Friday, February 23, 2007

Offseason NEEDS

Here is the PKA assesment of the Viking's needs in order...

1. WR - this position is embarassingly bad. Upgrade at any cost. The problem is that the free agent class is headlined by Kevin Curtis. Not exactly a marque name, I mean 40 receptions, 479 yards and 4 TDs is really good and all but um help from the free agent pool might not actually be of any help. Other free agent WRs include...

Donte Stallworth
Travis Taylor
Drew Bennett
Bethel Johnson
The other obvious source of help is the Draft. In this case the draft's deepest position might be WR. Most mock drafts currently have the Vikings taking Ted Ginn Jr. He is the 2nd highest rated WR by most ratings, but he is eerily similar to Williamson (small, fast, questionable routes and hands). Ginn is supposed to be a dynamic punt/kick returner which would be a nice weapon to have but Williamson was supposed to be that same threat which goes to show that there is no sure thing. Here are some potential early picks at WR...
Calvin Johnson - super talent who is big, fast and has great hands, likely gone by #7
Ted Ginn Jr. - small SUPER fast (4.30 40 by some accounts)
Dwayne Jarret - USC WR who is big but questions surround his character and not likely a guy the Vikes will covet
Sidney Rice - S. Carolina guy (like Williamson) but could be the real sleeper of the draft. Potential Vikings pick should they trade down in the 1st round. A guy the PKA covets!
Robert Meachem - Tenn, I don't know much about him other than a 1st round talent
Craig Davis - LSU, see Meachem
2. Right side of the OL - Hutchinson anchors the right side and McKinnie is OK (although overrated), but the right side is brutal. Landing a G and a T is like asking for an XBox 360 and a PS3 for Christmas it's just plain greedy. I think that Marcus Johnson and Cook have shown a bit of talent and maybe some experience will allow them to be adequate. My hope is that we find an answer for RG. If we get down to just 1 hole on the right side we can concentrate on helping that leak. I don't claim to be a great offensive line mind but lists the following OGs as 4 or 5 star free agenst...
Eric Steinbach - Cin, 5 stars
Mike Gandy - Buf, 4 stars
I'm too lazy to look up their contract status at this point but I'm going to assume they are still available and as far as I know they'd look good in purple.

3. Defensive End - many would likely put this as #2 or even #1 on the Vikings offseason priority list. The defense was not the problem in 2006 and the areas above would dramatically improve the offense without a complete overhaul. And this position might be upgraded by Erasmus James returning from injury. James has shown signs of being a very good DE. James and Udeze figure to be the starting ends in 2007. The big name free agent DEs were either Restricted or Franchised so that would leave the draft as the next best option. But there is no guarantee that said drafted DE would be a better option that the 2 projected starters.
Gaines Adams - Clemson, figures to be a top 7 pick (hey, we pick 7th). Gaines might be gone by the time we pick but if he is around chances are good that he'll be a Viking. Pass rusher but his "motor" and size have come into question.
Jamaal Anderson - Arkansas, also figures to be available or a recent pick when the Vikes are on the clock. Anderson's motor doesn't come into question but his upside probably isn't as high as Adams'.
4. Middle Linebacker - Napo is a free agent and I'll be surprised by not shocked if he comes back. He was better than expected last year but he had his breakdowns to do along with this "moments." I suppose the answer is Greenway but if he is as out of shape as I hear he is then we may need some help. I'd expect a 2nd day LB draft pick and some free agents coming through town. The only thing that excites me outside of Napo would be enticing Adalius Thomas to come here and leanr MLB! He is a stud and probably the best defensive FA out there but I'm not holding my breath.

5. Tight End
- we could use an upgrade here in my opinion, especially if Kleinsasser is gone then depth is an issue as well.

6. Depth at Corner - Winfield and Griffin are solid, but with the expected release of Smoot we have little depth.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

2007 Vikings (Offense)...

Anybody remember the 1998 Viking offense? I was starting to forget then the 2006 Viking offense reminded me of it. Not because they were so good but because they were SO BAD. Brad the Red Hot Chidress Pepper (BRHCP)* has refered to his offensive system as a "Kick Ass Offense." (KAO) The caviat of course is that you need the right personnel to run this KAO. This is an easy excuse but time will tell if the breakdown is in the coaching/play calling or if the problem rests with the personnel.

Here is a preview of the 2007 Viking Offense...

Starter - Tarvaris Jackson
Reserves - Brooks Bollinger, Brad Johnson (for the moment)
Analysis - well, BRHCP is going to give the reins of the KAO to essentially a rookie QB. BRHCP will have the opportunity to groom TJax into the next Donovan McNabb but I'm not going out on a limb here expecting growing pains. But I'll take a rookie with promise over the oldest and boringest QB in the League. Everyone expects Brad to be cut and I'm sure we'll sign a nobody as another backup (maybe Spurgeon Wynn is available). Other possibilities are rumors of trading for David Carr or drafting Brad Quinn. Both would be agreeable to the PKA, but who knows if they are capable of running BRHCP's KAO?

