A deep pass that gets caught? What an amazingly novel idea!
"I feel the need. . .the need. . .for SPEED!!" - Maverick and Goose, Top Gun
The biggest splash the Vikings made into the free agent pool thus far has been the signing of wide receiver Bernard Berrian, late of the Chicago Bears. Berrian was widely considered to be the best wide receiver in free agency that was actually going to be available. I say that because nobody was buying into Randy Moss' "availability". . .well, except maybe one guy, but he's retired now.
Berrian played his college ball at the football factory known as Fresno State University. He was Chicago's third round pick (78th overall) in the 2004 NFL Draft, and started for the Bears in 2006 and 2007. Over the course of those two seasons, he's caught 122 passes for 1,726 yards and 11 TD. Keep in mind that he did this with a Chicago offense that, particularly last year, had crappy quarterback play, crappy running back play, crappy offensive line play, and crappy play from every wide receiver on the roster not named Bernard Berrian. I'm sure that Mr. Berrian will quite welcome the opportunity to play with a young, up-and-coming quarterback, a very good offensive line, and the best 1-2 running back tandem in the league.
A big concern about Berrian is that he "drops too many passes." Seriously. . .do people not realize that we've been watching Troy Williamson for the last three years? Troy Williamson is to hands what Lieutenant Dan is to feet. Believe me, Bernard Berrian isn't even in the same ballpark of dropping passes that Williamson is. If you don't believe me, Sean Jensen will tell you:He certainly had a couple of key ones last season. But according to STATS, Inc., Berrian had fewer than six dropped passes. How do I know this? Because STATS, Inc. listed all 22 players in the NFC with at least six dropped passes, and Berrian isn't among them.
Meanwhile, Plaxico Burress of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants caught 70 passes and dropped six. Not sure how many Berrian dropped, but he caught one more pass, and had two more quarterbacks.
So there you go. Doesn't appear that Berrian's hands are all that terrible after all. As far as people being so skeptical about signing him in the first place. . .fans of other teams in particular. . .I'm not sure if they've noticed, but a lot of the Vikings' free agent signings over the past few years have worked out just fine, thank you. If you don't believe me, you can use the following people as references:
Wade, Bobby (to a slightly lesser extent, but he did perform well in 2007)
Berrian is a receiver that's coming into his prime. He turned 27 this past December, and will bring an element to the Vikings' offense that wasn't there last season. Sure, he might "drop some passes," but every receiver drops some. . .in the case of Berrian, since he won't be dropping all of them (like the aforementioned Williamson), the Vikings' offense should open up that much more as a result. His speed allows him to get pretty good separation, and when he does attempt to catch the ball in traffic, he has good enough hands and ball skills to come down with it more often than not. Because of that, Tarvaris Jackson will continue to improve (and he got much better from the start of 2007 to the end, as anyone that actually watched the guy can tell you). In addition, Berrian's ability to get open and make defenses pay will prevent them from stacking 8 and 9 guys in the box on a regular basis, which should allow Adrian Peterson to run wild in that special way that only Adrian Peterson can. Oh, and Chester Taylor, too.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there will be few signings this free agent season that will have the impact on their new teams that Bernard Berrian will have in Minnesota.
One question. . .what number is the new guy going to wear? It hasn't been announced yet, but let's take a quick peak at the numbers in the 80s on the Vikings roster. The Beloved Purple already have players wearing #81 (Visanthe Shiancoe), #83 (Jeff Dugan), #84 (Aundrae Allison), and #87 (Braden Jones). He also won't be wearing #80, as it's been retired in honor of the guy that should be going into the Hall of Fame this year for being one of the five greatest receivers in NFL history. . .nor will he be wearing #88, as it's been retired in honor of Alan Page. That would leave #82 (and, really, after the last guy that wore it. . .does he really want to go there?), #85, #86, and #89. Or he could go with a number in the teens like fellow Vikings receivers Sidney Rice (#18) and Bobby Wade (#19). My suggestion? He should select my personal favorite number:
Looks pretty damn good if you ask me. I'm sure that someone will let us know in the near future. (Although, if you go to NFLShop.com, they are selling a Berrian #80 jersey, as they have apparently never heard of Cris Carter. I don't know if it's one of those things that could turn into a collector's item in the future or not.)
Possibly back later, ladies and gentlemen. Continue enjoying your Sunday!