Cleat Geeks

Vikings Game Recap: I Don’t Know How to Feel

Before the game Sunday, I had a feeling in my stomach. A certain name popped into my head for no apparent reason. It was Daniel Carlson, and I had a bad feeling in my stomach. I said out loud to myself, “I wish they had kept Kai Forbath, I would never trust a rookie kicker” Well, whaddya know? Daniel Carlson had a chance to win this game for the Vikes TWICE and blew it. Both times. But, the Vikes also did not lose this game. Thanks to a furious 4th quarter rally, and a miracle pass that somehow slipped through two Packers’ defender’s hands, the Vikes tied the game up. And the game ended in that final score, 29-29. So, I’m not sure how to feel. I guess unhappy because our kicker blew the game, but, technically we are still undefeated. Regardless, we experienced a roller coaster of emotions Sunday. Let’s review:

The first half ended 17-7 in favor of the Packers. Despite a TD catch by Laquon Treadwell, the Vikes looked rather lifeless, to be frank. The second half is where things really pick up. Stefon Diggs played a huge role, catching two critical TD passes and a two-point conversion. Late in the 4th quarter, Kirk Cousins appeared to be intercepted, but it was called back due to a Clay Matthews roughing the passer call. This was a questionable call, as it could have gone both ways. If I were the ref, I probably would not have called it, but hey, I’ll certainly take it. Cousins made them pay, driving the Vikes down and scoring, thanks to a one Mr. Stefon Diggs. He also caught the two-point conversion which made it 29-29. With 37 seconds left, Aaron Rodgers (the Magician) drove the Packers into field goal range (where’s the defense??). It was a 52-yard field goal and the Vikes iced Mason Crosby. It worked, the second time he missed wide left.

The Vikes got the first possession in overtime and quickly drove into field goal range. The drive stalled out, and Mr. Carlson came into the game for a 49-yard field goal. Can you guess what happened? Yep, he missed. Taking over, the Magician took the Pack into Vikes territory, but a huge sack took them out of field goal range. The final possession of the 10 minute overtime belonged to the Vikings. They score, they win. Period. Methodically, they drove into Packers territory. Thanks to two Laquon Treadwell drops, the drive ended. With four seconds to go, on trotted Daniel Carlson for a makeable 35-yard field goal. The Packers iced him. The guy absolutely shanked it. Completely wide right. The game ended in a tie. Such an anti-climactic ending to a great game. Some final quick notes:

+ Laquon Treadwell had some key drops in this game, his days in Minnesota are numbered.

+ Kirk Cousins played like an $84 million guaranteed QB, throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. Convinced me.

+ Hasta la vista, Daniel Carlson.

+ The NFL needs to change the OT rules to college football rules. It would be much more fun and exciting. Nobody likes a tie, except the Cleveland Browns.

+ Next week, we have the Buffalo Bills at US Bank. Let’s go and take care of business.

The Roller Coaster Ride of Kirk Cousins

The day is October 10th 2012, little did we know how big of a day this would be for two NFL QB careers. It was 3rd and Goal at the 2-yard line, with 6:22 left on the third quarter, when RG3 would take the snap, then roll out to the right, and try to make a move for the Touchdown then would get hit head to head, which would result in a concussion. Every Redskin fan asked themselves, who is our backup? Little did they know they drafted a future 1-time pro bowler with the 7th pick in the 4th round of the 2012 draft. This would not be his only time coming in a game after RG3 got hurt, his most known appearance was coming in the game, in the 4th Quarter of the Redskins Vs Ravens game leading his team to a game-winning drive against the soon to be Super Bowl champs. After that game, Kirk would start gaining Attention to not only the Redskin fanbase but also the whole NFL fanbase. He was not only a 4th round pick who came out of Michigan State poised to be a backup for life, but he was finally being seen as a future starter in the NFL even if it wasn’t for the Redskins.

Image result for kirk cousins against falcons 2012

He would start a whole season for Redskins until 2015, but he would start the last three games of 2013, and then 6 games in 2014, and then finally be given the keys to take full control of the offense in 2015. By this team, he has gained the nickname of Captain Kirk and would be the centerpiece to the famously known acronym, HTTR. The year 2015, he would lead the Redskins to a 9-7 record and an NFC East division champions, and a ticket to play the Packers in the NFC Wildcard game. By this point, he has all the support around the team and fanbase, no one expected the Redskins to make the playoffs, but “Captain Kirk” put the team on his back and lead them to the promise land. Even though they would lose that game against the Red-Hot Packers being lead by one of the all-time greats Aaron Rodgers, the optimism around DC was off the roofs, everyone loved Captain Kirk and thought he could answer to leading them to another ring.

Fast forward one year, and now the whole Fanbase is calling him, “A Statpatterth seed Giants.  He threw for 287 yards with a completion percentage 62.9 and a ratio of 1-2. People only want to remember his “Choke” interception in the possible game-winning drive to put them into the playoffs, but the whole game should be seen as a team lost not just Kirk losing the game. The defense still allowed 19 points against the first half of starters and a second half against a lot of backups, and offensively struggle to have any run game to be heard of. The defense allowed Paul Perkins to rush for 106 and Rashad Jennings to add-on 52 yards and a TD, while Rob Kelly only ran for 33 yards which allowed the Giants to not respect the run game at all. Somehow the whole game falls under that one interception from Kirk, no the other 3 quarters where they should have put away a team that was already looking forward to the playoffs. This one game would be the start of the demise of Kirk and the Redskin organization.