Running Back
Starter - Chester Taylor
Reserves - Mewelde Moore, Ciatrik Fason
Analysis - Chester was what we (and Denny Green) thought he was going to be and maybe a little more. 1200 yards and 6 TDs isn't lighting the world on fire but it is solid and respectable coming from the worst offense in Viking's history (urgh, KAO). Good free agent signing and improved O-Line play with improved play calling (crossing my fingers on that one) should make for a better year for Chester in 2007.

Wide Receiver
Starters - um anyone who can catch please raise your hand. I guess it'll be Troy Williamson and yet to be deteremined
Reserves - again, anyone?
Analysis - This was brutal in 2006 and it is probably the biggest question mark of 2007. Williamson has to get another chance and after that it is anybody's guess. Travis Taylor and Bethel Johnson are free agents who have a shot at coming back. I'd be comfortable with Bethel coming back. But likely this will be addressed in the draft and/or free agency.

Tight Ends
Starter - Jermaine Wiggins
Reserves - unknown
Analysis - reports tell me that Jimmy "Sioux Suck" Kleinsasser is going to be cut. What? Our "franchise player"? I know, hard to believe but Jimmy is probably gone. Expect him to be signed by Jacksonville. Wiggins is adequate but this position should be upgraded to official KAO status as well.

Starters - Bryant McKinnie and Ryan Cook/Marcus Johnson
Reserves - Ryan Cook/Marcus Johnson
Analysis - Left side is probably the most overrated OT in the game and the other side is full of more ineptitude and blown assignments. Mike Rosenthal is going to be cut as well but that is just fine with the rest of us. McKinnie is OK 8 out of 10 plays he does just fine but it seems that he gets beat on crucial plays more than anybody else. The right side could use some help but I don't see this as a very high priority and will likely be addressed with a 2nd day draft pick or a 2nd tier free agent. Either way it is an opportunity position, both young guys and maybe a cheap free agent will be given the opportunity to win the starting job.

Starters - Steve Hutchinson and Artis Hicks
Reserves - Anthony Herrera and who knows
Analysis - Hutch was solid but not the greatness everyone expected. I think he'll be fine and better in 2007 than 2006. The other side is probably the 2nd highest priority on this side of the ball. I would expect a draft pick in the first 3 rounds to fill this spot next season.

Starter - Matt Birk
Reserves - ?
Analysis - Birk didn't seem to dominate as he used to but he did still make the ProBowl. I'm not sure how much of that was reputation vs. actual assesment by his peers on his 2006 performance. Birk is still one of the best, making this position one we don't need to worry about.

My biggest concern for 2007 is the BRHCP calling plays again. I expect that he will continue with those duties but I sincerely wish that he'd focus on overall game plan, execution, motivation and game management rather than thinking about the specific play to call. If you don't trust current OCoord (quick what's his name) then hire someone with experience who you trust to do it. I got the feeling as the season wore on the team's overall prep and readiness suffered because BRHCP spent too much of his time during the week scripting plays. Tim Brewster has this figured out and he's never been a head coach before.

Unfortunately this offense CAN be worse than it was in 2006, but hopefully it won't be. My name for this offense has always been the Midwest Coast Offense (MWCO) and it lived up to it's humble and boring origin. It was a very polite and non-invasive offense that was concerned about pushing the opposition too much for fear they'd be offended. Well I'd love to see the KAO not the MWCO in 2007!

* - BRHCP is credited to Swan, very funny and is the official PKA nickname of Brad Childress.

Friday, February 16, 2007

2007 Vikings (Defense)...

At this point this is what the 2007 Vikings look like. There are some holes to fill but lets take a closer look starting with the Defense...

D Ends
Starters - Udeze, James
Key Reserves - Ray Edwards (R), Darrien Scott
Analysis - this was a serious weakness in 2006. No pressure from the outside made things very difficult on our pass defense. The preseason this looked like a strength but then James went down for the year and the rush was put on hold. Scott filled in adequatly but he's not the answer. Edwards is a promising rookie but he may just be a speedy 3rd down rusher. This would be a spot to upgrade but probably 3rd on my list of needs (that list will come at a later post).

Starters - P. Williams, K. Williams
Key Reserves
- Spencer Johnson
Analysis - This was THE strength of a defense that was historically good against the rush. Both are Pro-Bowl material and should be very good in 2007 as well. Pat's age is a concern and a replacement should be groomed but not with a big free agent pay day or with a 1st/2nd rnd draft pick.

