Vikings Preseason TV Ratings Nearly Double

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 1:39 pm

Vikings preseason TV broadcasts averaged a 19.9 household (HH) rating in 2009, a figure that is 5th highest in the league and represents nearly double the number from the 2008 preseason broadcasts.

This year’s high ratings were anchored by a likely preseason record 30.6 HH rating for the Vikings 3rd preseason game against the Houston Texans, which was the game Brett Favre played nearly 3 full quarters.

Even before Favre’s arrival with the Vikings, the franchise was in high profile after a 10-6 record in 2008 that was complete with a division title. But there’s no doubt that Favre’s presence on the team has increased the franchise’s profile.

The huge increase in preseason TV ratings is only a precursor to what will likely be record numbers in regular season TV ratings as well.

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Sharing The Field Again

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 1:22 pm

Vikings RB Chester Taylor spent the first 4 years of his career sharing the field with Browns RB Jamal Lewis when the pair was in the Baltimore Raven’s backfield. Lewis was the team’s workhorse and Taylor was the team’s #2 back, and together they anchored a Ravens rushing attack that ranked #1 in the NFL in 2003.

In 2006, Brad Childress’ 1st year as Vikings Head Coach, Taylor signed a free agent contract in Minnesota. And although he went on to rush for 1,216 yards in 2006 and then team with Adrian Peterson to form perhaps the best RB tandem in the NFL, Taylor won’t forget the help he got from Lewis while the two were in Baltimore together.

“That’s what veterans do, they help young guys,” Taylor said. “And he did a great job of helping me out as far as pass blocking, reading the runs and reading the holes. He was there for me.”

The same could be said of Taylor with regard to Peterson. When #28 came into the league, Taylor took on the additional challenge of assisting Peterson in his development, following the same approach Lewis took with him in Baltimore.

On Sunday in Cleveland, Taylor and Lewis will share the field once again. During the game they’ll be on opposite sidelines, but Taylor says that before the game he’ll be sure to seek Lewis out and chat with his old teammate.

“Oh yeah, we’ve got to chop it up a little bit,” Taylor said. “We’re still cool.”

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Wade Released, Lewis Added

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 11:07 am

The Vikings have released WR Bobby Wade and filling his place on the roster will be WR Greg Lewis.

Wade led the Vikings in receptions the past 2 seasons, but a combination of factors, including the addition of Percy Harvin, likely led to his release today. With prior stints in both Chicago and Tennessee, Wade may sign with either franchise after Week 1.

Lewis joins the Vikings after stints with both the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. He joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and spent 6 seasons there. In his time with the Eagles, where he spent 3 years (2003-3005) with Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress while Childress was the offensive coordinator there, Lewis played in 90 games, catching 127 passes for 1,699 yards and 7 TDs.

This past March, Lewis was acquired via trade along with a 2010 7th round draft pick by the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2009 5th-round draft pick.  New England later released him.

Lewis joins a WR group that includes Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, Jaymar Johnson, Darius Reynaud and Sidney Rice.

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Report: Vikings Release Wade

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 10:42 am

According to a report from Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Vikings have released veteran WR Bobby Wade. The Vikings have not released a statement confirming the release of Wade and cannot confirm the development.

Jensen also asserts that the Vikings will fill Wade’s vacated spot on the roster with WR Greg Lewis, who has spent time with both the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.

Lewis is a 6-year veteran with 23 starts and 127 receptions for 1,699 yards and 7 TDs.

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Expecting The Unexpected

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 8:26 am

The amount of preparation teams put into playing an opponent each week is voluminous. From Monday through Saturday evening, NFL coaching staffs are continually studying film, charting plays and conducting meetings to become as prepared as possible for Sunday’s game.

That preparation process has an added element of difficulty, or at least uncertainty, to it in Week 1. Rather than looking at film of the opponent’s previous 3 regular season games, coaches are looking at film of 4 preseason games and trying to decipher which of those preseason looks will appear in the regular season. And also trying to envision what looks will show up on the coming Sunday that weren’t put on tape during the preseason.

Add in the fact that the Vikings and Browns are unfamiliar opponents from different conferences, and also the fact that the Browns have a new coaching staff and are still coming together as a unit, and it’s clear to see the Vikings Week 1 preparation is a multi-layered challenge.

“There are some unknowns going into, obviously, the first game, particularly when you play a new staff,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “I know what we have seen in the four games in the preseason, but there is no question that we will see both unscouted looks on offense and on defense.”

There is still another dynamic at play here for the Vikings. QB Brett Favre played for new Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini last year in New York.

