April 2006 Archives
April 30, 2006
"Squealing with Anger" by Mr. Cheer Or Die


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Many of you who know me well also understand that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. And I just want to open with that because I could come back here later this week and be in a different frame of mind over what transpired over the last 48-hours at the draft war room inside Winter Park.

But, as of right now I'm too infuriated to even articulate about the picks made on the second day. Just too incensed. And I know some of you, especially the younger fans, won't understand my anger. (And there will be those even angrier than myself.) So, let me try and elaborate for all those you think I’m being too harsh in my assessment.

It's been 46-years since the inception of the team. And the Vikings have yet to win a Super Bowl. So, the fans tend to magnify everything that happens with the team in an attempt to find the promised land.

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When a team has been to the Super Bowl four times and come up empty, the fans start reaching for excuses and help. To the fans, progress always seems slow. In fact, fans don't want improvement. We want a ring! And we want it yesterday.

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Whenever I'm sick, I'm always reminded of how the Vikings fans magnify every little move the Vikings make. You must know that feeling when all you have to do is lie in bed and concentrate on your condition. It's impossible not to focus on yourself. All your little aches and pains seem magnified. You watch yourself for the slightest signs of improvement. If there isn't any, you wonder why. You wonder what's happening. You start worrying about what you might have done differently to avoid being laid up.

The same with the Vikings. We'll analyze the hell out of every move, every trade, the coach, and even the food served at the MetroDome. So, exactly how do I usually keep a smile on my face?

First off, I gave Zygi Wilf a honeymoon period. And I still don't really have any issues with a man who has spent more in a single year than the previous did in five. Even Red McCombs enjoyed immense popularity his inaugural season. I also gave a honeymoon period to Brad Childress which was suppose to last one full season.....but that period may have abruptly ended over the weekend. And I also gave a honeymoon period to Fran Foley which lasted as long as a marriage with Zsa Zsa Gabor did....to any of her many husbands.


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So, for Vikings owners, coaches (Bud Grant excluded), administration, and players, our adoration can be fleeting. Especially when owners decide to raise ticket prices early in the year followed by a crappy draft. But I'm getting off topic a bit. (For a complete rundown on the history of ticket rate increase (and hijacking) please read more here.)

All we really ask of our Vikings owners and players is that we receive your undivided attention and effort. Or at least feign it. We don't like to be shared. Especially when the new owner is exploring the purchase of a Major League Soccer team to bring to the Twin Cities. Perhaps that fits into his new stadium plans or he has another goal in mind. But, the new owner hasn't even reached the Big Dance with the Purple yet. As The Wife® will tell me, "Keep your eyes over here, Mister!"

Yes, Mr. Wilf opened up his pocket book and brought the Vikes closer to the salary cap maximum. I'm not saying Zygi has to spend just to spend. But when the opportunity to vastly improve the team at a weak position presents itself the reply should be, "Cash or check?" and not, "I'll pass."

In that regard, Zygi gets high, high marks.

Additionally, I truly understand the need to bring in additional income for advertising by renting space for signage throughout the MetroDome which was done under McCombs. But, the appearance was more in line with a Texas league high school football than a professional football team. Last season, Zygi took a look-see for himself. He understood being an ECG (East Coast guy) and all. Again, two huge thumbs up in improving the look of the Dome.

And Wilf is riding a high approval rating here on the Viking Underground. Wilf got an 86% approval rating for April. For the year, Zygi actually improved to an overall 87% approval rating. I wonder if that will hold in May given the recent uniform change and then what I am referring to as a draft debacle.

Note: The May Zygi Approval Rating poll is now available. Just navigate to along the left frame to the poll area. And directly underneath the approval poll is a new poll on which NFC North team had the best overall draft.

With any draft, one has to allow time to judge the value of the players drafted. It will be interesting to see how the "experts" grade the team but I have to think no higher than a "C" which is again, helped by the first two picks which I truly loved.

But we aren't even sure Chad Greenway or Cedric Griffin will be "all that and a bag of chips" either. This could be one of the worst drafts EVER in the history of the team.

For example, the Vikes opening day linebacker corps for opening day could be Ben Leber at strong-side, EJ Henderson at middle and Greenway at weak. Um, don't you need at least one guy who can take on a block? There was Abdul Hodge for the taking. Numerous times in the second round and again early in the third. Instead, Hodge was picked up by the Packers. Now the Vikes have to face AJ Hawk, Hodge, and either Nick Barnett or Na’il Diggs twice a year. Hell, the Pack could even go 3-4! And do you know how pissed I get when I have to tip my hat to the freakin’ Packers!!!????!!!!

Then there was the reach for Tarvaris Jackson. I fully understand that other teams were looking to move up and “steal him? from the Vikes. But, c’mon!?!? That was a lot to spend for him. Yes, Jackson has got an absurd arm. Yes, the pundits said the arm of Jackson might be the best in the draft. But, the big negative in his game is Jackson has trouble absorbing an offense and taking it to the field. The West Coast offense is not an easy offense to learn. And the team let a QB leave that had a freakish arm who was already a Pro Bowler and familiar with the personnel. He just didn’t want to be here. So, we are now supposed to start from scratch!?!? (Recall the 46-year Super Bowl draught?)

I might be just too upset to think straight. I know I'm too upset to write any more for a few days and will look for the analytical honey-sweet tones of Vikes Geek to perhaps set me straight....or vindicate my current gut feelings.

How about you? Am I being harsh? Do you consider this draft to be a stinker or does it have the aroma of a Super Bowl? Can you put a smile back on my face? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me what I am missing, please! And grade out the Vikes draft in the poll below.




Update: Sunday evening 9 PM CST

Best comment fed back to me so far....."No Steller names, but all soild players. Remember the Pats?" Slight smile starting to crack on left side of face. Keep them coming!

Vikes Free Agent Draft Summary 2006: Know anyone? Leave a comment if you do.









PLAYER



PLAYER

POSTION

SCHOOL

Stinson, Albert

OT

Jackson State

Carter, Jason

WR

Texas A&M

Baskett, Hank

WR

New Mexico

Jackson, Steven

FB

Clemson

Henderson, Taureen

HB

Texas Tech

Torp, John

P

Colorado

Palermo, Jason

C/G

Wisconsin

Gordon, Charles

CB

Kansas

Penn, Donald

OT

Utah State

Smith, Kyle

WR

Youngstown State

Cobb, Robert

CB

Massachusetts

Mathis, Wendell

HB

Fresno State

Mitchell, Jayme

DE

Mississippi

McKenzie, Kyle

LB

Minnesota

Nealy, Barrick

WR

SW Texas State

Hopoi, Manase

UT

Washington

Hoyte, Oliver

LB

NC State

 

Posted by maasx003 at 3:53 PM
April 29, 2006
"Squealing with Delight" by Mr. Cheer Or Die


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Updated Sunday afternoon to fix Greenway audio link: Scroll to bottom of this entry.

Chad Greenway arrived at Iowa as a quarterback who played nine-man football in tiny Mount Vernon, S.D. He came from a hog farm where hard work is more expected than demanded. And being a Dakota native (North, not South) I know that the work ethic of Greenway is to “do whatever honest work it takes to be successful.?

After being selected by the Vikings in the 17th round of the 2006 NFL draft, Greenway leaves Iowa University as an all-Big Ten linebacker and probable pro football starter as a rookie.

The personification of a success story, wouldn’t you say?

All the NFL pundits expected Greenway to be taken in the middle of the first round. His comrade at linebacker, Abdul Hodge, was pegged as a second-round pick. After selecting Greenway, I actually had hopes to see the Vikes go and draft Hodge as well….the dynamic duo at linebacker in purple for years to come! But that was not to be.

Depending on the forecaster I read prior to the draft, Greenway was either the second-, third- or fourth-best linebacker in the draft. Ohio State’s A.J. Hawk was the consensus pick as the No. 1 player at the position, with Florida State’s Ernie Sims and Greenway generally in the next two spots. Interestingly enough, Hawk went to the Packers and Sims to the Lions….both NFC Central foes.

With Brian Urlacher already entrenched in Chicago as the league’s preeminent linebacker, is there any question that the Black and Blue division will once again be mentioned by the TV guys this coming fall?

The Des Moines Register ran linebacker rankings from veteran sports writer Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. Gosselin had Hawk first, of course, followed by Sims, Ohio State’s Bobby Carpenter (who went to Dallas with the 18th overall pick) and Greenway. He had Hodge at No. 10.

One analyst summed up Greenway this way:

“He is not the biggest, strongest or fastest LB in this draft, but he is the most instinctive.’’

Gil Brandt, who is quoted in every football paper and publication it seems like, wrote on NFL.com that while Greenway needs to get stronger, he’ll “be a very good player for a long time.’’

Greenway’s overall grade from the scouting service used by NFL.com is 6.5, which translates into a “highly productive starter’’ and a first-round pick.

One motivating note for Vikings fans who are non-believers in Greenway entails The Sporting News, which graded Greenway as the second-best outside linebacker in the draft. Greenway remembers that publication for something else. He said his greatest inspiration at Iowa came when The Sporting News, in its 2004 college football preview issue, called him the most overrated player in the Big Ten.

“It’s going to take a lot of coaxing for me to buy another Sporting News,’’ Greenway said.

That is a linebacker, people. Just like earlier this week when I asked my readers how can one find fault with a linebacker who wears a shirt with a list of 10 "Norm-isms" that have been uttered by Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker as seen below:

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I mean at #3 is "Run like a scalded-ass dog." And how will Vikes defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin like it when Greenway shows up with the shirt and Tomlin reads #6 which goes, "The three fastest ways to die are 1) natural gas, 2) electricity, and 3) cover 2".....I'd think Tomlin might just implode! But that is linebacker mentality.....and what the Vikes need.

But back to the draft. With their first selection in the second round the Vikes selected Cedric Griffin.

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At first I went, “who is that…? but then remembered one of my Texas buddies telling me about a Longhorn player that I should watch in the Rose Ball whose name was not Vince Young. I remember reading the day after that Young said he was inspired by the UT defense stoning USC running back LenDale White on fourth-and-2 at its 45 with 2:09 to play and USC leading 38-33.

"Cedric Griffin came off the field and looked into my eyes and said, 'What you gonna do?' " Young said. "That gave me a little more edge to go out there."
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That’s the type of guy I want on this team. A defensive player who does his job and then walking off the field makes it known to the offense to do their job as well. We could have used Benson last year to get into the face of the Poutin’ QB!!!!

Now, Benson should have gone even higher in my view. Why didn’t he? Could be some off-the-field issues that I am sure Zygi and Co. will address with Benson as soon as he steps onto Minnesota soil. Cedric Griffin was involved in an assault and battery case prior to last year’s big bowl game. Charges were dismissed. But the damage was done. Still, I love the pick. And Benson has the best tandem in the league to teach him the tricks of the trade with Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot.

But the Vikes had another pick remaining in the second round. And they addressed another “need area? once again by selecting New Mexico center Ryan Cook. And I’ll be looking for a insider perspective from the VU’s own columnist, and New Mexico resident, Hiking Viking within 24-hours!!!

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I’m not sure I’m elated about the pick. But time will tell. I see Cook early on as a backup center/guard that may eventually develop into a solid starting center under proper tutelage. The big knock on Cook seems to be that he lacks the foot agility and good athletic ability for a lineman.

