Rumour Mill Tuesday – LT, CT, Randy and other random buzzcocks.

Good morning nation, I hope I find you all well this morning. And me? Well I’m nursing my usual caffeine fix, and wondering how, when I started this blog, I thought vikingsuk was a good url… I mean I was going for Vikings UK, because I’m a limey, and I like the Vikings, but in my post-colonial naivety, I failed to notice that really my site sounds more like a P*cker lover paradise. Having had a few people point this out to me, I have managed to change my twitter account to something more suitable, but sadly this page remains a nice fat *facepalm* moment in my blogging career. So let me be clear, it’s Vikings UK not Viking Suk, I love the Vikes, but I can also see how my url might have suggested I was a gimptarded cheesehead.

Right, with that out of the way it’s time to wade into the quagmire of speculation that has arisen this morning. After very little yesterday the rumour busses have all arrived at once serving up a mixture of pure drivel and interesting opinions.

I’ll open with something which caught my eye yesterday saying Chester Taylor Is On The Move , well actually it doesn’t say that, it’s just a cheeky eye-catching headline but there is heavy speculation on his future and our options should CT fly the nest particularly in the draft, and also on how his possible departure could affect the mileage of AP. As I said yesterday, I don’t expect Taylor to stay, the grass for him can be a lot greener on the other side, the only thing it could come down to is whether he doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to AP in a big team, or whether he wants to be a bigger fish in a smaller team.

With CT likely to leave, and the news yesterday that LaDainian Tomlinson has left the Chargers, it didn’t take long for his name to be touted around as a new backup to Purple Jesus. Offering their takes on this today are danzinski on Viking Age and Adam Warwas on Vikings Gab, and both bring some interesting points to the table. The former is for the most part against the move, citing in particular the injury prone nature of the former Charger, whilst Warwas offers up a more balanced point of view with both the pros and cons of any potential trade.

In my humble opinion we should leave LT alone despite any benefits we may get in terms of trade options, keeping CT whilst unlikely should be our priority. The thing is that Chester Taylor is our Toyota Camry, no frills, but nice and reliable. On the other hand, Tomlinson is a Ferrari 355, a legend of its time, but now only good for the occasional thrill before it breaks down and costs a fortune to repair.

Also on Viking Gab yesterday, Warwas touched on the Semi-Annual Randy Moss Rumours. Courtesy of Mike Florio at PFT, it appears Moss wants out of New England and they seem willing to let him go to free up money for other players. There’s some interesting stuff from Warwas again, pointing out that it could well be the icing on the cake to entice Favre back for another year, though it would also be likely to cost Berrian his place in the team. There is no doubt that Moss is a quality receiver, but he also carries the risk of his ego, and whilst Berrian was quiet for most of the season, he did pick up his game in the playoffs. I think Moss would be a good acquisition if the opportunity were to arise, despite the apparent risks, but there is a lot which has to happen before the team can even consider signing him. In an ideal world perhaps, but at the moment my gut says it’s not going to happen.

So there we have it, try to keep CT, steer clear of LaDainian “Ferrari Cake” Tomlinson, and snatch up Moss if the 12 moons of Saturn align. Oh sweet, sweet rumours, caress me with your foundation free guff.

And it doesn’t stop there, because adding his hot air to another rumour is Linebacker, Ben Leber, which brings us to today’s FAVRE WATCH!

Yes, not content with just letting the man enjoy his billboards in peace, is Leber whose gut is producing some good vibes and noxious fumes:

“I think my gut feeling is that he is gonna come back, and I hope my gut is right. A respectable timetable is to let us know as early as possible.”

Yes Brett! Please make up your mind soon for the sake of Ben’s gut, it’s just not been the same since he went over to Jared’s ranch for a BBQ and went for the Veggie option!


My Top Ten Moments of the Vikings’ 2009 Season #10 – And no news is no news

Well it’s the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and I couldn’t give a toss about it. My prediction for the game? Colts 54 – Saints shouldn’t even be there… Oh yes, it’s still raw, I’m still bitter! Now due to the fact that there is little or no news to report on today, I’m going to bash out a quick FAVRE WATCH, and then give you something a little different from my usual news roundup.

