Well, that was fun, wasn't it?
Oh, you've probably noticed that this is not your regular Stock Market Report writer. See, Ted apparently has a house full of "family" with whom he's enjoying "fellowship" and somehow managed to miss most of today's contest. So, I have agreed to step in for him on this occasion because, hey, everyone loves the SMR. I'm just hoping that I can do it justice.
It's been a pretty rough season for the Minnesota Vikings thus far. If you've been paying attention over the first twelve games of the year, you know that already. But, much like Ted said in last week's Stock Market Report, today gave you a pretty solid feeling that things are moving in the right direction for the Minnesota Vikings, and that there's a very bright future to be had here. After all, if someone had told you that this team was going to lose (at various points) Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt, not to mention all the drama that has been surrounding this team this season, there's a good chance you probably wouldn't have put them at five wins with four games left in the year.
When you consider how much the team has been through this season, plus what it appears we as Vikings fans have to look forward to in the future, I sort of think that life's been pretty good overall. Right, Mr. Walsh?
My Maserati does one-eighty-five
I lost my license, now I don't drive
I have a limo, ride in the back
I lock the doors in case I'm attacked
Your "Special Guest" version of the SMR follows:
Blue Chip Stocks
Everson Griffen, defensive wizard, special teams guru, and all around BAMF: I'm sure that Ted has said this at some point in this space before, but remember when Rick Spielman was all crazypants for giving the "unproven" Everson Griffen a dump truck full of money this off-season? Yeah, what a dope, am I right? Griffen helped in the Vikings' barrage of first-half shots by scooping up Jasper Brinkley's blocked punt and rambling 43 yards for a score to give the Vikings a 21-3 lead, and when it came time for the Panthers to go into "we need to throw all the time" mode, Griffen got to Cam Newton twice and just generally harassed him all afternoon long. He now has 11 sacks on the season, and has more than justified the Vikings' investment in him so far.
Adam Thielen, hometown boy that done good: When a guy gets the big trifecta (blocked punt, recovery, touchdown), he gets a spot in the "blue chip" category, as far as I'm concerned. Thielen's alertness let him find the ball laying right next to him after the first block of a Brad Nortman punt, and he took care of the rest from there, giving the Vikings their first touchdown off of a blocked punt since Issiac Holt did it in October of 1986 against San Francisco. And hey, it was his first NFL touchdown. Gotta give the guy some props for that.
Teddy Bridgewater, blossoming quarterback: Yes, Bridgewater's numbers from Sunday aren't going to blow anyone away. . .he didn't even throw for 150 yards. But he did complete 15-of-21 passes, didn't make any egregious mistakes, and continues to get better with each passing week. These final four weeks of the season are going to be huge for #5's development, and he took a very solid first step on Sunday against Carolina.
The Minnesota secondary: This unit just continues to get better and better every week. Sure, there's the occasional slip-up (witness Harrison Smith sort of leaving Josh Robinson out to dry on Philly Brown's touchdown reception, something he got an earful from Mike Zimmer for), but man. . .maybe Mike Zimmer really is the "secondary whisperer" or something. Xavier Rhodes just continues to get better every week (he did a hell of a job against his former college teammate, Kelvin Benjamin), and given where they came from in terms of production, this secondary is light years better than they've been any time in recent memory.
The receivers not named Cordarrelle Patterson: Bridgewater finally connected on a "deep ball" on Sunday, and it was Jarius Wright on the other end of it. Charles Johnson continued to impress, snagging a couple of key receptions to keep drives alive. Greg Jennings got open a few times and made a couple of very nice moves en route to a touchdown at the end of the first half to give the Vikings a 28-6 lead going into halftime. It's weird. . .it's almost like the more time Teddy Bridgewater gets with these receivers, the better the chemistry is. Is that generally how that works? I think it is.
Cordarrelle Patterson, I don't even know: Full disclosure. . .after the game, Mike Zimmer said that Patterson had missed some time this week to attend a funeral. I don't know if you'd need two hands to count all of the offensive snaps that Patterson was in the game for, though he was in on kick returns all afternoon. I'm not sure what all is going on with a guy that was supposed to "make the leap" this year, but here were a couple of quotes from after the game.
Cordarrelle:"I guess coach feels like I'm still kind of hurt." #vikings— Aj Mansour (@AjKFAN) November 30, 2014
Asked if he needs to prove something to coaches, Patterson: "I don't know, if you find out, tell me."— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) November 30, 2014
Yeah. . .I'm not sure if that's a way to endear yourself to the coaching staff. Something else we'll have to keep an eye on going forward, I suppose.
Buy: Special Teams being awesome today. You generally don't get two blocked punts for touchdowns in a season, let alone in one half of one game. In fact, here are all the times that it has happened.
That picture comes from Master Tesfatsion's Twitter account. Mike Priefer saw something he could exploit in the Panthers' punt protection, and took advantage of it twice. On the second one, the Vikings had their base defense out there instead of their punt team. Not sure what would have happened if Nortman had gotten the punt away, but I guess it doesn't matter. Oh, and Marcus Sherels did a solid job in the return game. That always helps.
Sell: Getting that kind of performance every week. Obviously, that sort of thing isn't going to happen every week. Frankly, we might not see it again ever. But with the exception of Blair Walsh, every aspect of the Vikings' special teams has been inconsistent this year. Just getting a steadier performance from special teams week in and week out would be nice.
Buy: Going 5-3 outside of the division. The Vikings have gotten some decent wins this season so far. They've won on the road (after going
0-8 0-7-1 on the road last season), they've won as favorites, they've won as underdogs, they've won despite a lot of tough injuries and other ordeals. All-in-all, this team has done a lot of good things this year.
Sell: Going 0-4 (so far) inside of the division. Having said that, with the way the NFL is set up, divisional games are all-important and. . .well, the Vikings haven't gotten it done on that front. Three of the four games they've played within the division were winnable, but they've left them all on the table. They've got two more shots to keep from getting skunked (a road trip to Detroit in Week 15 and the season finale at home against the Bears). Here's hoping that they can get at least one of them.
Don Glover Quote of the Week
Well, I'm not Ted, which in all likelihood means that I haven't spent any time with the Don recently. . .so, I'll be honest, I haven't got any quotes from him. (Didn't see anything from Ted on the Twitter, either.) So, if Ted has anything he wants to add, he can go ahead and do so after the fact.
And there's your Stock Market Report for this week. Ted will be back to his regular spot next week after all the fun and the frivolity of the holiday has passed. . .I was just keeping the seat warm for him this week.