Two more picks coming in the third round! Stay tuned. And I'd love to hear your early comments so far! So leave a comment at the end of this entry.

Update

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The Vikes addressed their need for a future QB after trading the Poutin’ QB to the Miami Dolphins. They moved up into the second round to select Tarvaris Jackson from relative unknown Alabama St. Jackson is a gifted, underdeveloped draft choice who needs a lot of work. You think Cook was a reach? I strongly think that Jackson is the biggest reach out of all the teams of the first day so far. And that includes the Bills selection of Donte Whitner in the first round. Jackson will sit and learn and has interesting upside, but could have been selected much later. Much, much later. Much, much, much later.

I would have much rather the Vikes had made a run to capture Matt Leinart when it was clear the USC star was falling out of the top seven picks. Leinart could even have been called into duty as soon as this season had Big Bad Brad suffered an injury. Leinart would have been the perfect fit for a West Coast style dink-and-dunk offense. And that’s why I end the first day of the draft pretty steamed about this QB selection.

Jackson is not a West Coast type of guy. Per various reports, his passing is erratic and the offense run at Alabama St. was your basic vanilla college offense. Not the finesse type in which you want a future West Coast offense QB to come from. Me thinks Vikes coach Brad Childress made the call on this, perhaps enamored by Jackson’s ability to move in and out of the pocket. That may have reminded Childress of someone he used to coach at QB while with the Eagles.

And in the same vein, I am very happy the Vikes did not go after Jay Cutler. Did you did a load of the honky-tonk cowboy hat and mirrored sunglasses in those commercials? And Cutler looked all of 14-years old! I could envision Cutler coming to the line, seeing a John Randle type defensive tackle foaming at the mouth, and then Cutler wetting his pants.

But, back to Jackson. I’d like to be happy about this pick. Right now, I’m not. But I’ll sleep on it and reserve the right to change my mind once I see him in mini-camp in a couple of weeks.

So, who is left on the board for the second day that I hope and pray the Vikes Triangle of Authority can muster up the gumption to draft? Here are the names I'd like to see in purple:

Guards

Jean-Gilles, Max
O'Callaghan, Ryan

Defensive Ends

Dumervil, Elvis
Jenkins, Julian

Cornerback

Webb, Demetrice
Zemaitis, Alan

Quarterbacks (Yep! Quarterbacks)

Jacobs, Omar

Pull one or two names from that list and the Vikes maybe grade out at a B. Certainly up from the C they are at now. Again, I think the first two picks were great. I just feel they overreached with the next two.

How about you?




Update: Sunday Morning

Chad Greenway Highlight Reel

Brad Childress talks about Greenway shortly after Round One.

Cedric Griffin had a fantastic interception of a Jay Cutler pass in the end zone in the Senior Bowl (video posted below).


(video courtesy of dougutx from Orangebloods)


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Video Highlight Reel for Jackson (thanks chadpad)

From the Alabama Montgomery Advertiser:

Jackson, who led ASU to a SWAC championship two years ago, got the unexpected call from Minnesota while watching the draft with family and friends.

Jackson's mother, SaSanque, answered the phone, heard a voice she didn't recognize ask for Tarvaris and handed the phone over without giving it much thought.

On the other end was a Minnesota Vikings' official, calling to inform Jackson that the team didn't feel as though he would still be on the board by the time their third-round draft pick rolled around.

So, the Vikings were trading up to get him.

Posted by maasx003 at 5:13 PM
"Draft Preferences" by Vikes Geek


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breaking......exclusive Winter Park fight between Scott Studwell and Fran Foley!!!

With the 2006 NFL entry draft drawing ever near, the Minnesota Vikings approach one of their most meaningful drafts in recent years. For this year, with five picks on the first day of the draft, the Vikings have an opportunity to fill their remaining holes with legitimate NFL starters—a goal which, if reached, would place the relatively young Vikings’ team in good stead for several years to come.

What the Vikings Contend They Want

Publicly, the Vikings’ draft consortium is saying very little. What members of this group are divulging, however, suggests that the team has yet to determine its first-round course, let alone the course it will follow in later rounds of the draft. That has left outsiders to pull together the scraps that Vikings’ personnel man Fran Foley, head coach Brad Childress, and personnel man Scott Studwell have offered.

Piecing all the statements together, one thing is clear—the Vikings could go one of several ways today. That means that the Vikings could still trade up, trade down, trade for a quarterback, or stand pat. And no matter where the Vikings draft—assuming they do not trade away all of their picks for a player or two—there remains a sense that the Vikings’ draft wonks will see what happens at the outset of the draft before they reach their final decision on whom to draft in the first round.

With that said, the Vikings certainly have let it be known that they have a strong interest in a handful of players. Among those players are Ohio State linebacker AJ Hawk, Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler, and Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway. The team also brought in Vince Young for an interview but said nothing about the interview, leading to the suspicion that the team either really liked Young or really disliked Young.

What the Vikings Need

For the past four years, the Vikings have needed defense more than they have needed offense. And for each of those four years, the Vikings’ paramount defensive need has been linebacker—more specifically, middle linebacker. This year is no different. Yes, the Vikings need a quarterback who will be ready to step in for Brad Johnson when Johnson is no longer able to take the field, but that need is slightly less pressing than is the need for a bona fide middle linebacker who can play this year.

Adding a middle linebacker would ensure the Vikings of having a quality NFL starter at every position on the field, with the possible exception of right offensive tackle—a position that the Vikings probably will fill by platoon, rotating the eminently mediocre to bad Mike Rosenthal and Adam Goldberg. That gives the Vikings at least a band-aid at right tackle.

The Vikings are without even a band-aid at middle linebacker, however, currently suggesting that former failed-middle-linebacker-experiment E.J. Henderson—who appears to have settled in nicely at outside linebacker—has the inside track on middle linebacker. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Numerous mock drafts have the Vikings selecting either a safety or cornerback in the first round. Those mocks—many of them offered on ESPN’s site—either offer some heretofore unavailable insight or were made in a fit of absolute misinformation. One mock board even had the Vikings drafting a corner in round one to “replace the departed Brian Williams.? As most Vikings’ fans will recall, Williams was number two on the depth chart behind Fred Smoot—rightly or wrongly—when he left for greener pastures. Drafting a corner to play nickel and passing up a starting middle linebacker would be a tremendous mistake, and one that the Vikings’ draft group appears incapable of making.

Pecking Order

The Vikings can make a case for drafting at several positions in the first round no matter where they ultimately select. Three positions, however, lead the rest in terms of how they would meet the Vikings’ current needs given who’s available in this year’s draft. In addition to drafting a middle linebacker such as Greenway or Hawk, the Vikings could draft a quarterback or a running back.

The following is a ranking of players from which the Vikings probably will have an opportunity to select:

1. AJ Hawk: Great college career. No mistakes in workouts. No surprises. Can play middle linebacker immediately. 121 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 2005.

2. Chad Greenway: Great college career. Sound college program with history of producing NFL-ready players, particularly on defense. Can play middle linebacker immediately. Could be better than Hawk. 156 tackles and 2 sacks in 2005.

3. DeAngelo Williams: Great college career. Massive numbers—two consecutive seasons with nearly 2,000 yards rushing. Vikings could use some help at running back even if Chester Taylor pans out, but especially if Taylor is just average. Average hasn’t been getting it done in Minnesota for some time, not even when the line was good. Was not asked to catch the ball out of the backfield at Memphis, but showed some ability to do so when asked to do so.

4. Jay Cutler: Would be higher if the Vikings needed him immediately and if he had the ability to play immediately. Since neither currently is the case, it is difficult to take him over a linebacker that would fill an immediate need or even over a running back as good as Williams who would fill a lesser, though still important role on the team. Another concern about Cutler is the Williamson effect. Prior to workouts, Cutler was mostly a regional commodity. The numbers don’t necessarily mean much coming out of Vanderbilt, a traditionally weak team, but they are good—3,073 yards, 21 touchdown passes, 9 interceptions, 23 sacks, 126.1 quarterback rating in 2005—with the exception of that mobility-challenged sack total. If you are in the camp that doubts Cutler, there’s fuel for your fire, however. in 2005, Gopher quarterback Bryan Cupito, not known for his quarterback play, threw for 2,267 yards and 15 TDs with 8 INTs. Would a game against Kentucky have put Cupito in league with Cutler statistics-wise?

5. Bobby Carpenter: Good college career. Benefited from playing with Hawk probably more than Hawk benefited from playing with Carpenter. Probably a second-round pick were it not for his Ohio State connection. 49 tackles and 8 sacks is good in total, but a bit light on tackles, making one wonder where Carpenter is when he’s not blitzing. Not an immediate middle linebacker.

6. Laurence Maroney: Great college career. Needs to work on pass receiving and run blocking, but has the speed and quickness to be a very good NFL back. 1464 yards rushing, 5.2 yard average, 17 receptions for 170 yards in 2005. Might not be ready to start at the beginning of 2006.

One of these six players will be available when the Vikings draft, even if the Vikings remain at seventeen in the draft. The two players in whom the Vikings had expressed interest but whom the Vikings probably will take a pass on should they be available when they draft are Texas quarterback Vince Young and Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims—both of whom are responsible for any drop that they see from the top of the draft.

For Young, the concern is mental awareness. It’s one thing to do poorly on the NFL’s written exam. That’s probably excusable. It’s quite another thing, however, to come off as a borderline imbecile when responding to questions that you’ve undoubtedly heard many times already and when you’ve arranged the interview to promote yourself, as Young did on Thursday. Responding to clearly worded questions, Young often gave answers that had nothing to do with the question—though Young clearly thought he was addressing the questions, often sounded befuddled by certain lines of questioning, and sometimes even failed to respond to questions. If that’s indicative of Young’s deftness, it doesn’t bode well for whichever teams selects him to read situations in the NFL.

The concern with Sims is his past—both off and on the field. Only an arrest for domestic battery and resisting arrest in his recent history deflects attention away from a very mediocre performance in 2005—77 tackles, zero sacks. If the Vikings mean what they say about getting the best available player, they probably will pass on this guy. If they mean what they say about quality individuals, they definitely will pass on Sims.

Up Next: The draft! Mulling over the picks.

Posted by maasx003 at 8:00 AM
"VU Draft Day Nirvana" by Mr. Cheer Or Die
VU Draft Picks: The Genuis Selections
(updated Saturday morning)
COD
The Commish
Milwaukee Mark
The Insider
#17 pick
Chad Greenway
Chad Greenway
Jay Cutler
Chad Greenway

The View from Inside Winter Park

Don't believe for one minute that this draft will be conducted by Fran Foley, who was seen recently with a huge eraser in one hand and his bio on the other. No, this Vikings draft will once again be conducted by the paramount Vikings linebacker of all time, Scott Studwell.

Studwell is the Vikings director of college scouting and this is his time to shine. And shine he usually does.


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For the 2006 NFL draft, I fully expect the Vikes to look at linebacker first and quarterback second. And I also expect them to stay put at #17 in the first round. Consider: if the team keeps all their picks, that will be five picks in the first three rounds. One has to think the Vikes draft-day brain trust has the grey matter to at least make three of the five picks turn into long term, viable solutions to their respective positions.

