth-round pick that could go on to a real nice career.

One of the biggest “what ifs” in Vikings franchise history is tight end Joe Senser. Drafted in the sixth round of the 1979 NFL Draft, he didn’t play as a rookie, showed promise in 1980, and exploded in 1981. 79 catches, 1004 yards, and eight touchdowns. This was an era in which tight ends were truly starting to emerge as offensive weapons. Kellen Winslow, Ozzie Newsome, and Dave Casper were starting or in the middle of their Hall of Fame careers. Senser entered their orbit in 1981. He had a modest season during the strike-shortened 1982 season and suffered a knee injury in 1983 that wiped out that season. He tried to return in 1984 but wasn’t the same and retired after the season. Just as he was emerging as one of the league’s best tight ends his career was over. It did clear the way for the best seventh-round pick in team history.

Best Seventh Round Pick
1982. Steve Jordan, TE, Brown

While I do like Steve Jordan as the best seventh round pick in team history, it’s not an easy decision. A couple corners make it difficult.

Bobby Bryant (1967)
Carl Lee (1983)

Any of Steve Jordan, Bobby Bryant, and Carl Lee could be the choice here. I have Jordan now but tomorrow I might lean toward Bryant. Anyway, those with a greater say than me on matters like this agree. Jordan is the only one of the three that’s been inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor. He’s arguably the best tight end in franchise history. Just as Joe Senser was becoming a sad story of what might’ve been, Jordan was emerging as an impact player. 68 catches in 1985 and the first of six consecutive Pro Bowls in 1986. By comparison, Lee made three Pro Bowls and an All-Pro. Bryant made two Pro Bowls.

Best Eighth Round Pick
1981. Wade Wilson, QB, East Texas State

Pickings are going to get slim from Best Eighth Round Pick to the Best Twentieth Round Pick. That’s one of the reasons there are only seven rounds now.

Wade Wilson is an easy pick as the Best Eight Round Pick in team history. He made 48 starts over his ten years in Minnesota. In 1988, he started ten games. He guided his team to a 7-3 record in those ten starts and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Best Ninth Round Pick
1977. Scott Studwell, LB, Illinois

No offense to Terry Allen and Brad Johnson, this decision is nearly as easy as picking Fran Tarkenton as the best of the third rounders.

Best Tenth Round Pick
Stu Voigt, TE, Wisconsin

Stu Voigt was the tight end of my youth. He was a reliable pass catcher and very good blocker. He was probably the Vikings best blocking tight end until Jim Kleinsasser came along.

Best Eleventh Round Pick
1961. Jerry Mays, DT, SMU

Jerry Mays had a terrific football career. Unfortunately, that terrific career was with the Kansas City Chiefs. Until the NFL-AFL merger agreement in 1966, there was an annual race to sign draft picks between the two leagues. The Vikings signed most of their draft picks but a couple got away. Mays was one of them. His ten year career with the Chiefs is littered with all-star games and All-Pro honors.

The best 11th round pick in Vikings franchise history is either Mays or Godfrey Zaunbecher. While it’s disappointing that Mays made a terrible decision in 1961, he’s an easy pick here.

Best Twelfth Round Pick
1986. Jesse Solomon, LB, Florida State

Just as Jesse Solomon was emerging as an impact player in the Vikings defense, he was shipped to Dallas in the ridiculous Herschel Walker trade. Solomon’s inclusion in that damn trade bothered me the moment it was made.

Best Thirteenth Round Pick
1965. Dave Osborn, RB, North Dakota

The NFL Draft dropped from 17 to 12 rounds in 1977. Dave Osborn is a real easy choice for best 13th round pick. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings. His 972 yards in 1967 was a franchise record until Chuck Foreman took over.

Best Fourteenth Round Pick
1967. Jim Hargrove, LB, Howard Payne

Jim Hargrove gets the nod for hanging around for three seasons. No other fourteenth round pick lasted more than a single season.

Best Fifteenth Round Pick
1971. Jeff Wright, DB, Minnesota

Jeff Wright was the only contributor that came out of the dreadful 1971 draft. First round pick Leo Hayden and Wright were the only draft picks (out of 17 rounds!) that even made the team. Hayden is one of the Vikings all-time draft busts. At least they had Wright. He stepped into the Vikings secondary in 1973 after Karl Kassulke was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident as he was heading to training camp. Wright paired with the great Paul Krause from 1973-77 to form a solid safety duo.

Mike Mercer (1961) deserves mention for scoring the first points in Vikings franchise history.

Best Sixteenth Round Pick
None

No sixteenth round pick ever made the team.

Best Seventeenth Round Pick
1973. Dave Winfield, TE, Minnesota

In 1973, the Vikings took a 17th round flier on a local legend. Instead of playing football for his hometown team, Dave Winfield decided to go on to a Hall of Fame baseball career.

As for a 17th round pick that actually played for the Vikings, there’s Bob Lee (1968). He played in Minnesota for eight years with 11 starts. The Vikings were 9-2 in those 11 starts. Lee’s most memorable run as the Vikings quarterback ended in the 1977 NFC Championship game.

Best Eighteenth Round Pick
None

No eighteenth round pick ever made the team.

Best Nineteenth Round Pick
None

No nineteenth round pick ever made the team.

Best Twentieth Round Pick
1964. Milt Sunde, G, Minnesota

The Vikings opened the 1964 NFL Draft with Carl Eller in the first round and closed it with Milt Sunde in the twentieth. Both were selected out of the University of Minnesota. From 1964-74, Sunde started 112 games at guard. He had one Pro Bowl nod in 1966.



The 2024 NFL Draft is nearly a week away. It will be the 64th draft in the franchise history of the Minnesota Vikings. There were 20 rounds in the 1961 NFL Draft. There were also only 14 teams in the
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Apr 14, 2024 9:19:18 GMT -6 0 Replies
We talk expectations for 2024 and 2025, and look at the CB position this week, to the backdrop or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Next week we wrap up our off-season positional analysis with safety and then the draft and our live draft show is upon us.


We talk expectations for 2024 and 2025, and look at the CB position this week, to the backdrop or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Next week we wrap up our off-season positional analysis with safety and then
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Apr 2, 2024 10:35:47 GMT -6 10 Replies
Back in February 2022 I wrote an article called "Moving on From an Above Average QB", with the advent of Kirk potentially leaving. It took another two years, but we have reached that point and I want to summarize the findings of that article and expand upon it somewhat. In a single screenshot, here is a summary of most of the Above Average QBs who were moved off of. I have added recent examples.



The case for my conclusion in the previous article is strengthened even further with recent examples... and this isn't even including QBs who exceed the ranking of "above average" like DeShaun Watson -> CJ Stroud and Aaron Rodgers -> Jordan Love. Though let me know if I missed any.

Let's go over the conclusions again with the updated information:

1) Where are all of the 1st round busts?

Conventional wisdom tells us that drafting a QB is at best a 50-50 gamble, and really a 30-70 or even 20-80 chance of getting a good one. But then how are there only 3 busts (Rosen, Haskins, Lance) on this list? As I explained in the previous article:

As it turns out, having strong infrastructure (GM/HC/OL/position players/defense) usually prevents teams from turning into the next Browns/Jags/Lions franchise.
The majority of these QBs landed in average to great situations. Watson and Tagovailoa did land in rough environments that eventually improved - Watson looked great from the start and Tua really needed the help - and Haskins/Rosen both landed in bad places and flopped. Trey Lance is the only exception on this list to land in the best place any developmental QB could dream in San Fran... but still bombed out. 

The reality is that a QB drafted into a quality environment will thrive more often, or better put their abilities will be maximized more often. And when a team previously had an above average QB thriving to some extent, that is likely a result of said environment. Personnel-wise the Vikings have an enviable amount of talent on the offense, only having a true weakness at iOL. While it is up for debate how well O'Connell coaches the offense, he did squeeze out some of Mr. Above Average Himself Kirk Cousins' best play and hopefully will be able to do the same for whomever the rookie QB is.


2) Don't bother with "band-aid" QBs

One thing that is apparent from this list is that slapping bandages on a gaping wound will not keep the blood back for long. Sticking in Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and all of the Colts QBs listed. For a one year stint / bridge while developing a 1st round QB prospect is justifiable, but it makes little sense what the Texans and Colts did. The Texans spent two years developing 4th rounder Tom Savage behind their mediocre QBs... when 4th rounders don't even become backups at a 50% clip. Then that vacuum made them desperate for Brock Osweiler, which was such a massive mistake they paid the Browns a 2nd round pick to take his contract off their hands. 

Meanwhile, the Colts kicked the can down the road 3 years after Luck's surprise retirement but slapping on band-aids like Rivers, Wentz, and Ryan. At least they went to the playoffs with Rivers, but the Wentz and Ryan trades were doomed from the start. Pro-tip: getting the last 'toothpaste squeeze' out of a QB before they expire isn't worth it, unless they are Tom Brady.


3) A Year 2 window seems realistic

Many of the successful replacements of above average QBs took a step forward in Year 2 - Mahomes and Burrow are good examples, whereas Allen and Tagovailoa took until year 3. Watson, Prescott, Dalton, and Murray were all just as good from the get-go. Multi-year vets like Kaepernick and Geno Smith were ready to go out of the gate. While this class has a couple young pups in McCarthy and Maye that might take an extra year or two to bloom, it is not a reach to say that we should have a Cousins replacement who is playing near his level by Year 2.


4) Draft a consensus 1st round QB

Perhaps this advice seems a bit "captain obvious" to you, but the 1st round picks on this list were all consensus 1st round picks by the draftnik community, albeit some ranged lower in the first round. For my draft boards, the only one on this list to be totally outside the first round is Josh Allen (also Jordan Love). There isn't any precedent for reaching on a QB in the 1st round and having that go well for you... so for this year's draft, it means not spending a 1st on Penix or Nix. Penix could creep up into becoming a consensus 1st like McCarthy has, but we'll see if that happens.



That's enough for today. Next time, I'll cover Sam Darnold and the chances of him drastically improving with the Vikings and the history of 1st round QB busts. Let me know what you think!
Back in February 2022 I wrote an article called "Moving on From an Above Average QB", with the advent of Kirk pote
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Mar 24, 2024 7:30:10 GMT -6 1 Replies
We talk the trade that garnered the extra first round pick, discuss some minor FA moves the VIkes made, and continue our positional analysis with DT:


We talk the trade that garnered the extra first round pick, discuss some minor FA moves the VIkes made, and continue our positional analysis with DT: https://youtu.be/uTm0YJn_-YI
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Mar 30, 2024 13:05:45 GMT -6 1 Replies
We have another 'turbo' show, talking current FA signings and this week's positional analysis is EDGE/DE/OLB guys. Chris will be back next week, and don't forget, we'll be LIVE on night one of the NFL draft. If the Vikings end up with second and or thrid round picks, we'll be live for the second nigt as well.


We have another 'turbo' show, talking current FA signings and this week's positional analysis is EDGE/DE/OLB guys. Chris will be back next week, and don't forget, we'll be LIVE on night one of the
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Mar 30, 2024 10:42:12 GMT -6 0 Replies
Last year, I ran through the First Round Draft History of the Minnesota Vikings. This year, it’s the second round. Over 63 drafts, the Vikings have selected 61 players in the second round. Here are those selections:

1961: Rip Hawkins, LB, North Carolina
1962: No Pick
1963: Bobby Bell, LB, Minnesota
1964: Hal Bedsole, TE, USC
1965: Archie Sutton, OT, Illinois
          Lance Rentzel, RB, Oklahoma
1966: Jim Lindsey, RB, Arkansas
1967: Bob Grim, WR, Oregon State
1968: Charlie West, DB, Texas-El Paso
1969: Ed White, G, California
1970: Bill Cappleman, QB, Florida State
1971: No Pick
1972: Ed Marinaro, RB, Cornell
1973: Jackie Wallace, DB, Arizona
1974: John Holland, WR, Tennessee State
          Matt Blair, LB, Iowa State
1975: Art Riley, DT, USC
1976: Sammy White, WR, Grambling
1977: Dennis Swilley, C, Texas A&M
1978: John Turner, CB, Miami
1979: Dave Huffman, C, Notre Dame
1980: Willie Teal, CB, LSU
1981: Mardye McDole, WR, Mississippi
          Robin Sendlein, LB, Texas
          Jarvis Redwine, RB, Nebraska
1982: Terry Tausch, OT, Texas
1983: No Pick
1984: No Pick
1985: Issiac Holt, CB Alcorn State
1986: No Pick
1987: Ray Berry, LB, Baylor
1988: Brad Edwards, S, South Carolina
1989: David Braxton, LB, Wake Forest
1990: No Pick
1991: No Pick
1992: Robert Harris, DE, Southern
1993: Qadry Ismail, WR, Syracuse
1994: David Palmer, RB/WR, Alabama
1995: Orlando Thomas, S, SW Louisiana
          Corey Fuller, CB, Florida State
1996: James Manley, DT, Vanderbilt
1997: Torian Gray, S, Virginia Tech
1998: Kailee Wong, LB, Stanford
1999: Jim Kleinsasser, TE, North Dakota
2000: Fred Robbins, DT Wake Forest
          Michael Boireau, DE, Miami
2001: Willie Howard, DT, Stanford
2002: Raonall Smith, LB, Washington State
2003: E.J. Henderson, LB, Maryland
2004: Dontarrious Thomas, LB, Auburn
2005: Marcus Johnson, G, Mississippi
2006: Cedric Griffin, CB, Texas
          Ryan Cook, C, New Mexico
          Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Alabama State
2007: Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina
2008: Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas State
2009: Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma
2010: Chris Cook, CB, Virginia
          Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
2011: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
2012: No Pick
2013: No Pick
2014: No Pick
2015: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
2016: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
2017: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
2018: Brian O’Neill, T, Pittsburgh
2019: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
2020: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
2021: No Pick
2022: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
          Ed Ingram, G, LSU
2023: No Pick

A Breakdown:

Hall of Famers:
Bobby Bell

From 1960-65, the National Football League and upstart American Football League waged an annual recruiting war for college football players. Each league had a draft and then the race was on to get the players signed. Some unusual tactics were used. Some ran real close to kidnapping. The more established NFL usually had the edge but the AFL stole more than a few college stars. The recruiting and signing war was the reason for the NFL-AFL merger in 1966. From 1961-65, nearly all of the Vikings draft picks ended up in Minnesota. The one that got away is Bobby Bell. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Bell was the best outside linebacker of his era and one of the best outside linebackers of any era. His great career earned him a bust in Canton. I’ve spent many sleepless nights imagining Bobby Bell playing behind the great Purple People Eaters. Vikings history would be so different if Bell was part of it.

Hall of Fame adjacent is 1964 second round pick Hal Bedsole. In 1967, the Vikings traded Bedsole, Tommy Mason, and a second round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for a first round pick. The Vikings used that first round pick to select Alan Page.

The Vikings Second Round By Position:

Quarterbacks (2)
Bill Cappleman
Tarvaris Jackson

Running Backs (6)
Lance Rentzel - played receiver in the NFL
Jim Lindsey
Ed Marinaro
Jarvis Redwine
Toby Gerhart
Dalvin Cook

Receivers (7):
Bob Grim
John Holland
Sammy White
Mardye McDole
Qadry Ismail
David Palmer
Sidney Rice

Tight Ends (4):
Hal Bedsole
Jim Kleinsasser
Kyle Rudolph
Irv Smith Jr.

Offensive Linemen (11):
Archie Sutton
Ed White
Dennis Swilley
Dave Huffman
Terry Tausch
Marcus Johnson
Ryan Cook
Phil Loadholt
Brian O’Neill
Ezra Cleveland
Ed Ingram

Defensive Linemen (6):
Art Riley
Robert Harris
James Manley
Fred Robbins
Michael Boireau
Willie Howard

Linebackers (11):
Rip Hawkins
Bobby Bell
Matt Blair
Robin Sendlein
Ray Berry
David Braxton
Kailee Wong
Raonall Smith
E.J. Henderson
Dontarrious Smith
Eric Kendricks

Defensive Backs (14):
Charlie West
Jackie Wallace
John Turner
Willie Teal
Issiac Holt
Brad Edwards
Orlando Thomas
Corey Fuller
Torian Gray
Cedric Griffin
Tyrell Johnson
Chris Cook
Mackensie Alexander
Andrew Booth Jr.

Some Second Round Observations:

In 1981, the Vikings traded the 12th pick in the 1981 NFL Draft to the Baltimore COLTS for two second round picks and a fifth round pick. As a result, the Vikings had three picks in the second round. No first round pick. But three second round picks. At the time, I had mixed feelings about this trade. I could understand adding a couple more shots at picking a keeper(s). I just wasn’t sure if two seconds and a fifth equaled the 12th pick. Before the second round, I didn’t like the trade. After the second round, I liked the trade.

Mardye McDole
Robin Sendlein
Jarvis Redwine

Mardye McDole was a receiver I liked at the 12th pick. The Vikings got him with the 39th pick. I also liked what I’d seen of Robin Sendlein and Jarvis Redwine in college. McDole, Sendlein, and Redwine played a combined 10 seasons for the Vikings. McDole did little. Sendlein started a handful of games. Redwine was a decent returner for a couple years. Hindsight makes things even more painful as Mike Singletary, Howie Long, and Rickey Jackson were second round picks that year. Russ Grimm went in the third. All four ended their great careers in Canton. The Vikings had a shot at least a couple of them. Hindsight is fun.

During the 1983 season, the Vikings traded their 1984 second round pick for Archie Manning. The Chicago Bears damn near killed Manning in a game during the 1984 season. He retired after that season. History will hold Peyton and Eli as better quarterbacks but Archie was the more talented quarterback. History would be kinder to Archie Manning if he didn’t have to start his career with such a sh*t New Orleans Saints team.

