If Friday at one of Golf’s Major Championships is referred to as ‘moving day’, where players make a move to make the cut or fade away and go home, then one could argue that the second preseason game is moving day for players trying to either make the roster or hold on to a roster spot in the NFL. First impressions are further confirmed, or guys that might have been fading make a push. Opinions are starting to be formed, and depth charts are starting to be finalized. If you’re not ‘putting it on tape’, the chances of making the cut are getting smaller and smaller every day. Whatever their circumstances, those guys are fighting for not only a roster spot, but some R-E-S-P-E-C-T as well, aren’t they, Queen Of Soul?
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care, TCB, oh
(Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
A little respect
(sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
(Just a little bit) A little respect
(Just a little bit) I get tired
(Just a little bit) Keep on tryin’
(Just a little bit) You’re runnin’ out of fools
(Just a little bit) And I ain’t lyin’
(Just a little bit)
(Re, re, re, re) Start when you come home
(Re, re, re, respect) Or you might walk in
(Just a little bit) And find out I’m gone
(Just a little bit) I gotta have
(Just a little bit) A little respect
(Just a little bit)
Rest in Peace, Ms. Franklin. In this day and age we throw the term GOAT (greatest of all time) around a little loosely sometimes. But if it the term ever applied, it applied to Aretha Franklin. Your voice and your music will live on forever. Godspeed, and thank you for sharing your gift to the world; you and it will be missed.
The SMR that won’t land on you with all or most of its body weight follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Tony Sparano Tribute:
Before the opening kickoff, the Vikings played a video montage to pay tribute to the life of the late offensive line coach. It was very moving, and when it was over, the Vikings honorary captains were members of the Sparano family, to include his wife, daughter, and son Tony Jr., who is the offensive line coach for Jacksonville. It was a very touching tribute by the Vikings to have a Jaguars assistant coach serve as an honorary captain for them for the coin toss. Well done, Vikes.
This season, we're doing it for Tony. pic.twitter.com/IUj8FAKJiC— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 18, 2018
Danielle Hunter, DE: At this point, I’m not sure what exerts more pressure— the ocean at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, or Danielle Hunter. Hunter owned LT Cam Robinson, putting pressure on Blake Bortles every time he went back to pass. He also had an incredible one handed sack of Bortles, that looked something like this:
Danielle Hunter finally gets home on the sack and good god pic.twitter.com/wAvod81DUh— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) August 18, 2018
That’s just not fair. But yeah, he’s our guy, so I’m cool with it.
Eric Wilson, LB: Through two weeks, Wilson has just made plays. He had a sack against the Jags, and is all over the field. LB depth was a bit of a concern before training camp started, but Wilson looks to be providing some answers for that depth with each passing day.
Jaleel Johnson and Ifeadi Odenigbo, DT: My goodness but were these guys good today. and while Odenigbo had two sacks, Johnson was just as effective in the running game. Just a tremendous and disruptive effort from both guys today all afternoon.
Mike Boone, RB: Just when you think you have an idea on who might win the RB3 spot, along comes a guy who forces his way back in to the conversation. After Roc Thomas seemed to get a leg up last week, this week Boone came storming back. He made some violent runs, flashed a violent stiff arm, and scored a TD to give the Vikings a 10-7 lead in the third quarter.
Yukon Cornelius Edison (driving it into the ground), C: If there is a silver lining to all the offensive line injuries early, it’s been the play of Edison. He has more than acquitted himself as the starting center with Elflein out, and for all the issues the Vikes o-line had against the Jags Edison wasn’t one of them. He played well in to the fourth quarter, and has been the Vikings most consistent offensive lineman in the preseason. I’m just throwing this out here, but when Elflein comes back, could the Vikings look to slide Edison to LG? I mean, he’s looked better than Compton, Isidora, and Collins for two weeks now, albeit from the center position. And with two more injuries to offensive linemen against Jacksonville, it seems a foregone conclusion Edison is going to make the roster now, for depth if nothing else.
