Tag:Percy Harvin
Posted on: November 2, 2009 5:39 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2009 10:07 pm

Flying High Into the Bye

The Viking Ship - Smooth Sailing

By: Christopher Torola

The Viking's season is officially half way done. After a solid victory over the Packers in Green Bay this weekend the Vikes are now 7-1 and heading into an easy part of their schedule in which they will play home games against the Lions, the Seahawks, and the Bears. If they win those games, which they should, they will have the NFC North all but locked up, and have a clear view at a first round bye come play-off time.

With the bye-week coming up, it seems like a good time for a mid season report card.

Quarterback: Brett Favre - Has exceeded all expectations this year. He has thrown for a league leading 16 touchdowns, while only throwing 3 interceptions, two of which bounced of Vikings receivers hands. There are only 4 QB's with higher quarterback ratings than Favre - Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. Grade: A+

Running Backs: Adrian Peterson - Is second in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, and that is with the much improved Vikings passing game taking away a lot of red zone touches. The numbers are good, but they don't do justice to watching All Day just run through defenders. The only possible complaint with Adrian is that he has been held in check against a few opponents. Look for an even stronger second half from Peterson. Grade: A

Wide Receivers: Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin - Bernard Berrian has been slowed down all year with multiple injuries, and has never really been in sync with Favre. Look for Berrian to play better as he gets healthy and spends more time working with his QB. Sidney Rice has stepped up in a HUGE way, coming in at number 6 overall in receiving yards to date. Rice seems to have his QB's trust and is emerging as a young start in the NFL. Percy Harvin has stepped into the role of an NFL receiver far better then could have been expected. 21 of his 28 receptions have been for first downs, and 3 have resulted in touchdowns. For a smallish receiver, Harvin has proved hard to get down. As a kick returner he is 2nd in the NFL for average yards with 30.7, and has scored twice. Grade: B+

Tight Ends: Visanthe Shiancoe - Shiancoe has score 6 touch downs this year, that is second best in the NFL behind only Vernon Davis. Shiancoe has been an extremely reliable pass catcher the last year and a half and does not look to be slowing down. Grade: B+

Overall Offensive: This years Vikings team is currently 1st overall in scoring, but have played 2 more games then the Saints. The Vikings are an amazing offensive threat this year, despite starting slow in several games at the beginning of the season. Grade: A

The Defensive Line: Ray Edwards, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, and Jared Allen - Minnesota's D-line has done everything the team has asked of them. They are holding teams to under 100 rushing yards per game, and haven't allowed a 100 yard rusher since 2007 (the longest current streak in the NFL). So they are stopping the run. They also have a league leading 31 sacks, including 10.5 by NFL sack leader Jared Allen. The next closest team is at 23, so they are getting to the QB as well. Grade: A

Line Backers: Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, and Ben Leber - EJ and Greenway are the teams top tacklers. Leber has helped out in rushing the QB with 2.5 sacks on the year. The Vikings linebackers play well, but in the zone that they play they end up allowing too many catches, instead of breaking them up. Greenway is the standout so far this year, who has 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles recovered, and should develop into a pro bowl player. Grade: B

Secondary: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Madieu Williams, and Tyrell Johnson - This is the weakness of the Minnesota Vikings, especially later in the game. Good teams have been able to pass on the Vikings. So far they have been able to get stops when they need them, or the offense has bailed them out. The problem with the Vikings secondary is not wholly their fault. When the team builds a league, the coaching staff puts the secondary into a "Soft Zone" to "prevent" the big play, instead allowing teams to march right down the field with intermediate passes. If you'll notice that all of the Vikings starting secondary is near the top of the team when it comes to tackles. To me this means that they are being forced to play off the receivers to stop the long touch downs instead of challenging them to stop the reception. Grade: C.

Overall Defense: It is hard to rank them too low, as they have done enough to win on a consistent basis, and a lot of the short comings are a result of the style of defense the team is asked to play. Grade: B-

Coaching Staff: I think that Brad Childress has done an amazing job as a personal guy since taking over as head coach. His one mistake was Tavaris Jackson, but since then he has brought Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Percy Harvin, Madieu Williams, and Brett Favre to the team. He has also passed on guys like Jay Cutler and Matt Castle. His biggest mistake lately appears to be letting Darren Sharper go, although he wasn't able to prosper in the Vikings style of defense under Leslie Frazor. All that being said, I do not like the Vikings red zone play calling at all. Too often the will get into the red zone and give Adrian Peterson a break for a couple plays. This is when the team seems to end up settling for far too many field goals. The Vikings are tied for 4th in the NFL for 3-pointers. It is hard to be too hard on Chilly when the team is winning, but until they learn to put together a game plan that allows then to close out a game, the best grade I am willing to give is... B-.


