What 2 Watch 4 Against The Bills

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 3, 2010 – 7:18 am

Last week the Vikings broke their 9-game road losing streak with a win over the Washington Redskins and this Sunday they have a chance to win consecutive games for the first time in 2010. The Buffalo Bills come to town and a potential 2-game winning streak is just one of many statistical achievements to watch out for Sunday – here are a few more…

– Sunday’s game will be Leslie Frazier’s first opportunity to lead the Vikings in a home game at Mall of America Field. Frazier is 1-0 as the interim head coach.

– With a sack, DE Jared Allen can move into a 4th place tie in NFL history for the most sacks in the first 7 seasons. Allen has 79.5 since entering the NFL in 2004, which ranks 5th and trails Leslie O’Neal’s 80.5 (1986-93). With 1.5 sacks, Allen can tie Richard Dent’s (1983-89) 81.0 for 3rd.

– K Ryan Longwell can move up the NFL charts for career FGs made. Longwell currently ranks 16th in NFL history with 334 FGs made. He can tie George Blanda (335) for 15th place with 1 FG.

– RB Adrian Peterson needs 1 rushing TD to move into a 7th place tie in NFL history for the most rushing TDs in the first 4 NFL seasons. Peterson is currently 9th with 48 career rushing TDs and trails Jim Brown and Maurice Jones-Drew, who both had 49 in their first 4 years.

– With 15 receiving yards, TE Visanthe Shiancoe can pass Stu Voigt’s 1,919 career receiving yards as a Viking, which ranks 2nd in team history. Currently Shiancoe has 1,905 receiving yards.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 11 Comments »

Vikings-Cardinals Subplots

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 5, 2010 – 6:06 am

The main storyline of this Sunday’s Vikings-Cardinals matchup is that a pair of 2009 playoff teams with losing records will meet at Mall of America Field to try and get their season back on the winning track. Both Minnesota and Arizona won their respective divisions last year and both teams also won a playoff game. Clearly, both teams are not in the same form through 7 games this season, but on Sunday one of them will notch another win and get their season moving in the right direction.

There are several other smaller storylines to keep an eye on this Sunday. Let’s go over a few of them…

– If the Vikings win, it will be the team’s 17th win in the last 20 regular season games at Mall of America Field. The Vikings are 16-3 at home since the beginning of the 2008 season and 10-1 since 2009, including 8-0 last year.

– If the Vikings win, it will be head coach Brad Childress’ 40th team victory (including playoff s).

– With 73 receiving yards, TE Visanthe Shiancoe can move into 3rd place in team history for the most career receiving yards by a TE. Shiancoe’s 1,750 receiving yards trail Joe Senser’s 1,822.

– RB Adrian Peterson needs 1 TD to move into 9th place in NFL history for the most rushing TDs in the first 4 NFL seasons. Peterson is currently tied for 10th with 46 career TDs and trails Larry Johnson’s (2003-06) 47. Peterson also needs just 57 rushing yards to move into 9th place in NFL history for the most rushing yards in the first 4 seasons. Peterson has 5,260 rushing yards and trails Walter Payton’s (1975-78) 5,316 for 9th and Eddie George’s (1996-99) 5,365 for 8th.

Tags: ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 135 Comments »

Missing Piece? Shiancoe Could Help Offense Return To Form

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 21, 2010 – 7:56 am

A season ago TE Visanthe Shiancoe was a go-to threat for QB Brett Favre and the Vikings offense. He had a career-high 56 catches and 11 TDs, with each of his scores coming in the red zone. This year, though, the passing attack has yet to take its true form and as a result Shiancoe hasn’t seen as much action.

Through 5 games, the Shiancoe has 13 catches for 197 yards and 1 TD. Last week against Dallas he was shutout and he now has 3 total receptions over the past 3 games. The 6-4, 250-pound TE has developed into a talented receiver for the Vikings and when the passing offense gets back on track and produces as it did in 2009, Shiancoe will be a big reason why.

While over the past 2 weeks one can argue the addition of WR Randy Moss to the offense has taken looks away from Shiancoe, an even stronger argument can be made that as the offense continues to improve and gel Shiancoe will become more of a factor. He is an exceptional technician and route runner who can take advantage of mismatches in the middle of the field and down the seam. Moss’ addition as a down-field threat who commands double-teams will assist Shiancoe in finding those mismatches.