The following players could be available at selection seventeen within the first round:

DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis: Insanely quick through a hole and is the most elusive (yes, even more than Reggie Bush) back in college.
Laurence Maroney, RB Minnesota: Yes, I'm against him but then has the ability to make a defender miss and that explosive gear that will allow him to take it the distance at any time.
Ernie Sims, OLB Florida St.: He is a very instinctive LB.
Chad Greenway, OLB Iowa: At 6'4 247, Greenway is as big as anyone could hope for in the NFL with the speed of a DB. He was clocked at 4.47 in the forty last fall at Iowa's timing day.

COD's pick: Greenway

How about selection forty-eight in the second round?

Abdul Hodge, ILB Iowa: One of the smartest middle linebackers I've seen in college football in a long time. He knows where to be at all times. Good in coverage, good against the run, good form tackler.
Omar Jacobs, QB Bowling Green: Omar's combination of accuracy, arm strength and speed makes him much like former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. As he doesn’t have the speed of a Mike Vick, he still can run around some of the NFL's great defensive players making him a lot like Daunte Culpepper. And don’t forget Omar is another quarterback coming out of the MAC conference at Bowling Green, making him a high prospect given the history of quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington.
Max Jean-Gilles, OG Georgia: A prototypical right guard who would complete the rebuilding job along the offensive line.

COD's pick: Jacobs

How about selection fifty-one in the second round?

Ryan O'Callaghan, OT California: Prototype right tackle, a weak spot for the Vikes. Solid in pass protection as well as run-blocking. experienced and could start right away.
Thomas Howard, OLB UTEP: Great speed and versatility. Great addition to any team as a coverage guy and can line up against any TE in the NFL.
Alan Zemaitis, CB Penn St.: Experienced player who will be a perfect fit for the teams new Cover 2 defensive scheme.

COD's pick: O'Callaghan

How about selection eighty-three in the third round?

Brodie Croyle, QB Alabama: Croyle started for multiple years at Bama. He has a strong arm and can play with the big boys like Vince Young and Matt Leinart. He played well at the senior bowl, he has a great personality. He is a good leader and has good mobility. But according to a VU reader out of Alabama.....Croyle is more dud than stud.
Julien Jenkins, DE Stanford: A stud defensive end for the team to develop as a pass rushing DE

COD's pick: Jenkins

How about the recently acquired ninety-fifth selection (from Seattle) in the third round?

Andrew Whitworth, OT L.S.U.: An experienced starter who will provide quality depth at both right and left tackle for the Vikes.
John Alston, LB Stanford: Stock dropped after the combine, but ever since his pro day, it has crept back up.
Elvis Dumervil DE, Louisville: One...his name is Elvis. Two...he is an exceptional pass rusher with great speed to beat blocks on the offensive line.

COD's pick: Whitworth

So, how would you feel if at the end of the first day of the 2006 NFL draft the Vikes had the following players on the plane and heading for Winter Park?

LB Chad Greenway
QB Omar Jacobs
OT Ryan O'Callaghan
DE Julien Jenkins
OT Andrew Whitworth

Now, I'm not saying that this is who I want. I'm just voicing that one scenario the Vikes could consider is just staying with their picks and avoid the temptation to trade away in order to secure a bigger college name. A name which could become the next Lawrence Phillips, Heath Schuler, or Andre Ware....all first round busts.

In this case, I'm leaning towards rolling the dice on five studs instead of mortgaging away all the picks and taking the chance on one or two supposed blue-chippers.

You?

Posted by maasx003 at 1:35 AM
April 28, 2006
Breaking.....
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My buddies over at Pro Football Talk are now reporting that the Houston Texans have passed on RB Reggie Bush and inked DE Mario Williams who will be the first overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft.

Wow.

Either this is the greatest smoke-screen in the history of professional sports or the greatest blunder. In any event, tomorrow's draft just became the weekends must-see-TV.

Posted by maasx003 at 9:02 PM
April 27, 2006
"The Unveiling" by Mr. Cheer Or Die & "Worse than the Unknown" by Vikes Geek
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The Unveiling

UPDATE: The Commish found photos posted and sent them to me. Here are the new uniforms that I believe would have been taken at Giants Stadium this past winter when the boys were in town to don the new designs.

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BKfront.jpg

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helmet.jpg

pants.jpg

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So, you can now vote on the new uniforms below. Thumbs up or thumbs down? You decide. The poll is just a little ways further down.

The horn appears to have a very subtle crease in it now, don't you think? But it is still hard to tell. All I did was pull the helmet out of the Wiggins photo and try to focus in a bit more without losing too much resolution.

One of my co-workers is planning to be at the Mall this evening and said he would send me photos yet tonight if he has time. I have to trudge to work otherwise I'd be there myself.

From this morning....

Early this evening, the Vikings will unveil a new look to their uniforms. According to a running Viking Underground poll, here is what you want to see in the new uniforms:

Home Uniforms
69% of you want a purple jersey on white pants
28% of you want a purple jersey on purple pants
3% of you can't find your way home

Road Uniforms
71% of you want a white jersey on purple pants
26% of you want a white jersey on white pants
3% of you can't find your way home

Once you have seen the uniforms, come back here to vote on this simple poll:





And, as promised....with a hint of what will come tonight....is my own unveiling.

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Yep, purple on purple and a bit of the old school. I had made this decision when I saw this old photo from a Gopher's game at old Memorial Stadium.


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Back then, men wore suits and hats to sporting events. "So, why can't we do that now", I asked myself? Thus, the new look. It's not intended to look "gangsta" or "pimpish" but a look that harkens back to the days of yore.

"Worse than the Unknown" by Vikes Geek

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On Wednesday, Vikings’ Player Personnel Director, Fran Foley, offered his thoughts on the upcoming draft and his resume problems. More mystifying than his recent insistence that the resume gaffes were the result of clerical errors—an astonishing claim to which I continue to resist any temptation to respond in this column—were Foley’s nearly incoherent statements regarding draft philosophy and where the Vikings’ stand with respect to Saturday’s draft.

Few listening to Foley’s responses to questions regarding Saturday’s draft could be left with anything but doubt over Foley’s ability to resurrect what has become Minnesota’s annual homage to poor drafting technique. The following exchanges took place:

Question: “Does the uncertainty at the top of the draft order make your decision-making more difficult??

Foley: “I guess I don’t understand your question.?

Question: “Does the fact that teams near the top of the draft have not made clear who they intend to draft make it more difficult for you to focus on the players that you think will be available at seventeen??

Foley: “No.?

Question: “Have you identified the players that you hope to have an opportunity to select from among??

Foley: “It’s too early for that.?

Question: “How will the availability of the players that you target as potential draftees affect whether you accept an offer to move down in the draft.?

Foley: “We’ve identified five players that we really like. If only two of those players look to be available when we select we probably wouldn’t trade down—not more than one spot anyway. Understand??

There was more to the interview, but you get the picture. Maybe it’s time that we looked into what pictures Foley has on Zygi Wilf—or at least time that we collectively prayed that when Foley claims not to have the final word on which players the Vikings select he not only means what he says but also that he doesn’t have any meaningful influence on any final determination.

Up Next: Pre-pick Picks.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:34 AM
April 26, 2006
"Digging In" by Vikes Geek


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Yes, Cheer Or Die is taking the day to journey to his beloved Irish pub to quaff a few ales and celebrate taking another step closer to extinction. And he'll probably end the day with a few spoonfuls of ice-cream. So, raise a toast to COD and wish him well so that he can return Thursday to bring you the unveiling........

....we now join our movie in progress.

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With the number seventeen pick in the 2006 NFL entry draft, the Minnesota Vikings stand at an organizational crossroads—play for today or build for tomorrow. Still needing at least a middle linebacker and probably an outside linebacker to be a legitimate contender for a championship, but also needing a backup quarterback with a high learning curve, the Vikings are in a position to draft for 2006 or to defer returns to 2007 or later.

Drafting a linebacker that is capable of playing in the middle in year one is a dicey proposition in most drafts. This year, however, there appear to be two such players—Ohio State’s AJ Hawk and Iowa’s Chad Greenway. Speculation continues to swirl regarding the Vikings’ prospects of obtaining either Hawk or Greenway. Given the linebacking needs of teams currently drafting ahead of Minnesota, the closest thing to a certainty is that neither player will be in Minnesota purple next year if Minnesota does not move up in the draft.

By standing pat, the Vikings probably would miss out on an opportunity not only to draft Hawk and Greenway, but also to draft Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and B.J. Cutler. And that would mean that the Vikings will have left the off-season without filling their most glaring weakness for four seasons running and without filling a suddenly urgent need at quarterback.

The Argument for Standing Pat

Despite the fact that, by not moving up in the draft, the Vikings might forfeit their opportunity to address their most glaring needs in this year’s draft, the Vikings might be better served retaining their number seventeen selection spot and their subsequent first-day selections. The argument favoring such a decision rests on both math and numbers.

The math portion of the equation is fairly simple. By moving up in the draft the Viking will be assured of signing a player that they covet. They also will be assured of spending large on that player’s signing bonus. To nab Hawk, the Vikings probably would need to move into the top four of the draft. Last year, the number four pick, Cedric Benson, received a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $18 million. Conversely, last year’s number seventeen pick, David Pollack, received a signing bonus of $5.45 million. While both represent sizeable bonuses, Pollack’s clearly is more cap friendly and significantly more manageable. The stark contrast in dollar figures between a high and middle first-round pick might, alone, warrant a Vikings’ decision to stand pat this year.

But the difference between the Vikings trading up and retaining their number seventeen pick must be considered not only in financial terms, but also in terms of what the Vikings would have to cede in exchange for the number four pick in the draft. The price tag for such largesse likely would include not only the Vikings’ number seventeen selection in the draft, but also their two second-round selections. And that’s a price that the Vikings ought to deem prohibitive.

While obtaining an immediate starter at a position of need is a nice haul in the NFL draft, there is reason to believe that the Vikings—should they break from recent tradition—can accomplish what the successful organizations around the NFL routinely accomplish. Namely, the Vikings should be able to identify at least one bona fide NFL player in the second round.

The 2003 draft offers a gauge for this contention. Of the thirty-two players selected in the second round of the 2003 draft, twenty-seven remain in the league and twenty-four are with the team that drafted them. The numbers are even better for third-round selections with thirty of thirty-two players drafted still in the league and twenty-four with the team that drafted them.

What the numbers suggest, albeit from a small sample, is that even average personnel departments enjoy success drafting in the second round. Given the Vikings’ recent track record, this conclusion would appear to argue for the Vikings trading up in the draft. In fact, based on the Vikings’ recent draft history, the team probably would be better served trading away all of its picks for a couple of proven NFL starters.

Rather than dwell on their past draft failures, however, the Vikings need to focus on getting this draft and those from here forward correct. And that starts with maximizing utility. With a deep draft at linebacker, the Vikings should be able to select one or two quality linebackers in the first two rounds of the draft. That won’t include the likes of AJ Hawk, but it might include a player with the potential to be even better than Hawk, Chad Greenway.

Even if Greenway is gone, however, the Vikings probably will have an opportunity to select Ohio State’s Bobby Carpenter in round one and Abdul Hodge in round two if they opt to add quantity to their linebacking corps. And the Vikings certainly will have a host of very good football players from which to select at seventeen should they opt to draft the best available player, with players such as Laurence Maroney, LenDale White, DeAngelo Williams, Nick Mangold likely still to be available.

The mandate for the Vikings’ front office in this year’s draft is not necessarily to move up or to take a particular player. Instead, the mandate is to make judicious decisions for a change. That means getting value whether through a trade or by standing pat. And when one considers the financial commitment that comes with taking a top-five player, having pick seventeen and two second-round picks in a reasonably deep draft might just make more sense for the Vikings in both the short and the long term.

