Tag:Brett Favre
Posted on: September 23, 2009 9:31 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2009 12:49 am
 

Running Back Showdown... Sort of.

The Viking Ship - Week 3: Time for a Challenge?

By: Christopher Torola


Sure we have only seen 2 games, and Adrian Peterson looked human against the Lions, sorta... but the Vikings won the game and he is still on pace for what I am determined to call his historic 2,000 yard season. That being said, the 49ers have given up the 3rd fewest yards this season. Of course, neither of the Seahawks or the Cardinals have a back the caliber of Adrian Peterson... see Julius Jones and Tim Hightower.

Some things to watch this week.

- Frank Gore against the Vikings run defense. The Vikings have been a top defense when it comes to stopping the run for the past few years. Last week the Lions ran for a combined 129 yards, although a single rusher has not ran for over 100 yards since 2007. Last week Frank Gore ran for a ridiculous 207 yards. If the Vikings can hold down Frank Gore they should dominate this game, and they will most likely concentrate on stopping the run, making Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis, and Isaac Bruce step up to win the game.

- The Vikings Red-Zone offense vs. the Vikings coaching staff. I guess I shouldn't argue with the recent success, but when it is 1st and goal on the 5, just hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson until the refs signal touchdown. I am not a fan of watching the Vikings best player come out for a breather at the stripe while Chester Taylor attempts to finesse his way in or Favre tries to complete a bunch of 3 yard passes.

- Adrian Peterson vs. Patrick Willis. Willis is the reason that the 49ers are averaging about 50 yards a game given up on the ground, and he will be focusing his attention on Peterson this weekend. If I were a betting man, my money would be on Peterson. The Vikings are at home and will establish the run.

- The turnover battle. The 49ers have 3 interceptions and 3 force fumbles in just 2 games. Favre has yet to throw a pick as a Viking, but old habits die hard. All Day's biggest problem in his young career has been a case of fumbleitis. If the Vikings aren't careful, they could give San Francisco a few short fields to work with.

All things considered, I see the Vikings remaining undefeated, but I will admit that I am bias and will most likely not be predicting a Viking loss until they already have one under the belt on the season.

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.

Posted on: July 10, 2009 3:01 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2009 7:35 pm
 

My Top 10 Quarterbacks going into 2009.

Top 10 QBs

By: Christopher Torola


 Drew Brees - Is the NFL's answer to the spread offense. Last year he threw for over 5,000 yards and connected for 34 touchdowns. Since arriving in New Orleans it has seemed that Brees and head coach Sean Payton have been completely on the same page. This year Brees should also have a healthy Marques Colston and a full off-season to work with tight end Jeremy Shockey. Combine that with an O-line that only allowed 13 sacks in almost 650 passing attempts along with the fact that his running back, Reggie Bush, is a better weapon catching the ball than he is rushing it and you end up with the NFL's top QB heading into the 2009 season.


Peyton Manning - is always at or near the top of current QB lists. His ability to dissect defenses at the line mixed with a strong arm and the sure hands of Reggie Wayne, along with blossoming new comer Anthony Gonzalez, make Peyton my number two QB for this year. He is several years removed from his 40 touchdown days, but still has one of the best O-lines, is another year removed from his surgery, and what has to be an improved running game will only help his passing numbers this year.

Philip Rivers - Broke the 4,000 yard mark for the first time last year. As LaDainian Tomlinson declines, Rivers has begun to take the reigns as the team leader. AT 27 he is still a young QB. He has a great competitive drive that may come off as cocky, but he is developing a game to go with it. He led the NFL in passing touchdowns last year totaling 34. The only concerns here are that uber-tight end Antonio Gates is another year older, Vincent Jackson doesn't have the surest hands, and Chris Chambers hasn't really lived up to expectations... but that, like his unorthodox throwing style, hasn't stopped Rivers yet.


Kurt Warner - is another year older, but does that really matter when you are tossing the ball to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin? Last year he proved that he could still throw for 4,500 plus yards and 30 touchdowns, and all that was done with no running game to speak of. He got his team almost as deep into the play-offs as possible. He is likely to start performing at a lower rate some day, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise.

Ben Roethlisberger - Has never had amazing numbers, but did throw 32 TD's in 2007. He also just won his 2nd Super Bowl and is only 27 years old. He is as clutch as they get, thats right Brady. He may also be the games best playmaking QB. As a big man he is able to keep plays alive much longer then they should be. Team that with a rocket launcher arm the the ermgence of Santonio Holmes and you have Big Ben, number 6 on my QB list.

Tom Brady - Although some may think me crazy for putting him this low on the list, I had a hard time putting him this high. He is coming off of a serious knee surgery, and was already not very mobile. It may also take him some time to recover his throwing strength and rhythm.  That being said, he still has Randy Moss and Wes Welker to catch the ball. He has always made good reads, and he knows how to win. I doubt he will ever throw 50 again, and i can almost guarantee he won't hit 40 this year, but his history is too good to place him any less then 6th on my list.

Donovan McNabb - Has consistently been one of the NFL's best passer. He has also consistently been hurt. He has also consistently had little talent at the wide receiver position since the infamous departure of Terrell Owens. He made it to the 2nd round of the play-offs last year with the help of always steady Brian Westbrook and new comer DeSean Jackson. As long as Westbrook continues to catch the ball out of the backfield, Mr. Chunky Soup will remain a top flight QB.


A Healthy Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking. This may be the Viking homer in me, but I am basing this off a few things. If he plays for the Vikings, that means his surgery was a success. When healthy last year with the Jets he still looked like a top QB. The year before he took the Packers to the NFC championship game. Playing for the Vikings he would be souronded by talent in a great O-line, Bernard Berrian, emerging tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and rookie play-maker Percy Harvin. Combine those players with the NFL's most explosive running back, Adrian Peterson, and Vikings receivers should see a lot of single coverage. Put all that together and old number 4 comes in at number 8 on my list... and that is only because he may not actually play.


Aaron Rodgers - had a few extra years of study behind Favre and in his first season as the starter, it has seemed to pay off. He threw for over 4,000 yards and connected for 28 TDs. He also ran for 4 more. If he improves his red zone offense he could be a force to be reckoned with. I still feel he is at least a year or two away from becoming one of the top passers. In all fairness, I despise the Packers and had a hard time including Rodgers on my list, so he may be lower then he should be.



The number 10 spot falls to Tony Romo. It may just have been an off year where he missed a few games due to injury, but he also lost his best receiver in Terrell Owens. Some say the Owens loss is a good thing, but look what has happened to other QBs the years following his departure. Romo did get Roy Williams, but he has never been T.O. That leaves Jason Witten as Romo's top target, and eventually opposing defenses will learn to double team him. I would have ranked Romo higher, but he always has a second half crash, and until he can prove he can handle the pressure, he will stay in my top 10, just towards the bottom of it.
 
 
 
 
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