The second round can be a tease. It’s close enough to the top of the draft that it’s expected to be something like a 1a. In reality, it’s more of a crap shoot than the first round and the first round is already a crap shoot. One of the best examples of the second round being a tease is 2002 second round pick Raonall Smith. I saw him several times while he played at Washington State. He was a terrific football player, a first round talent, and a steal in the second round. Unfortunately, the touch of a feather could put him on IR.

Matt Blair is the only second round pick in the Vikings Ring of Honor. Ed White should join him. Jim Kleinsasser and Kyle Rudolph as well.

Speaking of Matt Blair, several of my favorite Vikings players over the years have been selected in the second round.

Ed White (I’ll always favor Cal players)
Matt Blair
Sammy White
Orlando Thomas
Jim Kleinsasser
E.J. Henderson
Sidney Rice
Kyle Rudolph
Eric Kendricks
Dalvin Cook
Brian O’Neill

The Vikings second round history is a mixed bag. As soon as I start thinking why bother and trade that second for a third and a fifth, the Vikings pull in a Matt Blair or a Jim Kleinsasser. Rip Hawkins was the first second round pick in franchise history. He became an immediate defensive cornerstone at middle linebacker from 1961-65. He paved the way for Lonnie Warwick, Jeff Siemon, Scott Studwell, E.J. Henderson, and Eric Kendricks. Hawkins started a strong Vikings tradition of middle linebackers. I like many of the Vikings second round picks. I really like a few of them. If the Vikings had managed to pull Bobby Bell from the Chiefs, the Vikings second round history, and franchise history, would be a whole lot different.







Last year, I ran through the First Round Draft History of the Minnesota Vikings. This year, it’s the second round. Over 63 drafts, the Vikings have selected 61 players in the second round. Here are
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Mar 18, 2024 13:41:56 GMT -6 0 Replies
Welcome to my Draft Sim, coded from scratch by yours truly! Enjoy a smooth draft experience that is clean and simple, and has no ads like other simulators do. I have been working on this project since early 2023 and it is now at a state where it is ready to be fully shown off. Without further ado, give it a shot here and follow along: supersimnfl.com/draft-sim

First choose a team – or choose No Team to let all teams be drafted by the computer.



In this simulator, you can choose parameters for each simulation. These include:



Speed: How fast the computer teams make their picks. The options are slow, quick, and turbo – if you are looking to make trades, then it is recommended you do not choose turbo as it is very fast.

Draft For Need: This will determine how likely computer teams will “reach” for players based on position rather than choosing one of the best available. Certain positions that are “blacklisted” will not be considered. (As you would expect, sliding it to the right will make teams more likely to draft that way)

Draft by BPA: Determines how often computer teams take the “Best pick available”. Positional value will factor in at a lower rate as will team needs. Certain positions that are “blacklisted” will not be considered.

Draft Randomly: Determines how often computer teams will “reach” down the draft board, randomly selecting from a large pool of candidates not by need or talent.

If you’d like to make an adjustment to one of these settings mid-draft, hit the Gear icon to open the menu. This can be handy to set to turbo after you are through making trades.

===

Once the draft has begun, you can shift between three views.

Players: Shows the players still available. Their ranking is determined by my draft board, which itself is created from a consensus of draftniks and other metrics like RAS. Click the blue RAS hyperlink to visit their website. Important: Players will a RAS score in bold and italics means that it is an estimated score.

You can also click on a player’s name to open their Sports Reference College Football page, if applicable.

Picks By Position: Here you can view all players drafted at a certain position. I find this useful once the draft is over to easily analyze who went where at important positions.

Here is an example:



Picks By Team: Here you can see each team’s picks made so far. This can be useful when judging when to make a trade. When you view your team’s picks, you can see your future selections.

Here is an example of a finished draft class:




Trading

The draft must be paused in order to propose a trade. Once you hit the Trade button, choose a partner and then hit the checkboxes on the picks you want to trade hands. Your point total must be greater than the partner’s or you will be rejected. However, if you select Force Trade then you can make any trade happen.



Currently the points are determined by the Rich Hill point chart, and in the future I’d like to add the ability to use other point systems.


Drafting

The draft record is shown on the left. Like the Player board, you can click on a player’s name to view their SRCFB page. The Logic column will tell you which of the three methods of which the team decided to draft that player. If you see “BPA*”, that means the team wanted to draft by filling a need, but could not and defaulted to BPA.



That about covers it. Let me know what you think, as I’d love to hear your feedback. Any ideas to make this simulator better are welcome!
Welcome to my Draft Sim, coded from scratch by yours truly! Enjoy a smooth draft experience that is clean and simple, and has no ads like other simulators do. I have been working on this project
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Jan 15, 2024 15:35:48 GMT -6 12 Replies
I did a QB Situations thread last year that gained a lot of traction, so let's run it back for this offseason, seeing how March is not that far away! Here is my tier list:

As before, any QB whose contract is up is assumed to hit the FA market, even if that isn't the likely outcome.



Going by each tier:

Vikings - Cousins is a FA and could have a big market to appeal to, but the Achilles injury complicates things. 

Patriots - Mac Jones' good rookie season seems so far away, as he imploded this year, getting benched 3 times mid-game. Bailey Zappe has had a couple decent games in his career, but he probably competes for a backup job on another team. Rookie QB seems very likely here.

Commies - Sam Howell flopped after a promising start to the year, throwing 12 picks in their final 8 games, of which they lost every one. Jacoby Brissett is a FA and could be a bridge QB/top backup. Rookie QB seems likely here too.

Falcons - Atlanta geared up for a potential divisional title as they were finally freed from Matt Ryan's contract and build up the defense, just for the offense to implode. Ridder proved to be overmatched as a passer and not good enough of a runner to compensate, while Heinicke played below his career numbers. One of the two will likely backup a veteran QB addition (Cousins?).

Bucs - Baker Mayfield is a free agent after a surprisingly strong campaign. Now fully healthy, he is likely landing a multi-year deal unless the Bucs slap the franchise tag on him. I could see a Geno Smith type of contract for him, but anything more would be pricey for his talent level.

--Strongly Needs--

Steelers - Kenny Pickett was a disaster, but didn't get a full chance with the new OC in town before getting hurt. With even Mason Rudolph outplaying him, you would think the Steelers need to contemplate giving up on him. However, with as conservative as the franchise is, they may give him one more year.

Raiders - Vegas could opt to stay with 4th rounder Aidan O'Connell another year and bank on his progression, but I think he caps out as a high-end backup and they should search for a true franchise QB, but not force themselves into doing it this offseason.

Broncos - Once Denver cuts Wilson, they'll be eating so much dead cap that they might opt to stay with Jarrett Stidham for the 2024 season, a guy the Broncos did everything they could to land on Day 1 of free agency in March 2023. They should develop a young QB behind him in the meanwhile, as going out to sign a veteran like Cousins or Mayfield will clog their cap even further.


--50/50--

The Bears are on the fence deciding whether to take Caleb Williams at #1 or trade down and get another haul and stick with Fields. Personally I'd go Williams and trade Fields for a decent return as I don't think he will ever be a good enough passer to make the Bears offense a great unit.


--Held Back Financially--

Saints - Derek Carr had a middling season but frankly isn't worth the $37.5M per year pricetag, as his play has barely been better than Andy Dalton's with this offense in 2022. They can move on affordably over the 2025 offseason.

Browns - The Watson megadeal is going to sting next year as they have 3 straight seasons of ludicrously large $64M cap hits that they will be forced to kick down the road. Given how even an old and gray Joe Flacco has played better, this could be a Super Bowl contender with better QB play. Alas, they are in a mire of their own making.

Giants - Everyone knew the Giants blundered when they gave Daniel Jones a 4/$160M deal, but then he unexpectedly had the worst season of his career, then suffered an ACL tear. Thankfully the guaranteed money is light after 2024 so they're stuck with him for only one more season. You have to wonder which version of Jones shows up next year - the terrible one or the decent at best one? And will he lose his edge as a runner due to the ACL tear?

--Should consider a rookie--

Jets - They'll run Rodgers back in 2024 and hope for the best, but they should be making contingency plans after Wilson, Boyle, and Siemian played like garbage for them. It'd be nice to have a good backup and a potential successor.

Seahawks - Geno Smith took a step back even though they added more talent surrounding him. With the defense getting built up with several big acquisitions in the previous offseason, it is my opinion that the best way forward is to upgrade the QB position. They had 2 1sts but went CB/WR, and have went back-to-back seasons spending a 2nd on a HB. It's time to invest in a QB. 


The other teams is pretty much locked into their QBs. You could make a case for Arizona, but Kyler Murray's contract is too loaded to move before 2025. The Lions and Rams spent 3rd/4th round picks on a QB behind their veterans in 2022, so that should keep them off the "consider a rookie" tier.


QB Options:

Starters

Kirk Cousins - Let's not start another debate here. He's far and away the best option out there.

Baker Mayfield - I don't trust him, but he proved this year that he is worthy of starting. Overpaying him will be a blunder.

Jimmy Garoppolo - The Raiders will cut him, presumably. It is very hard to project his market after flopping in Vegas, though he wasn't terrible by any measure. I would guess he ends up getting a low-end starter deal ($10M?).

Bridge QBs / Top Backups

Ryan Tannehill - Could start but he's at that point now where being a backup makes sense. 

Jacoby Brissett - Played surprisingly well for Cleveland in 2022 and the few chances he got in 2023 he looked way better than Howell.

Tyrod Taylor - His numbers are better than expected in 5 starts this year, far better than what Daniel Jones was playing at. Even as a scrambling QB at age 35 he can still play.

Sam Darnold - Teams fawn over highly drafted guys like him and he could get another shot. The 49ers reportedly are expecting to lose him on the FA market.

Gardner Minshew - He helped keep the Colts offense going in more of a manager role compared to his Jaguars days as a high volume passer. He's an underrated option as a really good backup.

Backup QB Options

(ordered by 2023 Salary)
Marcus Mariota
Drew Lock
Jameis Winston
Tyler Huntley
Joe Flacco
Josh Dobbs (not getting a Geno Smith deal, eh?)
Carson Wentz
Mason Rudolph



Now then, let's hear your thoughts on what happens this offseason!
I did a QB Situations thread last year that gained a lot of traction, so let's run it back for this offseason, seeing how March is not that far away! Here is my tier list: As before, any
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Feb 17, 2024 8:57:45 GMT -6 0 Replies
We're back, and now we are three idiots strong. Our off-season positional analysis continues, this week with running back. Not as critical a need as QB, but it's right up there. As always, we look at guys on the roster, potential free agents, and then we break out Drew's big board of his top 15 draft picks. So join us!


We're back, and now we are three idiots strong. Our off-season positional analysis continues, this week with running back. Not as critical a need as QB, but it's right up there. As always, we look at
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Feb 10, 2024 17:08:09 GMT -6 0 Replies
Vikings Report with Drew & Ted - Episode 121 - 02/10/24



Vikings Report previews the Super Bowl and talks QBs for the Vikings!

Vikings Report with Drew & Ted - Episode 121 - 02/10/24 https://youtu.be/yXjviBR-pwE?si=6fIt_FugLCztxyHV Vikings Report previews the Super Bowl and talks QBs for the Vikings
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Feb 9, 2024 9:44:59 GMT -6 8 Replies
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 was revealed last night during NFL Honors.

Julius Peppers
Andre Johnson
Dwight Freeney
Patrick Willis
Devin Hester
Randy Gradishar
Steve McMichael

It’s a puzzling Class. Disappointing too. No offense to the new Hall of Famers.

As a finalist for the fourth time, I figured that this was the year for Jared Allen. He survived the cut to ten the past two years. That’s usually the springboard to making it the following year. You know who didn’t make the cut to ten last year? Dwight Freeney. Somehow, Freeney, in his second year of eligibility, leapfrogged Allen over the past year. What changed? The voters have some explaining to do.

Some Jared Allen vs Dwight Freeney Stats:

Sacks:
Allen 136
Freeney 125.5

Tackles:
Allen 648
Freeney 350

Solo Tackles
Allen 503
Freeney 299

Tackles For Loss
Allen 171
Freeney 128

Interceptions
Allen 6 (1 returned for a TD)
Freeney 0

Safeties
Allen 4
Freeney 1

-Allen’s four career safeties is an NFL record

All-Pros
Allen 4
Freeney 3

Pro Bowls
Allen 5
Freeney 7

Allen had eight seasons of at least 11 sacks. Freeney had five.

Allen played 12 seasons. Freeney played 16 seasons.

The only thing that Freeney really had over Allen was an All-Decade selection. Freeney had the advantage of playing nearly the entirety of the 2000s while Allen’s career bridged the 2000s and 2010s.

Then there’s that Super Bowl title that Freeney’s Indianapolis Colts won in 2006. A team achievement. If the Super Bowl was a deciding factor in this Hall of Fame vote, perhaps Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne should’ve gotten the nod over Andre Johnson. Arguably, if not for Bountygate, Allen’s 2009 Vikings probably beat Freeney’s Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

Anyway, Dwight Freeney leapfrogging Jared Allen for Canton is more annoying than aggravating. The biggest problem that I have with this Hall of Fame Class is the exclusion of Detroit Lions coach Buddy Parker. First of all, he should’ve been inducted decades ago. He led the Lions to NFL titles in 1952 and 1953. He put together the Lions team that won the NFL title in 1957. He was the only coach that routinely got the better of Paul Brown. Parker had a career record against Brown of 4-1. 2-1 in title games. This was during a run in which the Browns went to six consecutive Championship games, winning half of them. His record against perhaps the greatest coach in league history should’ve gotten Parker to Canton decades ago. The voters so rarely toss the nominees of the Senior/Coach/Contributor committees that it was truly shocking to see a slam-dunk nominee like Buddy Parker not make it over the final hurdle. Actually, it’s true insanity.

The voters also swatted aside Art Powell as a Senior nominee. It’s not quite as absurd as Parker not making it but it was surprising. Some voters have stated that they will not consider players and coaches that they didn’t see play or coach. That’s a concern when the Pro Football Hall of Fame honors the entirety of the league’s past.

Honor the greatest of the game
Preserve it’s history
Promote it’s values
Celebrate excellence together

That’s the mission statement of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The voters that have shut the door on much of the game’s past violate that mission statement. They also make a mockery of the process. Those voters shouldn’t be in the room.

I thought that I’d emptied all of my rage over the Hall of Fame voting process during Cris Carter’s six-year wait. Unfortunately, I feel it’s return. I do find some relief in Randy Gradishar and Patrick Willis finally getting to Canton. Gradishar should’ve been there long ago. He was one of the best two or three linebackers of his generation. I thought that Willis was worthy of first-year induction. He was the best of his generation and one of the best I ever watched. Voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a tough job and responsibility. The seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 are deserving. There’s no denying that. Jared Allen has next year. Buddy Parker doesn’t. Parker not making it is inexcusable.

Next year?

Next year, the following players will become eligible for the first time.

Luke Kuechly
Earl Thomas
Eli Manning
Marshawn Lynch
Terrell Suggs

In my opinion, Luke Kuechly is the player most deserving of first-year induction. He might even be more deserving of first-year induction than Peppers. It’s a fine two years for fans of the Carolina Panthers. Earl Thomas is close. There’ll be quite a debate over Eli Manning. My immediate thought is that he has a Kurt Warner-like wait. Although, Jim Plunkett won two Super Bowls as the quarterback of the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and he’s still waiting for a Hall call. My fear for Jared Allen is the player that beat him in the voting for 2011 Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs. After a five-year wait and three consecutive top-10 finishes, Allen has to go in ahead of Suggs. Right? Who the hell knows with these voters?

My immediate thought on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2025

Luke Kuechly
Jared Allen
Antonio Gates
Darren Woodson
Willie Anderson

I’ve had Allen in the last three Classes. So, what do I know? I can ask the same of many of the people that actually have a voice in the process.





The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 was revealed last night during NFL Honors. Julius Peppers Andre Johnson Dwight Freeney Patrick Willis Devin
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Feb 3, 2024 11:39:58 GMT -6 0 Replies
A Ranking of the 57 Super Bowls? More accurately, it’s simply how I see the big games. My favorites, in some sort of order. I believe that I was in the room for every Super Bowl. I know that my dad was watching. He loved football. He’d been watching and following football since the Red Grange days. He even saw Jim Thorpe drop kick field goals at Kezar Stadium during halftime of a San Francisco 49ers game. My dad’s football life ignited my passion for the game’s past. And present. If he was watching the games, and I know that he was, I would’ve been in the room. He was a 49ers fan from the moment they joined the All-America Football Conference in 1946. Despite being a devoted fan of the team from San Francisco, he had a great appreciation for Paul Brown and the Cleveland Browns. My love of football grew from his stories of Grange highlights at the movies, Thorpe drop kicks, Saturdays at University of San Francisco games, Sundays at 49ers games , both at Kezar, and Brown’s Browns. He never directed me to the 49ers. He let me find my own football life. From California, I somehow found the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowls VIII and IX. The horned helmet, the purple, I was hooked before I understood what hooked me. I can’t explain it. Falling for the Vikings felt so natural. It just happened. Despite the frustrations, I’ve loved every moment of the journey. Some moments weren’t so special but pain makes you stronger. Right? I’ve been around for every Super Bowl. I have no real time memories of Super Bowls I-VII. Through appreciation and research of the league’s past and the documentary brilliance of NFL Films, I feel like I know the Super Bowls that I was too young to understand. The Vikings 1975 and 1976 seasons are the first seasons that feel as fresh as yesterday. I was so used to the Vikings being in the Super Bowl that I assumed that it’d continue forever. I was young and stupid. We’re fast approaching 50 years since the Vikings last Super Bowl appearance. They will return. The Vikings will bring home that elusive trophy. I believe! When it happens, that game will soar to #1. Until then, this is how I rank the 57 Super Bowls.