“It’s a matter of us putting him in a position to be a prime look on certain passes,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “Now I always say, you can be looking at somebody as a prime guy and if he’s gloved or he’s being covered by two people it has to go elsewhere. We can do a better job of that, putting him in better situations.”

This week’s game against Green Bay might present one of those better situations Childress referenced. Surely Green Bay’s priority will be to stop RB Adrian Peterson from establishing the run and then also prevent Moss from torching them deep down the sidelines. As a result, Shiancoe could be in-line to see some of those mismatches that led to a great season a year ago.

On top of all that, statistics indicate that Green Bay has had trouble containing opposing teams’ TEs in recent weeks. Miami’s Anthony Fasano had a 22-yard score last week, Washington’s Chris Coolley had 7 receptions for 69 yards 2 weeks ago, Detroit TEs combined for 154 yards on 14 grabs and in Week 3 Chicago’s Greg Olsen had 5 catches for 64 yards and 1TD.

Now, Green Bay is obviously aware of these facts and will scheme against Shiancoe. They’ve had mixed results against the Vikings pass-catching TE in the past, holding him to 4 total receptions in 2009 but also yielding a TD in each game.

It will be interesting to see how the Vikings try to integrate Shiancoe into the offensive attack going forward. If they can do it successfully, the offense will be one step closer to regaining its 2009 form.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 29 Comments »

Vikings, Moss Reunite

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 6, 2010 – 9:59 am

For the last several years, fans have wished for it. For the last 15 hours the entire sports world has buzzed about it.

And now it’s official.

The Vikings have reached a deal with the New England Patriots to acquire WR Randy Moss, a 6-time Pro Bowler who began his career and took the NFL by storm with the Vikings in 1998.

The acquisition of Moss is a sensational move for the Vikings. But the addition is as much about substance as it is about style. Moss will be a good fit with the Vikings because of his ability to stretch defenses and haul in downfield passes from QB Brett Favre.

Inserting Moss into the lineup immediately provides Favre with a downfield target who has made a career out of burning defenses over the top. The Vikings passing offense has been slow-to-go so far in 2010, but the Vikings will look for Moss to change that quickly.

It didn’t take Moss long to make an impact when he first joined the Vikings in ‘98. A key element in the Vikings record-setting offense that season, Moss hauled in 17 TDs and 1,313 receiving yards along the way to earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Expecting an impact that dramatic in 2010 might be a bit ambitious, but the Vikings don’t need Moss to provide such gaudy numbers. The offense features superstar RB Adrian Peterson as well as pass-catchers such as TE Visanthe Shiancoe and WRs Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin. Each of those players has a niche in head coach Brad Childress’ offense, but Moss brings that downfield element which has lacked so far this season.

Much has been made about the Vikings challenging stretch of games in October, where they will hit the road to play at the Jets this week, return home to play the Cowboys and then head back out on the road for back-to-back games against the Packers and, yes, the Patriots.

So the addition of Moss comes not a moment too early and it’s just another example of the Vikings commitment to bringing a Super Bowl victory to Minnesota.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 72 Comments »

Vikings Back From The Bye

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 4, 2010 – 4:29 pm

The Vikings returned from their bye week on Monday and went right to the practice field as they get set to resume their 2010 regular season schedule.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress expects his coaches and players to get away and freshen up their minds during the bye. But what does he expect from them as they return to work?

“It’s important that they have a fresh attitude, fresh outlook and that they come out here and don’t forget everything they knew before the bye,” Childress explained to reporters after his team’s practice. “I thought we had a pretty crisp practice today, just kind of getting back in the saddle. I just look for them to come back with the right mindset, come back ready to work, come back ready to improve, not to come back and just hang out. We’ve got work to do.”

Childress said the Vikings would be back at Winter Park practicing tomorrow and then the players would have their day off on Wednesday. The normal schedule of Wednesday being the beginning of the work week for the team is pushed back a day because the Vikings next game is on Monday night. That means Thursday will be a typical Wednesday, with Childress and QB Brett Favre holding their press conferences after practice, and then Friday will be a normal Thursday, and so on.

