Last offseason we began posting a vikings.com Mailbag feature each Monday morning to give fans a chance to direct the content of this blog. It was sufficiently successful enough that we continued the mailbag feature during the season, except we moved it to Friday morning’s to give fans an ample amount of time to come up with questions regarding the Vikings upcoming game.
Now that we’re in the offseason and there are no games for which to prepare, we’re going to move the vikings.com Mailbag feature back to Monday mornings. So, beginning this Monday we’ll be posting questions and comments that fans have submitted to me over the past week.
To submit a comment or question, send an email to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that we can’t post all of the questions or comments, but I will respond to every email.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 88 Comments »
For those of you who have sufficiently recovered from last Sunday’s disheartening NFC Championship Game loss or for those of you who just can’t get enough football, this Sunday presents yet another chance to watch some of your favorite Vikings perform on the field.
The Pro Bowl will be played this Sunday in South Florida – site of Super Bowl XLIV – and will feature 5 Vikings. The Vikings had 10 players named to the NFC’s roster, but only 5 of them will appear in the game. The 5 players are DE Jared Allen, special teams ace Heath Farwell, G Steve Hutchinson, T Bryant McKinnie and RB Adrian Peterson.
Because my goal is to objectively cover the Vikings on a year-round basis to give fans an inside look at their favorite team, I stay away from picking favorites or displaying any personal sentiments. But I can’t hide the fact that I’m excited to watch Peterson play on Sunday.
This will be Peterson’s 3rd Pro Bowl appearance in as many seasons, and when you consider the success he’s had in his first 2 all-star games, you’ll see why I’m excited to see him play in his 3rd game. As a rookie in the 2008 Pro Bowl (after the 2007 season), Peterson destroyed the AFC defense to the tune of 129 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries. The NFC won the game 42-30 and Peterson was named the game’s MVP. Last year, Peterson carried the ball 8 times and gained 48 yards while finding the endzone once.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Peterson have another monster game on Sunday. He runs with more intensity than any other RB in the league and I think he’ll have that intensity ratcheted up on Sunday.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Heath Farwell, Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 39 Comments »
Vikings fans who still can’t get enough football but are looking for a distraction from last Sunday night’s heart-breaking loss in the NFC Championship Game have some good news. Former Vikings offensive lineman Todd Kalis has worked with his friend – Dr. Stephen Below – on an interesting book that lends a unique perspective on the NFL.
Read the end of this post for information on a book signing in Minnesota this week.
Kalis’ book is called “Pigskin Dreams: The People, Places, And Events That Forged The Character Of The NFL’s Greatest Players” and it provides readers and football fans with an in-depth look at 22 Hall of Famer’s and what happened in their younger years to help develop them into great NFL success stories.
Kalis interviewed over 55 former NFL players but chose to include the 22 Hall of Famers, many of which will be very familiar to Minnesota football fans – Bobby Bell, Dick Butkus, Paul Krause and Bart Starr, just to name a few. The forward is excellent and is written by legendary NFL head coach Don Shula.
Don’t just take my word of praise on this book. Many high-profile individuals closely associated with the NFL have read it and give it great reviews.
“Playing in the National Football League requires more than physical skill,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “It also takes qualities of good character that lead to success in life—qualities like integrity, perseverance, and a strong work ethic. Pigskin Dreams provides an interesting look into the early lives of some of the best football players in history and the positive influences on their character that helped lead them to greatness.”
An author himself, NBC Sports and MLB Network Bob Costas also enjoyed the book.
“Many of those who have the greatest impact on their teammates, and the game itself, possess qualities beyond mere athletic talent,” Costas said. “In Pigskin Dreams, the personal testimony of many of the NFL’s most impressive figures movingly illustrates that fact.”
As mentioned above, Kalis will be in the Twin Cities area this week for a few book signings. On Sunday, January 31 from 2-4 p.m., you can meet Kalis and pickup Pigskin Dreams at Magers and Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis. You can click here for more information on Magers and Quinns, including directions on how to get there.
Also, you can click here to go to the Pigskin Dreams website to learn more about the book, Kalis and all the work that went into this piece of literature. I’ve read much of it myself and I recommend it for young athletes, parents, teachers and anyone else interested in gaining a unique perspective on some of the greatest players to ever play football and what happened in the early parts of their lives to help develop their character.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 37 Comments »
Adding injury to insult in Sunday night’s overtime loss in the NFC Championship game was the fact that CB Cedric Griffin injured his knee during the overtime kickoff, a play that resulted in Saints RB and returner Pierre Thomas being tackled at the 39 after a 40-yard return and Griffin lying back near the 20 in pain.
I was standing on the field at the time near where Griffin was being attended to on the field and judging by his reaction it was clear the injury was a significant one. Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Griffin tore his ACL. Though vikings.com cannot confirm Griffin’s specific injury, the report meshes with what Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said about Griffin while meeting with reporters on Tuesday.
“I think Ced will end up having surgery here in the next week or so,” Childress said. “He’s got to get some strength back and some range of motion back before they will go ahead and do that surgery. So those are typically six to nine month deals. Everybody heals a little bit differently, so he’ll be right on the edge (of being ready for training camp) I’m sure.”