57. Super Bowl IV-Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7
56. Super Bowl VIII-Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7
55. Super Bowl IX-Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
54. Super Bowl XI-Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14
53. Super Bowl XXIV-San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10
52. Super Bowl XLVIII-Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
51. Super Bowl XX-Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10
50. Super Bowl XXXV-Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7
49. Super Bowl XXIX-San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26
48. Super Bowl XXXVII-Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21
47. Super Bowl XXII-Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10
46. Super Bowl XXVII-Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17
45. Super Bowl XII-Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
44. Super Bowl XXXIII Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19
43. Super Bowl XVIII Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9
42. Super Bowl XXVI-Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24
41. Super Bowl XV-Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10
40. Super Bowl I-Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10
39. Super Bowl VI-Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
38. Super Bowl XL-Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10
37. Super Bowl XLI-Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17
36. Super Bowl II-Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14
35. Super Bowl XIX-San Francisco 49ers, 38, Miami Dolphins 16
34. Super Bowl V-Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
33. Super Bowl VII-Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
32. Super Bowl XXVIII-Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13
31. Super Bowl XXI-New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20
30. Super Bowl LV-Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Kansas City Chiefs 9
29. Super Bowl XXXI-Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21
28. Super Bowl XXX-Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
27. Super Bowl L-Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10
26. Super Bowl XVII-Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17
25. Super Bowl XLIV-New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
24. Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots 13, Los Angeles Rams 3
23. Super Bowl XXXIX-New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
22. Super Bowl XLV-Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25
21. Super Bowl XLVI-New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17
20. Super Bowl XXXII-Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
19. Super Bowl III-New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
18. Super Bowl XLVII-Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
17. Super Bowl XXXIV-St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
16. Super Bowl XVI-San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
15. Super Bowl XXXVI-New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
14. Super Bowl XIV-Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19
13. Super Bowl LIV-Kansas City Chiefs 31, San Francisco 49ers 20
12. Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams 23, Cincinnati Bengals 20
11. Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33
10. Super Bowl LVII-Kansas City Chiefs 38, Philadelphia Eagles 35
9. Super Bowl X-Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
8. Super Bowl XXIII-San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
7. Super Bowl XXV-New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
6. Super Bowl XXXVIII-New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
5. Super Bowl XLII-New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
4. Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28
3. Super Bowl XLIX-New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
2. Super Bowl XLIII-Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
1. Super Bowl XIII-Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

A Ranking of the 57 Super Bowls? More accurately, it’s simply how I see the big games. My favorites, in some sort of order. I believe that I was in the room for every Super Bowl. I know that my dad
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Dec 28, 2023 8:54:46 GMT -6 1 Replies
The 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 were revealed yesterday. In any given year, the finalists are always highlighted by those in their first year of eligibility. This year, those players are Antonio Gates and Julius Peppers.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 Finalists

Eric Allen, Cornerback — 1988-1994 Philadelphia Eagles, 1995-97 New Orleans Saints, 1998-2001 Oakland Raiders
Jared Allen, Defensive End — 2004-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2008-2013 Minnesota Vikings, 2014-15 Chicago Bears, 2015 Carolina Panthers
Willie Anderson, Offensive Tackle — 1996-2007 Cincinnati Bengals, 2008 Baltimore Ravens
Jahri Evans, Guard — 2006-2016 New Orleans Saints, 2017 Green Bay Packers
Dwight Freeney, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker — 2002-2012 Indianapolis Colts, 2013-14 San Diego Chargers, 2015 Arizona Cardinals, 2016 Atlanta Falcons, 2017 Seattle Seahawks, 2017 Detroit Lions
Antonio Gates, Tight End — 2003-2018 San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers
Rodney Harrison, Safety — 1994-2002 San Diego Chargers, 2003-08 New England Patriots
Devin Hester, Punt Returner/Kick Returner/Wide Receiver — 2006-2013 Chicago Bears, 2014-15 Atlanta Falcons, 2016 Baltimore Ravens
Torry Holt, Wide Receiver — 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars
Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver — 2003-2014 Houston Texans, 2015 Indianapolis Colts, 2016 Tennessee Titans
Julius Peppers, Defensive End — 2002-09, 2017-18 Carolina Panthers, 2010-13 Chicago Bears, 2014-16 Green Bay Packers
Fred Taylor, Running back — 1998-2008 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2009-2010 New England Patriots
Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver — 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts
Patrick Willis, Linebacker — 2007-2014 San Francisco 49ers
Darren Woodson, Safety — 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys

Like Antonio Gates and Julius Peppers, the quartet of Eric Allen, Jahri Evans, Rodney Harrison, and Fred Taylor are finalists for the first time. Unlike Gates and Peppers, they are finalists after a combined 40 years of eligibility.

The 15 finalists will join Coach/Contributor nominee Buddy Parker and Senior nominees Art Powell, Randy Gradishar, and Steve McMichael for final discussions by the 50-person Selection Committee in advance of Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The Pro Football Hall Fame Class of 2024 will be announced live on the “NFL Honors” telecast on February 8.

Times as a Finalist

Eric Allen: 1, 2024
Jared Allen: 4, 2021-24
Willie Anderson: 3: 2022-24
Jahri Evans: 1, 2024
Dwight Freeney: 2, 2023-24
Antonio Gates: 1, 2024
Rodney Harrison: 1, 2024
Devin Hester: 3, 2022-24
Tory Holt: 5, 2020-24
Andre Johnson: 3, 2022-24
Julius Peppers: 1, 2024
Fred Taylor: 1, 2024
Reggie Wayne: 5, 2020-24
Patrick Willis: 3, 2022-24
Darren Woodson: 2, 2023-24

Years of Eligibility

1st: Antonio Gates, Julius Peppers
2nd: Jahri Evans, Dwight Freeney
3rd: Devin Hester, Andre Johnson
4th: Jared Allen
5th: Reggie Wayne, Patrick Willis
9th: Fred Taylor
10th: Torry Holt
11th: Rodney Harrison, Willie Anderson
16th: Darren Woodson
18th: Eric Allen

What I think the Selection Committee should do with any group of Hall of Fame finalists and what they will do is always different. The voters repeatedly show an urgency to jam through players in their first year of eligibility. I feel that making it in the first year should be reserved for the players for which there are no doubts. If there’s even the slightest hint of a debate, the player waits. In my opinion, only Julius Peppers should make it in his first year. I’m pretty sure that the voters will push both Peppers and Antonio Gates through. After that, Jared Allen makes it in his fourth year of eligibility. If he had been able to wrestle that Defensive Player of the Year award from Terrell Suggs in 2011, Allen would’ve made it earlier. His frustrating four year wait should end. Patrick Willis finally makes it to Canton. I still don’t understand how he wasn’t through in his first or second year. He wasn’t even a finalist until his third year. Willis was more deserving of first year consideration in 2020 than Gates is this year. Willis was the best in the league at his position for nearly all of his eight-year career. I never once thought that Gates was the best at his position. Tony Gonzalez pretty much had that title. Jason Witten was in there as well. Willis was the best off-the-ball linebacker I’d seen since Jack Ham. His Hall of Fame journey has been a complete mystery to me. Anyway, a receiver should round out the modern-era class. Unfortunately, the two receivers that I feel are most deserving didn’t make it to the finalist stage. That would be Steve Smith Sr. and Hines Ward. Of the actual receiver finalists, I feel that the voters will go with Andre Johnson.

So, that gives us a Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 that looks something like this:

Julius Peppers
Antonio Gates
Jared Allen
Patrick Willis
Andre Johnson
Randy Gradishar
Steve McMichael
Art Powell
Buddy Parker

That’s a fine Class. With Allen it, I’ve gotta start making plans to be in Canton in August.




The 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 were revealed yesterday. In any given year, the finalists are always highlighted by those in their first year of eligibility. This
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Dec 2, 2023 16:08:47 GMT -6 24 Replies
No depth chart this week, but we've still got content coming - it's draft analysis time! They say you should give a draft class three years before making judgements, meaning it's about time to judge the 2021 season. I'm going to be following the methodology I used in my past draft article here to judge how success the picks were, and also judging how accurate the grades I gave each pick were.

The rubric:



And here are the Vikings' picks:



(grade on the left is my draft board's grade, on the right is the Hindsight grade)

Rick Spielman's swan song was generally a disaster outside of the A+ selection of Christian Darrisaw, and the savvy pick of Bynum in the 4th round. I don't think a team has ever whiffed on 4 3rd round picks before! My draft board approved the Davis and Jones II picks, but had Surratt and Mond far lower than where they went, meanwhile the Day 3 picks were goofy. Spending a 4th on Nwangwu when it was widely known he was a KR-only was highly questionable, Robinson was another failed pick in the vein of Danielle Hunter, chasing a toolsy pass rusher with poor play in college, ISM was a possible deep threat but more of a return man, and the Davidson pick is the kind of guy you take in the 7th round. I still get the Twyman pick even in hindsight as he was a very good college football player.

The elephant in the room here is the class itself - the 2021 draft was messed up by the COVID pandemic as many players opted to stay in college another year, causing this class to be a shallow one. This was widely speculated at the time, and going through this class - yeah, it gets real barren. There's a point somewhere in the 3rd round where the quality plummets, which makes it all the more frustrating that Spielman continued to collect late round picks in a top-heavy class. Let's compare the team's final grade to the others:


* = team did not have a 1st round pick

Normally I believe a D+ would put them near the bottom, but many other teams had bad drafts, confirming our suspicions.
There's also a notable correlation between teams that are good right now and who had strong 2021 drafts. The Chiefs came out with 3 starters with #58 being their highest pick in the most top heavy class in recent memory, the Lions came out with 3 high quality starters between the 1st-3rd, and the Broncos (George Paton's first class) landed 4 starters.

Three of the worst classes have flagship players with major injury woes, with the Jets LT Becton, Panthers CB Horn, and Titans CB Farley. The Giants didn't land a single average starter, only having ED Ojulari as a mediocre rotational pass rusher.

Let's go round by round now:


(grade on the left is my draft board's grade, on the right is the Hindsight grade)

The first round has its fair share of hits, with a handful of blue-chip players escaping the top 10. The middling QBs like Fields and Jones are considered to be minor successes because of their play time and stretches were they weren't "bad". The round itself drops off after about #25, with everybody after that mostly being 2nd round caliber.

The difference number (which explained in the previous article is the correlation between my grade and the hindsight grade) is 1.18, which means the grades were heavily correlated to what actually transpired. Following the consensus boards was far safer than freelancing - not a single player who was given a C or lower ending up getting anything higher than a C.



Only 5 players got above a B, with 12 getting a D or below. The difference stat is at 1.86, meaning that the correlation between grades is weak. We will reach a point where my grades mean nothing because so many picks fail - there are no adjustments for how weak a draft class is.



This round sees a whopping 23 D to Fs and only 8 above a B. The difference is now at 2.1, meaning my grades are more often wrong than right.

The first 3 rounds see just 36 players receive a B or better. Of those picks:

5 iOLs
3 CBs
3 EDs
2 DTs
3 LBs
4 Ts
2 QBs (one being Mac Jones...)
2 RBs
2 Ss
1 TE
5 WRs

The class's main strength was 9 offensive linemen. Every other position underachieved, with several not having hits until the second round (LB, TE, S) or even the third (DT).



20 Fs! This round has provided nothing and this looks like the normal year's 6th round. St. Brown, Bynum, and Stevenson are the biggest finds here.



I got tired of keying in Fs so I kept them empty. This is the rare situation where a kicker in the 5th round actually worked out, since this is more like the average year's 7th round. The 49ers found both Hufanga and Lenior here, while the Raiders got a starter in Hobbs. The DBs class had some Day 3 hits, at least.



This is basically a UDFA list now. A handful of these players turned into good backups. Trey Smith is the runaway success here, as teams were scared off by his heart problems. But there wasn't much risk using a higher pick on him since these past few rounds have been so devoid of talent.



The 7th round is an actual ghost town, with only Jonathon Cooper and Will Fries starters at the current moment. Even when the bar is "Awful" on the PFF scale, most of these players couldn't crack any time.


Takeaways - this was a bad class to begin with, but it doesn't excuse Spielman's poor haul. Going 1 for 10 on the 3rd-7th round picks is a sign of a front office that was not good at evaluating talent, period. I can forgive some busts, but there were decent players available in that third round. There were a few good WRs that they passed on, Davis over Meinerz, Surratt over Deablo and Jones, etc. The QB pick was pretty much doomed because this class is basically Trevor Lawrence and nobody else.

One more note - a while back I had noticed there was a pattern with Vikings prospects failing who happened to have poor PFF grades in their final year of college. For this draft class:
LB Surratt - 205 out of 205 players on my board
WR Smith-Marsette - 197th / 205
ED Robinson - 188th / 205
G Davis - 186th / 205

That's 4 picks from the 3rd-5th round who didn't even play that well in college. Not a good strategy there!


I'll leave the analysis there. Please elucidate me with your thoughts and what can be learned from the mercurial 2021 draft class!
No depth chart this week, but we've still got content coming - it's draft analysis time! They say you should give a draft class three years before making judgements, meaning it's about time to judge
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Dec 14, 2023 9:08:24 GMT -6 2 Replies
Watching Brian Flores get so much out of what many consider a marginally talented group got me thinking about some of the underrated players in franchise history. This is an all-time Minnesota Vikings team made up of players that might not receive the attention that they deserve for the great career that they had. All-time teams are always a very subjective thing. This one has another layer of subjectivity to it. Just as not everyone will agree whether a player is an All-Timer, not everyone will agree whether a player’s career was underrated.

Minnesota Vikings All - Time Underrated Team

Offense

Quarterback
Tommy Kramer

Tommy Kramer was great. If injuries hadn’t popped up throughout his career, he wouldn’t be on this team.

Running Back
Tommy Mason

Tommy Mason was much more than the first pick in franchise history. Injuries cut his career short. In his six years in Minnesota, Mason was named All-Pro once and went to three Pro Bowls. When I visited the Vikings Museum at TCO, I was surprised and thrilled to find a Tommy Mason exhibit. I was surprised because I felt that history had forgotten him and thrilled because it hadn’t.

Fullback
Rick Fenney

In today’s NFL, fullbacks are always underrated. Rick Fenney was the last Vikings fullback that got more than the token carry.

Receivers
John Gilliam
Jake Reed

The Vikings have been blessed with a load of terrific receivers. John Gilliam was one of the league’s most explosive playmakers during the early 1970s. Jake Reed had four consecutive 1000-yard seasons. Unfortunately, he played with Cris Carter and lost his starting job to Randy Moss.

Tight End
Joe Senser

A knee injury ended Joe Senser’s career before it really got started. Seven touchdowns as a rookie. 1,004 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore. Senser was on the verge of joining the league’s first wave of great tight ends. Kellen Winslow, Ozzie Newsome, Dave Casper. Senser was in their league. Then he was suddenly and sadly done.

Offensive Tackles
Grady Alderman
Tim Irwin

Both were named 50 Greatest Vikings. Grady Alderman was recently inducted in the Pro Football Researchers Association’s Hall of Very Good. Neither was really underrated but each played a chunk of their career in the shadow of the best tackles in Vikings franchise history. Ron Yary and Gary Zimmerman.

Guards
Milt Sunde
David Dixon

Like fullbacks, guards are often underrated. Unless you’re Randall McDaniel or Steve Hutchinson. Milt Sunde and David Dixon weren’t McDaniel or Hutchinson but they were fine football players.

Center
Dennis Swilley

It isn’t the equal of receivers and defensive line but the Vikings have an excellent center tradition. It helps that Mick Tingelhoff played about 100 years. Dennis Swilley had the unfortunate task of replacing Tingelhoff. A team can’t have a strong tradition at a position with a single player. In that sense, Swilley started the Vikings excellent center tradition.

Defense

Defensive Ends
Doug Martin
Brian Robison

Doug Martin was the best of the players tasked with replacing the Purple People Eaters. He had two seasons of more than 10 sacks and two seasons of nine sacks. His 11.5 sacks in nine games during the strike-shortened 1982 season led the league. Brian Robison was much more than a fan-favorite. He might’ve received more attention league-wide if he didn’t play all of his career opposite Jared Allen and then Everson Griffen.

Defensive Tackles
Henry Thomas
Keith Millard

Henry Thomas and Keith Millard aren’t underrated. They just happened to play for a franchise that had Alan Page and John Randle. Thomas and Millard have Hall of Fame cases. Millard would already be in Canton if injuries hadn’t whittled away at his career.

Linebackers
Ed McDaniel
Lonnie Warwick
Ben Leber

All three were fun football players. Ed McDaniel was the best player on his Vikings defense not named John Randle. Lonnie Warwick played middle linebacker during the era of Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, and Joe Schmidt. Ben Leber simply made big plays.

Cornerbacks
Bobby Bryant
Nate Wright

Bobby Bryant and Nate Wright were the cornerbacks of my youth. I love them.

Safeties
Karl Kassulke
Tom Hannon

Karl Kassulke’s physicality was an excellent compliment to Paul Krause’s finesse. Kassulke’s football career ended with a motorcycle accident on this way to the Vikings 1973 training camp. The accident left him paralyzed. Tom Hannon had the unfortunate task of replacing Krause at the back of the Vikings defense.

Special Teams

Kicker
Ryan Longwell

Ryan Longwell was one of the league’s most reliable kickers for nearly all of his 16 seasons. Six of those were in Minnesota. The Vikings have a history of kicking atrocities. The six Longwell years were bright years.

Punter
Bobby Walden

Bobby Walden is better known for his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His first four seasons were in Minnesota. He led the league in yards/punt as a rookie.

Punt Returner
Leo Lewis

Leo Lewis was a fun football player. He didn’t have the football in his hands often. When he did, it felt like something fun was about to happen.