Image result for kirk cousins looking depressed against giants

Now in the 2016 Off-Season, the rumors of Kirk wanting to get paid big due to his Good Regular Season stats started to create a ripple effect around the organization. With only one playoff appearance and a 26-30-1 seems like nothing special, and with that analysis, they decided to Tag him. He was not pleased at all and felt disrespected but knew he had the opportunity to earn that payday the following year.

Now in the 2017-2018 Regular season he would have to lead this team to a successful season to be able to reach the big money, but with a season derailed by injuries, he ended up just finishing the season 7-9 with a stat line of 4093 yards and a 27-13 ratio, which in most minds is an above average season but nothing special, but when accounting the injuries and below average WR play, just leading to the team to a 7-9 season with the those stats is impressive. Going into the off-season everybody knew Kirk wanted the big contract, and most fans wanted him to walk due to all those names he gained by in 2016, which then allowed for a big Off-season to be had for the NFL.

The first big move the Redskins made was trading for Alex Smith in the off-season, which meant Kirk was going to be in a different NFL uniform in 2018 but how? Were they going to Tag and Trade and straight up let him walk?  They decided to lose all that value, and let him walk to Free Agency where he’s been the most confident prize since Peyton left the Colts in 2012. He was untimely decided to sign with Vikings which then would lead us to the question, What Kirk do we expect?

Image result for kirk cousins with vikings

Do we expect the highly appraised Kirk or the Kirk that gained all those nicknames back in Washington? Every Fan of Minnesota expects the 2015 Kirk to come back, and everyone should by just looking at the team. He has to Pro Bowl caliber WRs, an above average Offensive line, a good Running Back but us coming back from an injury which leads to questions, but the Biggest improvement, is that he is going to be playing with a top 5 defense behind him. With a win or go home game the Vikings won’t allow a Paul Perkins caliber player run for 100+ yards against them, they will shut the run down and not be the reason they lose. This is Kirks first True time having a great team behind him, and a Super Bowl should be expected from this team with all the talent that the roster has. If he fails to even come close to winning a ring, then maybe we should actually recognize him as a 4th rounder talent, but until this season is complete we should expect the most from him, and not hate on him. He has never had a fair chance in Washington, and this is the season to see the true Kirk and have all the Redskins fans who believe they got an upgrade at QB to sit there in embarrassment for calling Alex Smith better than Kirk Cousins

The Vikings Get Their Diggs In

The Minnesota Vikings have secured yet another core player with a long-term contract, signing wide receiver Stefon Diggs to a five-year extension and moving the star of the “Minneapolis Miracle” pass into the NFL’s top 10 highest-paid players at his position.

The new deal is valued at $72 million plus an additional $9 million in possible incentives, according to a person with knowledge of the contract who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the details. Diggs, who will play the final season of his rookie deal for the original base salary of slightly more than $1.9 million, received a $15 million signing bonus.

Diggs has come a long way since his father, Aron Diggs, died of heart failure in 2008. He told his son in his final months to make sure to look after his mother and two brothers, and for Diggs this new deal was the consummation of that directive.

“I’m happy that I can look at my mom and smile and tell her that everything is going to be OK,” Diggs said. “I’m just very thankful for everybody involved.”

Image result for stefon diggs vikings

But Is Diggs Worth This Contract?

Diggs came up with a fabulous play that be played on highlight reels as long as football is in existence. The heartfelt emotions of him now being able to honor his late father’s wishes and can now truly take care of his family aside. The fans love him both on and off the field but the Vikings must block those things out and make a business decision with all their players, not just Diggs. Diggs has yet to post a 1,000-yard or 100-catch season, in fact in his 3 years in the league, he has only been targeted over 100 times once. The most touchdowns he has scored in a season is 8, and that was last season, but his 2 previous seasons combined he has scored only 7. If the numbers that are being reported are true, and Diggs is making money like he is one of the top 10 receivers in the NFL, then he should have the numbers to back up the dollars. You would also assume that he is growing as a receiver each year of his three years, and that is not the case either. In 2016 he had more targets, more receptions, more yards and a better catch percentage than the year prior and after the 2016 season.

He Was A Draft Steal

He formed a prolific tandem with Adam Thielen last year, helping Case Keenum stabilize the passing game after Sam Bradford was injured, and over his first three seasons has been one of the biggest steals of the 2015 draft.

“I love it here. I truly do, and I’m just happy I’ll be here for a while now,” Diggs said after practice Tuesday. “That’s why I want to play for them for selecting me in the fifth round. It was a bumpy road that day, and I just remember getting a call, and they gave me a chance. They believed in me, and they won, and going forward they pushed me to be where I am now.”

