May 4, 2006
"Strange Ways" by Vikes Geek

Technical Difficulties Update from COD: Hello everyone. As you might have already seen, the VU is experiencing a big slow down this week (and last!) due to increased traffic on the system. In other words, more people are hitting the blog than ever before, and the server is having difficulty processing the requests. We are in the process of moving the system to a bigger server. I will keep you updated on our progress.

On the Tuesday after yet another suspect NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings began negotiations to buy out one of the three individuals responsible for their 2006 draft—player personnel head Fran Foley. In addition to being a less than personable individual, Foley purportedly had comportment issues during the draft—issues that at least one Vikings’ official has suggested led to the confusion that ensued for the Vikings in round two.

In a previous column, I outlined the problems that the Vikings created for themselves in round two and how those problems led the team to give away at least one third-round draft pick. In addition to the gaffes that the Vikings made that led to that cession, the Vikings made two second-round selections that look highly questionable with respect to the team’s needs.


I broached the topic of selecting New Mexico center Ryan Cook earlier in the week, noting that taking Cook with the fifty-first pick—rather than taking either him or another, comparable center later in the draft—compelled the Vikings to trade away picks to select Jackson. But Cook’s selection is odd for a more significant reason, namely, the Vikings appear to have no room for Cook in the foreseeable future.

Prior to the 2004 season, former Vikings’ head coach Mike Tice discussed moving center Matt Birk to guard. The rationale was that Birk not only could play guard above the level of the guards then on the Vikings’ roster but also that the move would prolong Birk’s career. Those sentiments reverberated with force last season as the Vikings struggled to identify a viable guard on either side of center and Birk suffered yet another injury.

Selecting Ryan Cook—whether or not the selection was a reach—appeared to be a move that would fit the plan that Tice had long mulled over. And if that’s how the Vikings planned to use Cook in 2006, at least the move would make sense from a position standpoint.

But the Vikings contend that that’s not the plan. The plan, according to head coach Brad Childress, is to have Cook back up Birk—a player whom the Vikings contend will be ready to play when the season begins. That leaves Cook on the bench as a center barring a change of heart by Childress regarding a move of Birk to guard.

Moving Birk to guard seems even more implausible now with the free-agent addition of Steve Hutchinson and the draft-day trade with Philadelphia for veteran guard Artis Hicks. Hicks’ addition virtually ensures that Cook is little more than a high-round backup for several seasons. And, given the depth at center in this year’s NFL draft, the Vikings certainly could have found such a backup later in the draft and used their fifty-first pick to take Tarvaris Jackson—or somebody else.

The second odd selection that the Vikings made in the draft was Tarvaris Jackson. Whether Jackson will become a productive NFL quarterback is anyone’s guess. What’s peculiar about the Vikings’ decision to select Jackson, however, is that he doesn’t appear to fit the Vikings’ needs.

After selecting Jackson, Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress noted that he liked Jackson because he could mold Jackson. Childress spoke of Jackson’s raw talent and willingness to learn and concluded that Jackson could be ready to start in the NFL within five years. And therein lies the problem for the Vikings.

Whether you believe that Childress’ cultivation of Donovan McNabb and A.J. Feely merits tagging Childress as a quarterback guru is irrelevant to the discussion of the merits of the Vikings selecting Jackson. All that matters is that Childress views Jackson as a long-term project. Aside from the fact that second-round picks normally produce in the first two or three years in the league, or find employment outside the league, the Vikings face a very real issue with their decision to take a player whom their own head coach believes is much further away from being ready to play in the NFL than would be a traditional second-round pick.

The concern for the Vikings is that, at thirty-seven years of age, current quarterback Brad Johnson is both at the tail end of his career—probably much closer than is Jackson to the beginning of his career—and only one solid hit away from a long stay on the injury list. That makes selecting Jackson—essentially with two third-round picks that could have been used on players that would have been NFL-ready in far less time—a less optimal route for the Vikings to have gone in the draft than merely standing pat after selecting Cook.

If Johnson stays healthy until Jackson is ready, the Vikings’ selection of Jackson need only stand the test of whether Jackson can play. But that’s a big if. If the if does not materialize, the Vikings will be left to determine in which direction to turn. And, failing an unexpected showing by either Mike McMahon or J.T. O’Sullivan, that could be ugly.

Up Next: Remaining Needs. Plus, finding room for an injured backup quarterback with a nice resume?

From the Mail Bag: "Chicks Adore Us" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

There is nothing Vikes Geek & I enjoy more than receiving mail...especially from the chicks. Yes, we often have to fight them off as we are seen around town and such, but it's something we've come to accept as being part of the job.

First off, Vikes Chicks are smarter than the average female fan. Always have been, always will be. They know the game, they know the team, and they know that the Packers SUCK. Take Wendy for instance who e-mailed me this week thusly:

My friend Tim from East Boston sent me this choice photo highlighting why Green Bay fans aren't very bright. Just think, this guy had to walk by hundreds of other fans, none noticing that his displeasure with Javon Walker had nothing to do with Walker's skill at bartering for goods and services.

This photo was attached. Touché Wendy!


Then there was Annie who has her own blog on the very same server the VU resides on. And I've been a very baaaddddd boy by dragging down the speed of the server due to increased traffic. But Annie was not angry! Hell, no! She's a fan! She writes:

Things are a little sticky here today in blogville. I've had trouble loading the blog myself, and so have others. Either you get a page not found error, or it takes so long to load a page it's like waiting for Bleeding Gums Murphy to finish the National Anthem. I am sorry for the inconvenience, and hope readers will not give up on the fledgling blog. I can assure you that my blogging service is in the very best hands. The guy who runs this thing is awesome. We've been getting spam attacks that gum up the works, but he will root these evil spammers out and show them no mercy. OK, I'm told the problem is actually the high volume of traffic on The Vikings Underground, but they're moving to a bigger server tomorrow, and then there'll be plenty of room for us bookworms AND the rowdy football fans. (Heck, I was checking Brian's site myself over the weekend, for updates on the NFL draft.

Classy, and smart. Like all our Vikes Chicks. Thanks!

Posted by maasx003 at May 4, 2006 10:00 AM