Kick Returner
Eddie Payton

Walter Payton’s older brother might’ve found his way to Minnesota because of what he did as a returner for the Detroit Lions. He returned a kick and a punt for touchdowns against the Vikings in 1977. He kept the Lions in a game that they had no business being in. Perhaps due to memories of that game, the Vikings signed him three years later. He led the league in kick return yards in 1980 and had a 99-yard kick return touchdown in 1981.





Watching Brian Flores get so much out of what many consider a marginally talented group got me thinking about some of the underrated players in franchise history. This is an all-time Minnesota
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Dec 7, 2023 15:39:36 GMT -6 23 Replies
Wow! What a few weeks this has been. Dobbs takes this team to new heights, only to come crashing back down to earth against the Bears of all teams. I am sure most of you have seen the chart online, but the fact the Vikings have been the unluckiest team in the NFL this season and still have 6 wins is fitting. A lot of high highs and some low lows this season, all leading to a crazy offseason next year. In this breakdown we will look back to see how Dobbs has done with this team compared to when Kirk was still running the show. I also want to look forward to the final 5 games of the season and try to find some areas this team has an advantage over their opponents. If you have missed any of the previous breakdowns you can find them all here: Week 1 | Week 4 | Week 8.


EPA by Player – Powell is WR3


Diving back in on EPA by player and there are not a lot of changes at the top. Addison, TJ, and JJ still lead the pack. The biggest addition is now seeing Dobbs (as a runner) pop up into the top 5 for total EPA. Not only is he a top 5 in total EPA, but he is 2nd behind only JJ in EPA/Play if you remove any players with 5 or fewer touches. There is no denying that Dobbs is pretty great when he decides to run. The other thing of note is how Brandon Powell continues to be in the top 5 for the team. Not only is he the #3 WR from a total EPA and EPA/Play standpoint, but it is not even close when comparing him to Osborn. Powell is averaging 40 times more in EPA/Play than Osborn, and only has 16 fewer touches. Both players are free agents after this season, but if the team wants to resign one, Powell is the clear and obvious choice as of right now.





On to the bad. First, Mattison continues to be BAD for the team. Not only is he the worst player on the team from a total EPA standpoint (by a MILE!), he is the 5th worst runner in the entire league for total EPA, and 3rd worst in EPA/Play (min 125 rushes). This holds true if you look at just the last 5 weeks as well. He is 6th worst in total EPA, and 3rd worst in EPA/Play amongst runner with at least 50 touches since week 9. I hate to say it, but the Alexander Mattison experiment was a dud. Especially considering Ty Chandler is a top 5 skill player on the team in total EPA. In fact, Chandler is a top 20 RB for total EPA, and top 10 in EPA/Play for all RBs with at least 30 carries this season. I know his pass protection is lacking, but if you give him some time and reps at it, hopefully he can improve. Plus, he is so much better in the running game you have to use him more.


Now we are going to talk about the REALLY bad. Josh Dobbs as a passer is just not good at all. Currently, Josh Dobbs has the 4 worst total EPA and EPA/Play for all QBs with at least 200 pass attempts this season. This obviously includes his time with Arizona with lesser weapons and offensive play calling. However, if I adjust to only look at QBs with at least 100 pass attempts since week 9, he is 5th worst in EPA/Play and 6th worst in total EPA. This is not ideal considering the talent surrounding him on the team. I know KOC went with Dobbs, and I understand why, but based on these metrics it feels like Mullens or even Hall might be a better option. In fact, I went to look at the week 9 stats for all QBs to see how Hall did in his limited playing time. SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT! Hall had the highest EPA/Play of any passer in week 9 at 0.816 EPA/Play. Now he only threw 6 passes, but completed 5 of them for 78 yards and was starting to get into a groove before the injury. I know this could easily turn back into a pumpkin with Hall after another quarter or two of play, but call me crazy in saying I want to see more from him before the season is done.





Team EPA – This Defense is Legit


Now let’s look at EPA for the team as a whole. First, I wanted to pull the basic offense vs defense EPA chart to see where the Vikings sit. As you can see in the first chart below, the Vikings continue to be middle of the pack in offensive EPA/Play, however they are officially a top 10 defense, and getting ever closer to a top 5 one. We have seen this defense continue to grow and shine as the season has gone along. In the second chart below, I split their first 6 games and their last 6 games on defense. Your Minnesota Vikings have a top 4 defense from an EPA/Play standpoint in the last 7 weeks of football! They were a middle of the pack defense the first 6 weeks, but have really shown what they can be in the last 7 weeks. The 4th best overall defensive EPA/Play allowed in the entire league. The only teams better were the Dolphins (-0.134), Ravens (-0.128), and Jets (-0.110) compared to the Vikings at -0.093 EPA/Play allowed.








If you remember from my previous breakdowns, the offense came to a halt when it reached the RedZone early on this season. Well, time to check in and see if that has improved since Dobbs took over. First off, on the overall chart for the whole season (1st chart below) you can see the Vikings are still a bottom 7-10 team in the RedZone for the season as a whole. Breaking this down by with Kirk and without Kirk, there has been some improvement. The 2nd chart below shows the EPA/Play in the RedZone in weeks 1-8 left to right, and weeks 9-13 up and down. You can see that the Vikings had the 3rd worst EPA/Play in the RedZone in the first 8 weeks of the season. Since then, they are right smack dab in the middle of the league. Obviously, you want that to be higher, but the fact it has improved that much since Kirk was injured is a big reason they won even the 2 games they did. This also shows the benefit of a mobile QB in the RedZone and their ability to just escape and make something out of nothing.








Success Rates – Stay Aggressive in the 4th KOC!


Moving on to success rates for the individual players and the team as a whole. JJ still clear and away the leader for the team despite not playing in 7 weeks. After that, here comes Powell! Only 39 targets, but 22 of those targets have resulted in a successful play. This puts Powell 44th among all RB, TE, and WRs so far this season with at least 35 targets/touches. Addison has slowed a bit since week 8, which isn’t a big shocker considering no more Kirk, and teams have focused on him with JJ out. He is still really good, but he is not quite ready to take on that WR1 role for the team. There are 39 players with at least 100 rushes so far this season. Of those 39 players, Mattison is 31st in success rate. Another feather in the cap of him no longer being the lead RB1 for this team. He has a role, but it is not as the main runner all 3 downs.





The success rate by quarter for the Vikings offense and the opposing offense continues to be a fun chart to look at. This team just has not been good in the 4th quarter on offense. The defense has evened things out and keeps each team under 50% no matter the quarter. That, and they are at their best when they get to the 4th quarter. The offense though has not particularly gotten better as the season has gone along. The 5 worst weeks in the 4th quarter for the offense were weeks 1, 4, 6, 8, and 10 (ranged from 9.1% to 23.5% success rate). The 5 best weeks were weeks 5, 3, 9, 2, and 12 (ranging from 44% to 56.3%), including their last game against the Bears being their best performance in the 4th. The offense ranks as the 20th, 9th, 20th, and 30th best for success rate in the 1st through 4th quarters. Not great, and something KOC needs to look at. Can’t call the 4th quarter differently than the rest of the game if it was working. Stay aggressive!





Things are about to get interesting.


The next few weeks became all the more interesting after the back to back losses to the Broncos and Bears, combined with Green Bay and the Rams jumping up to 6 wins. The division is more than likely out of reach now after the loss to the Bears and the Lions taking care of business this past week. It would take one of the biggest falls in recent memory for the Lions to not win at least 2 more games in the next 4 weeks to make it impossible for the Vikings or even Packers to catch them. HOWEVER, the 6 and 7 seed are fully up for grabs. Realistically, the Vikings, Packers, Seahawks, and Rams are the 4 teams vying for the final 2 spots. Below are the remaining schedules for each of the 4 teams, and how I see them playing out.





So much will ride on that GB game in week 17. A loss there and  the Vikings might miss the playoffs, or at the very least become the 7th seed with 8 or 9 wins, and go to DAL/PHI on Wild Card Weekend. Not ideal at all. The 6th seed will go to Detroit WC Weekend, and that makes me feel better about the chances of an upset. Either way, the next 5 weeks are going to be crazy, and every week truly matters.


What’s next?


So obviously I already spoiled what I think happens next, but let’s dig a little deeper into each game and see why I think the Vikings will get that 6th seed. Below is the quick breakdown of EPA and success rates for the upcoming opponents. As we discussed before, this Vikings defense is pretty good. They have the 8th best defense from and EPA/Play allowed! Also, the upcoming defenses the Vikings face are not all that intimidating. All 4 of them are in the bottom half of the league in both EPA/Play allowed and success rate allowed. Here is hoping KOC and Dobbs/Mullens/Hall can take advantage and get into the playoffs.



At Las Vegas | 12/10/2023 | 3:05pm

You have to win this game. A rookie QB with an interim head coach leading the team. You are clearly the better team on paper and on the field. WIN THIS GAME!


BOLD PREDICTION: The Vikings offense has 0 turnovers and the defense forces at least 2.


WIN MIN 27 – LV 17


At Cincinnati | 12/16/2023 | 12:00pm


This game comes down to how well Jake Browning continues to play for the Bengals. If he plays like he did against the Jaguars against the Vikings, I don’t think they can win it. I am going to say the Bengals pull it off. If this was in Minnesota I would pick the Vikings, it is just that close. If the Vikings do end up winning this game, they are almost assuredly making the playoffs unless they lose their last 3 games.


BOLD PREDICTION: JJ goes off for 150+ receiving yards.


LOSS CIN 28 – MIN 27


Home Against Detroit | 12/24/2023 | 12:00pm


This game could seal the division win for Detroit. Assuming they beat the Bears and Broncos, this game would be win #11 and match the best record the Vikings or Packers could get. However, if the Lions do lose to the Broncos this game could be a huge divisional game to setup a division title showdown in week 18. I am going to go with a win here, mainly because it is in Minnesota, and the Lions might be looking ahead a bit to the Cowboys the following week.


BOLD PREDICTION: The Lions have their second worst offensive outing of the year scoring under 20 points.


WIN MIN 24 – DET 17


Home Against Green Bay | 12/31/2023 | 7:20pm


This game determines a lot of the playoff seeding in the NFC. A win against Green Bay after wins against LV and Detroit earlier more than likely guarantees a playoff spot. Call me crazy or a homer, but I don’t fully trust that Jordan Love is actually a great QB. Is he a solid QB that can win some games, sure. But I do not think he can take on this defense as it is currently playing.


BOLD PREDICTION: Love is intercepted twice in the game.


WIN MIN 23 – GB 16


At Detroit | 1/7/2023 | TBD


Here we are. The final game of the year. If the previous 4 games go as I predicted and the Vikings are 9-7 going into this game, this is probably a nothing game for either team. The only exception is if the Lions lose 2 of their 3 other games. Then this game will be the division title matchup, and probably the final regular season game of the year on Sunday Night Football. I anticipate the Lions beating both the Bears and Broncos so this game will be nothing for them, and more than likely the Vikings already have a playoff spot secured. In that case both teams rest players and don’t game plan a lot in order to preserve their best for the wildcard round rematch the following week. Give me a Vikings win, but I don’t feel great about it at all.


BOLD PREDICTION: Hunter plays some and gets at least 1 sack to give him 20+ for the season.


WIN MIN 21 – DET 14



There you have it. The Vikings finish 10-7 and get the 6 seed to go on the road to face the Lions for the 3rd time in 4 weeks. That or they get some good luck finally and the Lions lose to the Broncos and the Vikings are hosting another playoff game. As always, discuss below, and let me know if you have any questions or would like to see a deeper dive into some of these metrics. I will be back in the final week of the season or after the final game to breakdown the season as a whole and look forward to the anticipated playoff game. TF


All data exported from the NFLVerse in RStudio.

Wow! What a few weeks this has been. Dobbs takes this team to new heights, only to come crashing back down to earth against the Bears of all teams. I am sure most of you have seen the chart online,
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Dec 3, 2023 16:42:06 GMT -6 0 Replies
Through its first five years, the National Football League was a very shaky and questionable business. The most popular sports in the 1920s were baseball, boxing, college football, and horse racing. Some folks probably sprinkled in tennis and golf before they considered paying attention to professional football. Joe Carr, George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Chris O’Brien, Carl Storck, and the rest of the league’s leaders were scraping, scratching, doing everything they could to gain notice and traction with the media and public. Enter Harold “Red” Grange.

The 1920s introduced the nation to sports celebrities. Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, Helen Wills, Lou Gehrig, Man o’ War, and Bill Tilden thrilled a public that finally had some spare time. In his three years at Illinois, Red Grange joined those sports celebrities. People flocked to the stadium to see him live and to theaters to see his highlights. The NFL needed him. They needed him bad. 1925 was 11 years before the first NFL Draft. Every potential professional football player was essentially a free agent. In an attempt to gain a bit of respect and credibility, the NFL had established a policy of no tampering with college football players that still had remaining eligibility. Grange’s last football game as an innocent University of Illinois student-athlete was at Ohio State on November 21, 1925. A day later, he was sitting on the sidelines at Cubs Park for the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers game. He was watching his new teammates shut out the Packers 21-0. Four days later, he played for the Bears against the Chicago Cardinals on Thanksgiving. 120 hours after his final college football game, Red Grange played in his first NFL game. Perhaps he wasn’t so innocent.

If the general public wasn’t so thrilled to see Red Grange play professional football, they might’ve been suspicious as to how Grange signed with the Bears in only a matter of hours. The reality was that it had been in the works for weeks, maybe months. All of that and all that was to come was crafted by Grange’s agent. A theater owner named C.C. Pyle had an expansive plan for Grange, the Bears, and himself. C.C. Pyle was a piece of work but this story isn’t really about him. This story is about the ridiculous football marathon that kicked off soon after Grange joined the Bears.

It’s really no stretch to say that the addition of Red Grange to the roster of the Chicago Bears and the NFL put player, team, and league on a whole other trajectory. All three needed each other. All three looked to profit from the new union. What happened after Grange joined the Bears could never happen today. It shouldn’t have happened in 1925. Grange and his new teammates played a lot of football.

Most of the following is taken from Chris Willis’ excellent and incredibly thorough Red Grange: The Life and Legacy of the NFL’s First Superstar.

Red Grange’s Football Tour:

After playing in his final eight-game season for the University of Illinois, Grange played in the final two games of the Chicago Bears 1925 schedule:

11/26/25: Chicago Cardinals
11/29/25: Columbus Tigers

That was just the beginning. With Grange on the team, George Halas and the Bears went on a tour. It was a barnstorming tour with two parts. Here’s the first part.

Wednesday, December 2, at St. Louis All-Stars
Saturday, December 5, at Frankford Yellow Jackets (NFL game)
Sunday, December 6, at New York Giants (NFL game)
Tuesday, December 8, at Washington All-Stars
Wednesday, December 9, Providence Steam Roller (NFL game)
Thursday, December 10, Pittsburgh All-Stars
Saturday, December 12, Detroit Panthers (NFL game)
Sunday, December 13, New York Giants (NFL game)

Over 11 days, Grange and the Bears played eight games. At one point in the tour, they played six games in eight days. It was an insane schedule. The Bears had 20 players on their roster for these games. In those days, players played offense, defense, and special teams. Much to the disappointment of the fans in the stands, Grange did not play every minute of every game. The highlight of the tour was the December 6 game in New York. Attendance for the game was estimated between 65,000 and 70,000. Those were unimagined numbers for the NFL. The Bears won that game, 19-7. The crowd was thrilled when Grange returned an interception for a score to clinch the win. A frequently told story from this tour is from the stop in Washington D.C. Grange and Halas met President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. Illinois senator William McKinley made the introductions. “Mr. President, this is George Halas and Red Grange with the Chicago Bears.” President Coolidge responded by saying, “Young men, I’m very happy to meet you. I always did like animal acts.”

During the Pittsburgh game, Grange injured his left arm while throwing a block on an interception return. It would impact his play for the final two games of this part of the tour.

After a week a week of rest, Grange and the Bears continued barnstorming. The second part of the tour hit the south and west.

Friday, December 25, 1925, at Coral Gables (FL) All-Stars
Friday, January 1, 1926, at Tampa (FL) Cardinals
Saturday, January 2, 1926, at Jacksonville (FL) All-Stars
Sunday, January 10, 1926, at New Orleans All-Southerns
Saturday, January 16, 1026, at Los Angeles Tigers
Sunday, January 17, 1926, at San Diego California All-Stars
Sunday, January 24, 1926, at San Francisco Tigers
Saturday, January 30, 1926, at Portland All-Stars
Sunday, January 31, 1926, at Seattle Washington All-Stars

Again, four days after completing an eight-game college football season, Red Grange played in his first NFL game for the Chicago Bears. Over two months, from 11/26/25 to 1/31/26, Grange and the Bears played 19 football games. Several of those games were on zero days rest. This was the 60-minute era. Players didn’t have the luxury of sitting and resting while the defense, offense, or special teams took the field. It was a 60-minute grind. It was a grind that Grange and the Bears did over and over again for two months. The only real break over those two months was the 12 days between the two parts of the barnstorming tour. At least it was a little time for Grange to rest his injured arm. The first part of the tour was mostly against NFL teams. The second part was mostly against “all-star” lineups. Those “all-star” teams might’ve been a little short on “stars” but they weren’t always a bunch of slappies. Stanford great and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers played in the Florida games. University of Washington All-American George “Wildcat” Wilson played in the west coast games.

Red Grange collected $125,000 for his first season as a professional football player. That was an unfathomable amount for the time. C.C. Pyle did alright for himself as well. In some respects, this initial business relationship had George Halas working for Grange and Pyle. Halas didn’t see as much take-home cash as his partners but he saw enough to keep his young team afloat during very difficult times. More important than profits for Halas and the NFL was the attention ignited by Grange and the insane barnstorming tour. Not every game was a sellout but every game brought much-needed attention to professional football. Some historians and pundits have said that Grange saved the NFL. I wouldn’t go that far but it was the first big step in the right direction for professional football.