Here is to another amazing half of football and a deep run into the play offs... S'kol Vikings, Let's S'Kol!


Posted on: September 28, 2009 1:41 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2009 6:33 pm


The Viking Ship - Week 4: Hey Packers, Remember this guy?

By: Christopher Torola

If you're a Viking, Packer, or just plain good football fan this game has been circled on your calender since #4 put on that purple jersey. Before we look at the match up, it is probably a good idea to remind those in Green Bay why they miss Favre. Two weeks ago the Packers were marching down the field in the last seconds of a game against the Bengals. They had no time outs but Aaron Rodgers was leading the way, moving the team down field for that final shot at the end zone. They came up short. Now jump forward to yesterday, week 3, the Vikings against the 49ers. In a game that San Francisco had been able to hold Adrian Peterson in check, or at least as much is possible with Adrian Peterson. The Vikings have 89 seconds, no time outs, and 80 yards to score. Brett Favre and team masterfully work their way up the field, taking what the defense is giving them. With 12 seconds left on the clock Favre scampered to the right and threaded the needle to the Greg Lewis, who made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone, dragging his back leg for the score and the win. Lewis is 5th on the Vikings' wide receiver depth chart and was only in the game because of an injury to the punt returner Darius Reynaud.

By now we have all seen the "We'll never forget you Brent" T-shirts. Yes I know that says Brent, thats the joke. Its funny to me when I hear those who referred to Favre as "the best quarterback ever" talk about how washed up he is. Admittedly, it's also fun to hear all those Vikings fans starting to fall in love with him after a lifetime of distain. At least I can stand by what I always said when he wore the Green and Mustard, "I can't stand him, but I would love him if he played for my team."

This Monday night we get to see for the first time, Favre taking on his old team. This will be an interesting game with plenty to watch. 

- Brett Favre against the Packer's poor pass defense. There is currently only 5 teams in the NFL that have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Packers. You have to imagine that they will be salivating to get picks on their old QB. If this causes the corners and safeties to try jump some routes, it could lead to big plays, and Favre proved last week that he can still throw the long ball.

- The Metrodome vs Green Bay QBs. Favre had some of his worst games at the Metrodome early in his career. Aaron Rodgers' first game at the dome didn't go so well either. He was 15-26 and only 142 yards and no touchdowns. The game was still close thanks to 3 Green Bay picks, one for a score, and a Packer's punt return for a score. That being said, Aaron Rodgers is starting to blossom into one of the elite QBs in the NFL. Look for a possible big game out of Rodgers in what could possibly turn into a high scoring affair.

- Adrian Peterson vs the Pack. His first game against the Packers he was hurt and ended up missing time. His last game he went for 225 total yards including the game winning touchdown. Peterson has been somewhat kept in check the last two games. This year the Packers have given up only one score on the ground, but are near the bottom third in the league when it comes to rushing yards allowed. Look for another big game from Peterson, as the Packers may focus too heavily on Favre.

- The continued maturation of Percy Harvin. After his 101 yard kick off return for a score, Harvin is the first Viking to score a touchdown in his first 3 NFL games. Yes, that is something that Randy Moss did not do in his record setting rookie year for the Vikings. Brett Favre was quoted as saying, "It's pretty electric when he gets it. You just need to find a way to get the ball in his hands." When your quarterback feels that you need to get the ball in your hands... it's a good thing.

- Ryan Grant vs the Williams Wall. If I am not mistaken, Ryan Grant was the last player to run for 100 yards on the Vikings, Nov. 11th, 2007. Grant has only 3.7 yards a carry so far this year and may not pose much of a threat, but when looking at rivalry games like this you never know what to expect, and the Vikings run defense has shown some signs of weakness lately. 

