Eleven months after their game against San Antonio was postponed in Mexico City because of smoke in the building, the Wolves are set to play Houston tonight. Zach LaVine will start at point guard and Anthony Bennett is expected to play after sitting out the last two.
Interesting nugget from our former Minnesota Daily colleague Sam Black, who works for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:
Two Minneapolis City Council members want to rename a block near the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in honor of former football coach Bud Grant.
The street, on the 600 block of Ninth Avenue South, is now called Carew Drive after the former Minnesota Twins player. The city already approved plans to move that commemorative street closer to Target Field, to the 600 block of Second Avenue North.
The city also announced plans to designate Seventh Street North from 10th Street to Second Avenue as Kirby Puckett Place, relocating that name from a stretch of Chicago Avenue that was in front of the former Metrodome.
The Bud Grant Drive idea was approved Monday by the Minneapolis Planning Commission and awaits further approval next month. The city is also considering other sports-related street name changes to reflect the fact that the Twins no longer play on the east end of downtown. You can read Black’s full report.
I covered Randy Moss, on and off, from the day he was drafted until the day he was traded. I heard Mike Tice expound on the "Randy Ratio.’’ I heard Moss call other reporters awful names. I also saw one of the greatest players who ever lived.
Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was tasked with the role of filling defensive end Jared Allen’s shoes when the team re-signed him to a five year deal worth up to $42.5 million and allowed Allen to walk during the offseason.
So far, he’s lived up to the deal through nine games. Griffen is tied for fifth in the NFL with nine sacks, while Allen has just 1.5 sacks this season with the Bears.
The two teams will meet on Sunday at Soldier Field, and Griffen admitted there was pressure to replace the future Hall of Fame defensive end this season.
“Of course you feel pressure,” Griffen said. “I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel pressure. I just went out there and bought into this scheme and bought in what I have to get done and that’s to help this team win.”
Griffen has handled the pressure well, going back to the offseason when he bulked up. His presence has given the interior defensive linemen one-on-one matchups, which defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has taken advantage of with three impressive performances before the bye week.
It took Griffen, in his fifth season, this long to have a breakout year because he served as the backup to Allen and defensive end Brian Robison prior to this season. Expressing frustration due to the lack of playing time, with just one start during his first four seasons, Griffen said rotating as the third defensive end wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear at the start of his career.
“It was hard for the first couple of years, three years, but I just learned how to be patient, humble and kept working on my craft,” Griffen said. “I knew whenever I got my time to do it at a full time, this is what I imagined I’d be doing.”
Though they’re on opposite teams now, Griffen still keeps in touch with the “Cowboy” Allen. The Avondale, Ariz. native even reached out to Allen, who resides in the Phoenix area during the offseason, last week for restaurant recommendations during the bye week.
“He was a mentor to me while I was here,” Griffen said. “He taught me a lot of things, and I love the guy. He’s not only a great player, he’s a great person too.”
Remember back in May when I wrote about how Teddy Bridgewater fared in cold-weather games in college? Well, in case you haven’t been outside since Sunday, that time of year has arrived.
The early Weather Channel forecast says that the temperature will be in the low 30s when the Vikings play the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon. So that means it could be colder on Sunday than it was for any of Bridgewater’s college starts at Louisville.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, the coldest game Bridgewater started at Louisville was a 34-degree game against Connecticut in 2012. Bridgewater threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns on 30-for-53 passing before leaving the game with a broken left wrist (he would play for the Cardinals five days later).
The way Bridgewater remembers it, the temperatures were in the low 20s that day. But either way, the rookie quarterback knows he will be playing in frigid weather much more often in the pros. And he doesn’t believe cold temperatures and even a little snow will affect him.
“I’m feeling very confident,” Bridgewater said. “We’ve been able to experience some cold games in college but none like we’re going to face on this level. I know that’s going to be different but it’s all a mental thing. Our coaches are doing a great job of preparing us for these next couple games down the stretch and I think we’re going to be ready to go.”
Once a week, Bridgewater spends time after practice dunking footballs in a bucket of water then throwing it to a receiver to simulate wet weather, including snow.
