For Vikings, Ponder not the answer

christian ponder

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The Minnesota Vikings have been a fairly surprising team to this point in the season. Even after getting RGIII’d yesterday in the Nation’s Capital, the Vikings are 4-2 and just half a game behind the Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North.

The reason for the team’s surprising start, other than a weak early schedule, can be attributed to the offense finally using Percy Harvin as much as possible, but a lot of local fans and NFL analysts have been giving a lot of credit to Christian Ponder. If you look at Ponder’s traditional stats (completion percentage, TD:INT ratio, yards, QB rating) he’s having a good season. He’s posted a completion percentage just under 69 percent thus far, has thrown 8 TD and 4 INT, and he’s on pace to throw for more than 3,500 yards. His QB rating is a very respectable 92.8.

However, those stats are extremely misleading. Stats are very useful, but only if you know what stats to look for. All stats are is a number representing a VERY SPECIFIC part of the football game. What helps Ponder’s completion percentage? Is he throwing the ball downfield less than other quarterbacks? Some fans will INSIST they can determine these things over the course of the season by just watching the team play; these fans are wrong. They might have an idea that Ponder’s arm strength isn’t great; but looking at statistics and how he’s performed will give a better idea on Ponder’s arm than simply watching every game. Nothing is more correct than the stats; as long as we understand that each stat only tells a small part of the story. You need to combine the right statistical analysis to get a real picture of how a player is performing. Read more…

Harrison Smith avoids suspension after acknowledging his mistake

Harrison SmithNotre Dame teaches their kids well, especially when they are in trouble.

Yesterday’s ref-shoving meltdown will cost Harrison Smith, but only in dollars, not games.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Smith will be fined but not suspended, after he was ejected from the Vikings’ decisive win over the Titans.
Smith earned a 15-yard penalty and ejection after pushing back judge Steve Freeman to the side following an altercation with Titans wide receiver Nate Washington. Freeman was leading Smith away from the scrum, when Smith brushed him away.
“It wasn’t even a play so it was just stupid for me to be involved,” Smith said, via Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com. “I just got kind of caught up in the heat of the moment and at the end of the day you can never touch the officials.
“They have a hard enough job as it is and to make it harder on them is just stupid and is something I don’t ever want to do from this point on.”
Smith also gave up any chance to appeal, admitting he shouldn’t have done it. Read more…

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: West Coast the best coast?

NFL Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings1. Houston Texans (5-0) – One of the most well-rounded teams with a stud at running back in Arian Foster, but in a very easy division and without a signature win, they are first (for now) and are hurting without Brian Cushing.

Remember those cute little puns about the NFC West this past decade or so?  The NFC Worst?  Not anymore.  The NFC West is now the NFC best.  Every single team in the NFC West is above .500 in the division.  Yes, the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers are all above .500, no other division boasts that.

At the top of the division is one of the best teams in the NFL, the 49ers.  Against the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers racked up 300+ yards passing AND rushing in a 45-3 shellacking.  Read that sentence again.  An incredible feat that has never happened, EVER in the NFL.  In a league that has already transformed into a spread offense, pass happy league, the 49ers run the ball at an amazing clip of 6.1 yards per carry through five games, even when teams know what is coming they cannot stop it.  Since San Francisco lost to the surprising Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers had a wake up call, they have outscored their past two opponents 79-3.  And it hasn’t even felt that close.  Alex Smith leads the NFL in passer rating, yes, THAT Alex Smith and he had his first ever win throwing for 300+ yards and three touchdown passes.

The rest of the division possesses potential top-10 defenses with a lackluster passing game.  The Arizona Cardinals may have the worst offensive line in the NFL, with one of the worst quarterbacks under pressure, Kevin Kolb.  Now with the loss of both starting running backs Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells, the run game will be even less effective for the Cardinals.  But they exhibit an elite defense at all three levels that will keep them in the game and with Patrick Peterson, the most dynamic return man in the game, returning punts and kicks, the Cardinals will compete for a playoff spot.  The Seattle Seahawks also exhibit a great defense that has been lifted to potential greatness with first round pick Bruce Irvin as the bookend pass rusher opposite of Chris Clemons.  The difference between them and the Cardinals is they can actually run the ball.  Marshawn Lynch is a beast and Robert Turbin has potential to be one of the better back-up running backs in the NFL.  The Seahawks weakness is that they lack any kind of passing attack.  Russell Wilson has been a nice story, but he’s a rookie and is holding back the Seahawks, we may see Matt Flynn soon.  Tied for third place with the Seahawks is the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams are building in the right direction, but lack any kind of explosiveness from their skilled positions on offense.  The Rams with multiple early round picks in the coming years will be a force to be reckoned with as long as Sam Bradford transforms from injury riddled “Captain Checkdown” to a more explosive passer.