Through its first five years, the National Football League was a very shaky and questionable business. The most popular sports in the 1920s were baseball, boxing, college football, and horse racing.
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Nov 18, 2023 11:02:32 GMT -6 0 Replies
Our new show is out and we talk all things Vikings, and preview the Broncos game. And don't forget, we're doing a live watch party for the Broncos game SUnday night, starting at about 6:45 CT on our YT channel We hope you join us, but for now, enjoy our show!


Our new show is out and we talk all things Vikings, and preview the Broncos game. And don't forget, we're doing a live watch party for the Broncos game SUnday night, starting at about 6:45 CT on our
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Nov 12, 2023 0:34:08 GMT -6 0 Replies
Today, Josh Dobbs will start his first game for the Minnesota Vikings. He’ll be the third Vikings quarterback to start a game over the past three weeks. That’s a remarkable quarterback churn by any measure. My first days with the Vikings saw Fran Tarkenton start every game. For much of the 1970s, there was no quarterback question. It was Tarkenton. It feels like the Vikings have been searching for their next franchise quarterback every year since Tarkenton retired after the 1978 season.

Since their first season in 1961, the Vikings have selected four quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Tommy Kramer (1977)
Daunte Culpepper (1999)
Christian Ponder (2011)
Teddy Bridgewater (2014)

Tommy Kramer was always fun and often great when he was on the field. He wasn’t on the field enough. Daunte Culpepper was on an upward trajectory until a knee injury ended his time in Minnesota. Christian Ponder was drafted to be a quarterback that he never had the talent to be. As with Culpepper, a horrible knee injury ended whatever future Teddy Bridgewater might’ve had with the Vikings. Each of the four quarterbacks was drafted to be the next great Vikings quarterback. Two showed great potential, one had potential, and the fourth was Ponder. The Vikings are still searching for their next great quarterback.

Considering that Tarkenton is the Vikings all-time franchise quarterback, it’s shocking that the team once traded him away. At least the same decision-makers had the bright idea to bring him back five years later.

The Vikings have a history of quarterback inconsistency. Through 62 years and 9 games, Fran Tarkenton and Kirk Cousins are the only Vikings quarterbacks to consistently start games. It was and is shocking to see either miss a game. During his 18-year career, Tarkenton suffered his only significant injury in his 17th season. Cousins suffered the first significant injury of his career two weeks ago, his 12th season.

The past three weeks of Vikings quarterback inconsistency had me thinking about all of the starting quarterbacks in Vikings franchise history. As a rookie, Fran Tarkenton was supposed to make the first start in that history. Just before kickoff, head coach Norm Van Brocklin informed his rookie that veteran George Shaw would start the first game against the Chicago Bears. Before the first quarter was over, Tarkenton entered the game, took apart the Bears, and created a legend. His first start wasn’t as great as his fist appearance. Here’s hoping that Dobbs’ first start is the opposite.

Seeing a new quarterback start each game the past three weeks got me thinking about all of the quarterbacks to make starts for the Vikings. I had to find them all. The following are those quarterbacks and their number of starts for each season.

1961:
George Shaw (4)
Fran Tarkenton (10)

1962
Fran Tarkenton (14)

1963:
Fran Tarkenton (13)
Ron Vander Kelen (1)

1964:
Fran Tarkenton ((14)

1965:
Fran Tarkenton (14)

1966:
Fran Tarkenton (12)
Ron Vander Kelen (1)
Bob Berry (1)

1967:
Joe Kapp (11)
Ron Vander Kelen (3)

1968:
Joe Kapp (14)

1969:
Joe Kapp (13)
Gary Couzzo (1)

1970:
Gary Couzzo (12)
Bob Lee (2)

1971:
Gary Couzzo (8)
Bob Lee (4)
Norm Snead (2)

1972:
Fran Tarkenton (14)

1973:
Fran Tarkenton (14)

1974:
Fran Tarkenton (13)
Bob Berry (1)

1975:
Fran Tarkenton (14)

1976:
Fran Tarkenton (13)
Bob Lee (1)

1977:
Fran Tarkenton (9)
Bob Lee (4)
Tommy Kramer (1)

1978:
Fran Tarkenton (16)

1979:
Tommy Kramer (16)

1980:
Tommy Kramer (15)
Steve Dils (1)

1981:
Tommy Kramer (14)
Steve Dils (2)

1982:
Tommy Kramer (9)

1983:
Steve Dils (12)
Tommy Kramer (3)
Wade Wilson (1)

1984:
Tommy Kramer (9)
Wade Wilson (5)
Archie Manning (2)

1985:
Tommy Kramer (15)
Wade Wilson (1)

1986:
Tommy Kramer (13)
Wade Wilson (3)

1987:
Wade Wilson (7)
Tony Adams (3) - replacement games
Tommy Kramer (5)

1988:
Wade Wilson (10)
Tommy Kramer (6)

1989:
Wade Wilson (12)
Tommy Kramer (4)

1990:
Rich Gannon (12)
Wade Wilson (4)

1991:
Rich Gannon (11)
Wade Wilson (5)

1992:
Rich Gannon (12)
Sean Salisbury (4)

1993:
Jim McMahon (12)
Sean Salisbury (4)

1994:
Warren Moon (15)
Sean Salisbury (1)

1995:
Warren Moon (16)

1996:
Warren Moon (8)
Brad Johnson (8)

1997:
Brad Johnson (13)
Randall Cunningham (3)

1998:
Randall Cunningham (14)
Brad Johnson (2)

1999:
Jeff George (10)
Randall Cunningham (6)

2000:
Daunte Culpepper (16)

2001:
Daunte Culpepper (11)
Spergon Wynn (2)
Todd Bouman (3)

2002:
Daunte Culpepper (16)

2003:
Daunte Culpepper (14)
Gus Frerotte (2)

2004:
Daunte Culpepper (16)

2005:
Daunte Culpepper (7)
Brad Johnson (9)

2006:
Brad Johnson (14)
Tarvaris Jackson (2)

2007:
Tarvaris Jackson (12)
Kelly Holcomb (3)
Brooks Bollinger (1)

2008:
Gus Frerotte (11)
Tarvaris Jackson (5)

2009:
Brett Favre (16)

2010:
Brett Favre (13)
Tarvaris Jackson (1)
Joe Webb (2)

2011:
Donovan McNabb (6)
Christian Ponder (10)

2012:
Christian Ponder (16)

2013:
Christian Ponder (9)
Josh Freeman (1)
Matt Cassel (6)

2014:
Matt Cassel (3)
Teddy Bridgewater (12)
Christian Ponder (1)

2015:
Teddy Bridgewater (16)

2016:
Shaun Hill (1)
Sam Bradford (15)

2017:
Sam Bradford (2)
Case Keenum (14)

2018:
Kirk Cousins (16)

2019:
Kirk Cousins (15)
Sean Mannion (1)

2020:
Kirk Cousins (16)

2021:
Kirk Cousins (16)
Sean Mannion (1)

2022:
Kirk Cousins (17)

2023:
Kirk Cousins (8)
Jaren Hall (1)
Josh Dobbs (1)

62 years and 10 games, the Minnesota Vikings have started 41 quarterbacks.

George Shaw
Fran Tarkenton
Ron Vander Kelen
Bob Berry
Joe Kapp
Gary Couzzo
Bob Lee
Norm Snead
Tommy Kramer
Steve Dils
Wade Wilson
Archie Manning
Tony Adams - replacement games
Rich Gannon
Sean Salisbury
Jim McMahon
Warren Moon
Brad Johnson
Randall Cunningham
Jeff George
Daunte Culpepper
Spergon Wynn
Todd Bouman
Gus Frerotte
Tarvaris Jackson
Kelly Holcomb
Brooks Bollinger
Brett Favre
Joe Webb
Donovan McNabb
Christian Ponder
Josh Freeman
Matt Cassel
Teddy Bridgewater
Shaun Hill
Sam Bradford
Case Keenum
Kirk Cousins
Sean Mannion
Jaren Hall
Josh Dobbs

Here’s to Josh Dobbs’ first start being more like Fran Tarkenton’s than Josh Freeman.


Today, Josh Dobbs will start his first game for the Minnesota Vikings. He’ll be the third Vikings quarterback to start a game over the past three weeks. That’s a remarkable quarterback churn by any
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Nov 11, 2023 12:56:06 GMT -6 0 Replies
This week's VR is out. We talk about the week that was, really dig into Josh Dobbs and what to expect moving forward, preview the Saints, and trivia returns. 


This week's VR is out. We talk about the week that was, really dig into Josh Dobbs and what to expect moving forward, preview the Saints, and trivia returns.  https://www
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Nov 3, 2023 16:47:11 GMT -6 14 Replies
“I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.” Yep, that feels about right. Just when the team turned the corner and was showing what they could be, this happens. I have never been a huge Kirk fan, but man this sucks. He was playing so well, the team had started to fully realize its identity, and the defense has been playing lights out the last 3 weeks. Due to the injury I plan to focus on the defense and skill position players on offense for this quarterly update. We will once again look at EPA and Success Rates, I will also throw in some PFF grade analysis.


EPA by Player – RESIGN DANIELLE!


Lets start where we usually do with the EPA by player through the first 8 weeks of the season. As you can see below, Addison is a star and has really come into his own the last few weeks. He now leads the team in total EPA and EPA/play (Mundt is better per play, but only has 2 plays) with Jefferson out. It has also become increasingly clear that Mattison is just not a great lead back. After the first 4 weeks of the season, Mattison was averaging -0.096 EPA/Play on 74 total plays. He is now nearly twice as bad from an EPA/play stand point at -0.178 per play. Compare this to Akers who has settled in as a solid RB with a +0.059 EPA/Play on his 39 touches. Akers has had 30 runs since joining the Vikings ahead of week 3. He ranks 15th of 54 total RBs with at least 30 carries since week 3 in total EPA (0.588) and EPA/Play (0.019). Compare that to Mattison in the same time frame who is 39th in EPA/Play (-0.135) and 43rd in total EPA (-11.706). I was happy to see Akers getting his own series to be the lead back on Sunday in Green Bay, but it is time for him to be the main guy with Mattison filling in from time to time. Also, don’t sleep on Ty Chandler. He has limited touches, but is doing a lot with those touches.





I haven’t done this before, but wanted to see how much havoc Danielle has been causing on the defensive side of the ball from an EPA standpoint. I pulled up every defensive player with a sack to see the total EPA lost for their sacks. Danielle is 8th in the entire league from a total EPA lost by the possessing team from a sack. Below you can see the top 10 for the league, including Harrison Smith making an appearance at #10!





Team EPA – Don’t look now, the RedZone offense is improving.


When shifting to EPA from a team standpoint, a few developments stick out. First, lets look at the defensive side of things. In the chart below, I put each team’s defensive EPA/play allowed split by the first 5 weeks of the season (x-axis) and the last 3 weeks (y-axis). As you can see in the first 5 weeks the defense was middle of the pack at best (12th worst overall). In the last 3 weeks, not only are they in the top tier of defenses, they are the 4th best defense from an EPA/play allowed standpoint! The only teams with a better defense in the last 3 weeks are the Jets, Giants, and Jaguars. If the defense continues down this path, we could be looking at a top 10 defense by the end of the season.




Next, I wanted to circle back to the RedZone offense that we looked at 4 weeks ago. If you remember, the Vikings had the worst offense in the league when inside the opponents 20-yard line. While their overall RedZone EPA/Play is still bottom 5 in the league, it has improved. After week 4, the team was averaging nearly -0.4 EPA/play in the RedZone as an offense. Now they are sitting at just under -0.2 EPA/Play in the same situations. The difference is even more glaring when I put the first 5 weeks vs the last 3 weeks RedZone EPA on the chart (2nd chart below). Here you can see that in the first 5 weeks, the offense was virtually tied with the Giants for the 2nd worst RedZone offense (-0.354 EPA/Play). In the last 3 weeks, they are firmly in the top half of the league, and actually come in with the 8th highest EPA/Play in the RedZone (0.119).








All of these charts showing the drastic improvement in the last 3 weeks, just makes the Cousins injury that much more heartbreaking. Hopefully the defense can continue its run and Jaren Hall/Josh Dobbs aren’t a total disaster. If that can happen, there is enough here for the team to still win some games.


Success Rates – I think we can move on from the Mattison experiment.


Switching gears to the success rates for the team, similar trends continue as we saw 4 weeks ago. Mattison and Osborn continue to disappoint, and JJ, Addison and TJ continue to stand out. Mattison in-particular is the worst player on the team with at least 20 touches from a success rate standpoint. He not only is the worst on the team, but he is one of only 18 RBs in the entire league with at least 100 rushing attempts. Of those 18 RBs, he is the 4th worst in Success Rate (43.4%). The only players worse than him are Barkley (38.2%), Pierce (40.4%), and Jacobs (43.2%). The 18 RBs also average a 48% success rate overall so he is well behind the pack. Looking at KJ Osborn we see some similar trends/issues. He is the 2nd worst on the team, and when you look at all pass catchers in the league with at least 40 targets (65 qualifying players), he is the 8th worst. His 42.6% success rate is more than 10% short of the 65-player average of 53.8%. Putting this into even more perspective, JJ hasn’t played for 3 weeks, only has 6 more targets/plays than KJ does now, and still has 14 more successful plays (34) than KJ (20). When JJ comes back, I will be shocked if KJ see more than a couple targets per game. He is clearly the 4th best option in the passing game now, and that will show in a week or two when JJ returns.





Looking at the Vikings offense and opposing offenses success rates by quarter again, the continual improvement trend shines again. After week 4, the Vikings offense only had 1 quarter with a success rate above 40%, and the defense had given up a 50%+ success rate in 3 of the 4 quarters. Now, as you can see in the chart below, the offense is above 44% in the first 3 quarters, and the defense only has 1 quarter with a success rate above 50%. The improvement by the offense in the 1st quarter since week 4 is nothing short of amazing. In the first 4 weeks of the season they had a total success rate of just 32%. In the last 4 weeks, that success rate is 51.9%! The 51.9% success rate in the 1st quarter since week 4, ranks as the 12th best rate in the NFL. The first 4 weeks rate ranked as the 5th worst in the entire league.





PFF Grades – Look at the OLine!!


I wanted to take a second to look at some of the PFF grades for the players on the team. As with any metric or analytics, never use 1 of them as the end all be all to if a player or team is good or not. That being said, if you use the PFF Grades, EPA, Success Rates, eye test, etc. all together. It will give you a really good idea as to the quality of a player at their position. As a final reminder, PFF grades work as follows. If a player gets a grade below 60 that is not good, 60-70 is considered average, anything 70-80 is pretty good, 80-90 is exceptional, and 90+ is all-pro caliber play. With that being said, let’s dive into the OL grades first and see how they are doing. Obviously, I am not the first to tell you this, but the Vikings OL is actually pretty dang good now! I know that is crazy to think about, but we finally made it. The grades took a bit of a hit this past weekend against the Packers, but overall everyone is at a minimum a solid OL player. Below is a chart to show you each starters grades and their rank among qualified players at their respective position.





As you can see, Darrisaw and O’Neill are elite and easily a top 2 tackle pair in the league and it might be 2nd. Risner is going through a few growing pains, but the top 15 LG PBLK grade so far is encouraging. Bradbury was a top 10 center prior to the GB game, so that isn’t ideal to see it shrinking back to his career average. However, keep in mind this team has played 2 really good DLs in the last 2 weeks. Ingram is still Ingram, but he at least seems to be serviceable now and not a complete train wreck. In the OL world that is the biggest thing you can hope for. If your worst player is even just average, then you have a pretty dang good OL by modern NFL standards. The best way to see this is looking at the team grades for the PBLK and RBLK categories. They have a top 3 grade in the entire NFL in both categories, with the Eagles and Lions as the only other teams to even just be top 5 in both grades (Lions are also top 3 in both).



Next, let’s give some defensive players some love. First and foremost, Danielle Hunter is your sack leader in the league! He has been playing lights out this season, and I will not jump off the extend him train until he officially signs with a different team in March. We all know BFlo is using the 3 safeties all over the field, and it appears to be working. Bynum is a top 5 graded safety with at least 250 snaps this season. Metellus and Smith are also both top 15 safeties this year. All 3 of them have a 73+ DEF grade by PFF, with only 18 safeties reaching that mark. Finally, I wanted to give a shout out to Mekhi Blackmon who has a 70 overall defensive grade from PFF, the highest of any CB for the Vikings so far. He is the 36th highest graded CB with at least 100 snaps. The other 2 Vikings CBs to qualify are Akayleb Evans and Murphy. They both have a sub 60 grade, with Murphy sitting at just 45 overall (a bottom 10 grade).


All is not quite lost. I think.


This breakdown really makes the Kirk injury that much worse. This team was really starting to come into their own and really make something of this season. They still can be uber competitive, and I predict they still finish at or around .500 for the year. This defense is always attacking, and it is working more times than it isn’t. Are they still going to give up some big plays here and there, is the run defense still meh at best, of course. However, BFlo has big time buy in from the players, and you can tell they really love playing in this system and for him. The offense, while without a top 10-12 QB now, still has a solid if not pretty good OL and in my opinion the top collection of pass catchers in the league. If Jaren Hall can just be okay. If he can be what Teddy was in year 2, or what Keenum was in 2017, or even what Ponder was in 2012, this team can still win 4 or 5 more games. The schedule is favorable, not just from the offenses this team faces (all of the next 4 opponents are in/near the bottom half of the league in offensive EPA/Play. It is also decently favorable in the defenses Hall will face. An interesting few weeks ahead, that is for sure.


What’s next?