If Griffin doesn’t get to the point where he can perform at his standard level for training camp, the Vikings might consider placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which will keep him on the roster but will open up another active roster spot for the team to use during training camp and the first 8 weeks of the season.
Having just finished his 4th season out of the University of Texas, Griffin had a career-high 4 INTs in 2009 and stepped up his game in Antoine Winfield’s absence during the season. At 6-0, 203 pounds, Griffin is a big CB and is a fierce tackler who hits hard and loves being physical. He’s also one of the more likable players on the team.
Here’s to a speedy recovery for Ced.
Tags: Cedric Griffin
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 21 Comments »
The #1 question surround the Vikings this offseason, at least until it’s answered, is “Will Brett Favre be back?”
We’ll save our speculation on it for another day and point out instead that Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress told reporters at Winter Park on Tuesday that he doesn’t have a timeline for a decision from Favre and that he won’t be surprised with the future Hall of Famer’s decision either way.
I just visited with him this morning in the training room,” Childress said. “He’s been here for a couple days getting treatment. (He’s) pretty beat up after that game, even though he was not sacked. But we didn’t really have any meaningful conversation about what’s next aside from he was catching a plane to head home late this morning.”
Asked if any delay in Favre’s decision would make planning more difficult, Childress indicated that the tea m would be fine either way in regard to the salary cap and later in the press conference he said the team would address the issue of bringing a 3rd QB with them to camp when they knew more about Favre’s status.
Childress was then asked what his expectation was regarding Favre’s decision.
“I don’t have an expectation,” Childress said. “I know that he had a great experience here. I know it too well to know that the emotions are a little bit raw right now, that we’re still too close to it. He’s earned his time to be able to step away from it and talk to his family and figure out what he wants to do. I don’t have a strong expectation one way or the other. It would not surprise me one way or the other.”
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 114 Comments »
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress met with reporters for his season-ending press conference on Tuesday afternoon, addressing a bevy of topics ranging from the disappointment that remains after Sunday night’s NFC title loss to the future of Brett Favre to building a championship organization.
The Vikings head coach didn’t hide from the fact that coming up one game short of the Super Bowl has harvested gut-wrenching disappointment from the Vikings fan base. But he also pointed out, appropriately so, that the disappointment is also felt within the walls of Winter Park.
“We didn’t achieve our ultimate goal, which is to go to the Super Bowl and win it,” Childress said. “You saw Sunday night how tough those guys took it. I know that everybody in town here takes it tough. We as a coaching staff and players and the organization take it extremely hard, too.”
Childress did a nice job of conveying the underlying sentiment and emotions that currently define the Vikings and their following. But, as a person in his position is called to do, Childress also outlined the positives his team and fan base can take into the coming months and 2010 season.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow and I don’t know that it completely goes away right away,” Childress said. “But as the leader of this football team, it’s important from my standpoint to point out to our guys all the positive things that we accomplished this year, whether it’s in terms of the wins and losses, the division, offense improved, defense improved and I thought we improved in the special teams area. It’s important to point those things out because I think those things get flushed under and really it ends up happening with everybody that’s not the Super Bowl champion; that’s the tough part of this business.”
The Vikings did indeed continue to improve under Childress. The team’s record has improved each year since 2006, including jumping to 12-4 this year after a solid 10-6 campaign in 2008. The Vikings won their 2nd consecutive division title in 2009 and also earned the NFC’s #2 seed, which gave them a 1st-round bye in the conference playoffs and played a pivotal role in the Vikings smashing the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 in the Divisional Round.
The Vikings also improved in several statistical areas, leading the league in sacks with 48 and producing the NFL’s 2nd-highest scoring offense at 29.4 points per game, a massive leap from the 23.7 points per game they registered in 2008. Also, the Vikings kick coverage and kickoff return units saw drastic improvement.
Other significant statistical jumps included the 2009 defense allowing 1.3 fewer points per game and the offense jumping from 17th to 5th in total offense and 25th to 8th in passing offense.
The addition of QB Brett Favre was the impetus behind much of the offensive improvement and it gave the Vikings a heightened sense of legitimacy as they cruised to an undefeated home season, sensational 13-4 record and an appearance in a conference championship game on the road in a difficult environment that saw them in position to win it with just 19 seconds left.
Along with the addition of a 19-year veteran future Hall of Famer at QB, though, Childress also pointed out that a number of young players were involved in the 2009 improvement. C John Sullivan and S Tyrell Johnson both progressed in their 1st full year as starters and rookies LB Jasper Brinkley, WR Percy Harvin and OT Phil Loadholt played key roles in starting positions.
It all adds up to a team that fell short of its goal this year but is also part of an organization that is striving to win a championship.
“I think the message has been consistent – we’re attempting to build a championship organization here and we continue to get closer,” Childress said. “I know it’s unsatisfying, but I know that there’s a number of different guys getting involved. The younger guys, whether it’s the Loadholts, the Harvins, we’re continuing to build that thing.
