Okay, so you're thinking to yourself 'uh oh, Ted's about to violate The Terms by taling about religion'. He's gonna be in troooouuuubbbllleeeee.
But no, I'm not, I promise. The Minnesota Vikings have three main beat reporter guys--The Holy Trinity--of Judd Zulgad (Star Tribune enroute to ESPN 1500), Tom Pelissero (ESPN 1500) and Jeremy Fowler (Pioneer Press). I read these guys every day, and I'm going to try and do an early week roundup of what they're looking at and what they're reporting on.
When we get to the regular season, it might become the Tuesday Round Up, or Wednesday, depending on how the week goes. If this isn't received well by you, the reader, we'll come up with something else.
Anyway, The Holy Trinity, with our commentary interspersed in, after the jump.
First out of the gate is Zulgad's mixed bag report on the offense:
The Vikings' first-team offense has played four series and 31 plays over the first two preseason games. That has led to three drives that ended with Chris Kluwe punts and one that Ryan Longwell completed with a field goal.
But with the Vikings learning a new offense and 21 days until the regular-season opener at San Diego, how much stock should be put into the fact quarterback Donovan McNabb has yet to lead a touchdown drive?
He asks a good question. And to be fair, he gives the Vikes credit for the 81 yard drive field goal drive that started on their own two. I've been of the opinion that I want to see improvement every week, and we're getting that. Do that, and the scoring will come. When you try and force the action is when bad things happen. The first pre-season game they looked bad, Saturday they looked better, and this Saturday I'd like to see some more improvement...and no one get hurt. Just using the eyeball test, QB Donovan McNabb seems more comfortable here now than he ever did in Washington, and I don't think that can be stressed enough. He seems to be working with the receivers to get the basics down, like timing, so they're using a lot of short dink and dunk stuff. I know a lot of us aren't fans of that, but if it works, it works. I think they'll stretch it out more as the season progresses, so I can't say that I'm upset with the way the offense has performed overall so far.
He also mentions that this will be a full dress reharsal for the Vikes and the coaching staff in terms of regular season prep. They'll install a game plan, the regulars will play into the second half, and so of course that means if the Vikes are in full dress rehearsal, DN roll out a full Stock Market Report on Sunday or Monday.
Tom Pelissero focuses on the offensive line, cause of most of our worries here in fandom. We all presumed Anthony Herrera, once he returned to practice, would assume his starting role, but TP isn't so sure.
Herrera, who is coming off knee reconstruction and triceps surgery, returned to practice last week and figures to take snaps with the first unit when the team reconvenes on Monday afternoon. But it's not a given at this stage Herrera will make the 53-man roster, much less reclaim the starting job he has held since 2007.
The biggest unknown is how quickly Herrera can return to game shape. Still less than nine months removed from surgery to replace the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Herrera was beaten so badly in one-on-one drills upon his return that coaches gave (Scott) Kooistra all the first-team reps in practice by week's end.
That would be a stunning development, in many ways, and I meant to make a note in the report card about Kooistra. I thought he did okay, and if Herrera can't get back into game shape, he could very well get cut. He's due over $2.5 million, and according to Pelissero, has a cap number of over $3.5 million--and that's an untenable number for a guy that will be a reserve.
He made no mention of Charlie Johnson, who I thought turned in a decent performance. He's not a road grader by any means, but he kept McNabb's blind side protected, and was much better in week two than he was in week one.
Last but not least, Jeremy Fowler doles out a progress report halfway through the pre-season.
His highest grade is for special teams, which he gave an A, and the lowest grade was the secondary, which he graded out with a C. I thought it was too low, but I can't argue with his reasoning:
This group would have graded higher if not for some confusing second-half play, particularly at safety. No defense should allow Whitehurst to complete 11 of his first 12 passes, including one for a touchdown. He kept throwing slants, and the Vikings never adjusted.
Cornerbacks Cedric Griffin, Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook and Marcus Sherels forced quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to dump the ball off and eliminated the deep ball. Cook improved his play after a rocky start, running step for step with Sidney Rice on a go route. And Sherels is really fast, as evidenced by his 64-yard interception touchdown.
What's going on at safety? Husain Abdullah is the only player taking command of a starting spot. Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford failed to make standout plays, and though rookie Mistral Raymond has potential, he's still raw.
And Mark Craig, who will take over Zulgad's beat on the Strib (so we might have to re-name this the Four Musketeers) had this to say about Sherels:
The backup corner that's turned more heads this summer than any other is Marcus Sherels. That's good for the undrafted ex-Gopher, but he's the No. 6 corner on the team. He isn't going to move ahead of Chris Cook or Asher Allen, two young players the Vikings have a lot more invested in. Cook especially needs to start playing like a second-round draft pick. Or like he did last season before knee injuries derailed his career. He has it in him. In this division, the Vikings hope he relocates that ability in a hurry.
I can't say I'm going to get too worked up over the second and third string guys against Charlie Whitehurst, and you could make the argument that the coaching staff was probably using base man or zone coverage to evaluate the cover skills of these guys, but maybe not. I was very encouraged to see Cedric Griffin break up a pass on Seattle's opening series, and Antoine Winfield is Antoine Winfield. Like most everyone else, I saw improvement in Chris Cook, so I'm cautiously optimistic.
And I'm bullish on Marcus Sherels. He stood out at Mankato, and has continued to improve. I think it's interesting that Craig said 'he's the 6th CB', as in, he's got the job locked down. Could he have meant 'the best he can get is 6th'?, as in he's still fighting to get up there and has to beat out someone? If that's so, Asher Allen could very well be on the outside looking in. Cook was a second round pick, and has flashed some talent before he got hurt last year, more than Allen ever has.
Anyway, that's the Holy Trinity/Four Musketeers report for Monday. Agree, disagree, or agree to disagree below.