The Vikings Quarterback Odyssey

jim-mcmahon

Being born in 1986 and a Vikings fan my entire life, my oldest clear memory as a fan is watching Jim McMahon hitting Cris Carter for a touchdown.

That was 1993.

Since, the Vikings have trotted out 18 different starting quarterbacks. It’s not quite the same as Cleveland starting 21 since coming back into existence in 1999, but it is dubious nonetheless. The Vikings’ struggles to discover and develop a long-term franchise quarterback are well-known, but I have decided to delve more deeply into the various reasons why we Vikings fans have been waiting for a stable QB for so long.

So, back to 1993…

Jim McMahon was just one of many veteran, stop-gap quarterbacks the Vikes have employed in my lifetime. After he left, we had Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Brett Favre and now Matt Cassel, or as I like to call him, the Bridge to Bridgewater.  I actually believe one of the reasons for this has been the level of success the team has had for the better part of that time frame. Going back to 1992, the Vikings have made the postseason 12 times out of 23 chances. Looking back at the Vikings first round draft picks of this 1990s, it seems as though the plan was to fortify the existing team as best as they could to make a run at the Super Bowl as opposed to taking the quarterback of the future. That wouldn’t change until the Vikings took Daunte Culpepper in 1999. This plan more or less worked (except for the continual evasiveness of a Super Bowl ring), as they were able to cobble together good quarterback play from many different players.

It is fair in retrospect to wonder if taking a franchise quarterback towards the start of that run may have pushed our beloved Purple over the top. However, there are a couple issues with this argument. First, being a playoff team most seasons also meant that the Vikings were not picking towards the top of the first round where the majority of those franchise quarterbacks are taken (other than hopefully Teddy). The other problem is nearly every QB taken towards the top of the draft after Drew Bledsoe and until Peyton Manning was mediocre, awful or tremendously awful. Don’t believe me? Take a look.

Once Daunte came to town, it appeared this trend had finally ended. Although his play was up and down at times, it certainly looked like the Vikings finally had “The Guy”. In an alternate universe, he might still be the Vikings signal caller. Once he was handed the reins in 2000 he led the Vikings to the NFC Championship in his first year at the helm. For some reason, the NFL inexplicably cancelled the rest of the season after the win over the Saints. A curious decision to be sure, but it was still a good start for ‘Pep.

A couple of less than stellar seasons followed, but in 2004, Culpepper had one of the greatest statistical seasons a quarterback had ever played. Making it even more impressive was the fact that Randy Moss missed much of that season injured. Unfortunately, the good times didn’t last. Daunte shredded his knee, demanded more money or a trade, and wound up in football Siberia.

Because of this, it was time to start over. The problem was, the 2006 NFL Draft started a disturbing trend; the Vikings taking QBs high in the draft whom I knew nothing about. Tarvaris Jackson was the first one. The night he was taken I looked up some grainy YouTube footage of him at Alabama State and immediately bought in. He spent most of the next five seasons make me regret that belief. In the 2011 draft, it was Christian Ponder. I am a college football fan, but Florida State was unusually mediocre at the time, so I knew nothing about Ponder. The night he was taken I looked up some reasonably high quality highlights on YouTube and immediately bought in. He has spent most of the past three seasons proving me wrong for my purple shaded belief once again. So, for the past decade, it hasn’t been for a lack of trying, it has been from choosing the wrong signal callers.

This all has brought us to today. I’m not sure if Cassel or Bridgewater will start this season. What seems certain though is that Teddy will eventually get his chance to end the uncertainty surrounding the Vikings quarterback position, and hopefully finally be the one to bring the Lombardi to Minnesota.

Bright Future?

Who has close friends who are Packers or Bears fans?  I have both.  How many annoying jokes/reminders about how many rings the Vikings have can someone tolerate before actually going on a mission to steal every Packer flag in the neighborhood (every neighborhood in WI has several… and I’m pretty sure it’s a felony if caught)?  It got old by the time I was 12.  I am now 31 and no longer living deep within the boarders of the land of the cheese.  Living behind enemy lines for the majority of my life taught me to have a passionate hatred for the Packers and yet a tolerance because most of my buddies are die hard Packer fans who, since before their voices cracked, have had 2 starting future HOF quarterbacks (with the exception of last year and a game or two before).  The condescension is absolutely gross.  I do have a buddy who is from Chicago and I will undoubtedly (and unfairly) assume ALL Bears fans are exactly like him!  Joking!  It’s more fun to think that and it could be why I have never taken Bears fans seriously including this year.  I’m selling the hype for da Bears (8-8!).  The only Vikings fan that I knew while living in WI is now my wife.  Ha… can’t make it up, really.  I am still scarred from the 1998 season and as a result my fantasy football team name is “Gary Anderson Ruined My Life.”  Now, for the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say that I am excited about the long term future of the Vikings.  From the new stadium and hosting a SB to the new competent coaching staff it is safe to say that things are pointing up for the franchise.  There are some nice young players that I feel great about and the most important one is Teddy Bridgewater.  I’ll admit it, I was drinking the Johnny Football kool aid before the draft but in hindsight I couldn’t be more pleased with our rookie class.  It is clearly too early to evaluate the rookies but it sure is tempting to jump to conclusions.  I remember looking at mock drafts from October/November when Teddy was 2nd overall and Anthony Barr was 4th overall.  Yep, they were both really good in college.  If my hunch is correct Teddy Bridgewater will be giving a retirement speech when my daughter is in high school (she is currently 7 months old).  Like I said, I’m hopeful.  Skol Vikings!