Up Next: Pre-Pick Picks.

Other Stuff: from Mr. Cheer Or Die


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Create your own newspaper

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Posted by maasx003 at 1:28 AM
April 25, 2006
"T-Minus Four Days: The Insider Updates" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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Fresh from The Insider is that another quarterback is now on the Vikings radar....

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....yes, Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler has shifted momentum away from the Wonderlic Kid, Vince Young. The Vikes realize that they would still need to move up to grab Cutler, but the staff feels the price would not be as great as it would to nab Young.

The Insider also tells me that if the Vikings stay put at #17, a linebacker will be the pick. And the #1 linebacker on the board is Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway. And how can one find fault with a linebacker who wears a shirt with a list of 10 "Norm-isms" that have been uttered by Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker as seen below:

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I mean at #3 is "Run like a scalded-ass dog." And how will Vikes defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin like it when Greenway shows up with the shirt and Tomllin reads #6 which goes, "The three fastest ways to die are 1) natural gas, 2) electricity, and 3) cover 2".....I'd think Tomlin might just implode! But that is linebacker mentality.....and what the Vikes need.

New Look

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The Vikings aren't the only ones about to unveil a new look on Thursday. Come back Thursday morning when I will beat the Vikings unveiling with one of my own. And you won't have to travel to the Mall of America to see it!

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Of course, if you want to see the Vikes new uniforms (my own unveiling will give you a clue!) you can head to the Rotunda at the Mall of America. The event will run from 6:00-6:30 p.m. Which is when I'll be working my second job....so there won't be any personal photos. But come back to the VU for a special poll in which you can vote thumbs up or down.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:38 AM
April 24, 2006
"Fran, Fran the Lyin' Man" by Mr. Cheer Or Die and "The Case for Moving Up" by Vikes Geek

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Long lost twins, Jon Lovitz and Fran Foley were reunited this past week when Foley revised the summary of his early work history to amend inaccuracies. "I did nothing to misrepresent what I've done,'' he said. Foley was then whisked away by Lovitz, the original Lyin' Man of Saturday Night Live fame, and taken to a meeting of Pathological Liars Anonymous.

I was able to catch up with Lovitz at Pathological Liars Anonymous headquarters for a few words on Foley.

Hello, my name is Jon Lovitz, and I'm a member of Pathological Liars Anonymous. In fact.. I'm the president of the organization! And being a huge Minnesota Vikings fan, I came to rescue my brother Fran Foley.

Fran didn't always lie. No, when he was a kid, he told the truth. But then one day, he got caught stealing money out of our mother's purse. He lied. He told her it was homework - that our teacher told him to do it. And she got fired! Yeah, that's what happened!

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After that, lying was easy for Fran and me. Fran lied about his age and joined the army. He was thirteen at the time. Yeah.. he went to Vietnam, and he was injured catching a mortar shell in his teeth. And they made him a three-star general! And then he got a job in journalism, writing for the National Enquire.. er, Geographic! Yeah.. He was making twenty thousand a ye.. month! In fact, he won the Pulitzer Prize that year! Yeah, that's the ticket.

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And then our cousin died - Joe Louis - and Fran took it hard. Maybe too hard - he tried to kill himself. Yeahh.. he did kill himself! Sure! He was medically dead for a week and a half! It was an old friend that brought him out of it - Mother Teresa! Yeah, right.. And she told Fran and I about Pathological Liars Anonymous.

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But we were broke, and in need of money you see....so we invented the computer and sold it to our, er, fri...neighbor Bill Gates. Yeah, that's the ticket. And Gates gave us three...thirty mill...billion dollars. Man, we were eating hambur...steak every night!

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Oh, you'd be surprised how many famous people belong to Pathological Liars Anonymous. In fact.. at one of the meetings Fran met his wife - Angelina Jolie! Yes, he's a changed man now, and all because of Pathological Liars Anonymous.

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Why, Fran - he even gave Einstein his start in science after meeting Al at Pathological Liars Anonymous. Yeah. Every day! Yeah.. that's the ticket! Yeah, you betcha!

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So, I say to Vikings fans everywhere! Forgive my brother's little white lies! He will bring you five....ten Super Bowls! In fact, Hulk Hogan is going to be the team's new weight coach. Yeah, that's the ticket. Top that Jack! See you later!

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VU Podcast Fifty-One

The most recent Viking Underground Podcast is now available. It is a very short pre-draft podcast summarizing the results of the first ever blogger mock draft.

"The Case for Moving Up" by Vikes Geek

With one week remaining before the 2006 NFL entry draft, the Minnesota Vikings face a quandary. The dilemma facing the Vikings is whether they should attempt to move up in the draft, stand pat, or do something else. And given that the dilemma is the Vikings’ most ponderous in recent draft history, it is no surprise that the solution is somewhat elusive.

Barring a complete collapse in the Vikings’ draft room, the Vikings should land a bona fide NFL-caliber starter should they elect to retain their seventeenth overall pick. But finding an NFL-caliber starter is not all that the Vikings need in this year’s draft. The team also needs to find an immediate starter at linebacker—and one who can play middle linebacker immediately—and/or a quarterback who will mature quickly in the NFL.

The Vikings purportedly are looking at several players as first-round options—presumably considering different players for different selection slot scenarios. The players most often cited as among the Vikings’ first-round targets, assuming that Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart are off the board when the Vikings select, are linebackers A.J. Hawk, Chad Greenway, and Ernie Sims, and quarterbacks Vince Young and Jay Cutler.

Based on the needs of teams ahead of the Vikings, Hawk and Young likely will be gone when the Vikings draft at seventeen, and Cutler and Greenway probably also will be gone. Of the sixteen teams selecting before Minnesota, seven have enough of a need at quarterback now or in the very near future to select a quarterback with their first-round pick and six have enough of an immediate or near-term need at linebacker to select a linebacker in the first round of this year’s draft.

Interestingly, none of the seven teams ahead of Minnesota in the draft with a pressing need for a quarterback have a pressing need at linebacker and none of the six teams ahead of Minnesota in the draft with a pressing need for a linebacker have a pressing need at quarterback. Assuming that the teams ahead of Minnesota who need a quarterback or linebacker prioritize the available talent in the same order as do the Vikings, the players that the Vikings value most highly almost certainly will be gone when the Vikings select at seventeen. That would mean that the Vikings would be left to draft the best available player rather than for need should they stand pat. And that would mean another off-season during which the Vikings failed adequately to address their most long-standing, dire need.

To move up in the draft, however, the Vikings need to find a trading partner. Several such partners appear ready to dance with the Vikings, but to have a legitimate shot at drafting one of their prime targets the Vikings probably will need to move into the top six of the draft. The two most likely trading partners in that range appear to be San Francisco, which holds the number six pick, and New York, which holds the number four pick.

San Francisco needs quality and numbers more than it needs an expensive top-of-the-order pick. With the number six pick in the draft, the 49ers could choose from among several very good players, but none alone will suffice to turn around a team so in need of an infusion of talent. A later first-round pick and one or two later-round picks would be more valuable.

The Jets are closer to the playoffs than the 49ers and could make the case that one very good player will make the difference for them in 2006. But, assuming that Leinart and Williams are not available and that the Jets are not interested in either Young or Cutler, the Jets are in a position to trade down several spots—even to the seventeenth spot—to address what has become a priority for them, defensive end. With players such as Kamerion Wimbley, Manny Lawson, and Mathias Kiwanuka likely to be on the board at seventeen, the Jets could trade with Minnesota, get the player that they most need, and pick up yet another mid-major quarterback in the second or third round to break in over the next few years.

Assuming no other changes in the top three of the draft, swapping first-round picks with the Jets likely would provide the Vikings the opportunity to select from all of their main targets. Reggie Bush, Leinart, and Young once looked to be the top three picks in the draft, but recent interlopers Hawk, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Davis, and Mario Williams have muddied the waters. The recent shuffle atop the draft board, however, only strengthens the Vikings’ probability of selecting one of their targeted players should they hold the fourth or sixth pick in the draft. The only questions remaining for the Vikings are whether their potential trading partners have the same view of the big board as suggested here and whether trading up is worth the cost. The first question will remain unanswered until draft day. The second, however, will be addressed here well before the draft.

Up Next: The Price of Exchange—The Value of a Pick and Why Standing Pat Might Make More Sense for the Vikings than Landing the Player the Team Most Needs Now.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:10 AM
April 22, 2006
"Coming Monday: Pathological Liars Anonymous" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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Posted by maasx003 at 1:09 PM
April 20, 2006
"Blogger Draft Update" by Mr. Cheer or Die

I am taking part in an all-blogger draft. It is just a little NFL Mock Draft consisting of fans who blog for their respective teams. I am representing the Vikings blog-o-sphere. The first seven picks have been selected as of 4 pm CST. It is a little slow and may take until the weekend to complete as "teams" may be on the clock while their "owner" is at work....or singing at the karaoke bar...or just passed out.

For me, the "owner" of the Vikings, I have put together the Triangle of Authority with myself, The Commish, and Milwaukee Mark who will decide the Vikes first-round selection in a calm and gentlemanly manner. But we will listen to our fans that pay to see our team.

In fact, the Triangle just had its first War Room fight. A trade offer came in from Buffalo. The Bills were offering their #8 1st round pick for the Vikes first round pick (#17) and one of the 2nd rounders (either #48 or 51). Their pitch was that we could move up 9 spots to get either Vince Young or Jay Cutler. The Commish wanted to pull the trigger and do it. I, being the part of Zygi, vetoed it on the basis that we could make a trade with Atlanta giving them our first rounder for Schaub....getting a vet QB while keeping both 2nd round picks! Any way, I had to lock The Commish in Bud Grant's broom closet, er, office while he cooled off.

Stayed tuned.

Posted by maasx003 at 3:43 PM
"Decisions to Make" by Vikes Geek

With most of their salary cap for 2006 spent, and with only a handful of modest starters likely to be available after the June salary cap cuts, the Minnesota Vikings are left to consider their options for obtaining through this year’s NFL entry draft the players that they yet need. The options appear to be three-fold. One option is to package picks for a modest gain in selection order. Another is to package many picks for a more substantial gain in selection order. The final option, of course, is to remain pat. And what the Vikings ultimately decide to do in the draft will—or should—come down to what returns the greatest value.

Vikings’ Current Needs

Entering free agency, the Vikings were in the market for a safety, middle linebacker, backup quarterback, running back, offensive guard, and offensive tackle. Despite the loss of wide receiver Nate Burleson, the Vikings believe that they are set at wide receiver with Koren Robinson moving to number one receiver, Travis Taylor to number two, and Marcus Robinson, Troy Williamson, and probably some discount salary cap casualty veteran, draftee, or free agent battling for the number three position.

The Vikings concluded the primary free agency period having addressed most of their off-season needs. The biggest signing, Steve Hutchinson, not only solidified the left side of the offensive line but also allowed the Vikings to spend less money for a second-tier free agent running back, Chester Taylor—a player who figures to out-perform anything which the Vikings have referred to as a running back in the past four seasons.