Do the Vikings feel guilty of his pay to this point? Is that why they decided to pay him top 10 money? They signed him to a 4 year $2.507 Million dollar contract, and he always showed up for work, and never complained.

“He’s been a good person off the field. He’s been a good person on the field as far as that,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “When he messes up, he knows. One time I had him in my office, and I asked him … a question, and he said, ‘Now, coach, you know you knew the answer when you asked the question.’ He’s a smart guy.”

Image result for adam thielen and stefon diggs

Photo by; Cream City Central

But What About Adam Thielen?

On March 21st 2017 Adam Thielen, who had 1,276 receiving yards last season, agreed to a team-friendly 3 year deal worth $17 Million. That is a fraction of Diggs’ deal when he is obviously a much better talent. Is Thielen suppose to be happy for Diggs? This deal can’t be sitting well with him. The Vikings will have to pay in order to keep Thielen beyond 2020, but, I guess there are two different ways to look at this deal, and this may be how the Vikings are selling it to Thielen. The Diggs deal is an indication that he’ll take less to stay in Minnesota. For now, but when it comes time the Vikings are willing to pat their players as long as they show up for work and don’t complain. Thielen is set to carry cap numbers of $6.1MM, $5MM, and $6.5MM in each of the next three seasons.

What Does Their New QB Think Of The Signing?

Speaking of someone who got paid, how does the man who is $84 Million dollars richer think of the new contract for Diggs?

“What I most like is he loves football and loves to come and work, because as a quarterback it can be miserable if you’re out here with someone who is here to just get a paycheck and leave,” Cousins said. “He wants to work. I’ve been a part of some locker rooms where by 9 o’clock, some of your guys are sleeping in the back row, not taking notes, not paying attention. They’re basically checked out, texting or whatever,” Cousins said. “That’s not him. That’s not these guys.”

Since Cousins signed his fully guaranteed $84 million contract in March, the Vikings have signed linebacker Eric Kendricks, defensive end Danielle Hunter and now Diggs to multi-year deals. The Vikings now have Cousins, Diggs, Thielen, running back Dalvin Cook, left tackle Riley Reiff, right guard Mike Remmers and center Pat Elflein all under team control through at least the 2020 season. On defense, the same goes for Hunter, Kendricks, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith. That’s a lot of star power to squeeze under the salary cap, with linebacker Anthony Barr the only prominent player with an expiring contract this year.

“Continuity, to me, is very important, and it’s not a luxury we have in the NFL these days,” Cousins said. “There is a lot of change year in and year out, so I’ve come to expect that and understand you can’t use that as an excuse.”

So, Zimmer is happy, Thielen is not talking, Cousins is happy. But will the Vikings fans be happy in 5 years when this contract is up? Only time will tell.

#ManCrush Monday Series: Adam Thielen

This is the third in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all. I also encourage you to check out each of the links for a more in depth look at what makes these players so special.

 

As I’ve noted previously, I am a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers, and the rivalries that exist in the NFC North are some of the most historic, longest running rivalries in sports. Even though I live in Michigan and many of my friends cheer for the Lions every Sunday, I’ve always been told you can’t cheer for another team within the division. Whether having this #ManCrush violates this rule or is somehow a loophole, I don’t care, because I have fallen in love with Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings, and it started in a week 16 match-up against Green Bay on Christmas Eve in 2016.

I was visiting my relatives in Wisconsin over the holiday break, and everyone native to the state of Wisconsin is either a Packers fan or they’re lying. I felt at home being able to watch a Packers game and not be the only one cheering for them. Week 16 also happened to be the championship week of the first year of my dynasty league, and it turned out to be everything a championship match-up should be. I had picked up Thielen after he had been heavily targeted in week 12 at Detroit. It immediately paid off as he scored 10+ fantasy points the next two weeks only to put up a goose egg in week 15. I had a tough decision to make going into week 16. I knew I couldn’t afford to have any duds this week if I wanted to win a championship, but I have a bias for wanting to watch my fantasy player if possible, and since I knew this game would be televised, I chose to keep Thielen in my lineup.

What a great decision that turned out to be, as Thielen had the best game of his NFL career. He posted a career-high 12 catches for 202 yards and scored twice for his first multi-touchdown game, including a 71 yard touchdown on which he beat Quinten Rollins with a double move to help keep the Vikings at least within striking distance of the Packers. It was a win-win for me, as the Packers got the win 38-25, and Thielen gave me a whopping 42 fantasy points. I needed each and every one of those points from Thielen, as my opponent had Le’Veon Bell and Travis Kelce scored nearly 60 points combined and ended up with a total of 172. I edged him out with 177 points thanks to Thielen and my first #ManCrush David Johnson, who scored over 30 points against the Seahawks. Thielen finished the 2016 season with 69 catches for 967 yards in just 10 starts. This production earned him a brand new, 3-year deal worth $27 million ($11 million guaranteed).