Speaking of the next few weeks, here is a quick breakdown of the next 4 opponents current EPA/Play and Success rates on both sides of the field. As you can see, on average the Vikings will be facing 4 very middle of the pack or even bad offenses in the next 4 weeks. Then, it is a fairly mixed bag of opposing defenses. You have a clearly top 5-10 defense in the league in New Orleans. But after that, Atlanta is fine and then Denver and Chicago are just plain bad.





Finally, before I get into my predictions for the next 4 weeks, I wanted to do a little gloating. Not often am I right on predicting the NFL (just look at my betting slips!) so when it happens I have to make sure and shout it from the rooftops. In my last breakdown, I predicted they would go 2-2 with losses to the Chiefs and 49ers. Half right! The main thing I wanted to talk about though was that I hit 2 bold predictions right, and I would not have been shocked if my final one hit if JJ was healthy and played at GB. I said Addison would be the leading Vikings WR against the Chiefs and that Fields would be sacked 4+ times. Yes, I was way way way off on my prediction for the 49ers game, but that game was a pleasant surprise and a win like that is never going to make me upset. So without further ado, here is how I see the next 4 weeks going for your Minnesota Vikings.





At Atlanta | 11/5/2023 | 12:00pm


This is a tough one to predict without know how Jaren Hall will look. If he comes out and plays even just okay, the Vikings will win this game. If he comes out and throws 2 picks in the first half and is benched for Dobbs, watch out, it could get ugly. I am going to say Hall is a decent QB on Sunday and the Viking squeak out a win against Heinicke and the Missing Bijans/Pitts.


BOLD PREDICTION: Hall throws for at least 225 yards and accounts for 2+ TDs including at least 1 rushing TD.


WIN MIN 20 – ATL 17


Home Against New Orleans | 11/12/2023 | 12:00pm


Hall, or even Dobbs, going up against this defense scares me. I don’t think they will be able to play clean enough to give the defense a chance. In fact, the only real way I see the Vikings winning this game is if the defense puts on a master class against Carr and forces 2+ turnovers. That or Jaren Hall is the next Tom Brady, but let’s not plan on that. I do think JJ has a really good game against NO, but it just isn’t enough to overcome 0 running game and some mistakes by Hall/Dobbs.


BOLD PREDICTION: The Vikings lose by double digits for the first time this season.


LOSS NO 23 – MIN 10


At Denver | 11/19/2023 | 7:20pm


Now this could be a good game. Something about it just screams nail bitter and it coming down to the final play of the game. If this was in Minnesota, I easily mark it as a win. With it being in Denver, the unknown at QB right now, and the Denver defense playing better the last couple weeks, I am going to say the Vikings lose by 3 after Joseph misses at least 1 field goal in the game.


BOLD PREDICTION: Spoiled this one, but Joseph misses a game tying/winning kick in the 4th quarter.


LOSS DEN 24 – MIN 21


Home Against Chicago | 11/27/2023 | 7:15pm


I do not care who is playing at QB for the Bears or the Vikings. This is a game this team has to win, and should win. Chicago has a not very good head coach, an offense that has no idea what it is doing, and an inability for its GM to sign an extension for any player. I just don’t see a way (barring another major injury) that this Vikings team loses to this Bears team.


BOLD PREDICTION: Danielle Hunter gets 2+ sacks giving him 15+ for the season and on pace to hit at least 20 by the end of the season.


WIN MIN 23 – CHI 13




This has the Vikings at 6-6 after 12 weeks going into their BYE. Not only would you have taken that after starting 0-3, but with the Kirk and JJ injuries that is a great performance. Enough that KOC should be in the Coach of the Year conversation. Hopefully you enjoyed this breakdown, and as always share your thoughts below and let me know if there is something else you would like me to dig into on the next breakdown. TF


All data exported from the NFLVerse in RStudio.

“I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.” Yep, that feels about right. Just when the team turned the corner and was showing what they could be,
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Nov 4, 2023 10:46:44 GMT -6 3 Replies
This week we welcome in PPF's very own to help us navigate the QB situation, the Ezra Cleveland trade, and he previews the Falcons game with us!


This week we welcome in PPF's very own @Danchat to help us navigate the QB situation, the Ezra Cleveland trade, and he previews the Falcons game with us! https://www.youtube
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Oct 21, 2023 18:32:05 GMT -6 0 Replies
Sorry we're late, but since the game is on Monday Night you've got plenty of time to watch! We cover the idiocy of fever social media fever dreams and rumors Farnsworth style and we preview the 49ers game.


Sorry we're late, but since the game is on Monday Night you've got plenty of time to watch! We cover the idiocy of fever social media fever dreams and rumors Farnsworth style and we preview the 49ers
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Oct 21, 2023 10:17:59 GMT -6 0 Replies
The Minnesota Vikings host the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. This is a look back to a distant time in this modest rivalry. I recently acquired a game program for the Vikings-49ers game played on November 8, 1964 in Minnesota. This game was played at a time before the Super Bowl. This was a time of West and East Divisions in a 14-team National Football League. The Vikings and 49ers were West Division foes. They played each other twice in 1964. The first game was played on October 25 in San Francisco. That was the game in which the great Jim Marshall returned a fumble the wrong way. When he tossed the ball into the stands from the end zone, instead of scoring six points, he gave two points to the 49ers. Despite the historic and unforgettable mistake, Marshall helped lead the Vikings to a 27-22 win. The Vikings won the November 8th game as well, 24-7. 1964 was the fourth season in Vikings franchise history. It was their first winning season. Their 8-5-1 record was good for second in the West. Those eight wins were four behind the Baltimore Colts. That great Colts team would go on to lose to the underdog Cleveland Browns in the 1964 NFL Championship. 1964 was the 19th season in 49ers franchise history. The team played in the All-America Football Conference from 1946-49. They were pretty good. The 49ers joined the NFL in 1950. They were mostly good and always entertaining through the 1950s. They had the misfortune of being just behind great Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams teams in the West. The 1957 49ers team was a half away from playing the Browns for the NFL title. The Lions came back from a 24-7 halftime deficit and made that terrific 49ers team forgettable. The 1960s started with the 49ers in transition. Their great players from the 1950s had either retired or moved on. 1964 was a down year as they finished last in the West with a 4-10 record.

The Vikings and 49ers were West Division foes from 1961-66. The 1967 realignment that preceded the 1970 full merger with the American Football League separated them. It’s probably a stretch to say that the Vikings and 49ers have a rivalry. In my lifetime, when one team’s been good the other often hasn’t. Outside of the wonderful 1987 Divisional playoff, postseason matchups have been one-sided in the 49ers favor. At best, it’s a modest rivalry. Personally, it’s a significant rivalry as the 49ers are my local team. Loads of family and friends are 49er faithful. At least, they’re as faithful as 49ers fans tend to get. They are a very fair-weathered bunch. The Vikings, of course, are my team. I’ll always have that 1987 game. Anthony Carter, that pass rush, they put Joe Montana on the bench. Oh my, that game was beautiful.

Back to the November 8th Vikings-49ers game program.

The advertisements are fantastic.

There’s an article about Vikings trainer Fred Zamberletti. He was the Vikings trainer from 1961-98. He was on the sidelines for every Vikings preseason, regular season, and postseason game from 1961 to December 24, 2011. He was a living team icon. It’s a little wild to see a young Zamberletti in only his fourth year with the Vikings.

Roster size. The Vikings had 39 players listed in the program. The 49ers had 38. With so few roster spots, it’s amazing that the Vikings had room for four backs. The 49ers had five. It was a different game.

There were some eventual Hall of Famers on each team.
Vikings:
Fran Tarkenton
Mick Tingelhoff
Carl Eller

Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his playing days with the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles.

49ers:
Jimmy Johnson
Dave Wilcox

49ers head coach Jack Christiansen was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his playing days with the Detroit Lions.

Some interesting 49ers roster nuggets.
Billy Kilmer is best known for his quarterbacking days with the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. It’s interesting to see him playing halfback for the 49ers in in the 1960s.

For some, flanker Bernie Casey might be better known as an actor.

Many know Howard Mudd as one of the best offensive line coaches in the history of the NFL. He was an outstanding guard for the 49ers. He made the 1960s All-Decade Team and should get more Hall of Fame consideration than he’s received. I was initially surprised to see him as a backup for this game but realized that 1964 was his rookie season. For some reason, he’s listed as Harold Mudd in the program.

Left side linebacker Dave Wilcox is the father of current Cal head coach Justin Wilcox.

Speaking of Cal, 49ers right side linebacker Matt Hazeltine was one of the greatest Golden Bears.

Speaking of left side and right side linebackers, defenses of the era were often aligned left-right rather than weak-strong.

49ers quarterback John Brodie is another player that should get some Hall of Fame consideration. He was the league MVP in 1970. He passed for more than 2900 yards three times during a time when few quarterbacks did such a thing. He led the 49ers to consecutive Conference Championship games in 1970 and 1971.

Through this program, it’s fun to look back at a Vikings-49ers game played nearly 60 years ago. It’s on to the present and Monday night’s game. Skol!






The Minnesota Vikings host the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. This is a look back to a distant time in this modest rivalry. I recently acquired a game program for the Vikings-49ers game played
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Oct 10, 2023 19:17:34 GMT -6 5 Replies
This past summer I wrote a piece trying to reflect how much on-field "return" the Vikings received in 2022 relative to the investment into those players - that article can be found in the Purple Pain Original Contect Section here: link. The basic premise was to explore how well the Vikings investments (rookie contracts, player extensions, etc.) paid off in 2022 and what 2023 might look like.

Now that we're approx. 30% into the 2023 season, I think it's worth exploring what dividends the Vikings are actually seeing vs. the investment that was made. 

There are two sources that I use to look at the values: Spotrac's Team Value Rankings and OvertheCap's (OTC) individual player evaluations. 

Spotrac's Team Value Rankings
Their "Value Rankings" consist of a sum of a team's individual qualifying player "TVS" (True Value Score), which is made up of their current avg salary against production points, which are made up of statistical categories relevant to their position (players need to have played 60% of available snaps to qualify); in a nutshell, it's trying to measure how well a player - and ultimately the team - is producing relative to their salary (ie, managing the cap). Here is a snapshot of Spotrac's 2023 Team Value Rankings through Week 5 (link):



Takeaways:
- As you can see, the 49ers are not only the top team in the NFL at 5-0, but #1 in "value" because they're spending the least amount of 2023 cap dollars to get the roster/record. How can they do this? Well, it helps if you Draft really well and you have a starting QB on Day 3 rookie contract. Yes, they have some expensive contracts that will constrain their cap starting in 2024, but they can kick some of those cap dollars down the road to keep the majority of their team in-tact. 
- The Lions have obviously done a good job extracting value from their investments, primarily their draft picks. While Goff's $33.5m APY contract may seem like a bunch, he's played relatively well in 2023 and relative to the $40m+ a year market value some teams paid this offseason for the likes of Daniel Jones and Derek Carr, Goff provides a decent value. Their other longer term investements have primarily been along the OL (Decker and Ragnow). 
- The Vikings come in at 26th - they are right in the middle in terms of total cap dollars spent (16th most), but with an underachieving record of 1-4, the investments aren't paying off. 
- I displayed the Steelers at 18th primarily because, while the teams at the top have the best records in the NFL and the teams ranked at the bottom have bad records, Pittsburgh is an example of a team with an "Ok" record, but they were 7th in cap dollars spent in 2023 so even though they officially have a winning record at 3-2, relative to what they spent they aren't getting a Top 10 return. 

2023 OTC Valuation thru Week 5: Offense
While Spotrac does assign individual scores to players, they don't provide an individual dollar figure of a player's "value" to compare against their invested cap hit. That's where OTC comes in.

OTC has their "OTC Valuation", which calculates the dollar-value being provided by a player based on his on-field performance relative to the current market for his position. OTC primarily uses PFF grades and snap counts, as their article on their "OTC Valuation" states (link): "While snap counts do not tell us much about a player’s performance they are telling us that the coaching staff must see something in that player to keep trotting him out there week after week. Even if the coach is simply forced by circumstance to play someone, there is value to just taking a snap."

I bet most Vikings fans have used OTC a few times to look up a player's contract or cap hit(s), but you may have overlooked their prior season's OTC Valuation figure. Below is Justin Jefferson's profile on OTC - notice the 2023 OTC Valuation figure right underneath the header information. I compare that against their contract APY (Average Per Year) value which just simply takes their the players total current contract and divides it by the # of years:


So you can see, so far in 2023 Jefferson has generated $26.7m in "value" to the team while only costing them $3.3m per year on contract costs - this is the value of getting starting level production from your rookie contracts, and in Jefferson's case, All-Pro level production.

Here is a table for the rest of the offense:



Takeaways:
- Outside of Jefferson, another individual value that stands out is Kirk. Like I mentioned with Goff earlier, thanks to all the QB extensions that were signed the past two offseasons that ballooned the contract APY to $45m-$50m+, Kirk's 1-yr extension of $35m (signed last offseason) relative to the production he provides is actually good value. 
- You can see that OTC really values snap counts and PFF grades in the OL values and Ezra, Ingram & Schlottmann all earned solid value relative to their contracts as their PFF grades & snap counts are a bit higher than perhaps what fans might perceive them to be via the "eyeball test" on Sundays.
- With our WR1-WR3 group on rookie contracts, it's probably the best WR "value" group in the entire NFL. 
- The most disappointing position group on offense is the TE group as Hockenson and Oliver haven't lived-up to their deals so far in 2023. 
- We knew coming into 2023 that the offense would have to carry the Vikings and it's no surprise that if you take away Jefferson's & Kirk's values, the offense as a whole would be "in the red", mainly because of Hockeson and the dead cap hits of Thielen/Cook/Reagor. The latter isn't so much of a problem because we knew we'd have to "eat" those contracts at some point, but Hockeson's value is a complete eyesore and has fans thinking about the negative value of that last Rudolph extension Rick did.  

2023 OTC Valuation thru Week 5: Defense



Takeaways:
- The Vikings are getting really good value from their ILB group as all 4 players are providing more on-field "value" than what they're costing the team. Hicks' figure might be surprising, but PFF has graded him really solid overall and he's not really breaking the bank at only $3.5m per-year and while Pace, Jr. is still just a rookie, he's playing productive snaps and costing us peanuts being an UDFA. 
- The eyesore on the defensive side is obviously the three big FA signings this offseason: Lowry, Murphy & Davenport. The combined negative value for all 3 so far is ($18.2m). Davenport's negative value is primarily because he hasn't played much in the first 5 weeks and if he remains healthy and active, I suspect his 2023 OTC Evaluation will increase, but I can't image Lowry's will go up. I'm wondering if part of Murphy's issue is that he's playing out of position on the outside as he does typically grade better in the slot, but we al know the problem is that we don't have much in the way of outside CB depth.  
- While Harrison Smith had a nice game in Carolina, it still doesn't make up for his hefty APY contract value. You have to imagine that this is his last season in Minnesota. 

2023 OTC Valuation thru Week 5: Special Teams



Takeaways:
- Greg Joesph is having a solid start to 2023: 4/4 on FG's, 14/14 on Xpt's, and his 82.6% TB % is the highest he's ever had, although that could be the result of new touchback rules. Still, he's earning his $2m 1-yr extension. 
- The dead cap is Podlesny and I used Spotrac's Dead Cap totals as the source for those figures. 

2023 OTC Valuation thru Week 5: Kwesi
To perhaps evaluate how Kwesi's roster-building has done (seeing as many fans are looking ahead to 2024 already), I separated the players Kwesi has either extended, acquired (trade, free agency, waiver wire, etc.) or drafted:



Takeaways:
- One way to look at this is to compare the total # of players in the red (21) vs green (17) and suggest that Kwesi hasn't done a good job when just looking that # of players. That probably speaks more to the quality of the depth, as it's currently lacking and you'd like to see more players in the green. 
- The other way is to look at just pure contract value which probably suggests that when he hits on someone, he really hits. Cases in point: Kirk's extension, Hicks, and the draft "hits" of Addison, Pace & Evans. 
- Kwesi has struck-out so far on the first "long-term" extension (Hockenson, hopefully he turns it around this season), and while Davenport, Murphy & Lowry have been disappointments, they aren't on long-term deals. That being said, we will be eating a bit of dead cap in 2024 if we don't resign them as Kwesi did push some of the contract into future years beyond 2023 by using Void years. 
- I think Roy, Nailor, Blackmon and Ward could possibly flip from red to green by the end of this season and that would give a bit more "value" from the Draft side of things. With Hicks probably gone in 2024, you'd like to see more value out of Asamoah, though. 



This past summer I wrote a piece trying to reflect how much on-field "return" the Vikings received in 2022 relative to the investment into those players - that article can be found in the Purple Pain
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Oct 14, 2023 10:52:11 GMT -6 0 Replies
It's out a little late this week, because we wanted to talk about the Justin Jefferson injury, but episode 109 of VR is now up. We talk about the Vikes offense and the WR group with JJ out, we preview the Bears game, and talk about where the Vikes will be at the trade deadline and what they should or shouldn't do.


It's out a little late this week, because we wanted to talk about the Justin Jefferson injury, but episode 109 of VR is now up. We talk about the Vikes offense and the WR group with JJ out, we
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Oct 12, 2023 20:31:44 GMT -6 1 Replies
To pass some time before the Vikings take apart the Bears, here’s a little origin story of a couple coaches that found some success in the league. 

Two Geniuses And A Ballboy

As with the lack of respect shown to any high school substitute teacher, the New York Giants assistant coach had no hope of bringing the team's offensive meeting room to order. But when the bespectacled offensive coach entered the room and simply cleared his throat, all fell silent.

Pat Summerall leaned over to Don Heinrich and asked, "Who the hell is that?"
"That's Lombardi," Heinrich replied, "and you'll know soon enough."