But this week, with the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park still thawing out, the Vikings have had to practice inside, preventing Bridgewater from getting more acclimated to this NFC North weather. However, head coach Mike Zimmer, who has been concerned about player safety, is hopefully the Vikings can brave the outdoors Thursday and Friday.
Still, Bridgewater does not seem all that concerned. He doesn’t think he has to change any of his throwing mechanics to compensate for the weather. The only concern is from a mental standpoint, but he believes he will be able to block out the cold by wearing the proper equipment Sunday.
“We have hand warmers and things like that that allow me to keep my hands warm,” Bridgewater, who turned 22 on Monday, said. “I’ll continue to just go out there, wear my gloves and play football.”
The situation: We revert back to Week 9 for this week’s Vikings Rewind. Down 10-0 to Washington with 42 seconds left in the first half, the Vikings face a 3rd and 6 and Washington’s 20.
The reason: It was a drive that started at Washington’s 46 following cornerback Captain Munnerlyn’s interception with 1:04 left. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a good 22-yard gain to wide receiver Greg Jennings on the first drive, but the offense moved four yards in two plays to set up the third down situation.
The result: Bridgewater connected with tight end Chase Ford on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds left before halftime to cut the deficit down to a possession.
How it happened:
Washington showed blitz before the snap, stacking seven in the box, which prompted Bridgewater to change up the play. With four wide split in the shotgun formation, and Ford lined up in the slot to the left, Bridgewater communicated a last second change based on a possible blitz.
Washington ends up sending four in what appears to be a Cover 3 (see here for what a Cover 3 looks like) with two linebackers (circled in red) dropping back right at the first down marker.
Ford (circled in blue) ran about a 10-12 yard corner route that would’ve gotten a first down, but Bridgewater saw an open hole in the end zone. Washington cornerback David Amerson was out of position attempting to jump wide receiver Adam Thielen’s post route (circled in black), and he collided with Thielen right as he made his break. With the safety playing underneath Ford, it created that wide gap (circled in yellow) in the corner of the end zone.
How did Bridgewater and Ford get on the same page to improv the route? Bridgewater simply just pointed and Ford said he knew what Bridgewater meant.
“I ran the route, Teddy made a good adjustment seeing the open hole in the endzone and threw it up there,” Ford said. “It was really all Teddy. It was a good throw. I just adjusted to it.”
What’s even more impressive about the play was Bridgewater could see defensive end Jason Hatcher getting around left tackle Matt Kalil. His time was limited to get that throw off, but Bridgewater looked unfazed as if he was out in the playground designing routes on the fly.
“He’s poise man,” wide receiver Charles Johnson said of Bridgewater in two-minute situations. “He’s super poise, very confident. He’s a veteran in a rookie body. Just the way he handles himself and how he orchestrates an offense, he don’t look frightened ever. He can mess up and still be the same ol’ Teddy.”
Ford said after the game he was even surprised by how easy his first career touchdown catch was, and that was due to a pass from Bridgewater that only Ford would’ve snagged on the play.
“Teddy’s a good quarterback,” Ford said. “He’s 22 years old but you couldn’t tell unless somebody told you. He’s poise in the pocket, does a great job and gets better every week and that’s what we need.”
Bridgewater had just failed to convert on 4th and 2 before Munnerlyn’s interception. He made a poor decision floating a ball out of bounds when he could’ve ran for the first down, but Bridgewater came back and sparked the offense on this drive right before halftime. He looked more comfortable during the second half as well, and I’m sure that drive had a lot to do with his improved play later in the game.
Bridgewater in the final two minutes of the half is 26 of 40 for 305 yards with one touchdown, one interception and an 85.9 quarterback rating. For a rookie, that’s very impressive given the challenges created under two minutes, which might be the toughest situation a quarterback faces during a game.
“It’s hectic for me as an offensive lineman, but I could only imagine for [Bridgewater] it’s got to be even more hectic,” right tackle Phil Loadholt said. “He’s got to get everyone lined up, get the play in his ear, communicate to us, communicate to the receivers. The fact that he’s such a young guy and he’s handling those moments, that’s very encouraging.”