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings:

2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0) – The Falcons pass game has been incredible and the defensive secondary has really improved, but when they need to run it can you really trust Michael “Where’s My Cheeseburger” Turner?

3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1) – The most balanced offense in the NFL. The offense is catching up to its defense, a loss the Vikes might have been a blessing in disguise.

4. Minnesota Vikings (4-1) – The surprise team in the NFL.  Christian Ponder has developed into a good quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes, and Percy Harvin is turning into an MVP candidate. My Fantasy team thanks you.

5. New England Patriots (3-2) – Despite being 3-2, the Pats have a solid run game and defense that this team has lacked the past few years. Thankfully Tom Brady’s nose is still intact. Read more…

Fantasy Football Week 6: Waiver Wire Pickups

Joel Dreesen-TE-Broncos Back in August before the regular season began, we touted Dreesen, just 7% owned in leagues, as one of the tight ends to consider drafting should the top six be off the board. Had you drafted him you would have noticed (now that we’ve finished over 30% of the season), that other TE’s such as  88% owned Jason Witten, 60% owned Jacob Tamme, and 96% owned Jermichael Finley ALL have less fantasy points than Dreesen. We’re not suggesting that at the end of the year Dreesen will be a better TE than Finley-what we’re saying is to at least take a flier out on him if you’re satisfied with who you own and watch how he does over the next game or two. He seems to be one of Matt Schaub’s  favorite red zone targets as he now has as many touchdowns as the three other TEs we mentioned… combined!

Christian Ponder-QB-Vikings- We selected Ponder as a waiver wire pickup several weeks ago and yet he is still widely available. If not a permanent part of your roster, at the very least you might consider him someone you can’stream’or fill in when your starting QB is on a bye week. Ponder is owned in just 30% of most leagues and has the same fantasy points as the 72% owned Jay Cutler who, by the way, is on a bye this week. 99% owned Matthew Stafford, who was on a bye last week, has half the touchdowns and twice as many INT’s as Ponder. (Just something to think about). Need some more convincing? Ponder has 77 rushing yards and a TD, has only thrown 2 picks in his first five games this season, and surprisingly enough, he’s on a team that’s 4-1. Just saying.. Read more…

Not drafting Peterson would be a mistake, according to him

Adrian Peterson

As NFL fans finalize their fantasy draft boards, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson cautions against dropping his name from it.

Asked by Paul Allen of KFAN on Wednesday whether it would be a mistake not to take Peterson in round one of a given fantasy draft.

“I would think so,” Peterson said.  ”The way I look at it, to each his own. . . .  This whole offseason, I’ve been hearing that.  ’Adrian, should we take you?  Will you be ready?’  Hey, I’ve got faith that I’m gonna be out there.  Do you have the faith?  That’s how you’re gonna get your reward.”

Currently on the PUP list, Peterson also said he’ll be carrying the ball during the preseason — and taking it into the end zone in Week One of the regular season, against the Jaguars.

“Yes,” Peterson said, “I expect to score.”

Peterson said that he was ready to get back to work the day after having surgery to fix a torn ACL suffered on December 24, and that he expects the Vikings offense to continue to lean on the running game. Read more here…

Matt Kalil gets Jared Allen cursing

Matt Kalil

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Some rookies get a baptism by fire. Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil has been thrown into the bowels of a blast furnace.

He’s regularly facing defensive end Jared Allen, the 22-sack bright spot on a generally bad defense in 2011. Allen, who would be holding the single-season sack record but for Brett Favre’s hook-slide gimme for Michael Strahan in 2001, doesn’t get nearly the attention Allen deserves, because he plays for a team that has become an afterthought in the NFC North.

The “afterthought” status could change, if Kalil can play against opponents the way he performed against Allen on Tuesday.  Read More…

Vikings’ Everson Griffen sheds weight for shift to linebacker

The Minnesota Vikings are deep at defensive end, and thin at linebacker.

So it made sense to experiment with Everson Griffen, to give him a few looks in minicamp to see if he could play away from the line of scrimmage.

It apparently worked, as Griffen said he’s been told linebacker would be his primary positionwhen training camp opens July 27.  Read More…

 

Adrian Peterson’s dad says police were ‘vulgar, disrespectful’

Adrian PetersonAdrian Peterson’s father says that his son was the victim of mistreatment from the police — and not the perpetrator — when he was arrested and charged with resisting arrest in a Houston bar over the weekend.

Nelson Peterson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the off-duty police officer who asked Adrian to leave the bar used “vulgar language.”