Strengthening the left side of the offensive line was critical not only because it allowed the Vikings to pursue a more modestly priced free-agent running back, but also because it allows the Vikings to run the West Coast offense—an offense that tends left to right—with some degree of efficiency. And it also means that the Vikings will be a little less concerned about having a 37-year-old starting quarterback in Brad Johnson backed up by a highly questionable backup in Mike McMahon, since Johnson will have his blind side covered by Bryant McKinnie, Hutchinson, and Matt Birk.

With the addition of Tank Williams at safety, the Vikings’ additions leave them in better position than they were in at the end of last season. But the Vikings have one glaring hole on their roster that they have not fully addressed in free agency. And that hole could come back to haunt the team if the team is unable to fill it through the draft.

Remaining Needs

At the outset of free agency, the Vikings signed former San Diego Charger linebacker Ben Leber. Leber arrived in Minnesota with two positives and two negatives. The positives for Leber are that he is young and has shown promise of significant upside. The negatives are that he is coming off of an injury in 2005 and has yet to reach his potential in a league notorious for making final calls on players early in their careers.

Then there is the added difficulty that Leber not only has not played middle linebacker in the NFL, but also that the Vikings reportedly will not ask Leber to play that role this year. All of which leaves the Vikings either better off at outside linebacker with no clear middle linebacker for 2006 or about where they were at the end of 2005—with no middle linebacker and some decent players on the edges. And as the Vikings can attest, that won’t get it done in the NFL.

Middle Linebacker

The Vikings’ coaches currently are suggesting that Dontarrious Thomas and E.J. Henderson are the prime candidates to fill the middle linebacker role in 2006. What remains unclear, however, is what evidence exists that either Henderson or Thomas is capable of playing middle linebacker. Henderson’s failure at middle linebacker in 2004 is outshone only by Thomas’ poor play just about anywhere he has played. And moving Henderson to middle linebacker not only augurs poorly for that position but also means transferring the Vikings’ best outside linebacker from 2005, thus portending the weakening of two positions with one change.

The Vikings’ front office is well aware of the Vikings’ linebacking deficiency—no matter the statements, as sparse as they are, out of Winter Park—as the Vikings are said to be making a pitch to move up in the draft to take Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk. As are most NFL teams, the Vikings are convinced that Hawk can be one of the few players to make a seamless transition from college linebacker to standout NFL middle linebacker.

The rub, of course, is that to obtain Hawk, the Vikings must do three things. First, they must make peace with sending a passel of picks to another team to move up in the draft. Second, they must find a team that is high enough in the draft to take Hawk that also is willing to trade down in the draft. Finally, they must convince themselves that Hawk is the right selection so high in the draft. And given the Vikings’ triangle of authority, that might be a daunting consensus to reach.

Up Next: Getting There from Here. Expectations for the Vikings’ various draft-day options.

"Who Should I Draft?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I am taking part in an all-blogger draft. It is just a little NFL Mock Draft consisting of fans who blog for their respective teams. I am representing the Vikings blog-o-sphere. The first four picks have been selected as of 11 am CST. What about the Vikes? Should I try and trade up? Trade Down? Stay pat?

Stayed tuned.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:49 AM
April 19, 2006
"The Insider Contacts Me" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

On April 22 of last year, The Insider had e-mailed me with the top three players on the Vikings board for the first round selection. Since he had given me the scoop on Randy Moss just a few months earlier, I listened. After all the dust of the draft had settled, the Insider did not disappoint. He was spot on.

For those not familiar with The Insider, he is an acquaintance of mine with inside access to Winter Park. We trade more e-mails about gardening than we do football....as we did this week. His credentials are sound and he only e-mails me about Vikings "scoops" when they are pretty damn sound. Last year, he said the following three people Sat atop the Vikings draft board. This is exactly what I posted in April of 2005 shortly after The Insider contacted me:

At #1 sits Braylon Edwards. No surprise there. With the #7 overall selection it makes perfect sense for the team to replace some of Randy Moss' production here. Edwards, a playmaker with a solid frame and great hands, has All-Pro potential. He immediately would become Daunte Culpepper's go-to receiver.

And here comes the curve ball. At #2 is Troy Williamson, the speedy WR out of South Carolina. Williamson has good size and blazing speed. Paired with Nate Burleson, the Vikings would have two downfield threats to take pressure off QB Daunte Culpepper and the new focus on running

At #3 is Mike Williams, whom Williamson leapt over in recent weeks. It appears that the Vikes are more focused on speed in making this choice to move Williamson ahead of Williams.

Edwards went to the Browns with the 3rd overall pick and Williamson to the Vikes with the seventh. Here is the early name The Insider has provided me....the name that currently sits atop the Vikings big board:

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Wow! The Wonderlic Kid! You've all read the reports that Vince Young scored a 6 on the Wonderlic test at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. The average score for a player at the combine is 19. The average score overall — hundreds of corporations use the Wonderlic — is 21. But a score under 10 is an indication of literacy problems. Former Iowa State running back Darren Davis reportedly has the record for lowest score, a 4. Former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski reportedly got a 9.

Young then received a pass, took the test again and scored a 16. OK, so now we know he can read. But a 20 on the Wonderlic is indicative of about an I.Q. of 100. A score of 6...or a 16... means that Vince Young could hide his own Easter eggs and still have fun trying to locate them.

So, either The Insider has located a great stash of cannabis in his garden and has been stoking his pipe a bit too much.....or, we have another surprise coming later this month and we will once again bow to his greatness. And let me clear: while the Wonderlic Kid is currently the guy atop the Vikes big board, The Insider states that only if Young falls would the Vikes bust a move to get him. He goes further to state the team would not be willing to movie intop the Top 5 as the price would be too high.....but Top 12, definitely.

Stay tuned.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:25 AM
April 18, 2006
"Help the Vikes by Helping the Twins" by Mr. Cheer Or Die & Shane Nackerud

I've never been a huge Minnesota Twins fan. Oh, I read the box score each morning and I watched the '87 and '91 World Series and was leaping off roof tops when they won the two championships. But ever since the move indoors, the whole baseball thing has lost its sheen for me. I just refuse to go indoors for baseball when the sky is blue and the birds are singing. I feel a brat and a beer taste best when enjoyed outside, as God intended.

Take last weekend for instance. The Twins hosted the hated New York Yankees. They drew well. Very well. The first two games were fantastic....from what I read about. But just think of how marvelous those games would have been if they had been played outdoors!?!? It would have been S.R.O. and the crowd stoked like a bunch of Hulkamaniacs who had too much sugar and had drank three or four espressos. It would have been the marquee event of the spring. Instead, most people observed it by watching on television or reading about it in the local rags. It was a non-event for the casual fan when it should have been the buzz around every water-cooler in every office building in the Metro area.

I support a new Twins stadium as much as I do a new Vikings stadium. And the bonus for Vikings fans is if the Twins stadium finally gets done, it clears the pathway for Zygi and Team to get theirs done. That's why I invited the Greet Machine's Shane Nackerud too join me in getting out a very important message to all the locals. Here is Shane.

"This is a Very Important Week" by Shane Nackerud

• I hesitate to say that this is one of the most important weeks in Twins history; we've heard that before. But the outcomes of this week could indeed dictate the future of the franchise. Of course, I am talking about the House Tax committee hearings on the evenings of Wednesday and Thursday this week. I was forwarded a note from Dave St. Peter, President of the Twins, in which he had this to say:

In a unique move, Representative Phil Krinkie, chair of the House Tax Committee, has decided to hold two meetings to hear the Twins bill. The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 19 at 3 p.m. at the Capitol where testimony in favor of the bill will occur. The second meeting will take place on Thursday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at the Oak Grove Middle School auditorium in Bloomington where testimony in opposition to the bill will occur.

We are currently working to develop a slate of people to testify on Wednesday in favor of the bill including Twins fans, community organizations, former players, business and labor representatives.

Given the uncertain nature of Thursday’s meeting at the school, we are working to mobilize as many fans as possible to attend and demonstrate their support for the Twins bill by filling up the auditorium. This is where you come in. We strongly encourage ALL Twins [fans] to attend Thursday evenings’s hearing at Oak Grove Middle School ... And, we ask that all supporters wear something Twins-related to demonstrate your support of the team and the new stadium.

This is serious. The more I think about this "unique move" by Phil Krinkie the more I am bothered by it. Supporters of the bill have to travel to St. Paul in the middle of the afternoon to be heard, while Krinkie is giving those in opposition to the bill an evening start time and an easier place to get to. And all of this is being done under the guise of brining the democratic process to the people. That is a load of crap. If each side of the debate was given equal treatment, if each hearing was being held at Oak Grove Middle School in Bloomington, I might agree. In fact, that would be exciting. But this is such a blatant attempt to give one side of the debate more public sway it is really quite sickening. It is a chess move more than it is an example of democracy at work, and I sincerely hope Krinkie's move totally backfires on him.

If you are planning on attending the "debate" on Thursday evening here are the driving directions to Oak Grove Middle School from Minneapolis: Take I-35W south to the 106th Street Exit. Go west on 106th Street and arrive at 1300 W. 106th Street.

Twins fans should fill the auditorium. Of course we should be respectful of the debate, but I would also hope that cheers could go up anytime something favorable is said concerning the bill.

• And speaking of the "debate" ... hasn't it all been said already? Seriously, are any legislators' minds actually going to be changed on Wednesday or Thursday as a result of the testimony we've all heard so many times before? On Wednesday, Twins fans will speak in favor of the bill from an emotional and historical standpoint. Minneapolis business leaders will speak in favor of the bill in terms of downtown vibrancy and safety, not to mention what 81 games will do for Warehouse district bars and restaurants. Minnesota charities will speak in favor of the bill in terms of all the good that MLB and the Twins do for our state, and how much money the Twins have donated to state charities over the years. The Minneapolis Department of Parks and Recreation will probably speak on how valuable it is to have MLB in our state and how much it promotes baseball and the use of the ball fields in the city. And the AFL-CIO will probably speak to the fact of how important it will be to have all those jobs for the construction workers of the Twin Cities.

On Thursday night the same old antagonists will also give the same old tired arguments. Kenneth Zapp, an economist from Metro State University, will speak yet again against the plan saying the County is giving too much of the revenue to the Twins and how we should negotiate a deal more like the one in St. Louis (which was a pretty sweet deal for the Cardinals). Laura Lehmann of "Citizens for a Ballpark Referendum" will ask for ... yes, you guessed it! A referendum! Bruce Pomerantz, a citizen from Fridley will tell the commitee that if the Twins get this deal, then it sets a precedent that the Vikings will take advantage of (God forbid!). And Daniel Dobson of the "No Stadium Tax Coalition" will say the proposal is neither fair nor honest to taxpayers. This is all a given.

Here is what I think: we've heard all the same arguments. What is the point of all of this? The Tax committee hearing could get done in 20 minutes by first voting for or against a referendum amendment and then voting for or against the actual bill. 20 minutes! The rest of this is all for the benefit of grandstanding legislators. I ask again: is any of this "debate" actually going to change the mind of any legislator? I seriously wonder ...

• And speaking of legislators and other politicians, Joe Soucheray hit the nail on the head by lambasting our illustrious politicians while describing his 23rd reversal to now being in favor of the Hennepin County ballpark plan:

What turned me around this time was a photograph in the Enemy Paper on Tuesday morning about a guy in Washington, D.C., who works as a female impersonator at a club that would be demolished to make way for a new, publicly subsidized ballpark for the Washington Nationals. This guy was opposed to a new park and said that the only time he would go there "would be for protests.'' The implication seemed to be that hard-working female impersonators should not have to pay for a new ballpark for millionaire owners.