And that’s it for Favre watch… yeah it’s THAT slow this morning!

Now I don’t know many Vikings’ fans in London, probably because there aren’t that many. But the ones I have spoken to, like me are not over the Saints game, and I don’t think we will get over it for some time. Over the coming months (perhaps even years) the pain should fade away and simply be replaced by a bitter taste in the mouth. But short term, I think we all need reminders that we support the greatest team in the NFL.

This is why, over the next 10 weeks, I’m going to run down my top 10 moments from this season past. You can feel free to disagree with my choices and the order they go in, but hopefully they will all bring back some great memories, and fill your hearts with Purple Pride.

So here it is, number 10:

Adrian Peterson in Week 1 @ Cleveland

The start of the 2009 season was  filled with optimism. We’d signed the former talisman of our greatest foe, and he was said to be the missing piece in our puzzle. The team who could dominate on D, and run any team ragged could now pass too, and so in week one as we made our way over to Cleveland to take on the somewhat useless Cleveland Browns, the eyes of the world were fixed on one man. And whislt they were wondering whether the old man still had it, another man on the field that day showed everyone why you should never ignore him, ever, period!

The game certainly didn’t start how we’d intended it to. Tied 3-3 at the quarter, a one yard TD from Peterson didn’t prevent us going in 10-13 behind at the half. But All Day added another score in the 3rd, another 1 yard run, and was closing in on another 100 yard game. But all this came as no surprise for Vikings’ fans, and when Favre connected with Percy Harvin on a 6 yarder it seemed like the headline writers had their story in the bag… then this happened:

A 64 yard touchdown, the likes of which you’d be luck to see once in a lifetime. Peterson took a handoff from Favre, and ran to his left, and suddenly was past the 1st down marker to the 50 yard line, where he juked left, and left a defender for dead, and then ran on, but suddenly cornerback Brandon McDonald grabbed hold of Adrian’s ankle, and another cornerback, Eric Wright was closing in. Peterson was going out of bounds, no way he was getting out of this one… But if AP has one thing going for him, it’s his Purple Jesus Super Mega Powers, and before anyone knew what had happened, his legs were free and he’d shrugged off Wright like he wasn’t there. Finally back up to speed, and with a timely shove on McDonald by Sidney Rice, Peterson was in the end zone, and I was speechless!

This moment was special for so many reasons. First of all, AP’s fantasy score was off the charts and got me a win in week one. Secondly it showed Brett Favre that he wasn’t going to have to take on the whole weight of expectation from the Vikings’ faithful, which made him all the more lethal as the season went on. And last of all, it was a thing of pure footballing beauty; athleticism, speed, and strength, it was just stunning.

Peterson may have fumbled the team out of the Super Bowl, but this was a moment of brilliance, and should give us hope because if he can fix his carrying, then he should be able to then concentrate on ripping defences apart like he did against Cleveland in Week 1.

Enjoy your Saturday everyone! Fingers crossed for John Randle and Cris Carter who are still in the mix for the NFL Hall of Fame. Back at full news strength tomorrow.

Favre is battered and bruised and more critical assessments of the Vikings’ O-Line!

Good Morning Vikings Fans!

Usually I’ll end my post with the daily FAVRE WATCH, but today it only seems right that I open with it. At some point yesterday, pictures started appearing of what is claimed to be Favre’s leg and his ankle following the Saints game. They are not for the faint hearted!

So it’s a tip of the hat to the Silver Fox, quite how he managed to play through that I don’t know, but it certainly puts a lot of athletes (particularly soccer players) to shame when you hear them moaning about breaking a nail. Brett Favre, Ironman extraordinaire, we salute you!

And the man himself will be making an appearance at this year’s Super Bowl… at least during the 2nd quarter commercial break, playing a 50 year old version of himself to advertise Hyundai’s 10 year warranty!

And finally in the Star Tribune, there’s an article on the financial impact of Favre this season, and the implication of whether he does or doesn’t return for another year.

And that’s your FAVRE WATCH for today…

Yesterday, I picked out a very negative view of our O-Line, and since then I’ve found a couple more views on why it should be one of our top priorities this offseason.