Training Camp Position Battles

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The 2014 training camp is well underway in Mankato for the Minnesota Vikings.   Mike Zimmer stated that the first depth chart won’t be released until next week but I wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of the position battles.

 

Offense

Matt Cassel has been receiving the 1st team snaps before today, but for the first time Teddy Bridgewater finally got a chance to split the first team reps with Cassel.  It was noted that Cassel threw an INT today and almost threw another one to Rhodes.  Cassel, who’s been having a good camp, had his worst day of practice so far.  Teddy struggled with his accuracy at times today but overall looked good.  It’s hard to say who will be the starting QB by week 1, but if the season started today it would probably be Cassel.

At WR, behind the top 4 of Jennings, Patterson, Wright, and Simpson, is seems that Thielen may be the 5th guy.  Somewhat of a pleasant surprise, he’s been having a great camp, catching everything thrown his way and showing a lot of improvement.  If the Vikings decide to go with 6 at this position I expect Colter to stick around.

Behind Rudolph at tight end, Ellison should make the lineup partially due to his ability to play tight end and fullback.  Chase Ford’s injury has kept him on the sideline, preventing him from making an impression on the new staff.  This gives A.C. Leonard an opportunity to shine.  Though raw, Leonard seems to be performing well enough to earn himself a roster spot.

Peterson (obviously) will be returning to start at RB.  Behind him Asiata and McKinnon should both make the team.  Which one will be the primary backup has yet to be decided, though.  Norv Turner likes having a fullback around so Jerome Felton almost certainly makes the team as well.

The starting offensive line is set at 4 of the 5 positions.  The only real battle for a starting spot seems to be at LG where Yankey will attempt to unseat Charlie Johnson.  It’s still too early to tell which one will take it, but my money’s on Yankey.  If Johnson does lose that battle he may be left off the 53 man roster entirely due to age and a lack of upside.

Defense

The starters on the defensive line are pretty much set in stone with Floyd and Joseph in the middle while Robison and Griffen man the outside.  There are many in camp vying for the few backup spots.  Crichton should make the roster as a high upside rookie.  I would like to see fellow rookie Shamar Stephen given an opportunity as well.  Wootton has a good chance of backing up one of the DE spots but after him it’s anyone’s guess as to who will make the final 53.

At LB it’s basically an open completion for all three starting spots.  Greenway is almost assured to start at one of them, but which one is the question.  I’d like to see first round pick Barr, and second year man Mauti, start next to Greenway.  I have Cole, Hodges, Brinkley, and Watts pegged as the backups.

In the defensive backfield the starters are Rhodes and the Captain at CB, with Smith and Blanton at Safety.  While the starters seem solid, there is a lack of depth behind them.  Both Prater and Sanford played admirably at times last year, and should make the roster.  Cox was signed during the offseason after a disappointing year with San Diego and is hoping a change of scenery helps him.  Robinson played poorly last year while playing mostly in the slot, a move back to the outside and a new coaching staff may be what he needs to reach his potential.  Sherels is basically a lock to make the roster due to his punt return ability and did show improvement in the backfield last year when pressed into action.  I like Sendejo, and the rookie Exum, at the remaining Safety spots, too.

Vikings Activate Captain Munnerlyn From the PUP List

This morning, Minnesota announced it has activated cornerback Captain Munnerlyn from the Physically Unable  to Perform list. He is expected to participate in practice this afternoon, as the morning walkthrough was shortened to just special teams.

Munnerlyn was signed in March to a 3-year. $15 million deal with the Vikings. He injured his hamstring while working out before training camp. In his absence, Jabari Price, Kendall James and Marcus Sherels have filled in at the slot corner position, where Munnerlyn is expected to play. However, he has said he wants to compete for the starting outside corner spot with third-year CB Josh Robinson. “I’m never going to sell myself short in being just a nickel. I feel like I’m a starting corner,” Munnerlyn told the Associated Press.

Munnerlyn’s activation leaves two Vikings one the PUP list: S Andrew Sendejo and TE Chase Ford. Sendejo is day-to-day while Ford is not expected back before the start of the season.

OC Norv Turner Heaps Praise On Vikings QB’s

Matt Cassel

Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner spoke with KFAN-FM on Monday, praising his signal-calling corps of Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder, Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports.

“We’ve got a really, really good group,” he said, explaining that it won’t be hard to parcel out snaps in the apparent three-headed battle.

“We get between 120 to 140 snaps during a training camp day and that is plenty enough time for all the guys to work a rotation and give them bigger reps and evaluate them,” Turner said.

“I think that Matt Cassel has had an outstanding spring and is getting himself ready to really have a good year,” Turner said. “And we know Teddy’s been really, really impressive and a lot further along than I expected him to be.”

Turner even praised former first-round pick Ponder.

“Ponder, I know people like to beat up on him, but I’ve been impressed with Christian,” Turner said. “With his physical ability and the way he’s worked and the progress he’s made. He’s eliminating a lot of the negative plays.”

The Top 15 Hottest Vikings Cheerleaders and Fans Of All-Time

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The Vikings have some of the hottest cheerleaders in the NFL, as well as some of the beautiful fans!

Today as a little gift to our loyal readers, we give you 15 of the hottest Viking ever in this awesome exclusive photo gallery!!!

Enjoy!

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Peterson’s Goal – Break Emmitt Smith’s Rushing Record

Adrian Peterson

In addition to winning a Super Bowl ring, Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson dreams of breaking Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record and to do so he will need to play well into his 30′s according to Dan Pompeii of Sports on Earth.

So how does the 29-year-old Peterson plan to stay in the game long past the usual primetime for running backs?

“Taking care of your body. Making sure your body is battle proof and able to withstand the punishment a running back goes though. It’s doing the small things — ice tub, cold tub, massages, making sure you help your body rejuvenate.”

But Peterson says taking care of your body also involves avoiding unnecessary hits on the field. “There comes a point in time when you know the extra yard really doesn’t matter if you already have the first down, and you know you aren’t going to get it,” he said.

“Or I’m sprinting to the sideline and two guys are chasing me with an angle. I know I’m not going to get the corner on them. Earlier in my career, I would have dug in and have that contact for two extra yards, but now it depends on the situation.

“If I’m trying to get the first down, I’m dipping my shoulder and going for it. First down accomplished, I can step out.”

Avoiding contact may slightly reduce AP’s yardage totals but it is the best long-term strategy to give him a legitimate shot at Emmitt’s record.

Vikings Move Back Into Round One – Draft QB Teddy Bridgewater

2014 NFL Combine

The Vikings stayed aggressive on Thursday night, moving back into round one with a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, and drafting QB Teddy Bridgewater, who some said could have gone as early as #1 to the Texans.

Bridgewater had an awful Pro Day, which is what killed him going early in round one. As a pocket passer, he’s going to have to earn his paycheck with his arm and his brains, looking down field for open receivers.

In His first two seasons at Louisville, Bridgewater has had 478 completions for 715 attempts with 5,847 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Here’s CBS’ Scouting Report on Bridgewater

Bridgewater arrived at Louisville as the No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in the nation by Rivals.com after an accomplished high school career in Miami that included setting the Dade County record with seven touchdown passes in a single game. He was second team All-State 6-A and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Bridgewater, who succeeded former Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris at Northwestern High School, also originally committed to Miami before ultimately landed at Louisville.

Bridgewater wasted no time in making a major impact at Louisville. He was the first true freshman to play quarterback for the Cardinals since Brian Brohm in 2004, and the first true freshman quarterback to start since Stu Stram in 1976.

He set the school freshman passing record with 2,129 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns in being named the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2011. Bridgewater completed 64.5 percent of his passes, although he did throw 12 interceptions.

Bridgewater continued his ascent as a sophomore, being named Big East Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns. He had six 300-yard passing games and two of 400-plus. Bridgewater was named the MVP of the Sugar Bowl after passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns in a win over third-ranked Florida.

With Louisville suffering its only loss of the 2012 season to Central Florida, Bridgewater was relegated to second-team all-conference honors. He finished the regular season with 2,309 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, and then tacked on another 447 yards and three touchdowns in Louisville’s 36-9 romp over Miami in the Citrus Bowl.

While Bridgewater’s arm is impressive, the poise, vision and touch he demonstrates could serve as a “how-to” video on effective quarterback play.

Critics will continue to point out Bridgewater’s flaws. He is not as big or strong as Andrew Luck nor as nimble as a healthy Robert Griffin III. Among the quarterbacks potentially available in the 2014 draft, he’s the most polished and accurate.

Vikings Take OLB Anthony Barr w/ 9th Pick in NFL Draft

Anthony Barr Subway Vegetable Statue Unveiling

The Vikings went defense with the 9th pick in the NFL Draft, taking OLB Anthony Barr from UCLA – 6’5 255 pounds.

NFL To Announce 2014 Schedule In PrimeTime Wednesday Night

Minnesota Vikings Introduce Mike Zimmer

Wednesday night the NFL will announce the complete 2014 slate, including the 16 regular season games for the Vikings as they look to make it back to the playoffs.

As we already know, the team will host the following teams at home – Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, New York Jets

As for the away games, the Vikings will play in Chicago, Detroit, at the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins.

The three-hour event in which the schedule will be released will be televised live on NFL Network.