From what I’ve gathered, he was very disrespectful to Adrian,” Nelson said.  Read More…

Could Adrian Peterson start season on the PUP list?

Adrian Peterson, Eric Sugarman

Lost in the will-he-or-won’t-he Percy Harvin saga last week, the news about the recovery of Adrian Peterson got little attention.

That may be the case come training camp as well.

Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com said there are signs the Vikings running back could open training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Peterson tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee on Dec. 24, and hasn’t done any football work since then. He’s still targeting the regular season opener, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has been managing expectations for some time, even saying Toby Gerhart might have to “carry the load.”

“He looks good,” Frazier said. “He’s moving around without any hitch, he’s doing a lot of good things. What you don’t know is how he’s going to be when you put pads on and someone comes and they dive at his ankle or they look as if they’re going to grab his knee. That you can’t predict. Read more here…

Antoine Winfield says he is 100 percent

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota VikingsVikings cornerback Antoine Winfield turns 35 on Sunday and is coming off a season in which injuries limited him to just five games. But he doesn’t think he’s close to being done.

Winfield, who missed Weeks 5-8 of 2011 with a neck injury and then broke his collarbone in his first game back after that, said he’s now completely healthy and ready to go.

“I’m 100 percent,” Winfield told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I think I was cleared the end of March. The last couple of months I’m running around, getting into shape and getting ready for training camp. . . . My goal is to play 16 games.”

Some older cornerbacks move to safety, but Winfield says he doesn’t think that’s a good idea.

Read more here…

NFC North: 2012 NFL season preview

The NFC North is one of the most polarizing divisions in football, and they have been for years. The division always seems to have at least one team on the brink of greatness, whether it’s the Chicago Bears 2006 Super Bowl run, the Minnesota Vikings coming within one play of making the Super Bowl in 2009, or the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl win a couple of years ago. Just last year, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers were only one game away from completing a perfect season. Let’s take a look at each team’s chances for success in 2012.

There’s not much that can be said about the Packers that hasn’t already been discussed. According to statistics and most analysts, Aaron Rodgers was the best quarterback in football last season and has been for quite some time. There’s no reason to think that this won’t remain the case during the upcoming season. The balance in Rodgers’ game is just as impressive as his arm strength. He always throws it to whoever’s open and doesn’t lean on one player or another during possessions. Whether it’s Jordy Nelson or Greg Jennings, Rodgers finds whoever is open.

The team’s big question mark for 2012 is going to be their defense, which was ranked near the bottom of the league in several key categories last season. Green Bay should be able to continue this success during the next season, but they’ll need to improve their defense in order to do so. They used their first few draft picks to bolster the defense, adding linebacker Nick Perry in the first round and cornerback Casey Hayward in the second. Read more here…

Vikings continue to hype Jerome Simpson

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans

Jerome Simpson had a difficult offseason before signing with the Vikings, having to serve 15 days in jail and getting suspended for three games for a drug conviction. But the reviews of Simpson’s performance on the practice field in Minnesota have been overwhelmingly positive.

Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has called Simpson the juice the team needs, and now Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has offered up similar praise.

“Jerome was running a dig, which is 20-yard in-route and the cushion was unbelievable because everyone’s afraid he’s going to run right by them he’s so fast,” Ponder told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. “That just adds a whole other dimension to our offense.“ Read more here…

NFL Draft 1st round recap: 6.0

Justin BlackmonRounding out our NFL Draft analyses, here is our 6th and final recap of the 1st round draft picks of the 2012 NFL Draft, as we analyze the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, and Indianapolis Colts top draft choices.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars-WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

With the addition of Blackmon (81), if Gabbert can’t make an improvement from a disastrous rookie season, the Jags may be looking at a quarterback in 2013

Acquired the rights from TB

With the 5th overall draft choice in the NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up from the 7th overall pick to grab quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s future, top receiving target, 2-time Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon.

At Oklahoma State last season, Blackmon caught 121 passes for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 2011 Fiesta Bowl Champion Cowboys. Only the 2nd Biletnikoff Award winner ever in college football, Blackmon has solid wide receiver size (6’1, 215) and should certainly help bolster an extremely weak Jacksonville passing offense.

After releasing veteran quarterback David Garrard in favor of Gabbert, the Jaguars finished with the NFL’s worst total offense (259.3 yards per game), worst passing offense (136.2 yards per game), compiled the 2nd-worst completion percentage (51.2%), the worst average yards per pass attempt (5.4), the 2nd-lowest total passing touchdowns (12), and compiled the NFL’s worst passer rating (62.2).  Read more here…