Adam Thielen is a Minnesota native and was not highly recruited, or really recruited at all, out of high school or college (Minnesota-State Mankato), but he had a dream of playing in the NFL, and he did everything he could to put himself in a position to reach that goal. You can read about it in “Made in Minnesota“, right from Thielen himself. He made enough of an impression on coaches when he was given an opportunity, and now he is half of one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. He and running mate Stefon Diggs combined for 140 receiving yards per game in 2017, and their versatility made them a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. While Diggs outscored Thielen 8 to 4 in touchdowns, Thielen posted 91 catches for 1,276 yards and started all 16 games for the Vikings, making him fifth in yards and eighth in receptions in terms of NFL receiving leaders last year. Diggs had 64 catches for 849 in 14 games.

At 6’3″, 200 lbs, Thielen is a taller receiver with great route running skills, strong hands, and a high football IQ. He, like Diggs, can play both outside and in the slot. Thielen fits the mold of the taller slot receiver that is becoming more popular in the NFL. His ability to create separation quickly and use his size and hands to convert on third down consistently made him a very reliable target in those situations. In fact, Thielen ranked second in 2017 with 25 first down catches on third down, behind only Keenan Allen, and had 59 first down catches overall, good for eighth. The Vikings will move him and Diggs all over the formation and will even run the same play twice in a row, simply flipping Thielen and Diggs from slot to the outside, or vice-versa, to give a different look. If you ever lose track of him on the field, just look for the yellow gloves.

In 2017, Thielen was able to be productive with Sam Bradford and Case Keenum at quarterback, and now the Vikings have brought in the highly coveted Kirk Cousins, who has three straight seasons throwing for 4000+ yards and 25+ touchdowns. With the skill position corps of Cousins, second year running back Dalvin Cook, Thielen, Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings 2018 offense has the potential to support each of them from a fantasy perspective and be one of the highest scoring offenses in the entire league, especially since they’ll need to keep pace with the the rest of the NFC that all took steps forward this off-season offensively. If they hadn’t lost Jerick McKinnon to the 49ers, the Vikings offense may have been unstoppable. I predict that Thielen again tops 1,000 yards this season and sets a career high in touchdowns (which means at least 6).

Watch more on Thielen’s journey as well as highlights below:

From Undrafted to Unstoppable

Undrafted to NFL Star

One last thing: I bought this shirt and renamed my dynasty team “Hooked on a Thielen”. Thielen also wears #19, which just so happens to be my favorite/lucky number. The #ManCrush is real.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to go back and read my first two articles on David Johnson and Patrick Mahomes if you haven’t already! Stayed tuned for my next #ManCrush article on Cooper Kupp! Check out all my work and follow me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz.

 

2018 NFL Drafting Needs; NFC North

Nothing beats a bit of draft speculation straight after one of the best Superbowls of all time, right? I’ll be going through the draft needs of every NFL franchise, and now I’m 75% done with this, the NFC North edition!

Minnesota Vikings – CB, DT, C

The ‘nearly-men’ of the NFL last season, following a death-defying, last-second touchdown, and then a soul-destroying defeat a week later to the eventual Champions; the Vikings must be feeling like they’re very close to making it to the big game, and possibly even winning it. Dalvin Cook will hope to be ready in time to start week one, money to spend on a quarterback and only Joe Berger and Tom Johnson considered urgent contract situations, the future is bright in Minnesota.

Potential picks:

30 – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

2017 was an insane year for Jackson, with a ridiculous playmaking rate, allowing a lowly 41% completion rate when defending the pass. Elite instinctive player with good height and arm length. He’s drawn to the ball rather than the man with fantastic handling skills, which figures given his history as a receiver. Loves the attention that comes with the big plays but works hard at the same time in order to improve. There is however, a huge concern for me. He’s started 14 games. What’s to say 2017 isn’t an outlier. If you look at the stats, which will be below this paragraph, it has to be considered his absolute ceiling. An experienced quarterback will be able to manipulate him into a route misread. Tackling isn’t a strength either making Josh Jackson a low floor, high ceiling prospect but very alluring based on upside.

2017 stats – 13 games; 48 combined tackles (0.5 for loss); 18 passes deflected; 1 forced fumble; 8 interceptions (2 for TDs); 1 kick blocked

62 – BJ Hill, DT, NC State

Athletic guy who plays mostly inside. Good burst and anticipation. Uses his instincts well and is able to notice pre-snap movement and adjust accordingly. Stamina is above-average so BJ Hill may be able to play more snaps than most within a DL rotation. Solid tackle production in his college career so far. Has shown a tendency to get caught out by double-teams. He’ll need to work on his body control and balance on contact. More strength will be required at the point of attack in order to make it at the next level.

2017 stats – 13 games; 57 combined tackles (5.5 for loss); 3 passes deflected; 1 forced fumble; 3 sacks; 1 blocked kick

94 – Austin Corbett, C, Nevada

An intelligent and strong player; Corbett plays with good awareness and instincts, combined with technical ability. Only played at tackle in college so will have to adapt in order to play center. Leg drive isn’t the strongest and his allows defenders through too often due to poor hand placement. This may be another reason to bring him in as a center. I highly doubt he’ll be an NFL tackle or even guard, but the Vikings could sure use him in the middle.