It's amazing now that there was a time when Vince Lombardi was an unknown offensive coach. That was the case in his 1958 introduction to Summerall. Lombardi would be called an offensive coordinator today. Even more amazing is that the Giants unknown defensive coach then was Tom Landry. Lombardi and Landry are football coaching icons. Thinking of them as unknown assistant coaches is like thinking of Bill Walsh as Paul Brown's slappy in Cincinnati and Bill Belichick as Ted Marchibroda's gofer in Baltimore. It just doesn't feel right.

1956-63 is considered the "golden years" of New York Giants football. They won it all in 1956. They played for it all in five of the six seasons from 1958-63. Only missing the title game in 1960. Jim Lee Howell was the head coach. He'd be the first to admit that Lombardi and Landry were the ones that actually coached the players. It's impossible to imagine a head coach today giving the freedoms to his assistants that Howell easily gave his brilliant assistant coaches. He never felt threatened by them and constantly acknowledged their skills and where the credit belongs. In fact, the head coach claimed that he was only there to make sure that the footballs were properly inflated. Howell was hired as head coach in 1954. He had the difficult task of replacing his own coach, the legendary Steve Owen. Tom Landry was already there as a player/coach but was made a full-time coach. Howell's first external hire was grabbing Vince Lombardi from Red Blaik's Army team. Howell's first order of business for his coaches was to catch the Cleveland Browns. Paul Brown's Browns were the NFL's dominant team as soon as they joined the NFL, after the folding of the All-America Football Conference, in 1950. The new kids on the block were the best kids on the block. The Browns played in every NFL title game from 1950-55. They won championships in 1950, '54, and '55. The schemes developed by Lombardi and Landry were done with the Browns in mind. Being in the same Eastern Conference, the Browns success was at the expense of the Giants success. The rivalry between the two teams became the NFL's best in the 1950's. It only took two years for the two Giants assistants to get past the Browns. They were helped by the retirement of Browns quarterback Otto Graham following the 1955 title game. Still, everything came together for the Giants in 1956. Frank Gifford was the perfect back for Lombardi's power sweep/option attack. Gifford was the NFL's MVP that season. Landry's defense, led by rookie middle linebacker Sam Huff, was brilliant. Landry's scheme and Huff's play was making a football-curious nation aware of this new "middle linebacker" position. For the first time in an NFL stadium there were chants of "defense,defense, defense...." The Giants were on top of the football world. The unknown assistant coaches were becoming known. Lombardi's last game with the Giants was the 1958 NFL Championship game against the Baltimore Colts, the "Greatest Game Ever Played." The Green Bay Packers grabbed him. After a decade of losing the Packers became the league’s dominant team in the 1960s. They lost the 1960 NFL title game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Lombardi promised his team that they’d never again lose a postseason game. They didn’t. His Packers won five titles in seven years, 1961-62 and 1965-67. Landry's last game with the Giants was the 1959 NFL Championship game, also against the Colts. The expansion Dallas Cowboys grabbed him. He became a fixture in Dallas for an amazing 29 years. His Cowboys won five Conference and two Super Bowl titles. The two unknown coaching assistants that shared the same sideline in New York in the 1950s were on opposite sidelines for two classic League Championship games a decade later. Lombardi won both. Howell retired following the 1960 season. Allie Sherman, who took over the offense from Lombardi, took over for Howell. The team that Howell, Lombardi, and Landry built played in three straight NFL Championship games from 1961-63. The Giants lost the first two to Lombardi's Packers.

There's no denying the football brilliance and historical significance of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. For nearly 35 years, one or both were cornerstones of the NFL. History has not been as kind to Jim Lee Howell. I've been guilty of too easily dismissing his importance to those great New York Giants teams. One of the most impressive aspects of Howell was that he simply didn't care if he got credit for the wins. He'd rather take the blame for a loss than take credit for a win. Fortunately, those Giants teams had far more wins than losses. Howell did far more than pump up the footballs. He should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame simply for managing the egos and demands of his assistant coaches. The ability of head coaches to manage and delegate authority is more appreciated today. Head coaches in the first half of the NFL's existence did much more scheming and teaching. With only a few coaches on a staff, they had to. Jim Lee Howell was one of the first, if not the first, head coaches to limit his duties to delegating and game managing. It was Howell that decided to send Pat Summerall out to kick about a 50-yard field goal against Cleveland in something of a blizzard in 1958. A field goal that Summerall made to force a playoff against the same Browns team a week later. A field goal that would eventually put them in the 1958 NFL Championship game. A field goal attempt that was strongly opposed by Lombardi and Landry.


To pass some time before the Vikings take apart the Bears, here’s a little origin story of a couple coaches that found some success in the league.  Two Geniuses And A Ballboy As
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Oct 4, 2023 11:13:55 GMT -6 22 Replies
We are not allowed to have nice things! I know they finally got a win on Sunday, but I still do not feel good about this team (maybe that will change after this breakdown?). The defense played really well when it needed to on Sunday, the offense looked its worst yet, and that is with us not even mentioning weeks 2 and 3. On that fun note, welcome to our first quarter breakdown and look ahead. As with the previous breakdown after week 1 (find that here), we will look at some key analytics metrics for this Vikings team, and how that compares to the rest of the league. The main metric we will look at today is EPA, but I do mix in some success rate data, yards per play, and net air yards.


As the eye test tells you, there is some good and some bad with this team. There are things that give us hope for a turnaround, while others would tell you this is going to be a very long disappointing season. As someone mentioned in the last thread, the key to EPA and even Success Rate data is knowing they are more overall efficiency metrics, and not an end all be all to say if a single player is good or not. That being said, if the team is seeing a big spike in these metrics when targeting or running through this player, that means they are probably adding something of benefit to the team.

EPA by Player – I am starting to think JJ might be good.


To start, let’s check in on the EPA for individual players on offense. As you can see below, JJ is still leading the pack, and it isn’t even close. When this offense targets JJ, good things happen (shocking I know!). JJ leads the team with 22.19 in total EPA and a 0.472 EPA/Play. That total EPA is 9th overall for the entire league right now, and his EPA/Play is 16th for all players with at least 20 plays. As we saw after week 1, Addison is pretty dang effective in this offense as well. So much so, I would say it is time to incorporate him a lot more. He is not only second on the team in total EPA despite being 3rd in targets and 4th in total touches, but he is top 20 in the entire NFL (20 play min) for EPA/Play. Put this in the small sample size bin, but Akers looked and performed great in his limited action on Sunday. Only 7 plays, but those 7 plays already have him with the 3rd highest total EPA on the team, and 3rd for EPA/Play. I would anticipate him being worked into the offense more and more as time goes on.


 


You will notice that Mattison is still a bottom 3 skill player on the team for EPA, however, below is a breakdown by week to show you the improvement. Mattison had about as bad of a week 2 as you could ask for (-8.89 total EPA), but has followed that up with 2 consecutive weeks of positive EPAs. His 0.05 EPA/Play the last 2 weeks would rank in the top 10 for all RBs with at least 30 rushes this season. This is not to say he is a game breaker and a clear RB1, but he has turned a corner after week 2 (partially the OL as well), and should continue to help push this offense forward.





Shifting to the QBs, I wanted to circle back to the EPA/Play by down and quarter for Kirk and the QBs the team has played. First you will see the EPA/Play by Down chart. Things have started to level off a bit for Kirk on a down by down basis, however, he still continues to drop off on 3rd downs. Not to pour salt in the wound, but not only is his performance on 3rd downs worse than any other down, it is actually worse than it was in week 1. In week 1 Kirk’s EPA/Play on 3rd downs was -0.037. Now after 4 weeks it is -0.324 per play. This ranks as the 9th worst EPA/Play for any QB on 3rd down (minimum of 20 plays).





Now let’s look at QB play by quarter. On second thought, maybe we skip the 1st quarter? This is a theme for the entire offense, but it is staggering to see. The biggest reason for this is the turnovers, but even if you remove the turnovers, Cousins (and the entire passing offense) still has a -0.386 EPA/Play in the 1st quarter compared to 0.579, 0.188, and 0.258 EPA/Play in the 2nd through 4th quarters. It is great to see the offense and Kirk rebound in the 2nd quarter, but they really need to sit down and figure out their 1st quarter woes if this team truly wants to turn their season around. Putting that -1.169 EPA/Play in the 1st quarter into perspective, it is the worst mark in the entire league for all QBs with at least 20 total snaps. The next closest is Pickett at -0.968/play, and only 5 QBs total have an EPA/Play of -0.5 or worse in the 1st quarter. Compare this to Cousins coming in at 6th best in all other quarters combined (+0.197). Purdy is #1 on the list with a +0.342 EPA/Play. Come on KOC and Kirk, let’s figure this 1st quarter thing out!




Team EPA – The RedZone is a bloodbath.


Now we will shift our focus to EPA for the team as a whole. The first thing I wanted to look at was the EPA for the offense when it is in the RedZone vs when it is not. The results are staggering. Below you can see a chart for the entire NFL showing each team’s offensive EPA/play when they are in the RedZone and when they are not. For these types of charts, you always want to be in the top right section. The further right the logo, the higher the EPA/Play for RedZone plays, the higher the logo, the higher the EPA/Play for non-RedZone plays. Pretty much, if a team is in the top right box, they have a pretty good and consistent offense no matter where they are on the field. If they are in the bottom left box, they have a consistently bad offense. The Vikings, as you can see, are in the top left box. This means their offense when anywhere outside of the RedZone is pretty good (around top 10 overall), but their offense when in the RedZone is bad. They actually have the worst RedZone offense in the entire NFL on an EPA/Play basis.





I wanted to then see how the team did on the opponent’s side of the field but not in the RedZone. The below chart shows the EPA/Play while in the RedZone, and when they are between the opponents 21 and midfield. This is even more of an eye opener than the previous chart to me. The Vikings have a top 4 offense when on the opponent’s side of the field, just not in the RedZone. Top 4! Then they get inside the 20 and everything falls apart.





Just for reference as well, below is the regular EPA/Play chart you will find on the internet showing the offense and defense EPA/Play with tiers. This is a useful tool to show discrepancies between a team’s offense and defense, and their overall EPA ranking across the NFL. Once again, the further right and higher on the chart a team is, the better. You can see that the Vikings are pretty middle of the pack for both offense and defense. They, along with about half the NFL, are in that fringe 3rd to 4th tier of teams. The Bills, 49ers, Dolphins, and Cowboys are clear and away the top tier of teams after 4 weeks in the NFL. That leaves the Giants, Bears, Steelers, Jets, and Bengals to bring up the rear. The good for this with the Vikings is the defense has been holding its own, and the offense has its moments. If the offense can get things together in the 1st quarter and the RedZone, they have the potential to be in the top 2 tiers.





Success Rates – Did you forget what you did in the 2nd?


This team just cannot stay consistent for 60 mins. Below is a breakdown of success rates for the offense by quarter. As we saw with the EPA data, the 1st quarter is rough for this offense. They are only successful on 32% of their plays, which is the 5th worst rate in the NFL for the 1st quarter. Compare that to the 2nd quarter where over 62% of all plays were successful. That comes in as the single best rate in the NFL, beating out the likes of Miami (60.7%), Houston (60.5%), the Chargers (58.5%), and Kansas City (57.1%). Things don’t stay that high in the 2nd half (39.76% total success rate), and fall back to the 8th lowest success rate of any team in the NFL.


On the defensive side, they are much more consistent, albeit not great. While they are really good in the 1st quarter against opposing offenses, they then show their true form of being an okay but still not good defense. The 34.3% success rate in the 1st quarter by the defense is the 6th best rate in the NFL. However, their 2nd through 4th quarter rate of 53.1% is the 2nd worst in the NFL, with only Denver being worse at 54.4%.




Lets circle back and look at success rates for individual players when they are targeted or run the ball. Some small changes from week 1, but overall, nothing too crazy. JJ is still leading the way with a 66% success rate when targeted, TJ is the next closest at 58.1%. That is a fairly significant improvement for TJ from his 44.4% success rate in week 1. The main takeaway from this is KJ is still struggling, and the offense really needs to shift focus to the big 3 of JJ, TJ and Addison. KJ still has a role in this offense, but as we have seen the last couple weeks, Addison should be that #2 WR right now.





Yards/Play – Wait, are the Vikings actually really good?


A stat I wanted to look at more this go around than I did after week 1 was yards per play. This metric can be a pretty good indicator of how good a team is/can be. In-particular, if your team can gain more yards per play on offense than it gives up on defense, watch out. Right now, after 4 weeks, the NFL has 14 teams with a positive number in the offensive yards/play gained over the defense’s yards/play allowed. There are only 7 teams who are gaining at least 0.5 yards/play more than they are giving up, and the Vikings are one of them. The Vikings actually come in at 6th overall in net Yards/Play gained, sitting at +0.9 yards/play. The top 10 teams are listed below.





The Vikings sitting at #6 overall and a +0.9, is a big improvement compared to last season. Last year, the Vikings finished the regular season at -0.41 net yards/play, despite gaining over 5.5 yards/play on offense. The big reason for them finishing 24th in this metric last year was easily the defense. They gave up the 3rd most yards per play, behind only the Bears and Lions (NFC North has some bad defenses!). To help show how important this metric can be, the top 5 teams in the 2022 regular season were KC, PHI, BUF, SF, and MIA (3 of these 5 teams played on championship weekend). The top 4 teams all netted over 1 yard/play more on offense than they gave up on defense last year. The bottom 5 teams were PIT, LAR, ARI, CHI, and HOU with an average of -0.823 net yards/play (4 of these 5 teams were picking in the top 6).


To put all of these numbers in one chart, below is a similar tier chart as the EPA/Play one above. The further right, the better the offense, the higher on the chart the better the defense. You will notice, the Vikings easily fall in that second tier of teams for this stat. They are middle of the road in defensive yards/play allowed, but being a top 5 team in yards gained per play pushes them up the chart quite a bit.





Air Yards – Keep pushing it down the field!


Finally, I wanted to look at air yards for this Vikings offense. Air Yards are a metric that measures how far past the line of scrimmage a pass travels in the air before reaching the receiver. In other words, it helps to clear up some of the YAC noise you can see (i.e. the Justin Fields preseason passing issue) in passing yards. YAC is a great thing, but it is not nearly as consistent and reliable as just plain passing the ball deep.


Looking at Kirk’s average air yards per attempt so far this season, we can see he is trying to push the ball down the field. Minnesota, as a team, ranks 11th in average air yards per passing play, throwing it 7.58 yards down the field. The top teams are GB and PHI both averaging over 9 air yards per pass play. Bringing up the rear are the Cowboys and Giants at less than 5.5 air yards per play. The average for the entire NFL right now is 7.17 air yards.


I wanted to take this to the next level, so I compared the air yards to the yards needed for a first down. For example, if it is 3rd and 7 and Kirk throws the ball 6 yards past the LOS, that is a net air yard of -1, regardless of the outcome of the play. Averaging that across all 167 pass plays the Vikings have had so far, Kirk is throwing just 0.635 yards short per play (106 total yards). This ranks 5th in the entire league with only 1 team being positive. That team would be Green bay at +0.599 per play. For comparison, the Vikings were 18th last season at -1.11 net air yards when throwing for an average of 7.49 air yards per pass play.


Below is a breakdown of this stat by down to help explain what is happening. Overall, the team is doing a good job of pushing the ball down the field. They are even better at it on 3rd downs this year compared to last. Last year Kirk threw the ball 7.92 yards in the air on 3rd downs when they needed 7.44 on average (+0.48). This year, he is throwing the ball 9.44 yards in the air compared to needing just 6.2 (+3.24, 3rd best in the league). As you can see in the chart below, the net air yards per attempt is pretty low on 1st and 2nd down. This is not surprising, and is actually expected. On average, a team is rarely going to air it out on those 2 downs because they know they still have more plays to get the 1st down. The big thing is making sure on 3rd and 4th down you are at least giving your receivers a chance to get the 1st down by just catching the ball. You don’t want to have to rely on them getting an extra 3 or 4 yards after the catch to get the 1st down (i.e. 4th and 8 in the playoffs and throwing 5 yards short).





Will the real Vikings please stand up?


The more and more I dig through these metrics and watch the games, the more confused I am about what this team is. There are times the offense is hitting on all cylinders and they look like nothing can stand in their way. Then other times they go what feels like an eternity without getting a single 1st down. Same could be said about the defense, in it has some really really good moments and stretches, and then some times where they look like toddlers playing against grown-ups. The turnovers, in-particular on the goal line, have played a big part in the losses. After all, if you take away the 4 goal line turnovers and make them all touchdowns, this Vikings offense moves from 16th in PPG (22.5) to tied for 5th with 29.5 PPG. We can’t go back and change history like that, but it shows this offense can compete with anyone if they show up and stay focused. These next 4 games are a big test with 2 Super Bowl favorites and 2 division games.


What’s next?


Here is a quick look at the current EPA and Success Rates for the next 4 opponents on the Vikings schedule. Some obviously better teams in KC and SF, a fairly even team in GB, and a vastly inferior team in CHI.





Home Against Kansas City | 10/8/2023 | 3:25pm


Of the next 4 games, this is the one I have a weird feeling about. Something in me is saying the Vikings might just pull off the upset and shock the NFL. The Chiefs aren’t playing like the Super Bowl winning Chiefs just yet, but they are still pretty dang good. The Vikings defense has played well overall, outside some rough run defense against Philly and forgetting Keenan Allen is pretty good. I just have no clue what to expect. I am going to assume KC and Mahomes show up to play, and win this one by taking an early lead and holding off the Vikings surge late.

Bold Prediction: Addison is the leading receiver for the Vikings.


LOSS KC 27 – MIN 21


At Chicago | 10/15/2023 | 12:00pm


If the Vikings cannot win this game, just waive the white flag now and we can all go home. This Chicago team has no direction and is really struggling on both sides of the ball. Barring injury, if the Vikings don’t win this game by double digits there needs to be a serious conversation about what isn’t working.

Bold Prediction: Justin Fields is sacked 4+ times.