On Bleacher Report, Randall Granlund picks apart our starters, particularly McKinnie and Loadholt, and really hits home to everyone reading why it is so important that these concerns are addressed. He also suggests that we should switch from a zonal to man system which would make our boys a lot more effective. For me the key to our offence is keeping Peterson productive because he can control games. Favre was able to orchestrate big plays to get us back into games, but in the clutch, we need All Day to be productive and not wondering whether the line is going to make a hole for him to run through.

There’s also more heat on Bryant McKinnie, Andy Rarick reckons we need to get rid of the guy, and makes a very convincing argument, though I still doubt whether anyone at this point would be willing to take him off our hands, unless he really starts to make amends for his Pro Bowl boo boo!

I do wonder whether these stinging verdicts on our O-Line would have been as intense, had McKinnie just pulled out properly from the Pro Bowl or just shut up and played. But I guess we’ll never know. The O-Line has been sub par, particularly towards the end of the season however, and it is hard to deny this when you look at the beating Favre took against the Saints, and the reduced productivity and increased frustration on the part of Adrian Peterson. I am willing to give most of the players a little more time to improve. Sullivan in particular is still playing in the shadow of Matt Birk who was legendary at centre for us, and will have learnt a lot from this season. Time will tell on this matter, and the draft will shed some light on Chilly’s plans for the O-Line next season.

There’s been more talk about Tim Tebow, and why he’s the perfect fit for the Vikings. Now living in the UK, I don’t get any College Football, so all I really have to go on is what the press says. As a result I’m going to avoid assessing our draft options and instead try to give the best overview of them based on what I find around the web, so expect a compilation of mock drafts in the coming weeks. But that said, it is an interesting opinion on Tebow, who has gone all over the place in draft orders that I’ve seen so far, and there is no denying that with or without Favre, we need a prospect for the future. Could Tebow be that man?

And last of all this week, Tiki Barber has been giving his opinions on Adrian Peterson’s fumbling problems. His main piece of advice is that All Day needs someone to tell him that he needs to fix this, an authority figure who can hammer the point home, much like Tom Coughlin did with Barber. So come on Chilly, do your stuff!

And that’s it for today. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking a look at the results of my poll on the QB v Stadium situation. Once again, have a vote if you haven’t already, and feel free to comment if you think there is something else more important than either of these issues.

Season officially over, Chilly takes the rap for the 12th man, and my 10 points to put the Vikings on the road to recovery.

The weather has gotten awful cold in London these past few days. The mittens are on, the scarf is out, and the sleeping bag is opened up as an extra duvet on the bed. But I’m pretty sure it’s a lot colder in Minneapolis.

With a few days to digest everything that had happened, not only on Sunday but throughout the season, Brad Childress took to the media podium for the last time this season, to dissect Sunday’s loss and look ahead to 2010.

Unsurprisingly the main talking point was, what the Star Tribune has dubbed “The 12th-Man Game”. Chilly was very open about what had taken place, and took responsibility for what had happened, a very noble thing to do considering that this could haunt the team for many years to come.

It appears that going into the time-out there were 2 conversations that took place about the upcoming play:

“The initial conversation was about a personnel grouping with a tailback and a fullback and we ended up settling on a tight end, three-wide type of operation and we had the fullback in the huddle.”

Fahu Tahi was that fullback; and with a short timeout, Brett Favre communicating with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, and the other coaches “over communicating with their position group”, Tahi (who was apparently squatting on the other side of the huddle) was never spotted.

“That’s my mistake…  It hurts a great deal and it hurts everyone a great deal. So, I’m disappointed that it happened.”

This could well be the defining moment of Childress’ career. We had a chance of making it to the big game, and instead it put the team under enormous pressure which resulted in the interception, and as a result, we couldn’t even give Longwell a shot of making a field goal to seal it. But it wasn’t the sole reason we lost, and this is why I think Childress taking responsibility can help the team recover.

The loss wasn’t because of one giant mistake, it was a collection of many, and if the whole team can accept that, then we have a chance of moving on, keeping the locker room spirit that was so powerful this season, and challenging again next year.