“This was a fun, fun group to coach and they remained that way, all the way through the season. It’s fun to watch guys compete with each other and for each other. And it’s rare in this business of individuals that you see guys come together and play that way for the whole season. I just acknowledge that everyone’s hurting and at the end of the day a lot of good things that we’re going to take away and build off of.”
Tags: Jasper Brinkley, Percy Harvin, Phil Loadholt
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 55 Comments »
The Vikings held their final team meeting of the 2009 season this morning at Winter Park before everyone goes their separate ways for the offseason. Following the team meeting, the players grabbed belongings from their lockers and spoke with reporters before heading out.
Most of the players were asked first about QB Brett Favre, the season he had and their thoughts on whether he’ll return. Everyone who was asked about Favre’s potential return declined to speculate. But no one was gun shy in proclaiming how much the enjoyed playing with the 19-veteran and how much they noticed he enjoyed playing the game.
“I’ve learned a ton of things about defenses and how to read different situations,” C John Sullivan said. “Most of that stuff has come from him and the coaches, so it was a great situation for me as a young player this year.
“That guy loves this sport and, like I said, it rubs off on everybody else, not that we don’t all love it, too. But he takes it to another level. He has a lot of fun out there and that allows everybody else to have fun, too.”
K Ryan Longwell, who has been teammates with Favre both in Green Bay and in Minnesota, expressed similar sentiments while speaking with reporters. Longwell also mentioned that Favre and the Vikings had an “instant chemistry” once he joined the team and that it kept getting stronger as the season progressed.
WR Bernard Berrian, who had his best game of the season on Sunday night, said that after playing with him it’s easy to see why he’s such a respected player. LB Chad Greenway, who played against Favre for a couple of seasons before Favre joined the Purple, said that however much respect he had for Favre before this season, he has “10 times” that amount now.
Other players spoke to reporters about the message that head coach Brad Childress sent to his players during the team meeting. A big part of the message was about looking forward and not holding on too long to Sunday’s loss. S Tyrell Johnson said one thing he’ll take away from this season is the positives, such as the resiliency the Vikings showed in fighting through adversity and being in position to win the NFC Championship in spite of the odds being stacked against them.
The mood is always somber on this day because it’s the final day this Vikings team will ever be together. While many players will obviously be returning in 2010, everyone in the NFL knows that nothing is guaranteed and that this is, indeed, the final time this particular Vikings team will ever be together. When you’re a 12-4 bunch that was thisclose to advancing to the Super Bowl, this day is an especially hard one to get through.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 307 Comments »
The stories have all been written and the outcome already well-chronicled. But for me, it doesn’t take paragraph upon paragraph of a game summary to characterize the aftermath of Sunday’s night’s NFC Championship Game.
It can be done in one word.
The Vikings 31-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Louisiana Superdome last night is agonizing for several reasons. The Vikings out-gained New Orleans 475 yards to 257. Brett Favre outplayed Drew Brees. Adrian Peterson had a great stat line (25 carries for 122 yards and 3 TDs), but more crushing fumbles. The Vikings had 31 first downs to New Orleans’ 15. We had the ball with 2 minutes and change remaining and 3 timeouts with Favre under center and the game tied.
It goes on and on.
Making matters worse is knowing that this loss will go down in Vikings history with other high-profile, big-game disappointments. The Drew Pearson Hail Mary. Four Super Bowl losses. Gary Anderson’s missed FG against Atlanta. Losing 41-0 to the Giants in the NFC title game. And now we add 12 men in the huddle to the list.
Through all of the disappointment and in spite of the agony, however, one must also credit the Vikings. They had a great season, going 12-4 to win their 2nd consecutive division title and secure a 1st-round bye. Favre had arguably his best season in the NFL. The Vikings dominated Cleveland in Week 1, pulled off a miraculous victory against San Francisco in Week 3, swept the Packers, went on a sensational 3-game tear coming out of the bye, picked up huge wins against the Bengals and Giants late in the season and dismantled the Cowboys in the Divisional Round.
But one trait that defines this Vikings team more than any other is resiliency. The team fought through adversity, from E.J. Henderson’s injury to the “schism” and everything in between. They were -4 in turnover ratio last night and yet had the game won with 19 seconds to play in regulation.
But the loss, and more specifically how the loss occurred, is agonizing.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 297 Comments »
Tonight’s game is in the Louisiana Superdome, but that doesn’t mean Mr. Hippe took the night off.
After careful consideration, the Vikings official weather guru has determined that the internal temperature at the Superdome does not rest of the normal 68 degrees.
With the electricity in the air and the fanfare involved with this game, Mr. Hippe says it’s 71 degrees.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 343 Comments »
Here are the Vikings inactives for tonight’s game against the Saints. We should have Saints inactive players shortly.
QB Sage Rosenfels (3rd QB), WR Jaymar Johnson, RB Albert Young, CB Karl Paymah, TE Garrett Mills, LB J Leman, C Jon Cooper, and DT Latroy Guion.
UPDATE - Here are the Saints inactives:
QB Chase Daniel (3rd QB), CB Malcom Jenkins, LB Anthony Waters, G Jamar Nesbit, TE Darnell Dinkins, TE Tory Humphrey, WR Adrian Arrington, and DE Paul Spicer.
Posted in All | 71 Comments »