Discussing Rhys Lloyd And Taking The Easy Way Out

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 22, 2010 – 7:50 am

It might be a slow news time in the NFL calendar, but that doesn’t keep Vikings fans from thinking about their favorite team. That’s one great thing about covering this team – there is rarely a truly slow time with nothing to talk about and there is never a shortage of fans with passion (and opinions) for the Vikings. In bold text below is an email I received from a reader and it’s one I wanted to post on the blog and respond to because it provides a great starting point for discussion.

Hey Mike – In an earlier 5-part series you covered players that you felt would have to be difference-makers in the upcoming season (Gaining the Extra Edge – Lito Sheppard, Bernard Berrian, Antoine Winfield, Ryan Longwell and Chad Greenway). As with some other readers, I felt you took the easy way out and did not truly address the unknowns. One in particular is our acquisition of Rhys Lloyd to be a kickoff specialist. This, in theory, will create more touchbacks (i.e. less returns and worse starting field position for opponents). Last year, Longwell had 98 kickoffs with only 5 TBs, in comparison to Lloyd who had 72 kickoffs and 21 TB’s! The Vikings offense has the potential to score every time we touch the ball and the last thing we need after a quick score or long drive is the defense to get pinned back and give up a quick score. Correct me if I am wrong, but during the 1998 season, one major advantage I remember was Mitch Berger kicking off and teams constantly taking a knee and starting at the 20-yardline. This can take a serious toll on opposing teams and it’s the reason I believe Lloyd should have been one of your difference-makers. What is your take and what have you seen of him lately?
— Emile A.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

This is a great email from Emile and it’s one I wanted to post and respond to on the blog. Even though Emile levied a slight criticism of our Gaining The Extra Edge series, I appreciate her (and all of your) opinion because the idea behind posting a series such as Gaining The Extra Edge is to promote discussion on the blog and keep all of us talking about Vikings football, even in the offseason.

First off I want to say that I didn’t take the easy way out with the Gaining The Extra Edge series by not addressing lesser-known players. The point of the series, as I stated when introducing the series, was to identify members of the “supporting cast” whose production (or lack of production) will significantly impact the Vikings 2010 season. With that as the premise for the series, it was hard to justify (in my opinion) including a guy such as Asher Allen or Tyrell Johnson in the series because, quite frankly, their level of production won’t be as significant as other supporting cast players, such as Berrian, Greenway or Winfield. If Allen or Johnson don’t play well, there are other players on the depth chart who can be called upon. If Greenway or Winfield don’t produce, I’m not sure how well the Vikings would be able to recover from that.

But, with all of that said, Emile’s point remains a solid one. Lloyd, I believe, will be an important factor in the Vikings season. His addition represents a change in philosophy for the Vikings because in order to have Lloyd on the active game day roster, the Vikings lose another player who likely would’ve played in multiple phases of the game. The trade off is less roster flexibility for a better chance at touchbacks/improved kick coverage.

I agree with Emile that the addition of Lloyd could be key to another successful Vikings season. He was impressive during some of the offseason and OTA workouts I saw, displaying a powerful leg and frequently pumping balls to and through the endzone. I’m looking forward to watching him play this preseason and potentially taking a roster spot as a kickoff specialist for the Vikings.

Here were some thoughts I had on the Lloyd acquisition back in early March right after the Vikings signed him.

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