Hey, everybody! We are all still alive over here, but as the least exciting off-season in Minnesota Vikings history continues to plod along, there really hasn't been a heck of a lot to say about things, to be honest. So just to let everyone know that we're still here, I'm just going to toss out a few random thoughts for discussion, ridicule, scorn, derision, whatever.
I really haven't mentioned a whole lot from my own perspective about LaDainian Tomlinson passing on signing with Minnesota in favor of going to the New York Jets. The more I think about it, the less surprised I actually am by his actions. LT2 probably sees a real, honest-to-goodness opportunity to still be the #1 guy in New York, while he knew darn well he was never going to assume that role in Minnesota, barring injury. I suppose that when you've been one of the best backs in the league for as long as LT2 has and have carved out a Hall of Fame career, it's hard to make yourself realize that you may not have as much left in the tank as you think. (See also: Smith, Emmitt) Shonn Greene is a nice running back and everything, but really. . .he's no Adrian Peterson. Tomlinson knows that.
I'm actually much more puzzled by this move from a Jet perspective, to be honest. They had an outstanding back in Thomas Jones, who turns 32 this August. Jones had 1,402 yards on 331 carries (4.2 ypc) and put the ball in the end zone 14 times in 2008. Yet the word was that they weren't willing to give Jones the same sort of money they gave Tomlinson. Tomlinson turns 31 in June, and last season gained 730 yards on 222 carries (3.3 ypc) while scoring 12 touchdowns. Now, I know that San Diego's run blocking was pretty atrocious last year, but is Tomlinson really that big an upgrade over Jones at this point?In any event, this really doesn't hurt the Vikings a great deal. To date, from their roster last year, they've lost a third-down running back, a backup offensive lineman, and a cornerback that may or may not still have burn marks on him from various Baltimore Ravens receivers inflicted back in Week 6. Yes, sites like Pro Football Talk might be saying that the Vikings "aren't getting better" and so forth and so on. . .really, what are the Vikings supposed to do? Who are these players that the Vikings are supposed to be throwing money at to make themselves better? Brian Westbrook, who gets a concussion every time you tap him on the shoulder? If I'm the Vikings, I may poke around at guys like Phillip Buchanon for the secondary or Justin Fargas to take a spot in the backfield, but for the Vikings it's pretty much time to focus on the draft, in my opinion.
--Speaking of the draft, Capital J brings up a point about that guy we drafted in the first round last season. There are folks out there that would like to see Percy Harvin take over the role of Minnesota's third-down running back. To which I can only say. . .ugh, no, terrible idea, awful idea, and so forth.
The occasional lining up of Percy Harvin in the backfield is a great idea, certainly. He's a nice change of pace from Adrian Peterson, and he gained pretty significant yardage on running plays last season. That being said, I don't like the idea of lining him up in the backfield more than a couple of times a game, and certainly not in the third down role, where he's going to be asked to pick up blitzes and stuff like that in addition to carrying the ball and catching passes. On third downs, Percy Harvin needs to be lined up wide or lined up in the slot 90-95% of the time. That way, he's putting downfield pressure on defenses, and he's creating mismatches with linebackers and safeties that can't cover him. Putting him in the backfield more than a couple of times a game would make him much less effective, in my opinion.
Yes, Percy Harvin should probably get the ball more often than he does, I think we can all agree on that. Just not in the role of third-down back.
--It's beginning to look more and more like the Vikings are going to be kicking off the regular season schedule with a trip to New Orleans on 9 September. Just doing a quick scan of the Saints' possible home opponents for 2010, the teams that will be traveling to the Big Easy are Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Atlanta. Out of those eight games, there are only two that look to be even mildly intriguing from a network perspective, those being the matchups against the Vikings and the Steelers.
And color me skeptical on this if you'd like. . .but I really, really don't think that the NFL has any intention of putting Ben Roethlisberger into any sort of featured situation any time soon, do you? I mean, putting Roethlisberger on Bourbon Street alone is going to be a hellish enough situation, given his apparent inability to keep his Little Ben in his pants. So, I would be willing to wager that the NFL season opener is going to be a rematch of the NFC Championship Game. Now, let's hope that the NFL gets someone other than last year's Stevie Wonder/Ronnie Milsap/Jose Feliciano-led officiating crew to call this one.
-On a non-football related note, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is a lot of fun. . .but wouldn't it be so much better if we had an antiquated bowl-type system like college football does? Wouldn't that make the regular season mean so much more?
(Hope the sarcasm came through okay there.)
Seriously, I don't watch a whole lot of college basketball these days, but the tournament is still, quite frankly, the best championship process in all of sports. I only filled out one bracket this year (and none for money), which tells you how much attention I've paid to everything. I did almost manage to lose half of my National Championship Game two hours into the early session when Villanova was struggling with something called Robert Morris, but they pulled through. Also managed to pick the Murray State upset over Vanderbilt, too. Overall, I went 10/16 in yesterday's action, losing one Elite Eight team (thank you very much, Georgetown), and having my Final Four (Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova, and Kentucky) intact. How'd everyone else do on Day One?
Oh, and as I type this, our friends over at The Daily Gopher are watching their team in action against the Xavier Musketeers. With five minutes left in the first half, the Musketeers and the Gophers are currently tied at 19.
That's all for now, folks. . .hopefully business will really be picking up again around here sometime in the very near future.