That's it. I'm on board. When it comes down to a new ballpark or preserving the working environment for female impersonators, I'm going with baseball.

Hilarious. But what Joe had me nodding my head even more over was the fact that our politicians are weak and "without fortitude." They are, quite frankly, afraid of their own shadows and wouldn't know a good deal if it bit them in the ass.

Minneapolis has no effective leadership. They stand to gain a $500 million public-works project and don't have a single solitary soul in the elected ranks who can make a case for it because they are all afraid of their various constituencies.

The state of Minnesota could get a new outdoor stadium and keep baseball for 3 cents on $20. We provide our public assistance recipients with enough money to afford 3 cents on $20. Well, people say, if it's a state benefit, maybe it should be a statewide tax then. It could be, I suppose, if you had anybody in the state who could get something done. I believe it is called taking the bull by the horns.

From the governor on down we have elected people who are gridlocked by conflicting ideologies the minute they take office.

I couldn't have said it any better myself. Shane over and out. Thanks for having me, Brian. Back to you

My Plea by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Thanks Shane! Well put and authored as usual! So local Vikes fans, here is my plea: Support your Vikings stadium chances by supporting the Twins stadium chances by showing up Thursday night in Bloomington wearing your purple and putting your ass in a chair that would otherwise be filled by a anti-stadium bum. And if you do go, take some photos and send them to me and I'll post them here on the VU.

I would be there but I will be working my second job. But I will be there in spirit. I hope many of you can find the time to represent all Vikings fans who cannot be there and help your sporting brothers get their long overdue stadium finally approved and ground broken. A sincere thank-you to one and all who can.

I Can't Sleep by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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I think this will be the final word but I can't be sure. You see, I tried the newest offering from Coca-Cola today. It is a coffee-flavored drink called Coca-Cola Blak. I bought one at my local market over lunch and tried it out. Mmmmm, pretty good I thought. The first heart palpatation kicked in and I had my second swig and whoooooooooooYeahthatisrightadrinkthatcombinescaffeinewithevenmorecaffeinethathadmypulse
goingnorthof169! ManInevergotsomuchdoneinjustonedayandIstillfeltlikeIhadsomuchtod.
HOOOOOOWHEEEEEE! ThatissomegoodstuffwhyIthinkI'llhavesomeforbreakfasttomorrow! ScrewStarbucksandPopTartsBlakisallIneedBABEE!

When the wife had to give me the second dose of Valium to bring the resting heart rate to under 110 and my blood-pressure to a comfortable 200 over 120 she seemed to be calmed because, "your eyeballs are finally retracting into your skull."

Hey, give it a shot. Especially if you have stayed up all night singing at your local Karaoke bar and just remembered you have an important presentation to give the boss at 8.

I like it, I like it! You will too! I may make it the VU's official tailgate heart starter!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:48 AM
April 17, 2006
"V.D.D" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Being the licensed drug dealer that I am, I ran across a new affliction ravaging our children late last week. And unlike the last April Fools prank (some people have yet to forgive me...HAHA!) this is no joke. This latest scourge to hit our youth, as penned by yet another lefty freak, is Nature Deficit Disorder. N.D.D. is the latest excuse for parents who are so selfish as to not spend time with their children that they must invent some excuse as if to say, "See! It is not MY fault!?

N.D.D. is the latest crutch for parents to dose their kids with ProzacRitalinPaxil. N.D.D. tells the sad story of kids who are so plugged into television and video games that they've lost their connection to the natural world. These kids then develop into slugs that can't even fit into a normal child's car seat and the parents must super size to the behemoth style car seat so they can roll Fat Albert to the nearest McDonalds for their next Happy Meal.

So, since I could only pen together two entries last week and since Vikes Geek was in vacation....IT IS NOT MY FAULT! I was only suffering from Vikings Deficit Disorder. This is when there is such a dearth of any Vikings news that I suffer from extreme bloggers block and can't string together a comprehensive entry to entertain you.

Oh, sure. I could give you the latest person's version of the forthcoming Vikings uniform change. I have about a dozen people e-mailing me each week having a cousin or uncle or someone who works for ReebokAdidasNike who just happened top have a top-secret photo of the Vikes new uniform. Yeah, right. We'll see it when we see it. Why waste your time? I received seven e-mails on Sunday alone from people on this subject.

No, my prescription involves just walking away from said blog for an undetermined length of time. I spend time in our gardens.....by the way the magnolias are having a great bloom……


The two magnolia. (Click image for larger)

…..putting together The Boy's® 6th birthday party with Super Hero theme. Games included Bad Guy Bowling and a race to save Superman’s life by gathering all the kryptonite that had fallen into our yard the night before when a meteorite whizzed overhead.


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Our heroes located all the kryptonite. (Click image for larger)


And then there is trying out new martini recipes, planning for the bathrooms remodeling project, and still researching that possible BMW Z4 because I am suffering from male menopause. No wonder I have had little time to exert on this humble blog.

We’re catching up on movies with our NetFlix Account. Movies viewed last weekend on the ol’ home theater system……


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…..were: Cinderella Man (great!), The Chronicles of Narnia (The Boy’s® first 2+ hour movie), and Underworld (Kate Beckinsale in leather rocks!). Nothing like popcorn and some special ale to vanquish bloggers block.

My next entry? Who knows, I may discuss boxers versus briefs. V.D.D., indeed. I’ve got it bad.

Help!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:08 AM
April 12, 2006
"Zygi Spending to Move?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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On September 12, 1982 the Vikings opened the Metrodome. It cost $68 million to erect it. The Vikes want, and need, a new stadium and are next in line once the Twins and Gophers get their stadium issues resolved. Of course, the Vikings are making a huge push this legislative session to get all three stadiums to be considered at the same time.....but then don't hold you breath for politicians. You'll be left gasping for air every time.

At least once a year, I would be thoughtless if I did not bring out my soap-box and voice my concerns over the risk that we could end up losing the Vikings to parts unknown. Actually, we do know where. The L.A. Threat still lingers which means that the team could escape for the warmer climes of the west coast...lease or no lease.....if a stadium cannot be built for the Purple.

Since 1995, after the Rams and Raiders left, the National Football League has not had a team in Los Angeles. Since then, in cities across the nation (Phoenix, Seattle, Indianapolis, etc) owners have used the dearth of a Los Angeles franchise as weight. They have extracted concessions worth hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers while threatening to move to L.A.

The strategy has been a critical factor in the NFL's stunning building boom. A quick Google search lists that since 1995, stadiums have been newly built or renovated for 19 of the league's 32 teams, including Jacksonville, the site of Super Bowl XXXIX and Detroit, the site of Super Bowl XL. (And as Zygi has already stated, would it not be nice to have the Super Bowl return to the Tundra? A game in which the Vikes have home-field advantage?)

Some say the strategy has been such a success that Los Angeles, though it is the nation's second-largest television market, is more constructive to the NFL without a team than it would be with one.

The NFL has said it wants a team in Los Angeles by 2008 or 2009. League spokesman Greg Aiello said last year that the league has not determined whether it would be better to move an existing franchise or to start a new one by adding a 33rd team, whose owners would pay the others as much as $800 million to join. Aiello said the NFL is concentrating on getting a stadium ready for a prospective Southern California team.

He discarded the comment that the league and its owners have used Los Angeles as influence to win concessions from taxpayers, and noted that owners have invested mightily during the recent run of stadium projects, spending more than $1 billion.

I think he kept a straight face while voicing that statement.

Some analysts say communities are willing to give so much public money to a private company because each team creates its own trickle-down economy. A recent University of New Orleans study estimated the Saints' annual economic impact at $402 million. The city has also played host to nine Super Bowls, more than any other city. Though many economists dispute it, the NFL claims that Super Bowls now generate as much as $300 million apiece.

Stadium deals are essential to the success of an NFL franchise.

Over and over again, owners have launched campaigns to win stadium deals. Time and again with massive contributions from the public, and often with a reminder that the field might be greener in L.A.

In Seattle, concerns that the Kingdome was structurally unsound in 1996 prompted Ken Behring, then owner of the Seahawks, to weigh a move to Los Angeles. Instead, the Kingdome was imploded and replaced. The Seahawks opened the doors of a $430-million stadium, now known as Qwest Field, in 2002. The public paid $300 million; now-owner Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, paid for the rest. Of course, being the sixth richest person in the world has its benefits.

In the Phoenix area, the Cardinals will move into a new, $355-million stadium for the 2006 season, six years after voters approved a measure committing public money to the project. The Cardinals spent more than $500,000 lobbying for approval. The team will pay less than a third of the stadium's cost.

In Indianapolis, Colt owner Jim Irsay butted heads with the city in 2004, charging that his stadium, the smallest in the NFL, was dragging down revenues.

Irsay's ploy with Los Angeles was not restrained; he is a member at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. There was also a threat of a move to Canada.

In December 2004, Irsay and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson announced a deal to build a $690-million stadium. Taxpayers, in order to pay back bonds funding the bulk of the project, are expected to contribute $46 million annually for the next 30 years.

Enter Zygi Wilf, the owner who is enjoying a near 90% approval rating on the Viking Underground (poll to the left). Wilf has publicly stated that "I want you to know I'm never going to threaten to move the team to get a stadium."

Good enough for me. But here is my concern, being the neurotic person that I am. I have looked into Zygi's checkbook and I see:

• $49 cool to Steve Hutchinson
• deferred bonuses due to Fred Smoot, Jermaine Wiggins, Pat Williams and others
• $600 million paid for the team
• a team-record 21 assistant coaches
• a Winter Park renovation project that will cost $2 million
• significant financial loss in 2005, estimated to be more than $10 million
• $102 million in cash this season on player salaries
• $2 million for new coach Brad Childress
• Doubling the size of the executive staff from three vice presidents to six (and we know how they can eat!)

So, why is the jaded side of me worried? I should be loving this, right? And don't get me wrong....I am! But the larger question still remains: will the team get a new stadium? If they do not, what would you do if you were Zygi Wilf and you’ve poured money into a bottomless pit and you continue to get the cold shoulder from the State?

You see, the reality that Zygi and Co. are spending more money than they are taking in bodes well for their chances that should the current group of geniuses in St. Paul whiff on the Vikings again this year, the team becomes a legitimate contender to get permission from the NFL to get a new stadium somewhere else. In this case, Los Angeles.

Zygi is smart. Very smart. Like a fox smart. I want this guy as our owner for a long time. And I want that ownership to be housed in Eden Prairie and then Anoka County. Not on Hollywood and Vine.

Have you visited the Minnesota Momentum web site yet to commit your support and put the screws to the professional wind-bags in St. Paul? Or are you waiting to join the Los Angeles Momentum movement? The choice is yours.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:58 AM
April 7, 2006
"Mini-Camp Summary" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Note: be sure and click on the links provided within the story for photos! And check out the VU Podcast page and VU Videocast page for other mini-camp material. And as stated on the VU Moblog page, the media was limited to using cameras (video or still) to just the first 30-minutes of practice. Still, there are over seventy photos below for you to look at. Feel free to share them or use them anyway you want. Just be sure to credit the Viking Underground and please be aware the VU has a Creative Common Copyright licenses listed for this blog. Thanks!

It was cold and very gusty outside but very quiet inside as I watched Team Purple go through stretching drills during the first practice of the veteran mini-camp which started Friday and ends Sunday. As new head coach Brad Childress took his pulse, literally, he also took a pulse on his team for the very first time.