But there is a lot that needs to change if we are to, so I’ve come up with a 10 point plan which can help the Purple come back next year:

1) Adrian Peterson needs to fix his fumbling problem. He can do this by living up to his nickname “All Day”. As in he needs to carry a football with him all day throughout the off season, and every time he drops it, he loses that weeks wages. But let’s not make it too easy for him. Let’s set the Vikings’ running backs coach Eric Bieniemy on him, and for every time he can make him fumble the ball, he gets the lost wages as a bonus.

2) Get Favre signed up as soon as possible. If we can’t sign him, we get someone else. I’m not totally sold on McNabb, but as my previous blogs have said, I don’t trust Tavaris or Sage to make the coffee, let alone a touchdown pass when it’s really needed.

3) Put the O-Line up against our D-Line, only their mammas are at QB and they have to protect them from Jared Allen and Ray Edwards. They did not protect Favre enough on Sunday. True he was never sacked, but he got hit hard enough to make him consider whether he’d actually make it through another season alive.

4) Improve the secondary. Nuff sed.

5) Keep the team together. There has been so much talk about not only how good this team was, but how much spirit there was in the locker room. We lose anyone and it could destroy this, and then we’re really up the creek.

6) Sort out the new stadium. I love the Metrodome, it may be old and crumbling, but it is a terrifying place to come to if you’re the visitors, as out 9-0 record testifies to. But time is running out on a new pad, and it is another pressure factor on the team if they’re wondering where they’re gonna be playing in a few years. And I for one would like to have an outdoor stadium. I never went there, but I hear the old Metropolitan Stadium was the coldest most inhospitable place on earth. Bud Grant refusing our team heaters on the sidelines because the fans didn’t have them really created an extra bond between the team and fans, and I think an outdoor stadium could be just as effective as a noisy dome when it comes to crushing the spirit of the opposition. But right now I’d take anything as a new home, because the thought of the Vikings moving away from the Twin Cities is too much to bear.

7) Pick wisely in the draft. This goes without saying really, and we’ve had a couple of good drafts recently, but with 30th overall, our chances of picking up another Percy Harvin is slim. We should know more about what we need once Favre Watch ends, but one suggestion I heard was to draft QB Tim Tebow from Florida. His stock has dropped a lot recently so he could still be available, and with no real future at that position, with or without Favre, he could be a good addition. But then again, our secondary needs beefing up, and with rumors that the Patriots are interested in Chester Taylor, a new RB might be on the menu too…

8) Find some way of improving our road record. Go train overseas for a few weeks (come to London!), go somewhere that is unfamiliar and outdoors, we could have sealed home field if we hadn’t lost to teams we should have beaten on the road last year (Chicago, and Carolina in particular).

9) Further to improving All Day’s ball retaining skills, we need to make sure he gets his 2000-yard-a-season mojo back, and isn’t too disheartened by this year’s problems. The O-Line wasn’t as sharp without Matt Birk at centre, and if they can make a few more holes in opposition D’s then our offence could be even more deadly next year

10) Keep the faith. This season wasn’t a disaster. It was magic! Pure magic, and whilst the magic ran out, it was one hell of a ride, and it will be remembered more for that than the 12th-Man Game.

And finally this week it’s time for FAVRE WATCH

Day 3: Brad Childress wouldn’t be surprised “one way or the other” if Favre decided to retire or re-sign, would you like a cushion for that fence you’re sitting on?

Tiger Woods’ “wife”, Elin Nordegran is taking refuge at the Favre ranch to avoid the media spotlight, though personally I think the White House would have been more low key at this particular point  in time.

And, Tony Romo is going to replace Favre at the Pro Bowl. So that now means my chances of watching the Pro Bowl is about the same as me surviving 5 seconds of a Shakira record.

Until tomorrow…

Vikings miss out on another Super Bowl – Not the best way for me to start out

Good afternoon Vikings fans in the UK, good morning to fans in the US, and welcome to my Vikings UK Blog. I decided to start writing this because, plain and simple, I love the Vikings, but I’ve also noticed a distinct lack of dedicated Vikings blogs out there especially from a UK perspective. Over the past 3 or so years that I’ve been supporting The Purple, I’ve come to rely on a  few newspapers and the NFL for all my Vikings goodness, but it just isn’t enough any more (especially after last night). I needed a personal blog, a fans point of view, and having been unable to find many myself (not saying the ones out there aren’t good mind you), I’ve decided to start my own. But enough of that, I’ll talk more about my journey as a fan of the Vikes over the coming months.