Detroit Lions – RB, DT, LB

I can’t be the only person anticipating a busy off-season in Detroit? I’m also highly intrigued to see how highly-coveted HC Matt Patricia does in his new role – a role he fully deserves. At the time of writing, They have Travis Swanson, Darren Fells, Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Tavon Wilson and Nevin Lawson out of contract, as well as several other areas of need. It looks like Frank Gore may sign, and between us, my bold prediction is that Gary Barnidge makes a return to the NFL at tight end.

Potential picks:

20 – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

One of my favourite prospects in this year’s draft, Sony Michel is the better of the two highly-promising running backs coming out of Georgia. He’s decisive and has the intelligence to make decisions quickly, avoiding taking unnecessary risks and finding the most efficient path. Huge home-run potential. His ability to burst through linebackers quickly gives him a huge advantage and his vision will allow him to get extra yardage regularly. He also happens to be a very competent blocker as well which will always go down well with NFL coaches. He may need to work on his catching technique – he hasn’t had any real issues with drops but could catch the ball more cleanly, especially under NFL level pressure.

2017 stats – 14 games; 1,227 yards on 156 touches (7.87 YPC); 16 TDs

96 yards and 1 TD on 9 receptions

51 – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Now, before I start…yes, I am aware that before ANY of the prophecy below can come true, Maurice Hurst will need to be medically cleared. For the purposes of my article, I am assuming that Detroit luck out and get a first round talent at 51 overall because of the fear in relation to the heart irregularities which came out of the combine. Hurst has good initial quickness and aggression. He manages to find a way to sneak through the blockers and toward the quarterback or ball. His speed is accompanied by good footwork and this allows him to adjust his positioning and angles well. He’s a little small compared to other defensive linemen, at college and NFL level and so will have to close the gap on stronger blockers to avoid trouble. He would definitely be more effective in a 4-3 defence, but let’s just say Matt Patricia knows how to run a good defence.

2017 stats – 13 games; 61 combined tackles (14.5 for loss); 2 passes deflected; 5 sacks; 1 forced fumble; 1 blocked kick

82 – Shaquem Griffen, LB, Central Florida

My new favourite linebacker? Who wasn’t entirely awestruck with Shaquem’s combine performance? Incredible. Matt Patricia will love his character and the fact he is capable. Good athleticism, great intelligence and clearly, the ability to adapt. He’s a punishing hitter and disruptive in several ways across the field. Will be a very good fantasy football player as he fills up the box score. Good technique. He’ll need coaching to improve his tackling technique as he can go in a little high and this may allow tackles to be broken. He will be somewhat limited by his physical limitation (for those who don’t know, he doesn’t have a left hand) but I think he is fully deserving of a place on an NFL roster.

2017 stats – 13 games; 74 combined tackles (13.5 for loss); 3 passes deflected; 7 sacks; 1 interception;2 forced fumbles; 1 fumble return (for a 20 yard TD

Green Bay Packers – CB, WR, DE

In 2017, Packers fans had to endure the majority of the season without Aaron Rodgers. From 2018, they will have to watch their team sans Jordy Nelson. They have signed Jimmy Graham who will certainly provide a red-zone threat; and generally they don’t have too many contracts to extend, with Jahri Evans, Davon House and Morgan Burnett the only guys out of contract. It remains to be seen whether the Packers will look to build for the future or go ‘win now’, but the below picks will help them achieve either.

Potential picks:

14 – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Elite athletic ability, with the patience and technique to make him an instant starter in the NFL. True ‘lockdown’ corner. In fact, over the last two years, he has allowed a completed pass less than one-third of the time he is the targeted cornerback. Excellent disruptive ability and can keep up with the receiver in most situations. Reminds me a lot of Chris Harris at Denver, so that is the level we’re dealing with here. His build is a bit smaller than average and visually at least, he appears small in coverage against bigger receivers. He would immediately start as a slot cornerback with a view to moving him outside after some NFL experience and coaching, but a solid pre-season could see him go outside straight away.

2017 stats – 13 games; 37 combined tackles (2 for loss); 15 passes deflected; 2 interceptions; 2 blocked kicks

45 – DJ Moore, WR, Maryland

Size, speed, and a good teammate. These are three ringing endorsements from coaching staff for whom DJ Moore played at Maryland. He was the go-to guy there, using his quick feet and acceleration to great effect. He can be trusted by a quarterback to make plays. Lethal on screen plays and took on punt return duties in 2017. He will need some coaching to ensure he’s as competitive as a route runner as he is after the catch as he fails to gain enough separation at times. On 50-50 balls he loses more often than he wins. I think he has it in him to really focus once drafted, work on the areas his coaches ask him too and confidently play his play into the hearts of the Green Bay fans.

2017 stats – 12 games; 80 receptions for 1,033 yards and 8 TDs;

61 rushing yards and 1 TD on 5 touches (12.2 YPC);

15 punt returns for 153 yards

76 – Rasheem Green, DE, USC

It may be optimistic to think Rasheem Green will; still be available at this point but you never know. Green is tall and once he bulks up, will have a very intimidating frame to work with. Explosive bursts at point of attack with violent, aggressive tendencies against the blockers initial contact. His overall strength and body control needs work, but this is normal when going for early draft eligibility. Can be slow to find the ball on occasion. Needs to learn how to trick his opponent as he is easy to read at times. With the right coaching, Green will be a top defensive end in the NFL, but patience may be required initially.

2017 stats – 14 games; 43 combined tackles (12.5 for loss); 4 passes deflected; 10 sacks; 1 forced fumble

Chicago Bears – CB, WR, G

Definite signs of improvement already for Chicago. Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel are significant upgrades on Kendall Wright, Dion Sims and Kevin White. They have an ever-improving, young defence as well as a solid coaching setup. Mitchell Trubisky should have much more fun out on the field in 2018, but let’s see what else the Bears could achieve via the draft…

Potential picks:

8 – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama


Arguably the best defensive back in this year’s class. Eats, sleeps and breathes football. A big-game player with the utmost competitiveness, Minkah Fitzpatrick is a franchise player. Can play all over the secondary and even in nickel linebacker roles. Excellent blitzer, and home run ability if he makes an interception. Also elite playmaker on special teams. An NFL coaches dream. He’s not the finished article just yet, but there really isn’t much to work on. Think Jamal Adams or Budda Baker.

2017 stats – 13 games; 60 combined tackles (8 for loss); 1.5 sacks; 8 passes deflected; 1 interception; 1 forced fumble; 1 blocked kick

39 – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Chicago improved their offensive weapons on the outside in free agency; now they get their slot guy. Christian Kirk is well-built and strong. He has a fantastic work ethic and runs slant and whip routes excellently. Great hands and able to catch the passes which aren’t 100% accurate. Good after-catch ability which translates into punt/kickoff return skill. He isn’t the quickest but I think he fits well in a Nagy system as a pure slot guy.

2017 stats – 13 games; 71 receptions for 919 yards and 10 TDs;

31 rushing yards on 4 touches (7.75 YPC);

10 punt returns for 191 yards and a TD;

22 kickoff returns for 490 yards and a TD

105 – Will Clapp, C, LSU

Will Clapp is the right build for an NFL center and also has experience playing guard in college so if needed he could handle reps there in the NFL. He’s competent when it comes to blocking. Very intelligent and has good awareness of space particularly in pass protection. He may not start right away as he will need to work on his technique but eventually he could become a good addition to Trubisky’s protective unit.

 

 

 

*2017 stats from www.cfbstats.com

The Roar: Streaking Lions Host Smoking Hot Vikings

Mano-a-mano.

The NFC North leading (8-2) Minnesota Vikings visit the (6-4) Detroit Lions in Motown for Thanksgiving’s early afternoon game.

Detroit defeated Minnesota back on October 1st and trail by just two games as they sit in second place in the division.

Both teams come in with a hot win column as the Vikings have rattled off six consecutive victories while the Lions have three straight in their back pocket.

The last team to figure out the Vikings? The Lions, in Minnesota.

The Week 4 match-up between these two divisional foes was as tight as can be — a 14-7 affair.

For Detroit, Ameer Abdullah had 20 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown, almost becoming the first Lion to eclipse the 100-yards rushing marker since Reggie Bush did so in 2013. Aside from that cruel backfield statistic that Detroit can’t get away from, their wide receivers weren’t great fantasy options against Minnesota’s defense.

Matthew Stafford went 19/31 for 209 yards as he found Marvin Jones just twice for a leading 42 yards and Darren Fells for a leading four catches for 40 yards.

For Minnesota, rookie Dalvin Cook was averaging 5.1 yards per carry prior to tearing his ACL in the second half.

Case Keenum went 16/30 for 219 yards on the day. Keenum’s top connections were Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Diggs caught five passes for 98 yards and Thielen caught five for 59 yards.

Detroit’s defense played the difference maker as they forced and recovered three fumbles on that October afternoon. Anthony Zettel recorded two sacks on the day.

Minnesota’s defense didn’t come up with a turnover, but they blew through Detroit’s offensive line for five sacks of Stafford.

To further credit each defense, they forced their opponent to score their least amount of points through that point of the season. Now, almost two months later, neither of the two teams have been held to the same or lower point totals.

Impressive stuff to say the least.

What’s more impressive is that the Vikings took a blow when they lost Cook for the season, but haven’t lost since. What could be more impressive than that?

Maybe if Detroit sweeps the season series between the two, for the second straight year, on Thanksgiving Day.

The Lions already have the upper-hand in terms of the head-to-head matchup in 2017, but it’s tough to beat a team twice, especially a tough team like the Vikings.

A Detroit win would indeed put an intense amount of pressure on Minnesota’s back. The Lions would then only trail the Vikings by a game with the 27th hardest remaining schedule staring them in the eyes. As for the Vikings, they have the 10th hardest remaining schedule.

A Minnesota win certainly wouldn’t guarantee them the division, but it would make it much harder on Detroit, despite the opposite schedule complexities.

There’s clearly a lot on the line on Thanksgiving Day in the Motor City, not just automobiles or food spreads.

It’s going to be an exciting one, potentially the most exciting of the three games on the day. Shoot, probably more exciting than other program set to air on Thursday.

Kickoff in Detroit is set for 12:30pm.