There was disgraced OT Mike Rosenthal relegated to second string work. But then my eye quickly saw offensive-center Matt Birk chatting with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Birk worked out the entire practice and showed no ill effects from the multiple hernia surgeries from the last year.

My ear was quickly drawn to the loudest voice on the field. No, not Fred Smoot but defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. Tomlin strode up and down the field as the players stretched prior to the start of practice. Childress stood quietly by reviewing his schedule and plays.

In previous years, during warm-ups I would be able to hear the players joking and laughing it up. Even last year under former head coach Mike Tice I would have heard Pat "The Planet" Williams having a side conversation with Kevin Williams while P-Will barely moved a muscle. Not to mention this joker:


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But, even the loquacious, smiling Fred Smoot was all work and made not one peep during stretching.

After stretching the various positions broke down across the field. Much to my delight, the linebackers ended up right in front of me. Yes, there was Ben Leber the former Charger.


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Napoleon Harris, relegated to second string of the depth chart last year, still ran with the second team this year. Newly acquired Ben Leber was dressed and ready to play and was running with the first string, however. Leber was focused and running well during drills.

The man that everyone had guessed to be the starting MLB this season was if fact on the first string but not at the MLB spot. That belonged to Mr. Dontarrious Thomas (and that is a MLB stare!) while E. J. Henderson was playing outside with Leber.

Also working out nearby were the running backs. First jersey that I spied was that of FB Tony Richardson. And as all of you who read the Moblog already know, this guy was the first string RB during drills on Friday. Ciatrick Fason was running second string behind Chester Taylor as Mewelde Moore sat out of passing drills. Running back coach Eric Bieniemy had the lads running pretty hard but no one seemed out of shape. No Robert Smith nausea attacks of any kind. Just some hands-on-hips.


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Richardson, who was brought in to knock people on their asses, was in the backfield on 2-WR sets playing in front of Taylor and often the recipient of short passes.

Way across the field were the red-jersey's of the quarterbacks. The QB position is my second worry spot, ranked only behind the linebacker corp. And seeing the names of J.T. Sullivan and Mike McMahon made me feel a bit more queasy than assured. McMahon, show here being watched by QB coach Kevin Rogers, seemed especially tentative. I felt that McMahon should have not been so, having been under Childress at Philadelphia. But again, this was the first practice. And his throws were more crisp than those of Big Bad Brad Johnson.

Across from the linebackers were the wide-receivers.


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And all eyes (and hands!) were on Mr. Motivation, Koren Robinson. K-Rob was in continual motion on the line and in drills. He looks ready to take-up where he left off last season. Also back with the first string was Travis Taylor who seems to be the third receiver in 3-WR sets. This is because Troy Williamson was playing first string in 2-WRs set so it seems that the new coaching regime is ready to fly. Personal favorite Chris Jones was also back and looking very good in passing drills once again. But it was K-Rob making the circus catches again. And again.

I interrupt this summary to make a plea: I want one of these purple balls!!!! They should play purple balls at the Dome for all home games. These look way cool. OK, sorry about that. I now return you to the summary


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Also excited about all aspects of the practice today was Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. Wilf continues to run with a nearly 90% approval rating here on the Viking Underground (poll to the left). Wilf was all over the field observing the team today while also speaking with the local media.


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Wilf had to be as pleased with me to the play of the defense. The defense, in my thoughts, outplayed the offense during scrimmages. Smoot was the day's MVP with a beautifully defended pass against Jermaine Wiggins, knocking the ball out just as it hit Wiggins' hands. And Smoot had an INT of a BBB thrown ball which had the defense hootin' and hollerin' all the way into the end-zone. And Dovonte Edwards was without a doubt the fastest DB on the field. Let's just call Dovonte the Road Runner. Beep-beep!


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Pro Bowler Darren Sharper, shown here with Dustin Fox, also looked to be in great form. A sight surprise was seeing Tank Williams run with the first team. But then Willie Offord was out so I'm not sure who will get the nod here.

The D-Line was ready for some head bangin' as well. The first string were ends Erasmus James & Kenechi Udeze with the Williams Bros. Wrecking Crew clogging the middle. Coach Childress seemed to spend a fair deal of time observing them.

At the end, Coach Childress met with the media. He was a little tight-lipped as you can hear on the VU Podcast page. But you know what? I like it when the local media gets pissed off at our coach because he isn't giving them the easy story. Boo-friggin'-hoo. But I'm sure at some point in the near future you are going to be hearing some whining from the media babies.

Owner Zygi Wilf also addressed the media and took some questions about the stadium. Wilf again pressed that all three stadium issues...the Gophers, Twins, and Vikings.....need to be addressed.

I hope you enjoyed this little personal summary. See you all next week! I leave you now with the strangest sight of the day.


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Other Photos

RB Adimchinobe Echemandu


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FB Joey Goodspeed


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RB Tony Richardson


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RB Ciatrick Fason


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LB Heath Farwell


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WR Kelvin Kight


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WR Marcus Robinson


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WR Ryan Hoag


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LB Napoleon Harris


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LB Ben Leber


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WR Jimmy Redmond


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DB Darren Sharper


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DL Pat Williams


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DL Kevin Williams


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K Ryan Longwell


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Posted by maasx003 at 7:00 PM
"Minicamp Update II" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I have uploaded photos from the first minicamp session to the Flickr page. You will start to see photos along the upper banner, changing each time you refresh the page. Just click on any photo to view the Flickr photo stream.

I have also started posting video. The first video from minicamp shows Ben Leber and E. J. Henderson running a linebacker drill. You can see this video on the VU Videocast page. More video should appear soon as I work on uploading them.

I also have decided to try and complete my report complete with photos sometime this evening. So stay tuned.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:13 PM
"Minicamp Update I" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I'm working as fast as my fingers will allow. Here is a document that contains roster and coaching information. Note that Fred Smoot now wears #21 and Troy Williamson now wears #82.

Also now available on the VU Podcast page is a podcast with myself along with Brad Childress and Zygi Wilf post practice.

For those joining us in progress, you can see some early reports and photos over on the VU Moblog page. These were "crap cam" photos with the real deals coming yet this afternoon.

The next updates will be the digital photos, such as the one of Troy Williamson sporting his new number shown below. My camp summary should be up sometime this weekend.


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Stay tuned! For now, you have the podcast and various things to keep you busy!

Posted by maasx003 at 2:11 PM
"Coming: Minicamp Sounds and Sights" by Mr. Cheer Or Die
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I always abhor posting a teaser on the chance that something comes up to impede with my planned schedule and prohibit me from attending the Vikings first minicamp session of the 2006 season, but I'll take that risk.

If all goes according to plan, I will be at Winter Park Friday morning to watch the 10:30 am - 12:30 pm (CST) practice. The practice will be held indoors so the photos may not be as crisp as you are use to seeing. But I'll do my best to bring you some exciting shots.

If you can't wait, there are two things you can do to bide your time:

1) I'll post some photos "live" using my cell phone. These are "crap cam" photos of poor quality but at least you'll be able to see some early stuff directly from practice itself. These photos would be posted to my VU Moblog page.

2) Starting as early as Friday afternoon, I will begin the slow process of editing and then uploading photos. I'll start by uploading directly to my Flickr site. So you will start to see photos from minicamp interspersed with my other personal photos along the top. Just keep refreshing the page and a new set of five will appear. Or you can watch the Flash Flickr box along the right which updates automatically.

I'll then work over the weekend on adding some written entries in the vein of a minicamp report and analysis complete with all the photos. I also hope to have some audio for all you podcast devotees.

But be patient as it is also The Boy's 6th birthday party on Saturday and I will be breaking away for that important event.

Until then.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:33 AM
April 6, 2006
"2006 Schedule" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

The Boy® is on Spring Break...from kindergarten. I mean what the hell. I don’t recall getting a 10-day spring break from ANY school and I had to walk uphill both ways five miles in blinding snow storms each day!

So, I've been engaged with family duties and have had no opportunity to write. But the 2006 schedule has come out and I'm sure every prognosticator is telling the world that his or her team is about to finish with such-and-such a record and then win the Super Bowl. As if.

There is no other way to say it for the Vikes: the start of the season is a wicked schedule. At first glance, I can see the team starting out 0-3 and with a 2-6 record at the halfway mark. And that would be as ugly as purple on purple uniforms! But the back half could be a cake walk as the Vikings cultivate momentum and conclude with a 9-7 or 10-6 mark, getting hot just in time for a playoff run.

On the flip side, I could just as easily see them starting 2-1 and having a 5-3 record at at the mid-season mark and ending up with a division winning 11-5 mark.

And what games we have in store!

October 22 at Seattle: The Poison Pill Game
October 28 at the Dome: MNF against the Patriots.
November 19 at Miami: The Poutin’ Quarterback against the Vikes
November 26 at the Dome: The Old Sheriff returns to the Dome
December 21st at LAMEbeau Field: The Vikes humiliate the Packers on national TV once again.
December 31st at the Dome: Scott Linehan returns on New Years Eve

That’s a half-dozen games with enough excitement generated to light the upper Midwest for a decade.

Posted by maasx003 at 2:19 PM
April 4, 2006
"Fading From White?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

The paramount Vikings linebacker of all time, Scott Studwell, was in L.A. for USC's Pro Day. Studwell is the Vikings director of college scouting and this is his busy time of year when he earns enough frequent flyer miles to take a family of ten to Europe via first class for free. I cannot substantiate the rumor that under Red McCombs, all frequent flyer miles had to be turned into the ol’ car salesman himself.


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Neither can I corroborate that Studwell was there to eyeball Reggie Bush or Matt Leinhart. I can be sure that Studwell was there to gauge the running back I was very high on previous to these workouts: LenDale White.

The fact is Studwell may have needlessly made a trip to the Crazy Coast. White opted to not work out due to a reported hamstring pull. He then said that he tweaked the hamstring while bench-pressing 225 pounds only 15 times. That was a reported one more than USC punter Tom Malone. White then decided to skip the running portion of the day.

Like many other teams in the NFL, I felt that White had the best chance of being the next Vikings featured running back due to his NFL power back qualities we all saw displayed so prominently in lasts years’ penultimate NCAA football championship game. But if can barely out lift the team’s punter, well then I just don’t know.

It may be time to look at linebacker or defensive end and see what blue-chipper the Vikes can nab. Consider: if the team keeps all their picks, that will be five picks in the first three rounds. One has to think the Vikes draft-day brain trust has the grey matter to at least make three of the five picks turn into long term, viable solutions to their respective positions.

The following players could be available at selection seventeen within the first round:

DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis: Insanely quick through a hole and is the most elusive (yes, even more than Reggie Bush) back in college.
Laurence Maroney, RB Minnesota: Yes, I'm against him but then has the ability to make a defender miss and that explosive gear that will allow him to take it the distance at any time.
Ernie Sims, OLB Florida St.: He is a very instinctive LB.
Chad Greenway, OLB Iowa: At 6'4 247, Greenway is as big as anyone could hope for in the NFL with the speed of a DB. He was clocked at 4.47 in the forty last fall at Iowa's timing day.

How about selection forty-eight in the second round?

