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The Vikings are a quarter of the way through the season. The early returns are promising
Dear Vikings Investment Customer,
We here at Valhalla Securities appreciate your business, and as required by Federal SB Nation bylaws and regulations**, we present you our Quarterly Report. Inside our prospectus you'll find progress reports on some of our investments, with buy or sell recommends as we progress through the Football Season. We're confident that if you heed these investment strategies, you'll be able to expand your football portfolio, hopefully deep into January.
We might be a little more optimistic than some other sites, but we like what we see so far. You could say that we're walking on sunshine. Take it away, Katrina!
I'm walking on sunshine wooah
I'm walking on sunshine wooah
I'm walking on sunshine wooah
and don't it feel good!!
**Totally made that up. But you probably knew that.
Your Vikings Quarterly Report, after the---damn it, I seriously miss the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks:
The Secondary: I thought the secondary would be better than last year for a couple reasons. One, it couldn't be much worse, two, they were just ravaged by injuries, and three, they drafted what looked to be some pretty decent talent that could help out right away. That said, I didn't think they would be this much better. Through 4 games, the Vikings are a top 10 pass defense, and although Matthew Stafford had over 300 passing yards, there were a couple of big 'yeah but' asterisks to that 300 yard game. For one, they held Calvin Johnson to 5 catches and just over 50 yards receiving. A lot of Stafford's yards came in the 4th quarter, when the Vikings were conceding the underneath stuff to kill the clock, and the secondary has yet to give up a back breaking play...well, except the last 30 seconds of the Colts game.
Josh Robinson and Harrison Smith have been tremendous upgrades in the secondary, and Robinson played a large part in Johnson not having a big day, and he also has the only interception so far this year. But Jamarca Sanford and Harrison Smith laid CJ out and prevented a TD pass, too. Overall, through 4 games, this has been the most improved unit on the team. Speaking of Jamarca Sanford, he's stepped up his game in a big way. I can't say enough good things about this unit so far.
The Offensive Line: The other big question mark entering 2012 was how much better the offensive line would be. We all thought it would be better, but after all, Matt Kalil is a rookie, and Charlie Johnson was moved inside to guard. So far, like the secondary, it's been night and day from 2011. Kalil, Johnson, and C John Sullivan are at worst league average through 4 games, and have stabilized the line. QB Christian Ponder has plenty of time to set up in the pocket and run through his progressions, and the running game has been very good so far, averaging 4 yards a carry.
Blair Walsh, K: When the Vikings drafted the kid out of Georgia in the 6th round, it was a puzzling move at the time. Ryan Longwell was as accurate kicker that had ever played for the Vikings. He had lost some leg strength, but was still deadly accurate, and there were open questions about Walsh's accuracy. Yeah, the Boca Raton Bombardier (c'mon, that is a GREAT nickname, isn't it?) has put all those fears to rest. (Also, he is the first documented person under the age of 50 from Boca Raton, amirite?) He was the first kicker in Vikings history to kick field goals of 50+ yards in three consecutive games, and nailed a 49 yarder against Detroit. He's 9/10 on field goals for the year, and has as many touchbacks on kickoffs in four games than the Vikings have had all season. Boom, as the kids would say.
Percy Harvin, WR/KR: Hey, remember when Percy was pissed off and demanded to be traded? No, I don't either. Harvin has been the main Vikings receiving threat through 4 games, but ironically his only touchdown was on his electrifying 105 yard kickoff return against Detroit. The more I see Harvin play this year, the more I'm convinced the Vikings told him something along the lines of 'shut up, play your game, and we'll reward you in the off season.' So far, Harvin is definitely letting his play on the field do the talking.
Adrian Peterson, Cyborg: Adrian Peterson is a running back unit: part man, part machine. Underneath, it's a hyper-alloy combat chassis, microprocessor-controlled. Fully armored; very tough. But outside, it's living human tissue: flesh, skin, hair, blood - grown for the cyborgs. Listen, and understand. Adrian Peterson is out there. He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are beaten. But opponents still don't get it, do they? He'll find an open hole! That's what he does! That's ALL he does! You can't stop him! He'll wade through you, reach down your throat and pull your effin' heart out!
Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudolph has emerged as one of Ponder's favorite targets early on, and has become a favorite receiver in the red zone. He leads the team with 2 touchdown receptions, and has caught everything thrown his way. He's had trouble getting open consistently, but still, the progress from last season as a rookie to this season seems evident to me. When you try and project this offense three or four years down the road, you can't help but be excited with Ponder, Rudolph, and a probably re-signed Percy Harvin, all entering their prime.
John Carlson, TE: When Carlson was signed, he was supposed to be the 'other' big target in the middle that would cause all these mismatch problems with opposing linebackers and safeties. But Carlson was hurt early in training camp, and has been slow out of the gate. Like, painfully slow. Like, 1 catch for negative yardage slow. Whether by design or circumstance, Carlson has been a complete non-factor in the Vikings two tight end heavy set, which makes it harder for the Vikings to run a two...tight...end...set.
Toby Gerhart, RB: I just haven't been excited by Gerhart's running so far this year. He's just been okay in the first two games, and went all Adrian Peterson 2009 minus the big play explosiveness against San Francisco. Against the Lions, he was pretty much a non-factor, but he didn't fumble. if that's the best you can do, you need to step it up.
Buy: The New Attitude On Defense: Through four games, the Vikings are a completely different defense, attitude wise through four games. They have been solid against the run, phenomenal against the pass, and unlike last year, when they NEED to make a stop, they do, with the one glaring exception against Indianapolis.
Sell: That This Fast Start Is Temporary. In watching the 'experts' on the television and reading their columns on the Internet, most of them think this fast start will fade, and the Vikes are pretenders. They may be right that the Vikings will fade come December, but I don't think the Vikes are the doormat of the NFC North anymore. I've watched most of the games of the Packers and Bears, and the Vikes are playing as well as those teams are right now. Are they better than the Packers and Bear? No, I'm not going that far yet. But can they play with those two teams and beat them? Yes, I believe they can. Since the Vikes don't play the Pack or the Bears until the last five weeks of the season, it's going to be interesting going forward to see how the Vikes stack up come late November. I think they'll stack up well.
Buy: Jerome Simpson Will Stretch The Field. Simpson's first game back after his three game suspension was noticeable for a couple reasons: He made some big catches for the Vikings, and the offense went deep more in the Detroit game than the Vikings did in the first three games combined. His numbers were fairly pedestrian yesterday, but his speed also drew two big PI calls in the game as well. His addition will add a new and diverse dimension to the offense.
Sell: Any Wide Receiver Outside Of Harvin And Simpson Making Much Noise This Year. After four games, I'm just not seeing anything production out of Michael Jenkins, The District Attorney, or anyone else. They'll have their 2 or 3 grabs a game, and every few games one of them might make a big play or get decent yards, but there just isn't a go-to guy in the bunch. If one of the two gets hurt, it could be very problematic.
Buy: The Play Of Linebacker Chad Greenway. Greenway has emerged as a vocal leader on the defense, and has been playing at an All Pro level through four games. It's been fun watching him become the player that he is today, and has been a solid player for the Vikings. Re-signing him was the smart play, and it's nice to know he'll be a Viking for (probably) most of his career.
Sell: The Play Of Linebacker Jasper Brinkley: This is almost back to neutral, though, as Brinkley played a great second half against San Francisco, and had what I think is his best game as a pro against Detroit. You could tell he was rusty coming out of training camp, but he seems to be finding himself in the middle, but I'd like to see a couple more good games before I'm sold.
Now A Word From Investor Emeritus Donald Glover: "If the Vikings play the rest of the season like they have the last two games, they'll go a long way. Of course, if your Aunt had a pair of nuts, she'd be your uncle. She's already got the moustache, though."
I'm probably a little more bullish on the Vikings at this point than most folks are. In all seriousness, I thought 3-1 was doable coming out of the gate, and truth be told, through the first 9 games, 6-3 or even 7-2 is very doable. Come out of the first half of the season plus one game, and I am of the belief the Vikings are a playoff team if they can be 6-3 or better. That's putting the cart before the horse, one game at a time blah blah blah, but I really like this team, and the more I watch them, the more I like.