If you’re going down to the game, the Lions organization has announced that Ford Field’s gates will open at 10am.

Fun Fact:

Reggie Bush’s last 100-yard game as a Lion came on Thanksgiving Day in 2013.

Preseason Preview: Minnesota Vikings

Week 3 of the preseason is now behind us for all teams, and let’s face it, week four is nothing more than a formality. We here at CleatGeeks are proud to bring you, our fans, great football coverage all season long on your favorite teams. This starts with our preseason previews and continues through out the season with weekly articles. As the editor of CleatGeeks I gave each of our talented football writers the same five questions to answer about the team they cover. These answers give us the Preseason Preview for the Minnesota Vikings by Cory Boeckman.

The month of August has hit us which means preseason football is here and we’re that much closer to the regular season. Today I’ll be previewing the Minnesota Vikings.

1) What player are you most excited to watch this season? Why?

Image result for adam thielen vikings

The Vikings finished a disappointing 8-8 last season after starting 5-0, they added some key players in the draft and have some great players returning. There are a few players I’m excited to watch this year, first one being Adam Thielen. The hometown favorite burst onto the scene last season with 69 receptions and 967 yards receiving including 5 TDs. The second guy I’m excited to see play is Dalvin Cook, how did this guy fall to the 41st pick in the draft? The two-time All-American should help bolster Minnesota’s backfield. The third and final guy I’m excited to watch is Xavier Rhodes, he really solidified his spot as one of the elite corners in the game last year with 5 INTs including a 100 yard pick six vs Arizona.

2) Who were the teams best acquisition and biggest loss? Why?

Image result for dalvin cook vikings

The biggest acquisitions this off-season for the Vikings happened in the draft by drafting running back Dalvin Cook and center Pat Elflein. Dalvin Cook will help strengthen the backfield while Elflein should provide depth and interior line help so the Vikings can effectively run the ball. The biggest loss for the Vikings would be not having Teddy Bridgewater to start the season opener the kid is a competitor with great accuracy and can tuck and run when he needs too.

Image result for pat elflein vikings

3) What fantasy player from the Vikings will be on your actual fantasy team? Why?

If there was a Fantasy player I would take from the Vikings to put on my Fantasy team it would be the Vikings D/ST, lets face it they got plenty of sacks last year, forced turnovers, and scored TDs. Mike Zimmer’s defense should be ready for another big season.

4) Which game in the season schedule is the most important to your team? Why?

The most important games on the schedule for the Vikings will happen weeks 4-6 where they’re home vs Lions, @ Chicago, and home vs Green Bay, three division opponents where they have to go 2-1 to have any shot at making a run for the NFC North.

 

5) What is your realistic expectation of the Vikings for the upcoming season?

My realistic expecting of this team kind of depends on if Teddy returns, but I’ll say either way I think this team scraps together 10 wins to go 10-6 and grab a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.

Adrian Peterson Could Move On From Minnesota Vikings

Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin

Although Adrian Peterson’s first option is to stay with the Minnesota Vikings, he has expressed interest in the possibility of playing for another team. The 31 year old running back is due $18 million dollars next year and is due $6 million dollars in March for being on the roster.
 
Adrian Peterson said on ESPN’s “First Take” that if he can’t return to Vikings then he has three teams in mind.
“I see myself in purple. A lot has to take place,” Peterson said on Thursday. “I see myself finishing off in purple. It is a business at the end of the day, so with that, things could end up differently. … Hopefully we can work things out.”
 
“There’s a couple teams out there that I’ve thought about. … New York was one of them that popped up, Tampa Bay, lot of different teams. Houston would be a good spot,” Peterson said. “I’ll stop right there. … I’m just throwing random names out there.”
Peterson thinks he has five good years left in him. This upcoming season he will be 33 years old and running backs production usually takes a huge hit. Only four running backs have combined for six seasons over 1,000 yards past the age of 33 according to Pro Football References. Frank Gore is one of those backs, as he had over 1,000 last season. Prior to him was John Riggins and that was in 1984.
Peterson is motivated to come back better then ever, as he did in 2012 when he won the MVP after he tore his ACL the prior season.
“I have a mindset to be my best,” he said. “Going into the next season, I’ll be ready to roll.” 
But, will he be rolling or running with another team next year? What do you think? Would you pay him $18 million dollars for the upcoming season? Let us know below by leaving a comment in the comment section.

AP Says Christmas Eve, but is this a Good Present for the Vikings?

The team announced Wednesday the running back was designated for return from injured reserve and will suit up for practice. By rule, teams have one return designation per year and must identify the player on the first day he begins practicing.

petersoncloudysky“I’m actually going to get out there this week, I’ll be back in the building and plan on practicing this week to really get my legs under me and get a good feel on where I’m at,” Peterson said during a Dash Radio interview on Monday, via startribune.com. “So this week is going to be big for me.”

Adrian Peterson made some purple people turn red with anger last month when he proclaimed that he would not return this season unless the Vikings were in the play-off hunt. I personally loved that he came out and said that. He laid a challenge down to the rest of his teammates. To me, and I am sure to them, he basically said, If you guys can get us to the play-offs, then I will come back and together we will push for a ring.” People who were upset with his announcement should also look at the other side of the story, do you want him to risk injury in 1 or 2 meaningless games, or come back full strength for next season?