There’s not a whole lot to update injury-wise. WR Percy Harvin told reporters after practice that this is the healthiest he’s felt in a long time and Childress said TE Visanthe Shiancoe and C John Sullivan stayed around the facility during the bye to treat their injuries; he said both players are making progress.

Tags: , ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 56 Comments »

Favre 2 TD Passes Away From 500 In Career

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 19, 2010 – 9:45 am

A few hours from now the Vikings hope to celebrating their 1st win of the season. But there could be another reason to celebrate after the game as well, with QB Brett Favre on the verge of setting another career milestone.

Entering today’s game against the Dolphins, Favre has 498 career TD passes. A quick math check tells me he needs 2 more to reach 500 for his career and he would of course be the 1st QB to ever reach 500 career TD passes. Also, Favre is quickly approaching 70,000 passing yards. With 69,500, he is just 500 yards shy of becoming the 1st NFL player to throw for 70,000 yards.

Here are a couple of other Vikings milestones that are within reach today…

– With 220 passing yards, Favre will move into 2nd place in team history for the most passing yards in the first 2 seasons as a Viking; he currently has 4,373 yards, trailing Fran Tarkenton’s 4,592 from 1961-62.

– With 6 points, K Ryan Longwell will move into 6th place for most career points in team history. Longwell has 451 points since joining the Vikings in 2006; he trails Bill Brown’s 456.

– With 99 receiving yards, TE Visanthe Shiancoe will move into 4th place in Vikings history for most receiving yards by a TE; Shiancoe’s 1,561 yards trails Jermaine Wiggins’ 1,659.

Tags: ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 3 Comments »

Shiancoe Says Offense Will Learn From Thursday Night’s Loss

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2010 – 12:11 pm

The Vikings offense in 2009 was the NFL’s 2nd-highest scoring unit and averaged just short of 30 points per game. In the 2010 season opener, though, points weren’t flowing as freely for QB Brett Favre and Co.

The Vikings went scoreless in the 1st quarter and then posted 9 points in the 2nd quarter. But New Orleans found a way to shut the Vikings out in the 2nd half and come away with a 14-9 win, a far cry from the offensive output both teams’ offense had in last year’s NFC Championship Game.

Despite the struggles, Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe sounded optimistic following the game that his team’s offense will eventually find its stride in 2010.

“We left a lot of plays out there obviously,” Shiancoe said. “This is an explosive offense and there’s a lot of things we can take and learn from this. It’s just the beginning of the season, one of sixteen games. So we have a lot of football left. This is nothing that’s going to get us derailed from our goal of the Super Bowl. It’s nothing we’re going to panic over or really get distraught over.”

Shiancoe was the Vikings leading receiver in Thursday night’s loss, hauling in 4 receptions for 76 yards and tallying the Vikings lone TD – a 20-yard grab in the middle of the endzone. But regardless of his performance, he knows that the coming days will provide some productive meetings in the film room.

“We definitely left some plays out there on the field,” he said. “We’re going to have a good film session tomorrow.”

Shiancoe did point out a couple of positives, most notably that the offensive line, RBs and TEs were solid in protecting Favre; he was sacked once on the night. And ultimately that’s what the next week or so will be about for the Vikings – taking positives away from the game but also learning from mistakes in an effort to regain the offensive form that helped lead the club to 12 wins a season ago.

“We always have room for improvement,” Shiancoe acknowledged. “This film session is most likely going to be filled with things that we can learn from. A lot of plays were left out there on the field. And that was from things that I’ve seen out there. So I know that after we watch the film, we’re going to be pretty disappointed at the things we left out there. At the same time, it’s going to be a building process. So we can get a lot of good out of this.”

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 157 Comments »

Vikings Work Through Sweltering Heat In AM Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 9, 2010 – 11:01 am

The Vikings practiced for approximately 2 hours on Monday morning as the final week of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp is officially underway. Temperatures were in the low 80s but it felt much warmer because of the humidity, but that didn’t prevent the team from having a solid practice.