Mike Hughes, CB: Playing with the first team, Hughes looked good again. When Mac Alexander went out with an ankle injury, Hughes made the most of it and may have even played well enough to win the nickel job. It’s still early, but there is no denying his talent, and it won’t surprise me if he’s the starting nickel at the beginning of the season.
Harrison Smith: Smith intercepted BLOLake Bortles on a throw that looked like Bortles was targeting the Hitman on the Vikings second drive, and on run support he looked to be in mid-season form.
Roc Thomas, RB: Although Boone played himself back in to the RB3 competition, Thomas didn’t do anything to play himself out of it. He averaged five yards a carry, and was second on the team in receptions and yards...although that’s not nearly as impressive as it sounds when you look at the stats. Still, it wasn’t a bad game by Thomas.
The new helmet and ‘body weight’ rule: I get that there are a lot of penalties in pre-season games, I get it. But if that is how the new helmet and body weight rules will be enforced, both the Jaguars and Vikings were being penalized for nothing more than playing football. The Jags had some weak calls on their first team defense for the helmet call, and the Antwione Williams sack was the ‘body weight’ rule, and it was literally the dumbest penalty since Ben Leber’s phantom pass interference call against the Saints in the 2009 NFC Championship game. The rule is that a defender cannot come down with ‘most or all’ of his weight on a QB, which seems a near impossibility for a defender moving at the speed they do when making a tackle. Here, see for yourself:
This was a roughing the passer penalty, multiple angles pic.twitter.com/NpwUkcF3cx— Born Salty (@cjzero) August 18, 2018
I wrote about the new rule earlier during training camp so I won’t rail here, but even NFL players don’t know what is considered a good tackle and what is a penalty. Brian Robison was being interviewed by Ben Leber and was asked about the new rule, and said as much. This rule is ridiculously bad, is being enforced ridiculously bad, and when there is a ridiculously bad call that decides a game, people will be up in arms. Good job, Goodell.
Vikings first team offense, minus Edison. The Vikings first team offense played in to the second quarter, and struggled against one of the better defenses in the NFL. The interior offensive line looked looked better than the outside, but that’s not really saying a whole lot. Riley Reiff and Aviante Collins struggled to keep Kirk Cousins clean from the perimeter, but it felt like Cousins had enough of a pocket to set up and throw in. Other than a sack on a naked waggle where he was eaten alive, Cousins only seemed really rushed on one pass intended for Adam Thielen. Cousins finished a paltry 3/8 for only 12 yards, and didn’t take a shot downfield once that I remember. And if there’s anything that was unsettling, it was his accuracy, as even his short passes were off the mark.
On the line, Collins seemed to really seemed to reverse all the gains he made last week. Well, at least on the outside. He did okay when he was moved inside, but still was up and down. Reiff struggled, which was surprising, and Tom Compton really struggled. It was a bad performance all the way around, but with Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers due back (hopefully) this week, I’m not going to get overly concerned until I see the line with a full complement of starters. But if last week was encouraging, today was discouraging.
Latavius Murray, RB: Murray fumbled twice, once right after the Harrison Smith interception when the Vikings had the ball deep in Jacksonville territory with a golden opportunity to get points early in the game. I’m not saying that Murray is in danger from getting leapfrogged by Thomas and Boone. He’s a solid vet and is a lot more polished in pass protection than either of the other guys, at least from what I’ve seen.
I wouldn’t fumble twice in the next game, though.
Buy: Preseason games are important. Timing, learning the offense and defense, and competition for roster spots are things that teams are really looking at right now, trying to field the best 53 guys they can and be ready for week one. Yes, you want to win, but the focus is player evaluation, and a chance to run your offense and defense.