WIN MIN 28 – CHI 13

Home Against San Francisco | 10/23/2023 | 7:15pm


Why did I pick this game as the first game I am going to attend in person? This one will be a beating by the 49ers. This 49ers team is stacked and built to beat up on teams like the Vikings. They have the DL to make any offense screech to a halt in the run game and pass game. It will take an otherworldly performance by the OL and Kirk to beat this SF team. I hope beyond all hope I am wrong on this, but of all the games left on the Vikings schedule this is the one I feel most confident in my pick.

Bold Prediction: Kirk throws for less than 200 yards, and has multiple turnovers.


LOSS SF 28 – MIN 17


At Green Bay | 10/29/2023 | 12:00pm


This is the true litmus test of this quarter of the season. Green Bay and Minnesota have similar feels about them. Both have middle of the pack defenses from an EPA standpoint, while they have solid offenses, albeit a bit hit or miss from time to time. If this one was in Minnesota, it is an easy win for the Vikings. This being in GB has me questioning if the Vikes can pull it off. It should be a close game, and I won’t be shocked if it becomes a shootout.

Bold Prediction: JJ goes off for 175+ yards


WIN MIN 27 – GB 24



With all of this I have the Vikings at 3-5 after 8 weeks. Not great, but also could be a lot worse. If the team solves some of its RedZone issues on offense, they could easily win 3 of these 4 games. However, if the offense still disappears from time to time and the defense struggles again, they might only win 1 of these games. There is a lot to be determined for this season, but these next 4 games will tell us a lot of what we can expect in the second half of the season. I will be back after the Green Bay game (or sooner if something truly crazy happens) for another breakdown. As always, if you have any metrics you would like me to look into more, send them along. I love doing these deep dives, and am always open to new ideas. Hopefully, next time I can dig into the defense a bit more and give them some love (hopefully not hate). TF


All data exported from the NFLVerse in RStudio.

We are not allowed to have nice things! I know they finally got a win on Sunday, but I still do not feel good about this team (maybe that will change after this breakdown?). The defense played really
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Oct 6, 2023 12:01:33 GMT -6 0 Replies
We preview the Chiefs game...and our predictions might surprise you!

We preview the Chiefs game...and our predictions might surprise you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwNuKWll9Sg
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Sept 30, 2023 12:04:01 GMT -6 3 Replies
I was recently reading Tex Maule's The Game. It's a fun, interesting look at the NFL's history up to the time that the book was published. The Game was published following the 1962 season. So all league, team, and game histories were through the 1962 season. I get a kick out of looking at NFL history from such a snapshot perspective. Nestled between a league chronology and an author's note in The Game, Maule included the career leaders of some of the major statistical categories. Most of the career leaders in 1962 played 12-game seasons. In 1961, the league bumped the schedule to 14 games. The passing numbers, in particular, are tiny compared to today. It was a very different game. There were significantly fewer games and the games were much more violent. Both were reflected in the passing numbers. Even the league’s best quarterbacks completed just over 50% of their passes and they often threw as many interceptions as touchdowns. The only protection provided the quarterbacks was from those blocking for him. Unlike today, there was no assistance from the rules or the officials. One might even argue that today’s pampered quarterbacks wouldn’t even attempt to play a game under the conditions of those long gone days. They certainly wouldn’t do so under the pay scale of the day. The Game is an interesting look at the NFL’s first 43 years.

A 1962 Snapshot Of The Career Statistical Leaders:

Most Yards Rushing, Lifetime
1. Joe Perry, 49ers, Colts, 1950-62: 8,280
2. Jim Brown, Browns, 1957-62: 7,459
3. Steve Van Buren, 1944-51: 5,860

Joe Perry’s numbers (wrongly) do not include the two years that he played in the All-America Football Conference. He retired after the 1963 season with 9,723 yards (that’s rightly including his AAFC numbers). Jim Brown kept running for another three years. He retired after the 1965 season with 12,312 yards. That number stood as the league record until Walter Payton chased it down in the 1980s.

Current Leader:
Emmitt Smith: 18,355

Most Passes Attempted, Lifetime
1. Bobby Layne, Bears, Bulldogs, Lions, Steelers, 1948-62: 3,700
2. Y.A. Tittle, Colts, 49ers, Giants, 1950-62: 3,169
3. Sammy Baugh, Redskins, 1937-52: 3,016

Bobby Layne retired after the 1962 season. Y.A. Tittle had one more All-Pro season in him and retired after the 1964 season.

Current Leader:
Tom Brady: 12,050

Most Passes Completed, Lifetime
1. Bobby Layne, Bears, Bulldogs, Lions, Steelers, 1948-62: 1,814
2. Y.A. Tittle, Colts, 49ers, Giants, 1950-62: 1,750
3. Sammy Baugh, Redskins, 1937-52: 1,709

Current Leader:
Tom Brady: 7,753

Most Yards Gained Passing, Lifetime
1. Bobby Layne, Bears, Bulldogs, Lions, Steelers, 1948-62: 26,768
2. Norm Van Brocklin, Rams, Eagles, 1949-60: 23,611
3. Y.A. Tittle, Colts, 49ers, Giants, 1950-62: 23,396

Norm Van Brocklin was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 1962.

Current Leader:
Tom Brady: 89,214

Most Touchdown Passes, Lifetime
1. Bobby Layne, Bears, Bulldogs, Lions, Steelers, 1948-62: 196
2. Sammy Baugh, Redskins, 1937-52: 186
3. Norm Van Brocklin, Rams, Eagles, 1949-60: 173
3. Charles Conerly, Giants, 1948-61: 173

Current Leader:
Tom Brady: 649

Fran Tarkenton held all of the above passing records for about 20 years. That’s longer, by a wide margin, than any quarterback has ever held those records.

Completion Percentage, Lifetime
1. Milt Plum, Browns, Lions, 1957-62: 57.2
2. Sammy Baugh, Redskins, 1937-52: 56.7
3. Bart Starr, Packers, 1956-62: 56.6

Milt Plum played through the 1960s but his best years were in this time frame. Bart Starr was just getting started.

Current Leader:
Drew Brees: 67.7
(5. Kirk Cousins: 66.8)

Most Passes Caught, Lifetime
1. Don Hutson, Packers, 1935-45: 488
2. Billy Howton, Packers, Browns, Cowboys, 1952-62: 470
3. Raymond Berry, Colts, 1955-62: 419

Raymond Berry finished his great career in 1967 with 631 catches.

Current Leader:
Jerry Rice: 1,549

Most Touchdown Passes Caught, Lifetime
1. Don Hutson, Packers, 1935-45: 101
2. Pete Pihos, Eagles, 1945-55: 61
3. Hugh Taylor, Redskins, 1947-54: 58

Current Leader:
Jerry Rice: 197

Most Points Scored, Lifetime
1. Lou Groza, Browns, 1950-62: 902
2. Bobby Walston, Eagles, 1951-62: 881
3. Don Hutson, Packers, 1935-45: 825

It felt like Lou Groza played forever (22 years). He retired after the 1967 season with 1,608 points scored.

Current Leader:
Adam Vinatieri: 2,673

Most Touchdowns Scored, Lifetime
1. Don Hutson, Packers, 1935-45: 105
2. Jim Brown, Browns, 1957-62: 81
3. Steve Van Buren, 1944-51: 77

Current Leader:
Jerry Rice: 208

Jim Brown retired with 126 touchdowns.

Don Hutson’s touchdown numbers are probably the only numbers in this snapshot that aren’t tiny. His 105 touchdowns are nearly half of Jerry Rice’s 208. Hutson played 11 years. Rice played 21 years.

Today's game is a very different game.


I was recently reading Tex Maule's The Game. It's a fun, interesting look at the NFL's history up to the time that the book was published. The Game was published following the 1962 seaso
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Sept 23, 2023 7:07:28 GMT -6 0 Replies
The latest Vikings Report is out. Drew and Ted talk the Risner signing (we recorded before the Cam Akers trade), preview the Chargers game, and don't forget to make your 'Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team' pick. At the end of the year a winner gets an Antoine Winfield jersey! 


The latest Vikings Report is out. Drew and Ted talk the Risner signing (we recorded before the Cam Akers trade), preview the Chargers game, and don't forget to make your 'Nobody Cares About Your
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Sept 13, 2023 16:36:22 GMT -6 2 Replies
Someone please tell me about how great the Eagles defense is, I haven’t heard gushing platitudes about them in at least 15 seconds. Yeah, the Eagles D-Line is good and generated a lot of pressure (37.7% pressure rate, 4th highest in week 1), and stuffed the Patriots run game.  And while they were being good and generating all that pressure, Mac Jones threw for 316 yards (3rd highest of his career) and 3 TDs (tied career high) while the Patriots offense outscored the Eagles offense 20-18.  

The 2023 Vikings defense matches up better against Hurts than the 2022 defense and the Eagles can be beaten over the top. To win, the Vikings will need to make some strategic changes, but they have the personnel to do so.


Eagles Offense vs Vikings Defense
The Eagles only scored 18 points on offense in week 1. They weren’t exactly a juggernaut.

But the Eagles offense is intimidating because they have two great receivers and an QB who was in the MVP conversation. The Patriots neutralized both of those advantages with the same strategy. In 2022, Hurts looked like he was playing loose and easy, he never seemed to force a throw because he always had a running lane to take. I did not see those same running lanes against the Patriots.

The knock on Jalen Hurts in 2022 was that the Eagles were giving him extremely simple reads and there were questions on if he could handle more complexity. The 2022 Vikings were exhibit A in giving Hurts simple reads, this 2023 team should present him with more complexity. This is where I think the Vikings approach I saw against the Bucs will carry over. Despite all their aggression and movement, they were able to react to screens and QB runs pretty quickly; they weren’t over pursuing or leaving large chunks of the field undefended.

A major difference between 2022 and 2023 that I’m looking at is which WR should I be watching. In 2022, Devonta Smith was the bigger threat. The Vikings weren’t great against slot routes where Smith excels. With the change in defensive approach, AJ Brown is much more dangerous – I’m sure he’ll get a few 1:1 chances. The Patriots didn’t shut down AJ Brown, but they did hold him to 7 catches with a long of 23 yards by forcing fast decisions from Hurts; if the Vikings can follow that template, the Vikings Defense vs Eagles offense can at least be a close matchup. Even if this matchup tilts slightly in favor of the Eagles, I still think the Vikings can win because…


Vikings Offense vs Eagles Defense
Is change good or bad?

Quick level set: which team experienced more defensive turnover: the Eagles or Vikings?

The Vikings returned 5 starters: Harrison Phillips, Danielle Hunter, Jordan Hicks, Harrison Smith, Cam Bynum. And, Akayleb Evans was almost the 6th starter; he took over as a starter from Dantzler before his season was derailed by concussions.

The Eagles Lost: both Safeties (Marcus Epps and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson), both starting LBs (TJ Edwards and Kyzir White), DT Jason Hargrave. They also lost both coordinators to head coaching positions.

BUT! Don’t the Eagles have a lot of draft picks? Here to talk about how all high draft picks are immediately great is Lewis Cine. Lewis?

[Lewis Cine] Did you know not all 1st rounders are immediate impact players? Even players from Georgia? The Eagles relied more on 33-year-old Fletcher Cox than recent high picks Jalen carter or Jordan Davis. Just because they might have great careers doesn’t mean they are fully ready for this one early game.

Also, Nakobe Dean and Reed Blankenship were injured week 1, so their LB and Safety positions are even thinner. Their most used DT, Fletcher Cox was hurt too.

I bring up all this change because I asked if change is good or bad. It depends where you start. By yardage, the Vikings were the #31 defense last year; the Eagles were #3. Change is great when you need to get better, but the Eagles were already pretty good before they changed a bunch of things, so they have a huge risk for negative regression.

The one position on defense the Eagles didn’t turn over is CB; where both Darius Slay and James Bradbury are over 30. Also, in the secondary, Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne was manipulating new Eagle’s safety Reed Blankenship all game long. Hunter Henry was getting free down the field.

This entire recap of the Eagles defense is to highlight one simple point: they have a lot of chaos on defense… and to organize all this chaos, they brought in new senior defensive assistant: Matt Patricia, who turned the Lions to sh*t as soon as he took over, then turned Mac Jones to sh*t as soon as he took over (both improved after he left). They are paying Patricia actual money to enter their facility and tell players what to do… and they have to listen to him.  The 2022 Vikings should be a warning that a good D Line + bad back end = a bad defense.

How the Vikings Can Win vs the Eagles
Hockenson needs to impact the Eagles pass rush and run defense. However, he doesn’t open up the run game by blocking, he opens it up by moving defenders away from the line of scrimmage.

In Week 1, Hockenson had an average yards before reception of 2.8.  The 2023 Vikings strategy was supposed to be based on forcing defenses into a terrible choice. We're going to put Oliver and Hockenson on the field: if you play off Oliver will block your toughest guy and let Mattison run directly at your worst tackler; if you play up, Hockenson will run behind your slowest LB for a chunk play that's basically a long hand off.
BUT
When Hockenson averages 2.8 air yards per reception, there is no terrible choice. The defense can just sit on the run with no extra fear of getting beat over the top.

Compare that to Hunter Henry’s week 1 yards before catch against the Eagles: 10.2. Henry successfully opened up the Eagles defense despite them getting a lot of pressure on Mac Jones.

To exploit the vulnerability in the Eagles secondary, the Vikings should throw away any play that has Hockenson targeted less than 10 yards down field; anything less than that is not a good use of a $66M TE. Jefferson (and to a lesser extent Addison and Osborn), are great deep threats, but the Vikings passing game has to use Hockenson to open up space. If the Vikings make a specific effort to get Hockenson going downfield, other things can work; and if they do, I think the Vikings offense can carry the defense this week.

If Hockenson has another game where he averages less than 5 air yards per catch, the Vikings offense won’t be able to keep pace. Get him over 10 air yards and the Vikings can carve up the Eagles D.

Someone please tell me about how great the Eagles defense is, I haven’t heard gushing platitudes about them in at least 15 seconds. Yeah, the Eagles D-Line is good and generated a lot of pressure
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Sept 13, 2023 11:18:25 GMT -6 0 Replies
Due to the short week, Episode 105 is out today! We preview the Eagles game, and hey, go play our season long Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team contest. You could win an Antoine Winfield jersey!



And it's the last week to enter the Rook Dog Challenge, you have until Noon CT Sunday to enter your picks for a chance to win a $125 gift card!


Due to the short week, Episode 105 is out today! We preview the Eagles game, and hey, go play our season long Nobody Cares About Your Fantasy Team contest. You could win an Antoine Winfield jersey
Click here to read article

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glenwo2: I'm kidding of course, Nemesis. :) Mar 25, 2024 12:27:05 GMT -6
NorsemanSam: How do you know that it isn't true? Mar 25, 2024 14:28:23 GMT -6
glenwo2: Because Nemesis is the Mod and I'm just a punk rookie acting like a goofball. Mar 25, 2024 16:57:35 GMT -6
Nemesis: Plus glenwo2 is probably my dad, he just likes messing with me from the beyond. Mar 26, 2024 17:13:40 GMT -6
Reignman: Oh great, Nemesis believes in ghosts now too? Did ghost dad remember his name or only the first initial after you recited the alphabet? Apr 1, 2024 22:17:26 GMT -6
Nemesis: We agreed before he died that he would use the name "glenwo" and contact me on the PP shoutbox, but the "2" has me a bit confused. Did I miss his first attempt at contact? Apr 5, 2024 8:22:45 GMT -6
glenwo2: Well glenwo1 was busy that day.... Apr 6, 2024 3:01:11 GMT -6
Nemesis: This is amazing. That's exactly what he told me he would say! :'( Apr 13, 2024 16:48:32 GMT -6
slidell: Sell out and do what it takes to get Daniels.Mccarthy and Maye are Ponders waiting to happen Apr 22, 2024 14:37:23 GMT -6
SiteWolf: What about Daniels separates him that much from Maye? His old team didn't whine when he left ASU, his frame as it is right now will struggle to stay healthy with his playing style...so is he really the better prospect? Apr 24, 2024 13:47:01 GMT -6
SammyFranchise: The Redemption of Sam Darnold is Upon Us!! Jun 10, 2024 17:48:59 GMT -6
Nemesis: an ominous warning if ever there was one Jun 14, 2024 6:55:04 GMT -6
Danchat: Outside of the drafting of McCarthy and Turner, the 2024 offseason is going to go down as the "Darnold Delusion" offseason for me. He'll be just like all the other 1st round bust QBs who turn their careers around... oh wait. Jun 14, 2024 16:35:54 GMT -6
Nemesis: *OMG* Jun 15, 2024 10:08:08 GMT -6
Funkytown: Regarding "Darnold Delusion", I think it's GREAT we've had a few members join JUST to play the role of Darnold Defender. We've had it with Teddy and Cousins, why not Darnold too? *lol* Jun 20, 2024 10:05:41 GMT -6 *
NorsemanSam: New members? More like a few new pairs of socks. (do they come in pairs?) Jun 20, 2024 13:01:22 GMT -6
TAFKASP: More than they should, but not enough to matter. Jun 20, 2024 19:05:11 GMT -6
glenwo2: Not for nothing but as one of those so-called "Darnold Defenders", I have to say that if he doesn't play well with this team as constructed, I will become an EX-defender. There are no excuses now for him to fail. NONE. 'Put up or Shut up' time. Jun 24, 2024 18:08:09 GMT -6
NorsemanSam: I'm fairly certain that's how most of us feel about all players who don't play well (especially kickers). Why would we feel any differently? Jun 26, 2024 18:18:54 GMT -6
CAMartin: I'll allow that I have hope for Darnold, but that's because he's the likely starting QB for the team. I really hope he doesn't cause familiar...divisions. Jul 5, 2024 11:53:35 GMT -6
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