- Vikings O-line vs the Packer pass rush. It should not be overlooked that the Vikings have guys on the line that are first year starters... and it is showing. Favre has ben sacked 9 times this year, and has been hit seemingly every third pass play. Green Bay has only 5 sacks this year, but may have their ears pinned back for a chance to get their hands on the Silver Fox (Jarred Allen's nickname for Favre).

This has the makings of a great game, and should be hyped up all week... at least once the sports shows are done hyping up the game winning drive. I expect this to be a close game, but the home team should prevail. Look for Adrian Peterson to attempt to exert his will on the big Monday Night stage. 

Posted on: September 17, 2009 7:45 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2009 8:05 pm

The Viking Ship - Week 2

The Viking Ship - Week 2: Just Don't Beat Yourself

By: Christopher Torola

Last year the Minnesota Vikings only beat one divisional opponent twice... the Detroit Lions

This appears to be an easy 2-0 to start the season for the Vikings; however, there should be some fear of a let down. The game is in Detroit and last year the Lions could have easily have been 2-0 against the Purple. In week 6 at the Metrodome they Vikings took the lead on a fourth quarter field goal near the end of the game, and were only in position to kick due to a controversial pass interference call.

Then in week 14 the Lions either shared or held the lead again until a 4th quarter TD pass to Visanthe Shiancoe. The two teams then traded field goals to give the Vikings a 4 point victory. 

In the two games last year the Vikings outscored the Lions by only a total of 6 points. That being said, I do not think the Lions will win. If the players take them as a serious opponent, the Vikings should crush the Motor-City-Kitties. If I am not mistaken, the Vikings are 11 1/2 point favorites this week, not that i endorse gambling. My biggest concern is that the Vikes will go into this game thinking that they won't have to work for the win.

Some this to watch... Starting with concerns.

- Brett Favre has yet to throw a pass 25 yards down field. He had one 21 yard completion to Percy Harvin. His only other deep attempt resulted in a pass interference call. The concern here is Favre's health, although it is more likey just a case of more time needed to get familiar with his receivers. If he still throws little in a game against the Lions defense that allowed 6 touchdown passes last week, there may be some cause for concern.

- Heath Farwell is on the injury report due to hamstring soreness. He has been limited in practice. This is not good news for a Vikings special team squad that set a record for Touchdowns allowed last year as well as giving up a punt return for a score last week. The Lions did record an 87 yard kick off return and a 43 yard punt return against the Saints last week, although neither resulted in a touch down. 

-Calvin Johnson vs a young Viking secondary. Johnson is going to be a great receiver. He has yet to have a quality QB throwing to him, but has still put up amazing numbers. Look for the Vikings to try to contain him with a double team. If Johnson finds holes in the zone, he has the ability to put up big yards after the catch.

Now for the fun things to watch.

- Adrian Peterson. Currently on pace to rush for 2,880 yards this year, the NFL's 6th 2,000 yard rushing season is not out of the question. It will be fun to watch A.D. all year as he puts up monster numbers on his way to what may be a hictoric season, especially this week against a terrible Lion's defense. The list of backs to rush for 2,000 includes O.J. Simpson '73, Eric Dickerson '84, Barry Sanders '97, Terrell Davis '98, and Jamal Lewis in '03.

- Brett Favre and Percy Harvin. Up until this point it seems that Harvin is fast becoming one of Favre's favorite targets. This could make for an interesting year for the young wide receiver.

The match up between these two has reminded me a lot of another aging Vikings QB and rookie wide receiver. In 1998 the Vikings called back a retired Randall Cunningham to take control of a talented team, with a great offensive line (Jeff Christy, Todd Steussie, and now Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel all made the pro-bowl that year). They also drafted a talented wide receiver with a late first round draft pick who only fell to them because of a history of legal issues. Randy Moss went on to set the rookie record of 17 touchdowns that year.

While I don't see nearly as many touchdown passes due to the prolific running game of Adrian Peterson, I think we may see teams realizing they made a mistake when assessing Harvin's character issues (such as being stupid enough to smoke pot while knowing he was going to be drug tested at the combine). Maybe not to the degree that team's who passed on Randy Moss or Adrian Peterson because of injury history, but teams like the Radiers, 49ers, and Eagles who drafted wide outs before Harvin may end up wishing they hadn't done so. I am guessing that San Francisco (who has yet to sign Michael Crabtree) already wishes they hadn't.