Sell: Preseason games are important. And all those things are important...but what you see on the field isn’t necessarily a preview of things to come. The first team offense wasn’t good...but it’s only the second preseason game. You don’t gameplan, you concentrate on the things you want your offense to do. All week, the Vikings were focusing on short crossing and rub-type routes, and they were working on those again today.
Last year, the first team offense struggled to get a first down in the preseason, and then morphed into a top ten unit that was down to their third string QB and second string running back. Today was a dud, but don’t press the panic button just yet.
Buy: There are two kickers on the Vikings roster. The Vikings approached the kicker position in a very deliberate manner in the off-season. Daniel Carlson and Kai Forbath would rotate between kicking duties, the Vikings would evaluate the two players, and then make a decision.
Sell: There is a kicking competition between the kickers. It appears that plan lasted until Forbath doinked a field goal attempt off the right upright from 41 yards out in the second quarter. That was the last we saw of Forbath, as Carlson assumed all kicking duties for the rest of the game. We’ve all pretty much agreed that Forbath had an uphill battle to make the roster since the Vikings used a draft pick on Carlson, and today could have very well sealed his fate.
Buy: Roc Thomas and Mike Boone are having a pitched battle for RB3. The great thing I like about preseason is that we get to watch guys that don’t get a lot of playing time during the regular season, and it’s fun watching two guys like Thomas and Boone make the most of their opportunity.
Sell: Roc Thomas and Mike Boone will both leapfrog Latavius Murray. But the downside is that too often, you have two guys fighting for one roster spot, and when either Boone or Thomas get cut, I’m going to feel genuinely bad for them. I feel bad for all those guys, but let’s face it—most of them play their way off the roster, or get hurt and don’t really get an opportunity. It generally stinks when two guys go head to head, leave it all on the field...and one of them doesn’t make the cut. Even though Murray had two fumbles today, I don’t see both Thomas and Boone leapfrogging Murray—the RB’s are a young group, Murray is a savvy pro that understands the game, is a good all around back, is really good in pass protection, and isn’t the butter fingers he portrayed today. So yeah, one of these guys will probably get cut when the Vikings go down to 53 players, and it’s going to stink.
Buy: Today’s injuries weren’t to starters, except Mackensie Alexander. It was a bad day for guys fighting for a roster spot on the injury front, but the Vikes starters appear to have escaped with minimal damage to the starters. Still waiting for an MRI on Alexander tomorrow, but x-rays were negative, so that’s encouraging.
Sell: It’s way too many injuries. But my goodness, the amount of what seemed to be serious injuries in one game was a bit mind boggling. Reserve OL Cedrick Lang is headed to IR, and I’ll be very surprised if Ade Aruna doesn’t join him. He went down and trainers were looking at his knee, and it didn’t look good. Two other guys had to be taken off the field in a cart as well, OL Josh Andrews and fullback Johnny Stanton. I quipped that the Vikings hadn’t suffered this many injuries in one afternoon since they laid siege to Paris in the Middle Ages, but I’m about sick of all the offensive lineman injuries. When you add the Lang and Andrews injuries, that’s already five guys on the OL that are out for the year or have missed serious time. Elflein and Remmers can’t come back soon enough...and stay healthy when they do.
Buy: I thought all three QB’s were terrible. We already talked about Cousins, but Trevor Siemian gives me less and less confidence every time he takes the field. I wasn’t all that impressed by Kyle Sloter today either, to be honest, but I thought he outplayed Siemian for the second week in a row. I don’t know that Sloter will leapfrog SIemian for the backup QB spot yet, but it does feel like he within leaping distance.
Grandson Quote Of The Week:
You know, football isn’t always the priority in the life of a five year old, and that’s okay.
Me: Grayson, want to watch some of the Vikings game with me?
Grayson: Papa, I can’t. There’s a bulbasaur in the backyard and I GOTTA GO CATCH IT!
Well, he’ll do a better job catching Pokemon’s than the Vikings did catching footballs, so I can’t blame him. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go download Pokemon Go.
Gotta catch ‘em all. See you next week.