Starters - Leber (OLB), Harris (MLB), Henderson (OLB) Key Reserves - D. Thomas, Farwell, Greenway (R)
Analysis - The LBs were a massive question mark coming into 2006, and they answered most of those questions. Harris had his most productive season, Henderson took steps to becoming a LB that offenses have to account for and Leber was the SOFA (steal of Free Agency). Now it looks like the Vikes are planning on a little catch-n-release with Napo and we're counting on Greenway returning from injury to anchor that position. The only problem is that reports are that Greenway has become a much bigger anchor during his inactivity (40 lbs bigger). He's got to get it together or this group will take a step back.

Corner Backs
Starters - Winfield, Smoot
Key Reserves - Griffin (R), Whitaker (R), Ken Irvin
Analysis - By all accounts Smoot is going to be released. This is probably OK as he was kind of a free agent bust and Griffin looks like a real CB that we can count on. I am very scared by Whitaker, but I'll give him another year before I totally give up on him. Winfield is one of the best and Griffin is going to be very good in the opinion of PKA. Depth is a concern but starters are solid.

Starters - Sharper, D. Smith
Key Reserves - um, something called Blue?
Analysis - I think this was the weak link in a pass defense that was one of the worst in the League. Sharper is a playmaker but isn't exactly solid or someone you can count on to always be in the correct position. Smith was usually invisible. You never heard his name mentioned for big plays (for the good or the bad). These guys were instrumental in stopping the run but they did little to slow down the opponent's passing game.

All in all this was a solid group that should remain relatively intact. Hopefully bringing back healthy bodies in Erasmus James and Chad Greenway should give us a little boost. And I'm equally as hopeful that releasing Smoot will be addition by subtraction.

The real X-factor here will be the new Def Coordinator. How much greater will the loss of Tomlin be than the addition of Frazier? This team's MO is to have a new DCoord every season so hopefully Frazier will have enough success to move on from here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Trade Rumor

Well it must be Shooter week on PKA. Walter's throws this nugget out there today...

Rumors persist that the Vikings could trade with the Houston Texans for quarterback David Carr, 27, who might cost just a fourth-round draft pick.
I don't know where these rumors are originating, what birdie is telling this to Charlie or what color the clouds are in his world (obviously not purple like they are in real life). But I don't care because I LIKE this rumor.

David Carr for a 4th round pick would be a great offseason move for the Vikes. Carr has not lived up to the expectations put on a #1 overall draft pick, but that does not mean that he wouldn't be an upgrade for the Vikes. He has 5 years of experience and each of those years he has played behind the NFL's worst OLines. Maybe (just maybe) getting behind a line that could protect him would allow him to be more successful (and less Favre-like in his TD:INT ratio).

I don't know if this has any legs but for a 4th, or even a 3rd, round draft pick Carr is a minimal gamble with updside potential.

Here is a story in the Houston paper about Carr's availability.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Draft News !!!

This is to be categorized under "Thank God for the Media because this is news that you NEVER would have figured out without their help."

Charlie Walters of the Pioneer Press offers this insightful nugget...

But a little birdie says that if Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn is available at No. 7, chances are better than not that he'll either be chosen by the Vikings or the pick will be traded lower to a team that covets Quinn more than Minnesota.
WOW! So there is at least a 50.01% chance that if a potential franchise QB falls to the Vikings they'll either draft him or trade the pick to a team that wants him more. I NEVER would have guessed that!

I generally like reading Walter's column as he is more lucid than Sid but offers the same kind of quick hitting notes and sometimes insider speculation. But how does something like this make it to print?

UPDATE: A little birdie has told the Purple Kool Aid that if the Vikings don't draft Brady Quinn or trade that pick to someone else, CHANCES ARE PRETTY GOOD THAT WE'LL DRAFT A DIFFERENT PLAYER. This is just a rumor and unconfirmed but I think it is likely.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Today starts the 2007 season

It was a good game, both teams played hard, good night and God bless.

Now lets get going on 2007, go ahead and book your hotel rooms for Glendale, AZ!!!

Coming soon we'll have a short Viking 2006 recap, a look at Free Agency and as we get closer we'll talk NFL Draft!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Is the Super Bowl over yet?

I ask this simple question for 2 reasons.

1. I am tired of 2 weeks of talking about the game. Can I hear a little bit more about Peyton Manning and his greatness? Can I hear more about how Rex Grossman is going to lose the game? Frankly I don't care because all of the talking in the world won't matter one bit. The game will be played, both teams are very good and either is capable of winning (except the Bears they have no shot, because they are godless killing machines).

2. I want this season to be over so we can start on next season. Let's get into free agency, the draft, mini-camp, training camp, the regular season, the playoffs and NEXT year's Super Bowl will be much more intriguing than this years.

OK here is the official PKA prediction...
Colts - 31
Bears - 23

The caveat is that if the Bears special teams score a TD, they will win.
Colts - 24
Bears - 27

Kool Aid Drinkers