- The Vikings defense against a rookie QB Matthew Stafford and poor offensive line. Going into the season Bleacher Report rates Detroit as the 32nd worst O-line out of 32 teams. This should be a good oppurtunity for the Vikings elite defensive line to score some sacks as well as forcing rookie QB Stafford into some bad throws. The Saints picked the Lions off 3 times and recorded one sack last weekend, and the Vikings should fair much better.

Here is to a great chance at beating the Lions to get to 2-0 this weekend... as long as the Vikings don't beat themselves.

Posted on: September 9, 2009 8:07 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2009 11:58 pm

2009 Vikings, what to watch...

2009 Vikings, Big Changes From Last Year

By: Christopher Torola

This Sunday the Vikings will play their first meaningful football since their playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and a lot has changed. Since then the Vikings have a new starting Quarterback, two new starting Offensive Linemen, some key players coming back from season ending injuries, a new starting Safety(sort of), and a potential play making rookie to handle kick returns among other things.

These personnel changes include some big steps forward, as well s some possible steps back. First off, the good.

In case you missed it, Brett Favre is now a Minnesota Viking. With #4 under center the Vikings now have a legitimate NFL starting quarterback for the first time since Daunte Culpeppers big year. Farve, although new to the team, is already familiar with the Vikings offense, which is pretty much the same as he ran all his years in Green Bay. If this is the upgrade it appears to be we could see the Vikings offense open up. It has always seemed that the coaching staff never had faith in Tavaris Jackson, as they limited his reads and did not have him call audibles pre-snap. Now we should hopefully see more consistency from #1 receiver Bernard Barrian as well as the continued improvement of Visanthe Shiancoe; however, the biggest improvement may come from an already spectacular Adrian Peterson. Since his rookie season, opposing defenses have constantly stacked the box against the run when facing the Vikings. If teams attempt to keep 8 in the box against the Vikings, Favre should be able to find plenty of one-on-one match-ups with wide receivers and tight ends to exploit.

The Vikings have two big time contributers coming back from injuries this year. Middle Linebacker E.J. Henderson missed most of last season with toe injuries. Prior to that his play was amongst the best at his position in the NFL. In 2007 he lead the team in tackles. Special team captain Heath Farwell is also back from a season long injury. Many in and around the organization believe that the loss of Farwell last year was a major contributing factor to the Vikings special teams allowing an NFL record 7 touchdowns.

The Vikings also used their 1st round draft pick to acquire Percy Harvin. They plan to use Harvin to return kick-offs, despite never doing so in college. He will also see reps as a wide receiver, running back, and even Quarterback in the Wildcat formation. From the brief glimpses of Harvin seen in the pre-season he should easily be an upgrade as a return man. He was able to catch some balls from Favre. It does seem that the Vikings plan to design some plays to get him the ball, possibly like Reggie Bush in his rookie season or Ronnie Brown last year.

With the positive, there are also some potential set backs.

The "Williams Wall" (Pat Williams and Kevin Williams) have yet to serve a suspension for violating the leagues banned substance policy. It is likely that the issue will be resolved during the season, which could lead to missed games for the Vikings Pro-Bowlers.

Second year safety Tyrell Johnson will attempt to fill the shoes of 4 time Pro-Bowler Darren Sharper, who signed a deal with the Saints this off-season. Johnson did start last year when Madieu Williams missed time due to a neck injury. The Vikings seem to believe that Johnson is ready to handle the job, as they made no attempt to resign Sharper.

To me the biggest and least discussed concern may be the changes at the Right Tackle and Center positions. Neither John Sullivan or Phil Loadholt has taken a meaningful snap in the NFL. Last year the Colts started 2 rookies on the O-Line and dropped from the #5 rated offense to #15. The good news for the Vikings though, is that unlike the Colts of last year, neither Loadholt or Sullivan is starting due to injury. Loadholt has outplayed Ryan Cook to earn the job. Sullivan has been groomed to take over at center, and the Vikings must feel that he is ready. They had plenty of time to make a deal to keep Matt Birk in Minnesota, as he was looking for a contract extension since the beginning of last year. Both players will need to be successful for the team's overall success, as the team will remain a run first offense.

There is no doubt that this team will compete for a play-off spot at worst, and if they are able to gel on offense and improve on special teams, this year's Vikings could be the one that finally wins them their first Super Bowl.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com