The Vikings have lost 6 of their last 8 games, and remember they also lost their starting quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. Apparently the three-time NFL rushing champion liked what he saw during Sunday’s 25-16 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, because he’s decided to return this week. But remember, it was the Jags.

Peterson underwent surgery in September to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee after just the second week of the season. He now plans on practicing for a couple weeks before suiting up on Christmas Eve against the Green Bay Packers.“My plan and my vision is to be back for the Green Bay game, that’s what I’m envisioning,” Peterson said. “Of course, the perfect scenario is we win out, I’m able to rest up three weeks and be ready for the playoffs, but I’m envisioning I’ll be back out there this week practicing and I’ll go from there. I’ve been a pretty good judge of my body and I don’t know if I’ll be ready to roll this week, next week or the week after. I feel like these next couple days, next two weeks for sure will help me determine what I’ll be able to do.”

The Vikings, who have lost six of their last eight games, finish the season with the Colts, Packers and Bears. Peterson, according to his timetable, will not play against Indianapolis this week. This may be all for nothing, if the Vikings can not pull off a win against the Colts on Sunday. But, having him at practice may also be the best thing to rally the troops and motivate them to a win as well. Plus, it also helps that the Colts said that Andrew Luck will sit out practice today due to his sore shoulder and elbow. Luck played one of the worst games of his season Sunday, missing several throws, completing just 53.3 percent of his passes and throwing two interceptions.

petersonvsthepack

The question is, are the Vikings really in the play-off hunt? Minnesota (7-6) is currently two games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. The Vikings have lost to the Lions twice this season, so they would lose the tie breaker. However, the Vikings are just one game behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the final wild card spot. The Vikings beat the Packers earlier this season, so a win at Green Bay would give them a tiebreaker edge over the Packers.

Behind a porous offensive line, Minnesota ranks last in the NFL with just 73.4 rushing yards per game. Peterson would certainly be an instant upgrade, even if he were not 100%. After a 5-0 start, the Vikings sit at 7-6, two games back in the NFC North and a game back for the final wild-card spot. Minnesota likely needs to win out and get some help to make the playoffs, with tilts versus the Colts, Packers, and Bears remaining. Peterson’s possible return could add some juice to that drive toward the postseason. Wednesday’s news was the first step.

And for those of you who started to doubt AP, let me give you a direct recent quote, “My eyes are still set on being in Houston for the Super Bowl. … That’s been my vision. With us still in the (playoff) hunt, that hasn’t changed at all.”

Green & Gold; Week 2 Keys

Following a solid but far from perfect season opening victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars the Green Bay Packers will remain on the road to face their first divisional game of the year and in the process, help the Minnesota Vikings open their brand new billion dollar plus stadium. The following areas are keys to the Packers leaving Minnesota 2-0 on Sunday night before returning home to prepare for next week’s home opener.gjallarhorn2

Continue to Stop the Run – The Packers run defense was solid against the Jaguars last week holding them to under two yards per carry. The run defense was successful because there was not only initially tacklers who put hits on ball carriers but there was also plenty of help that quickly arrived to provide support and assistance and ultimately put the runner on the ground. The Packers need to follow the same procedure as the run defense gets a tougher test with Adrian Peterson this week. Peterson almost never goes down on first contact so the packers-vs-jaguars1Packers again need lots of help off the initial contact in order to put Peterson on the ground.

Get control early – As mentioned above, the Vikings are opening a new stadium, with this game the place will be going crazy from the opening kickoff. The Packers offense needs to get on the board to take some of the crowds punch away. A quieter crowd will allow Aaron Rodgers to run the no huddle offense if he wishes to do so. Quieting the crowd will help to slow down the Vikings pass rush.

Win special teams – The Vikings are not publicly announcing who there quarterback will be in this game. Regardless of who it is the Vikings will be looking to have that individual working as often as possible. Cordarrelle Paterson is a weapon for the Vikings in both the kick and punt return game. He is extremely quick but the Packers need to be solid with both of their coverage units in order to win field position and make the Vikings go on long drives to score.

No turnovers – The Vikings scored 25 points in their season opening victory over the Titans.14 of those 25 points were courtesy of two packers-vs-jaguars2Titans turnovers that went for points on the turnover play. The Packers offense has to take care of the ball. The Vikings offense has to be able to sustain long drives. The Packers cannot give them short fields to make an average to below average offense better and more productive. By contrast the Packers scored a touchdown on a short field from the only Jacksonville turnover in that game. The Packers won that game by four so turnovers are important in division games that figure to be close on the scoreboard.

Be clean – The Packers were week 1 winners but they were far from clean in their performance. There was one occurrence where half the offense thought they were running a run play and the other half thought they were running a pass play. The offense had several other issues having to burn timeouts because of issues getting plays called and snapped before the play clock expired. They were also called for delay of game at the beginning of a drive. These are small errors but they can be costly in tight games. The Packers need a clean game in order to crash the Vikings stadium opening party.

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