Now I wish that I could start my blog on the highest of high notes, writing about how with 19 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter with the score tied at 28-28, 11 men stepped out onto the battlefield of the Superdome, ran a couple of yards, and setup a 48 yard Ryan Longwell field-goal which flew gracefully between the uprights and sent the Vikings to their 1st Super Bowl in 33 long years.

I wish I could, I really do. But I can’t. Because, with 19 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, with the score tied at 28-28, we put 12 men out on the field, 12 men broke from the huddle, and as a result we were penalized 5 yards. The following play saw Brett Favre roll out to his right, and with a good 5-10 yards of open field (and Bernard Berrian) in front of him to run into, he instead threw across his body to Sidney Rice, and was intercepted by Tracy Porter at the 22.The game went to overtime, the Saints drove right up to the Vikings’ 22 and then 23-year old Garrett Hartley connected with a 40 yard field-goal to send the Saints to Miami where they will face the Colts for the Super Bowl.

This was my first “exposure” to the bitter disappointment which has befallen hundreds of thousands of other Vikings’ fans across the globe. I know this is gonna hurt for quite a while, but my love for the Purple is still there, and I know that after last night, it will never fade.

The thing is that we played the better football. We totalled 475 yards on offence, we got four touchdowns, and we came back to tie the game twice against the #1 seed in the NFC in their own backyard. We outplayed them; the only unfortunate thing is that we also outplayed ourselves. We turned the ball over 5 times which you can’t afford to do in any game let alone in the NFC Championship. We did blow our change of ending a run of 4 (now 5) consecutive NFC Championship losses. But, and it’s a big but, we can walk out of Louisiana with our heads held high. For the past 17 games (it would be 18 if we’d actually turned up against the Chicago Bores) win or lose, we’ve been the talk of the NFL, we’ve been the team which has inspired in the NFL, and we’ve been the life of the NFL. The 2009 Minnesota Vikings will be remembered in the history of the game, and not because of our tragic loss last night.

Our team, led by the 40 year old, former Green Bay P*cker Brett Favre has been electrifying. From the last minute Greg Lewis catch against San Francisco, through the missed Ravens FG by our former kicker Steve Hauschka, right up until Garrett Hartley sealed our fate last night, we’ve lit up the league, and our team has carried, in the words of ol’ Chilly, the “Heart of a Champion.”

It is for this reason that I think we can all be proud of our boys and optimistic for the future. This team is still capeable of reaching the big game next season, the hunger is there, the passion is there, and quite possibly a certain Silver Fox will be there.

Yes, he did what so many predicted, even at the start of the season, throwing the game away with his final action, but after last nights heartbreaker, the battered and bruised figure of Brett Favre lumbered his way up onto the podium for the post-game press conference and looked like he’d just been in the ring with Mike Tyson and a Bengal tiger. He was clearly a broken man, both mentally and physically. Over the course of the game, the Saints hadn’t sacked him once, but they hit him, and hit him hard, a total of 11 times! He didn’t lose us the game, the team lost the game (with a little help from the officials). And for many out there who want to blame Favre, just try and think about where we’d’ve been without him this season. Nowhere is the answer.

Favre says that he needs some time to think about whether he’s going to don Purple again next year, but “[he] wouldn’t say months” so let’s all keep our fingers crossed over the coming weeks. The cynics can roll their eyes at the old man, but he needs the time. Who wouldn’t after a game like that? Pat Williams says he’s 50/50 for next season, and I can’t blame him either. But I get the feeling that they will both be back. Despite the loss, and the pain the team are feeling I still get the impression that there is an unbreakable spirit between the players, and I think they will want another shot at that which has elluded the Vikings since they first stepped out onto a field.

So here ends my first post. It is my aim to update this blog at least once a week with all the latest news from the Purple World, and to hopefully fill the empty void which now awaits us until football season kicks off again. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations.

I leave you with one final question: