Hi kids. Sorry the SMR is a little late, but I took a quick vacation, and didn't get home until late last night.
Home. That's a word that evokes powerful emotions in people, both good and bad. For me, no matter where I live, and no matter how long I have been away, home will always be Minnesota. One of the reasons I will always think of myself as a Minnesotan is because of the connection I have to the Vikings, as they have weaved their way through my life like a tapestry.
And our hometown team played their first game in their new home yesterday, US Bank Stadium, the building that literally kept the Vikings in Minnesota. And people, for the most part, seemed to love the new home, whether they were there, watching overseas, or in a Boston airport terminal waiting for a flight.
A flight home. Yet wherever you were, we were all in our new home, at least for a little while, and we all wished we could have been taken there. Isn't that right, Mr. Collins?
Seems so long I've been waiting
Still don't know what for
There's no point escaping
I don't worry anymore
I can't come out to find you
I don't like to go outside
They can't turn off my feelings
Like they're turning off a light
But I, I don't mind
No I, I don't mind
Oh I, I don't mind
No I, I don't mind
So take, take me home
Cos I don't remember
Take, take me home
Cos I don't remember
Take, take me home
Cos I don't remember
Take, take me home, oh lord
Your dress rehearsal SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: At this point I'm not sure if people who don't like Bridgewater as a QB will ever like him as a QB. That's fine, I guess, but when you look at his body of work so far, if you're not impressed, I have a feeling that you're pre-disposed to not be impressed with Bridgewater no matter what he does. He's posted a rating of 158.3 and 127.3 in his two preseason games, and looks like the legitimate franchise quarterback this team has lacked for the better part of 40 years, give or take a handful of seasons here and there. If his detractors can't see the pocket poise, the accuracy in the throws, and his ability to run a two minute drill, then I just shrug my shoulders and move on to another topic.
Jerick McKinnon, RB: Adrian Peterson's time in Minnesota is coming to an end sooner rather than later, and the Vikings seem to have found his heir apparent. McKinnon played exceptionally well yesterday, showing vision, agility, and a second level burst that is going to be an asset to the Vikings offense in 2016 and beyond.
Stefon Diggs, WR: Diggs looks like a star in the making. Every time the camera isolates him on a route, it's crisp, there's little to no wasted motion, and he's where he's supposed to be when the ball gets to him. He has a keen sideline presence, and gobbles up everything thrown his way.
Justin Trattou, DE: Trattou celebrated his birthday in grand fashion, registering two sacks and forcing a fumble that was recovered by teammate Stephen Weatherly. I know he's a great rotational depth guy on the defensive line, but when you look at the Vikings backups there...is it me or could Trattou, Danielle Hunter, and Tom Johnson start on a fair amount of teams in the NFL? You just don't see that kind of quality depth in the NFL very often, and it's something that will be a difference maker for the Vikings, especially the later the season gets.
US Bank Stadium: What a fantastic looking facility. For those of you that went, or have seen it on a tour or at another event, I'm a little bit jealous, not gonna lie. But even on TV, it looked gorgeous. From the team going through the suite of fans to get to the field, to the ETFE roof, and the fans being able to observe post game press conferences, it looks like this facility is going to be the crown jewel of the NFL for awhile. And I read that it got to 115 decibels on Sunday...for a preseason game. If this report is to be believed, that's only three decibels less than the highest the Metrodome ever recorded of 118, back in 2010. I seem to remember the dome getting in to the 120's, but maybe that was during the World Series or a playoff game back in the day. Still, though, I can't wait to see what the noise level will be for the home opener against Green Bay, as I think some noise records might be in jeopardy. Bring some ear plugs, because I think you'll need them.
Jeff Locke, P: A few weeks back we all collectively threw our arms up (and lunches, maybe?) when special teams coach Mike Priefer said that the Vikings never really planned to bring in any competition for Locke, and our angst was even more pronounced when Locke was less than impressive early on. But yesterday Locke punted well, with three kicks that netted an average of 44.3 yards. I'm going to dial it down a bit for now...but like the Vikings, I reserve the right to amp it back up at any time.
Jayron Kearse, S: I will be stunned if Kearse doesn't make the roster. He had another interception yesterday, and it looked like he got some first half playing time with a mixture of first and second team defensive players. (If he didn't, my apologies. It was late, I was tired, and I didn't feel like rewinding the DVR all that much). Either way, I'm assuming the Vikes will keep four safeties, and it sure feels like he's going to be one of them. I don't see him sliding through waivers to get signed to the practice squad, so going that route seems very risky. Besides, I feel he's played his way on to the roster and has earned a spot.
Trae Waynes, CB: Waynes has impressed throughout the preseason, and continued to do so yesterday. he had a pass break up that became a deflection, which became an easy Harrison Smith interception early in the first quarter, and he was solid in his coverage all day. I wouldn't be surprised to see the starting CB's at Tennessee be Waynes and Xavier Rhodes.
Jarius Wright, WR: I don't think Wright is in danger of being cut...but it feels like he's dropped to WR6 on a team that's going to carry six receivers. He had one catch, and it was for 26 yards...but it was well after the first team had played. It's been kind of a remarkably quick fall for Wright, who seemed like WR3 as training camp opened. But other players are stepping up, and Wright, who has been hampered with an injury, hasn't seemed to keep pace. Like I mentioned, I'll be stunned if he gets cut, but I don't see him being on the field a lot when the season starts.
Buy: Mackensie Alexander pick. Alexander now has two interceptions in the preseason, and after a second half struggle last week, rebounded yesterday and played a solid game, highlighted by his interception.
Sell: Mackensie Alexander taunting penalty immediately after the interception. I get the exuberance, and I normally don't have an issue with guys celebrating a big play, I really don't. But yeah, you can't taunt the opponent's sideline, and that was a really dumb penalty. At least it happened in the preseason, with the team comfortably ahead, and I'm pretty sure Mike Zimmer had a discussion with the young rookie to ensure he doesn't do it again.
Buy: Kyle Rudolph TD pass reception. The Rudolph TD reception right before halftime was the culmination of a great two minute drive by the offense. Bridgewater threw the ball high, to a point where only Rudolph could grab it, just out of the reach of Manti T'eo. Rudolph went up and got it, evaded a diving/falling T'eo, and waltzed into the end zone. Touchdown. Beautiful.
Sell: Most of the rest of Rudolph's game. But yeah, Rudolph was late on a couple blocking assignments on runs that got blown up or became a loss, and had a fumble after a nice catch and run that gave the Chargers great field position and led to a field goal which gave them a 10-6 lead.
Buy: The Two Minute Drive. THAT was a thing of beauty. After taking a sack, Teddy hit three straight passes of 19 yards to Charles Johnson, 22 to Diggs, and then the 27 yard TD to Rudolph. The line protected, the throws were deep middle and deep sideline, and they were all money. It was a glimpse in to what this offense can do if the offensive line gels and Teddy gets consistent protection.
Sell: Red Zone Failure. For as good as that drive was, the first two drives of the game started out strong and sputtered out, resulting in just two Blair Walsh field goals. the Vikings ran, passed, and blocked very well in both drives, only to see it sputter out inside the 10 yard line both times. Would the drives had ended differently if Adrian Peterson had been playing? Maybe, maybe not. Still, it shouldn't matter. When you're in the red zone, you need to convert. Settling for field goals is a good way to end up on the wrong end of a score, and we saw how quickly a 6-0 lead turns into a 7-6 deficit.
Buy: Laquon Treadwell two point conversion. That is one of the main reasons the Vikings drafted Treadwell. Big body, throw to a point, and go get the ball. Which is exactly what he did. Two points. Beautiful.
Sell: Not using Treadwell early in the game. I think Treadwell would have been an asset in the red zone on the first two drives...drives that ended up in field goals as opposed to touchdowns. Maybe they will use him there in the regular season and they were just keeping him out to not show all of their cards right now or something, I don't know. Still, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for him in those spots.
Sell: The Trae Waynes Suplex. I think calling that a personal foul penalty is still a load of crap, whether it's Waynes or Captain Munnerlyn doing it to Drew Brees. But yeah, you're gonna get flagged for it, so you shouldn't do it, I guess.
Buy: The Trae Waynes Suplex if it was called by WWE legend Jim 'JR' Ross. But if WWE legend Jim 'JR' Ross, could call it, then I'd be all for it. AS GOD AS MY WITNEES KING TRAE WAYNES JUST BROKE WILLIAMS IN HALF!!! BAH GAWD SOMEONE STOP THE MATCH--TYRELL WILLIAMS HAS A FAMILY.
Yeah, that would be pretty cool.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
I talked to my Dad after we got home last night, and since it was a nationally televised game, he got to watch it.
'Say, that new stadium looks pretty nice. And I think we might have a pretty good football team this year.'
Both the stadium and the Minnesota Vikings proper have impressed my father. This is the earliest this has happened since week three, 2009 season. Before then, probably 1975.
So, we put a bow on the Chargers, and now turn our attention towards the final preseason game, and the two rounds of roster cuts to get from 90 to 53 players. We'll see you on the flip side.