Abdul Hodge, ILB Iowa: One of the smartest middle linebackers I've seen in college football in a long time. He knows where to be at all times. Good in coverage, good against the run, good form tackler.
Omar Jacobs, QB Bowling Green: Omar's combination of accuracy, arm strength and speed makes him much like former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. As he doesn’t have the speed of a Mike Vick, he still can run around some of the NFL's great defensive players making him a lot like Daunte Culpepper. And don’t forget Omar is another quarterback coming out of the MAC conference at Bowling Green, making him a high prospect given the history of quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington.
Max Jean-Gilles, OG Georgia: A prototypical right guard who would complete the rebuilding job along the offensive line.

How about selection fifty-one in the second round?

Ryan O'Callaghan, OT California: Prototype right tackle, a weak spot for the Vikes. Solid in pass protection as well as run-blocking. experienced and could start right away.
Thomas Howard, OLB UTEP: Great speed and versatility. Great addition to any team as a coverage guy and can line up against any TE in the NFL.
Alan Zemaitis, CB Penn St.: Experienced player who will be a perfect fit for the teams new Cover 2 defensive scheme.

How about selection eighty-three in the third round?

Brodie Croyle, QB Alabama: Croyle started for multiple years at Bama. He has a strong arm and can play with the big boys like Vince Young and Matt Leinart. He played well at the senior bowl, he has a great personality. He is a good leader and has good mobility.
Julien Jenkins, DE Stanford: A stud defensive end for the team to develop as a pass rushing DE

How about the recently acquired ninety-fifth selection (from Seattle) in the third round?

Andrew Whitworth, OT L.S.U.: An experienced starter who will provide quality depth at both right and left tackle for the Vikes.

So, how would you feel if at the end of the first day of the 2006 NFL draft the Vikes had the following players on the plane and heading for Winter Park?

LB Ernie Sims
QB Omar Jacobs
OT Ryan O'Callaghan
DE Julien Jenkins
OT Andrew Whitworth

Now, I'm not saying that this is who I want. I'm just voicing that one scenario the Vikes could consider is just staying with their picks and avoid the temptation to trade away in order to secure a bigger college name. A name which could become the next Lawrence Phillips, Heath Schuler, or Andre Ware....all first round busts.

In this case, I'm leaning towards rolling the dice on five studs instead of mortgaging away all the picks and taking the chance on one or two supposed blue-chippers.

You?

Shameless Plug

The VU is always ready to help with a new Vikings related site. One of the VU's readers recently started a new Minnesota Vikings message board about a month ago is trying to get the word out about it. Check it out if you get the chance.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:40 AM
April 3, 2006
"Does Brad Want to Be Like Mike?" by Vikes Geek

As the Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their 2005 season, the general consensus around the league was that the Vikings had the talent to be a playoff contender—not just in 2006, but in 2005. When the Vikings failed to make the playoffs in 2005, former head coach Mike Tice lost any support that he might have had from the new Vikings’ ownership and found himself looking for a new coaching job.

Enter Brad Childress.

Childress came to Minnesota after serving several seasons as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. By his own admission, Childress had a somewhat circumscribed role as offensive coordinator under Reid, with Reid calling the plays in all but a handful of games. Despite the usual accolades from former players, Childress’ limited role in Philadelphia led some to wonder whether Childress was the right hire for a team arguably on the brink of a playoff run.

In defense of his new hiree, Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf noted that Childress was an upstanding citizen and a good family man. Despite such overwhelming evidence of coaching acumen, some still wondered whether Childress was ready for a head coaching gig with a playoff ready team.

Initially, Childress opted to stand above the fray. “Let them wonder,? seemed to be Childress’ motto. “I’ll prove my mettle with my on-field performance.?

Childress’ lack of public statements, blanketed by front office refusals to offer public statements on the team absent approval from the triangle of authority—which included Childress—suggested that Childress would follow through with a pledge to show us on the field. And while the Vikings’ new head coach received criticism for so closely guarding his words, some local pundits acknowledged that, at a minimum, Childress had offered one improvement over the previous coaching regime by playing things a bit closer to the vest—a move considered more professional in some circles.

Without much more than the occasional comment on things of little relevance to Vikings’ football, Vikings’ fans were left to what to make of Childress. Would he be at least the slightest improvement over Tice? Or was he too much of a rookie—or too much of something else—to provide the Vikings the improvement at coaching that they so desperately needed after last season?

Two weeks ago, Childress began to show his true colors to Vikings’ fans. And if you resided in the camp that said let’s see what the man can do before we question his methods, you suddenly had reason to reconsider your position. In public statements the likes of which the new Vikings’ head coach previously had not offered, Childress made clear where he felt he stood in the pantheon of football coaching history.

“When I met the players, I could see some of them had concerns.? Childress commented to a gathering of reporters. “They were looking at each other like ‘who’s this guy?’ I looked them in the eye and said, ‘You didn’t choose me, I chose you. I chose you.?

Childress’ point was clear. Team was important, but nobody was more important than was he. For a coach so obsessed with “team? that he found it necessary to dump Daunte Culpepper for a bag of beans because Culpepper was “too much about ‘me,’? the comments were rather curious.

A Mere Blip on the Radar

Childress easily could have been forgiven his rather grandiose comments had he gone back to his vow of silence until the season started. For two weeks, it looked like that might happen. It appeared that the coach had found his way back to the higher ground, to a more sensible plane of professionalism.

But then someone asked Childress about Daunte Culpepper for the umpteenth time. And this time, Childress let fly. And, in so doing, the new coach revealed not only a strain of poor public decision-making, but also a touch of amateurism the likes of which we were assured by Vikings’ ownership did not run through the veins of this coach.

Responding to questions about Culpepper’s rehabilitation program, Childress noted that he had sent an assistant to Florida to check out Culpepper’s workout facility. Childress stated that the facility was inferior to what the Vikings had to offer in Minnesota and that he believed that Daunte would have been better served returning to Minnesota to rehabilitate. End the statement there and nobody blinks an eye.

What appeared to irk Childress, however, was not the fact that Culpepper opted to continue to workout in Florida. Nor did Childress even contend that Culpepper—despite the quarterback using what Childress deemed to be inferior rehabilitation facilities—was not making suitable progress in his rehabilitation. No, what Childress seemed obsessed with was the fact that the facility was located in a strip mall, next to a Wal-Mart and, though Childress does not know this for a fact, a Chinese restaurant. Yes—a Chinese restaurant. Need Childress say any more?

Well, only if he wants others to know what he was getting at. Precisely what picture was Childress attempting to draw for Vikings’ fans reading his comments? Was he insinuating something about locations that support Wal-Mart stores and Chinese restaurants? Was there any point to his rant?

We don’t currently know what Childress’ point was in delivering this rant, except that he was frustrated with Culpepper’s apparent refusal to rehabilitate in Minnesota. The concern for Vikings’ fans, however, is not over the disagreement, but over Childress’ ancillary concerns—concerns about the location of the facility in relation to a Wal-Mart and a Chinese restaurant. One has to wonder how rationale a person can be who shows more concern over the location of a rehabilitation center than over the progress that the person rehabilitating is making?

Ultimately, Childress’ recent public statements reflect the worst of both Denny Green and of Mike Tice in the arena of public statements. And if public statements offer insight into a coach’s ability to control his emotions and govern a team, Vikings’ fans might be in for a rude surprise in 2006.

Up Next: More Free Agency. Plus, stadium talk.

VU Podcast Forty-Nine

Join us in listening to Mr. Cheer Or Die, Shane of the Greet Machine, and Larry Spooner (Co-Chair of Minnesota Momentum) in bringing you up to date with the latest stadium developments with the Gophers, Twins, and Vikings. Listen in on the VU Podcast page.

New Wilf Approval Poll

The March edition of the Zygi Wilf Approval rating is closed and the April one is now up. Zygi finished with a 80% approval rating, his lowest of the year thus far. How will he fair in April? I'm sure the draft will play a role in that decision and you may consider holding your vote until then. You can find the approval poll along the left frame.

And a new poll is also up. Which position should the Vikes address first in the upcoming draft? QB? LB? RB? Vote to the left directly below the approval rating poll.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:35 AM
April 1, 2006
"Happy April First" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

It is April! Spring is here! And a very Happy April Fools Day! Many of you are reaching for this classic Who song about now.....

Wont_Get_Fooled_Again_label.gif

So, did you get suckered into my annual prank yesterday like many of you did last year? I must admit, it is getting more difficult to fool people, but it was certainly fun to watch April Fool's Day 2006 blossom across Vikings related message boards and such on Friday. Let us recap:

One: Set the Trap

First, to make the prank really stand out, it has to be near and dear to the heart. What is nearer and dearer to our collective hearts than the legendary horns on the helmet? A sure attention grabber that everyone has a opinion on.

During the last few weeks I set the stage with uniform updates. I planted a seed about a possible change to the helmet. The story was credible as changes to the uniform was covered through the local media. Earlier this week I alluded to being made privvy to a glimpse of the new helmet itself.

Two: Drop the Hammer

I posted the supposed new image on 3/31. This causes people to wonder out loud that it may not be a April Fools Day prank. Then there are the AFD purists who yell "foul" by baiting everyone a day early. Boo-friggin'-hoo. I set the trap the day before and drop the hammer the day of. Mark your calendar for next year.

The horns are staying on the helmet. They will just be updated a bit. So the image I posted yesterday on with the simple golden "V" was false.

The whole gag was in jeopardy on Wednesday when the Wilf story hit that the horns would stay. I traded some e-mails with my contacts at Winter Park (who suggested I run with a Jeff George for backup QB story which could have been good as well!) and ultimately made the call to run with the helmet gag anyway. Thanks to Shane of the Greet Machine who came up with the very realistic image.
If nothing else, I gave everyone some exciting message board fodder on a boring Friday!

Three: Truth Part One

It is true that I plan to attend a mini-camp session on Friday, April 7 and photos will be coming as early as April 8.

Four: Truth Part Two

It is true that the Vikings first ever draft pick, Tommy Mason, will be a part of a roundtable discussion at the Vikings Draft Party on April 29th.

See you Monday! Unless you are really, really pissed at me. In that case, just ask yourself "were you entertained Friday?"

"Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance." Sam Brown (Washington Post, 1977)

Who Dat?

As I stated, many message boards were ablaze with the AFD prank on Friday. None surprised me more than a New Orleans Saints message board here. Like the Saints fans have anything to crow about! And if you are a Saints fan back to check things out......go look up Anthony Carter circa 1/3/1988.

New Wilf Approval Poll

The March edition of the Zygi Wilf Approval rating is closed and the April one is now up. Zygi finished with a 80% approval rating, his lowest of the year thus far. How will he fair in April? I'm sure the draft will play a role in that decision and you may consider holding your vote until then. You can find the approval poll along the left frame.

And a new poll is also up. Which position should the Vikes address first in the upcoming draft? QB? LB? RB? Vote to the left directly below the approval rating poll.

Saturday Video

Many of you probably have seen this video. For those that haven't.......

No Fun League

I might have to write on this some more next week. But on the heels of llimiting what type of TD dance a player can celebrate, the NFL is now going to remove local TV affiliates from the sideline during games, thus ending their ability to shoot footage for news programs and other shows.

That ought to clear up certain sightlines on the sidelines since there will be a limited number of cameras, but what about our Sunday ritual of watching highlights on our favorite local sports wrap show? I bet this one is going to get some major coverage in the coming weeks.

Coming Monday

A entry by Vikes Geek and a new podcast covering the new stadium effort. See you then!


Posted by maasx003 at 1:01 AM