“It was a hot one out there,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said to reporters following practice. “But that’s a great thing for the players. It gave them an opportunity to fight through the heat and the main thing that they need to do is focus on their assignments, focus on what they were doing, and I think the guys did a nice job of that. They were sharp in their assignments and it shows that they had some mental toughness.”

Bevell’s offense was without some key players on Monday morning. WR Sidney Rice remains on the PUP list and the following players were also not practicing – Percy Harvin (personal), RB Darius Reynaud (leg), G Anthony Herrera and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

Instead of fretting about the missing starters, Bevell instead pointed out that it provides an opportunity to see other players perform.

“There are a lot of young guys and some younger veterans even that are getting opportunities to show us what they can do,” Bevell said. “That’s what’s going to happen in a game. You’re only going to have so many guys. If one guy isn’t there, if you’re starter isn’t there, someone’s got to step up.”

Bevell mentioned C Jon Cooper and WR Logan Payne as guys who’ve seen increased reps because of starters missing time. Rookie OL Chris DeGeare is another player who’s seen increased reps. He plays LG when Steve Hutchinson is out of the lineup and then on Monday DeGeare played RG in place of Herrera.

Bevell was also asked about Harvin, who has missed extended time this training camp as he grieves the loss of his Grandmother. Bevell said there is no timetable on a return for Harvin and he also said that he’s not too concerned about the absence because Harvin takes good care of his body and is a hard worker.

The Vikings will practice this afternoon from 2:45 p.m. to 4:05 p.m. The team was in helmets and shoulder pads this morning, so I’m anticipating they’ll be in shells and helmets this afternoon.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 2 Comments »

No Love For Shiancoe In NFL Network’s “Best In The Biz” Series

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 7, 2010 – 9:48 am

On Tuesday we pointed out that Vikings G Steve Hutchinson topped Jamie Dukes’ list of the best OL in the league, as the NFL Network debuted its “Best in the Biz” series. But today there are no Vikings to point out as the series moved on to identify the top 5 TEs in the NFL.

Charles Davis was charged with the task of pointing out the NFL’s best TEs, and his list went as follows: #5 Vernon Davis and Jermichael Finley, #4 Dallas Clark, #3 Jason Witten, #2 Antonio Gates and #1 Tony Gonzalez. I argued in Tuesday’s entry pointing out Hutchinson’s place among the top 5 OL that Shiancoe deserved similar consideration among his position group, but Davis obviously doesn’t agree.

I have no issue with Davis’ top 4 TEs, but I do think an argument can be made for Shiancoe to be placed ahead of Davis and Finley. Shiancoe finished the 2009 season tied for 4th in the NFL with 11 TD receptions – which set a team record for most TDs in a single season by a Vikings TE – and he now has 18 TDs over the last 2 seasons, which is 1st among all TEs during that time and tied for 3rd-most among all players.

In addition, Shiancoe is a true professional who is known for a tireless work ethic and extensive post-practice routine. He’s also never missed a game during his 7-year career, playing in 112 regular season games and 5 playoff contests.

With all of that said, I know Charles Davis and respect his football opinion. The NFL is deep at the TE position and I’m sure there were other tough decisions Davis had to make.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 11 Comments »

Hutchinson Given Top Billing By NFL Network’s Dukes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 6, 2010 – 8:21 am

The NFL Network is doing a “Best in the Biz” series, which will take a look at the league’s best players at every position. The series kicked off on Monday with analyst Jamie Dukes going through his top 5 OL.

As you can tell by the title of this entry, Vikings G Steve Hutchinson was #1 on Dukes’ list. The 7-time Pro Bowler is an appropriate choice for the top of this position group and it’ll be interesting to see how other Vikings, such as DE Jared Allen, QB Brett Favre and RB Adrian Peterson, fare in the Network’s series.

Here is a list of guys who, in my opinion, are worthy of top 5 billing at their position: Allen, Favre, K Ryan Longwell, Peterson, WR Sidney Rice, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, DT Kevin Williams and CB Antoine Winfield. What do you think? Did I leave anyone off this list? Or is there someone on the list who shouldn’t be there? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below this entry.

You can watch the 1st installment of NFL Network’s Best in the Biz series by clicking here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 11 Comments »