@MasterStrib Is it time to start benching certain O lineman and make a statement? #VikingsST
— Rance G (@RanceGizzle) October 14, 2014
For who? Seriously, for who? I keep getting this question, and it’s always the same responses. Joe Berger. David Yankey. Austin Wentworth.
If the Vikings replace any of their starters for one of those three names, fans will still complain when they play poorly. The Vikings don’t have better options at this point, especially with right guard Brandon Fusco out for the season. You don’t bench a player for the sole purpose of making a statement. As much as Zimmer would like to make changes, he doesn’t have that luxury. The Vikings have invested heavily in this offensive line either with extensions or high draft picks. And to be honest, the offense line still has the talent to get it done. As awful as the unit has been, the talent is still there.
Will it ever show on consistent basis? I have no clue. It’s a mental game at this point, and that’s hard to predict.
@MasterStrib what hurts the running game more: AD’s absence or the o-line’s rapid regression? #vikingsST
— Austin Belisle (@austincbelisle) October 14, 2014
Well, we saw a similar regression from the offensive line last season with running back Adrian Peterson. I think it’s more obvious now with the same inconsistencies occurring in consecutive seasons. It’s easy to blame a lot of the problems on offense to the absence of Peterson, but the offensive line isn’t getting a pass this season. Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon rushed for 135 yards against the Falcons. Granted it was a bad defensive line, but the Vikings should still be able to establish the run game with McKinnon and running back Matt Asiata. In their two wins against the Rams and Falcons, the offensive line was able to dominate the trenches and run the football.
@MasterStrib Has a lack of great TE play hurt the Vikings offense more than any other issue? #VikingsST
— Adam Weart (@adamweart) October 16, 2014
It’s up there with Peterson’s absence. Don’t get me wrong, Peterson is still the best player on the roster, but Rudolph’s presence helps every phase of the offense. He’s a pass threat that defenses must account for, even though Rudolph had quite a few drops before injuring his groin. Rudolph can also help as a run blocker and chip defensive ends on pass protection when he wasn’t lined up in the slot. There’s no other tight end on the roster that can be equally effective in both areas.
Outside of center John Sullivan, the offense couldn’t have lost three more valuable players on offense with Peterson, Fusco and Rudolph.
@MasterStrib has anyone in particular been a somewhat surprising success under the new coaching staff? #VikingsST
— Matt Privratsky (@mattprivratsky) October 16, 2014
Josh Robinson has been the Vikings best cornerback. I repeat – Josh Robinson has been the Vikings best cornerback.
He’s been in good position and clearly fits this defensive scheme better. Last year was a disaster for him with the coaching staff asking Robinson to play the nickel cornerback slot, which he’s never done before. He looks more natural now and has outplayed teammates Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes.
Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr is another player to point out that has played well so far. I don’t think anyone thought he’d be this good through the first six games of his career. He’s third among rookies with 36 tackles, behind Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley and Bills linebacker Preston Brown.
Here’s a very basic web site that has some very good information all in one place: the opening day payrolls of every MLB team from 1998-present.
That has allowed us to show you where the Twins have ranked every year during that span:
2000: 30th (last)
2001: 30th (last)
What do these numbers tell us? Well, there are nuances — but here are some things we think they tell us as we go back through the years:
*When they were constantly rebuilding and not even trying to compete in the late 1990s/2000, the payroll reflected it.
*When they won their first division title in 2002 with a very young core, they got away with a dirt cheap roster.
*When the Twins kept winning in the mid-2000s and some of their better young players started making more money, their payroll jumped from bottom of the barrel to lower-middle (18th-20th from 2003-07).
*Without Johan Santana and Torii Hunter in 2008, the payroll again dipped as the Twins successfully rebuilt on the fly — hence getting away with lower payrolls with a new young core even though both seasons featured a Game 163 (one win, one loss).
*When the Twins moved into Target Field, some of those players were due to get paid, while the organization was suddenly flush with cash for the first time. Free agents came in. Payroll climbed to higher levels than at any other time from 2010-12 — one very good season and two other dreadful seasons.
*In the past two seasons, in the midst of a rebuild, the Twins scaled back the payroll as they went with younger players.
In short: The Twins have had the most success during this span when they develop successful young cores with modest payrolls. When they have run into trouble is when their young players aren’t ready to compete yet (recent seasons, plus the late 1990s) or when a high-budget veteran roster all falls apart at once (2011, 2012).
The Twins in 2015 figure to be around 25th in the majors in payroll. If things go exceedingly well and next year is a lot like 2001 (a young core blossoming at once), they will likely get away with a couple more years of lower payrolls while still being competitive until those young players get paid and bump the payroll back toward the middle of the pack. If the Twins’ brass is feeling particularly good about those teams, they might make a short-term run at some higher-priced players and bump the payroll into the top-10 range, though they will certainly be wary of the lessons learned in 2011.
Outside linebacker Chad Greenway not only suited up for practice today, but was a full participant for the first time since breaking his ribs and his left hand in the Week 2 loss to the Patriots. His presence at practice this early in the week was a positive sign that he could return this weekend.
Gerald Hodges, the man who replaced him in the starting lineup, did not practice today after injuring his hamstring in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. During the second quarter of that game, he was briefly replaced by Audie Cole while he was checked out by trainers but returned to finish the game.
Cornerback Jabari Price (hamstring), defensive end Corey Wootton (lower back) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia surgery) were the three other Vikings players who did not practice today.
Defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd (elbow and ankle) and Linval Joseph (ankle) were limited in practice.
Safety Harrison Smith (ankle), tight end Chase Ford (foot) and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (hip) were listed as full participants. Ford was a new addition to the injury report after this weekend.
And, finally, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was officially removed from the report. He was dealing with a stomach bug yesterday and may still be today, but his ankle issue appears to be behind him.