“It’s kind of one of those they know that he knows, or he thinks he knows that they are going to do things this way,” Childress said. “So are you playing that card or play the one that you think he’s going to play because he told him this?”

Childress went on to explain that the Browns will have to deal with that same dynamic.

“The flipside of your question is that they have some things in their head that they think they know about number four (Favre) as well,” Childress said. “Some things that I’m sure they want to show and do to him. We will just see. We’ll be a chess master.”

With all of the different elements at play, Childress said the best strategy is to stay true to the basics.

“That’s why I say you go back to system,” the Vikings coach explained. “You don’t want to get caught in a lot of guessing. All you can do is defense what you’ve seen. You can go back and do your history lesson; that’s part of the equation.”

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Favre Impressed With TE Shiancoe

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 8:00 am

Even the most confident and highly-skilled QBs need a safety net from time to time. Facing 3rd and 5 backed down in your own territory? Scrambling from the pocket to avoid the rush and looking for an open man? In the red zone and in need of a big, physical target to squeeze the ball into? The QB tends to look for one guy in those situations -  the TE.

Peyton Manning has Dallas Clark. Philip Rivers has Antonio Gates. Joe Montana had Dwight Clark. And Vikings QB Brett Favre has also relied on his TE over the years, whether it be Mark Chmura or Bubba Franks or even Dustin Keller last year with the Jets.

As he’s transitioned to Minnesota over the past few weeks, Favre says he’s been impressed so far with the Vikings safety net – TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

“By far, physically speaking, he’s as good a tight end as I’ve ever played with, and I’ve played with some good ones that date back to Chewy (Chmura) and the combination we had with Chewy and Keith Jackson,” Favre told reporters on Wednesday.

Favre acknowledged that Shiancoe still has a ways to go to matchup with a player such as Chmura in terms of career production. But the QB also said that, given time, there is “no doubt” Shiancoe can become that kind of player for the Vikings and put up great numbers.

Aside from being impressed with Shiancoe from a physical standpoint, Favre also said Shiancoe is the type of personality that winning locker rooms need.

“To me he is a great personality,” Favre explained. “(He’s) outgoing (and) funny (and) goofy at times. I speak from experience, but I think that’s the type of guys, aside from talent, that make up good teams.

“I think he has all of the tools and I am excited to work with him.”

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Sporting News’ Top 100 NFL Players

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 7:20 am

There is an exorbitant amount of prognostication in the NFL at this time of year. Television talking heads and over-caffeinated bloggers (like myself) are sounding off on which teams will over-achieve, who’s the favorite to win rookie of the year, etc., etc., etc.

But I came across a different kind of preseason activity that was done by Sporting News Magazine – a panel of 106 Hall of Famers, major award winners, executives, coaches and other football experts created a list of the top 100 football players currently in the NFL.

The Vikings tied the Steelers for most players on the list, with 7. Vikings players who made the cut were: RB Adrian Peterson (#3), G Steve Hutchinson (#14), DE Jared Allen (#21), DT Kevin Williams (#30), DT Pat Williams (#47), QB Brett Favre (#51) and CB Antoine Winfield (#76).

A few thoughts on the Vikings who were included:

– Peterson at #3 is understandable. Tough to put him any higher with QBs and perennial MVP candidates Peyton Manning (#1) and Tom Brady (#2) in the mix.

– Hutchinson at #14 might seem a bit too low considering he’s (in my opinion) the best player in the entire league at his position. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Tony Gonzalez (#10), Ray Lewis (#11) and Ben Roethlisberger (#12) and Dwight Freeney (#13), but Hutch would’ve been ahead of those players on my list.

– There are a lot of good players listed from #15 through Allen at #21, but I think the Vikings DE should’ve been ahead of Panthers DE Julius Peppers (#16).

– Kevin Williams at #30 is the one I was most surprised to see. I think that’s far too low for him. The Vikings have had the best rushing defense for 3 straight years and I think he could be the #1 reason for that. I won’t list their specific ranking, but here are the players listed ahead of Williams who I think should be behind him: Walter Jones, Osi Umenyiora, Shawne Merriman, Kurt Warner, Julius Peppers, Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis.

Other notes about the list:

– QBs were the most-represented position with 12 gusy making the list. DTs had 11 and both DEs and WRs had 10.

– Offensive players comprised the top 5 spots.

– Hopefully LB E.J. Henderson will make this list next year. I think he was on the way to making it last year before he suffered his season-ending foot injury.

– QB Mike Vick came in at #98.

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