Tag Archives: Nick Foles

NFL16: Uff Da! Vikings Have ‘Miles to Go’ in Frosty North

4 Aug

Home Sweet Home

There’s nothing like getting new digs.

As school gets under way across America, that’s just what alot of folks are doing before the rains come and the snow flies.

It’s alot of work getting settled in but once you unpack, make the connections, fill in the familiarities it’ll feel like home again. Course, it’s a little different for renters (moi): Fewer commitments but sometimes more surprises.

“Chris Stevens” explored the topic in Northern Exposure: There are two kinds of people, he said, “owners” and “renters.” The “Morning” man came into a small inheritance and tried the proprietor thing for a spell to help a friend (“Holling”) but soon discovered such was not the life for him. He bailed on the venture and let Vincoeur keep the stake. A truly inspirational TV show if there ever was one.

.........Favre.11.15.09.wc.1.2m.NG.MNThat vision on people aught not to be confused with the “Blondie” version (The Good the Bad and the Ugly): “There two kinds of people, my friend (“Tuco”), those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” But I digress.

The Minnesota Vikings have new digs.

US Bank Stadium is built. It’s big, bodacious, glassy, steely and it recently held a 2-day grand opening for the public (7.23-24). Uff da! That’s Norwegian for booyah or wow!

Nixing a return to open-air design of Black n’ Blue rivals Green Bay (Lambeau), Chicago (Soldiers) and their own Metropolitan (d.1981) that saw so many wins in the 60s & 70s when Bud Grant’s teams were undisputed rulers of the Northwest Territory, the powers instead chose a fixed-roof (Ford) in an abstract expression that’ll keep bodies cozy and revenue rolling in (SB52).

I know what you’re thinking, are the Wilfs (Zygi) renters or owners of this brand spankin’ new stadium? Sure you are.

Though team owners and other investors covered 52% (+/-) of construction cost while tax dollars from State residents and Minneapolis visitors (“hospitality tax”) pick up the rest of the tab (48%), more or less, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, a body created by State legislature and comprised of government-selected membership will own, “control and operate (SMG)” the whole kit n’ kaboodle (Wikipedia). Purr-fect.

.........USBankStdm.wc.7.24.16.Darb02.2mNo longer laughing stock of the League as when the having-let-fall-into-disrepair Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (1982-14) roof collapsed on Vikings’ sad 2010 season (HHH’s memory deserved better), then relegated to semi-welcome guests at TCF Bank the last two seasons as University Regents pitched a PC fit right on cue when Purple hosted the Washington R-Words…oh, wait, aboriginal Americans are fine with the name (“9 of 10”), Redskins, the reigning NFCN champs (11-5) are ready n’ willing to make this season the start of a new era of championship play.

Question is, are these 2016 Norsemen able…to fulfill that mission?

They may have a ways “to go” before forging a destiny and own even their North division, one the Pack dominated for most of these past 25 years beginning with Hall of Fame inductee (8.6) and former Viking, Brett Favre’s GB tenure (‘92), and then which the Vikes had owned for most of 70s (Grant) and 80s (Burns).

Black & Blue Betters

No surprise then that NFL schedulers picked Vikings’ arch-nemesis the Packers to do the honors of helping break-the-seal on the new USB (interface) Stadium in W2 action (9.18) after the Minnesotans return from Tennessee (Pack @ Jax) to open divisional play and begin the trek to SB51 in Houston (2.7.17).

No surprise either that both Minny & Heebie-GB were saddled with juggernaut-caliber schedules, or, as our friends the Brits will soon be pouring into the frothy football colloquy, ‘That‘s one bloody tough sed-jewel, mate!’ I look forward.

........Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.12.7.8.73kIt’ll be a good early test for both Northern toppers. And the Bears and Lions, like the quick-learner said, ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me (10x), shame on (my sorry ass).’ Two tougher customers with zip you won’t find than Misters Cutler & Stafford but “forget about it.”

Pack hopes to right the ship after earlier-than-expected PS exit (@ AZ), due to an atypical middling offense (#23 ygpg / 15 pspg) led by Mr. Matriculator Aaron Rodgers who suddenly looked average, missing, maybe too much, his GTG in Jordy Nelson, along with the typical (since LeRoy Butler retired) just-good-enough D that ranked in middle-of-the-NFL-pack, again (#15 yapg / 21 papg).

For the host team, of primary importance is re-establishing divisional dominance not held since 2009-10 season when Brad Childress and All-Pros Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson & Favre, who gets Cantonized (OH) on Saturday and whose NFL story contains a brief but memorable closing chapter written in purple ink, bested their regional rival in both meetings leaving no doubt on top dog.

And that’s just what any aspirant need do if seeking to unseat a sitting juggernaut like Green Bay, New England or Pittsburgh. Winning ain’t enough and it certainly ain’t everything, “Steve (J.Wayne).” Eking out a win by a field goal won’t cut it, not as the competition stiffens, meaning, even had Blair Walsh not hooked it to close out a playoff loss (SEA), Vikes short-comings were sure to roost in what‘s become a snake-pit NFCC setting (’98 / ‘10) for the Minnesotans.

Minnesota’s road to titletown must go through…Titletown, whether in Brown County (WI) or the traveling version come to pay respects at USB.

........Zimmer.9.20.14.1m.wc.MN-NGThink GB’s offense was near-anemic in 2015? Purple people came in just under green & yellow in points scored per game (#16) and a pathetic 29th in yards gained. It was of course the defense that made Vikes playoff contenders, ranking #13 in yards allowed per (344.2), just 4y behind #10 Tampa, and a stellar #5 spot in points allowed (18.9), besting NFC winners Carolina (19.2) and a mere four-tenths (0.4) behind eventual Super champs, Denver.

If you follow pro ball you know the NFL’s a quarterback League. Field generals need not pile numbers like Misters Moon, Brady or Favre but he’d better enjoy airing-it-out as habit to build leads and be Eveready® to claim it back when behind, willing to take reasonable risks, i.e. eye for threading needles, or your team will too often have to rely on the foot of a kicker, a key cog but which is no good way to blueprint a championship run.

The names Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler don’t conger up images of bronze busts, not so far, but they’re all deserving champions who had the physical ability and collective wherewithal to put up big numbers in big games when it mattered most.

And ‘where’ exactly Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater will end up and ‘with’ whom when his story is written, only the Sporting Gods know for sure.

Bridge Work Ahead

The second of Vikes two 1st rounders in 2014 (32) (Bruin backer and 2015 Pro Bowl selectee Tony Barr #9), QB Bridgewater (LOU), pegged by head coach Mike Zimmer and OC Norv Turner to lead Minnesota to the promised land, appears still seated firmly at the drafting board as yet unable to translate that blueprint into an easy on-field matriculatory style and scoring scheme.

......Bridgewater.8.4.14.wc.M.Deery.6.5mTeddy, a Pro Bowl selectee himself (Who wasn’t? Oh right, “Johnny Red-Flag”), TB sports a fine career C% (65) and keeps the picks to an acceptable quantity, averaging just over ten each campaign.

But when you won’t venture forth, take calculated risks, your picks can remain few. You gotta throw ‘em to make ‘em (TDs). The Miami native throws about as many TDs (28) as INTs (21) and the sticky-gloves aren’t helping much (8f ‘15). In his one playoff appearance last January versus the Seahawks, Ted again had that nice C% (71%) but only threw for 146y and zero (0) TDs.

Safe & simple won’t get ‘er done in the elite class of competition. I put Ted (5 (1-10)) just a notch below Mr. Mariota (5.5) and the set-for-life ($$) Mr. Osweiler (6 (HOU)) in the PPP assessment: Pro potentiality and progression.

Again, I know what you’re thinking (It’s the ginkgo biloba): ‘Hey, AOTC, TB’s receiver crew was definitely not too awesome in 2015. That will change in 2016. With 1st-rounder (23) Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) a deep threat, Stefon Diggs (2y) taking the next level, Kyle Rudolph (TE) present n’ accounted for and Jarius Wright filling the slot, the Bridge is gonna’ start extending the field, dude!’

Maybe, but a so-so receiver corps is no good excuse for mediocre matriculate.

Top QBs, even the younger version (Luck / Wilson / Winston), make players around them better. It’s why the Nelson void does not entirely explain the Rodgers downturn in 2015. You’ve gotta’ challenge your receivers, yourself and set the bar higher, encouraging coaches to show faith and communicate (listen) all along the way. On a different team, Mr. Gronkowski is good but I doubt he‘s gronksome minus Tom Brady.

.......Peterson.1.28.12.wc.Arvee5.0.309kWith Nick Foles now in Chiefs’ fold, I say is it’s a damn shame a very capable, proven matriculator like veteran Shaun Hill who could teach a thing or two by example and was still rostered at this posting, must sit idle, only getting a start if someone goes down with injury.

And then there’s the indomitable Adrian Peterson.

All-Day had a terrific comeback season, leading NFL with 1485 yards (92.8) after sitting most of 2014 on susp’n. In 2016 he enters his 10th run. Gas left in the tank? Good guess says, yes. But big-time backs don’t often carry clubs to titles, not since John “loosen up” Riggins, Joe Morris, Ottis Anderson & Jamal Lewis were carrying the loads with capable QBs under center.

When the Vikes can turn one of those 4-team division title trophies into genuine, jewel-encrusted NFC Halas hardware and trip-to-the-Super-Bowl titles (‘77), I’ll sit up and take note. Hell, if Purple just get to an NFCC more than once a decade (98 / 10) the new digs will be worth it, even if monster trucks are the top tenant.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Viktor-Spc.M.Mecuk, wc.cca, 11.7.10, MN-NG; B.Favre, 11.15.9, wc, MN-NG; USBankStdm, wc, Darb02, 7.24.16; A.Rodgers, wc, 12.7.8, M.Morbeck; M.Zimmer, wc, 9.20.14, MN-NG; T.Bridgewater, wc, 8.4.14, M.Deery; A.Peterson, wc, 1.28.12, Arvee5.0; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 8.4.16 @ 4:45pm, edit @ 11:15 EST; Copyright © 2016

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NFL15-W1 HunchLine: Minute Waltz

17 Sep

Good Spot

New England Patriots

Sure, Brady’s win in Rd-2 of Deflategate was, in Bart Simpson® vernacular, awesome, for Tom and all camped in his corner (See also; NFL bean-counters), but the months of legal wrangling had to take emotional toll on the boys in red, white & blue. So hats off to Tom who was, in cool 60s vernacular, groovin (25-32, 4td)’ and Rob Gronkowski who was totally TD (3). Nod too to Steelers’ RB DeAngelo Williams (21-127).

Tennessee Titans

Four TD tosses (Mariota) in a road win are a confidence-builder for an opening-act. The effusive praise is to be expected given Marcus’ following, even versus a reclamation project like Tampa. Good thing his head seems screwed on straight. Titans aught send NFL schedulers a muffin-basket. It’s not bad (@ CLE next), with four contenders-in-a-row at home. The closing’s a toughie (NE & IND late).

More impressive was that Mariota, with fair defensive pressure (2sk), only reverted to scamper mode 2x (Winston: 6x) and left the rush to the men built for carry (Sankey / West). He’ll need pocket poise down pat before season’s end.

Buffalo Bills

.....Ryan.8.3.8.K.Allison.thmbCount me among the jaw droppers when Rex announced Tyrod Taylor, who’d never started a game in his 4 NFLs (BAL), would lead the Bills’ offense against favored Indy. But TT made a monkey out of me in leading his club to an impressive 27-14 win (14-19, 1td). The secret, like with Mariota, may be keeping the call uncomplicated. Red-flag: Ty took off nearly 10x, a rabbit habit that’s gotta’ stop.

St. Louis Rams

Training in an atmosphere of uncertainty (LA move?), Ferguson feelings still frayed and taking on NFL juggernaut and division rival in the Seahawks, the Rams, Jeff Fisher and new QB Nick Foles (18-27, 297-1t) fell behind early, kept cool, took the lead, lost it (2 LFs), came back and won it in OT. Moxie to burn.

Unga-Chaka Unga Unga (“Hooked on a Feeling (Blue Swede)”)

It was a heart-wrenching loss to Dallas (26-27) but Giants bright spot might be in finding a hidden gem in L-backer Uani Unga (10t-2a-1int), formerly of BYU, while Cowboys’ range-boss Sean Lee looks to’ve recovered from injury that sidelined him in ‘14 (7t-2a). If Miami LB Koa Lisiate Foti Analeseanoa Misi becomes a regular, he’s gonna’ live-up to that tremendous name (9t-2a). Tall tackler Anthony Barr (6-5) gave the Vikes something to crow about (10t-2a) and J.J. Watt is off to an MVP-ish season, not just because he got to the QB twice but the 9 solos, too. That’s the ticket!

Keen Koncentration (SD)

Chargers’ receiver Keenan Allen hauled in 15 receptions for 166 yards in Bolts come-from-behind win over Detroit who let one slip through their paws, while leg-hampered Julio Jones did his best to top his Eagles counterpart J. Matthews (10-102) and made sure Falcons didn’t throw this one away (9-141, 2td).

Smooth as Cocoa Butter

Carson Palmer came through with flying colors in his first game back from last year’s season-ending knee injury and Arizonans breathed sigh of relief. The C% was a bit rusty (19-32) but three TDs and no INTs is fine form. Fewer fingers crossed on reliable Alex Smith but who put on his typical terrific but off-the-media-radar performance versus the Texans (23-33, 3td). And if you’re perplexed on the “Cocoa Butter” call, ask any woman who’s experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of childbirth, what the brand-name ‘Palmer’ means to her. She‘ll be impressed.

Bad Spot

Bad form to do a Week 1 power ranking or to employ the word panic to tag any team that may stumble outta’ the gate (0-1). Ugh.

Johnny on the Spot

....Manziel.8.2.14.ED.Drost.wc.thmb.headJon Manziel threw his first pro TD vs the Jets but fumbled away two possessions and tossed an INT. “Big steps and little ‘uns,” Jon, big ones and little ‘uns. God how I miss “All Creatures Great and Small.”

Two teams (HOU / OAK) passed on vet QB in Matt Schaub (BAL (64C%, 130-86 TD-ratio) but most likely could’ve given their seasons good hope but who now sits idle on Ravens bench behind NFL’s new ironman QB in Flacco. Go figure the football mind, eh?

Sad Spot

Anyone who suffered a serious, side-lining W1 injury.

More notables include Panthers tackle-titan Luke Kuechly who suffered one of a plethora of concussions and hamstring pulls (Mike Evans (TB)) in NFL W1. Luke’s in protocol, as is Browns’ starting QB Josh McCown who should think twice next time before choosing to fly over traveling by land.

And all the trench-men and kickers who go largely unnoticed by fans.

See Spot Run

Cowboys will need a run game of note (Randle (16-65); McFadden (6-16)) before this 2015 enters 2nd half (Nov) with Murray’s exit (PHI) and Bryant’s foot bang.

Like Romo, Palmer too will need consistency from his run game (Ellington (12-69) & C. Johnson (10-37)) to seriously contend with Packers alive & well. Giving rookie RB David ‘Stiff Arm’ Johnson (NIU) time to shine could work a pressure-release valve for the Palmer-centric AZ offense.

And for all the negative press media-trolls scribble on the ‘Skins, the name they nearly never drop is Alfred Morris who just keeps doing what he does best: push the pig (25-121). Ditto on Bears’ Matt Forte who keeps on keeping Chicago respectable (24-141, 1td) and Niners’ Carlos Hyde who may make San Franers forget Gore but fast (26-168, 2td).

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: J.Fisher, wc.cca, E.D.Drost, 8.23.14; R.Ryan, wc, 8.3.8, K.Allison; J.Manziel, wc, 8.2.14, E.D.Drost; NFL-wikiproject.
Posted: 9.16.15 @ 11:28pm; Copyright ® 2015