Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge NFL fan, to be specific, a huge Dolphins fan. I’m also a transplant in the Twin Cities from Hialeah. Actually from all over due to my father being in the military, but Hialeah is where I was born and briefly resided. Much of my family is from the Miami – Dade area.
Nonetheless I’ve been a Minnesota resident since 1991 and during that time I’ve gotten to know the Minnesota Vikings franchise and their fans a little better. The irony of it all is that the Vikings and the Dolphins share alot in common. Such as records, plenty of players, coaches, and front office personnel. Actually one the worst front office guys for the Dolphins is now one of the best GMs the Vikings ever had. Rick Spielman.
in 2000 Spielman was the Dolphins Vice President of Player Personnel until he was promoted in 2002 to Senior Vice President-Football Operations/Player Personnel, and eventually General Manager in 2004. During that time the Dolphins drafts were disastrous. Barely worth mentioning in the 4 years were OL Vernon Carey and Yeremiah Bell…barely. I could name a plethora of busts or plyers with potential that never came to be….LB Eddie Moore, CB Will Poole, and LB Tony Bua to name a few. I’ve heard Spielman claim on Minnesota’s sports authority radio station, KFAN 100.3 FM, that he pretty much had nothing to do in the decision making during Dolphins draft. I guess I don’t blame him for taking that stance…Tony Bua….
When Spielman arrived he took over Fran Foley’s old job as Vikings’ Vice President of Player Personnel in 2006, I thought I was going to see the Dolphins demise all over again. Except this time the Dolphins were played by the Vikings. Well I did not. Actually it was a slow build of stability. Players of worth were being drafted; LB Chad Greenway, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Sydney Rice, C John Sullivan, on and on! Where the hell was this in Miami, Spielman?!
But he doesn’t get a free pass. He also brought aboard Brad Childress, and the ever so self loving and retiring Brett Favre. He was part of the “O.K.” for the return of Randy Moss for a draft pick. The Vikes fans should be so lucky to have an owner willing to spend, albeit poorly invested. But the drafts stayed for the most part solid. And I watched my Dolphins suffer still through Spielman and Company’s aftermath of picks piled on by Sparano and Parcells insanity.
The Vikes 2012 draft was absolutely brilliant. Almost every pick made an immediate impact and contributed to their playoff season. The real gem wasn’t Kalil but a questionable kicker named Blair Walsh. I dare to say it was Walsh who was MVP of that Vikings squad. FG after FG adds up fast and especially when it’s clutch. Hell, even WR Jarius Wright filled in admirably for the *ahem* injured Percy Harvin.
But I saw something very amiss before the 2012 season started. A very open middle underneath and overwhelmed MLBs.
I would say the 20011 season for the Vikings LBs was poor…horrible. I also noticed they did nothing to correct it in the 2012 draft. If anything they were maybe hoping S Harrison Smith could help out. Unfortunately Smith is not Superman. As the 2012 regular season was rolling in I was listening to Paul Charchian on KFAN during his Fantasy Football radio show give advise on players to play during the Vikes/Jags game. He kept missing the name, “Mercedes Lewis”. I tried to call in and call him on it and even predicted a big day for Lewis on my own Fantasy advice Twitter account, @BRHLFF twitter.com. I was right on the money; BarRoom Football
“Jags TE Marcedes Lewis could be a Huge sneaky Start. Last year Vikings D got burned by opposing TEs. New OC says Lewis will B endzone threat”
That was just the start.
So what does that have to do with anything? Quite a bit actually. Because Lewis went on to burn the Vikes for 5 catches for 52 yards and a TD. Vikings cannot cover the TE. Harrison Smith was brought in to help with that but was kept busy enough helping a young burnable secondary. The Vikes LBs were going to be exposed all year and TEs lick their Chops when facing them. Here is some evidence:
Week 1 vs Jags TE Mercedes Lewis 5 – 52- 1TD
Week 2 vs Colts TE Dwayne Allen 1-3 – 1TD/ TE Coby Fleener 1- 16 and here is the telling tale…Donnie Avery slants over the middle for a 41 yard gain at one point. Finishes the day with 9 -111 yards
Week 3 vs San Francisco TE Vernon Davis 5 – 53 – 1TD (Davis was the only one to score a TD that day for SF)
Week 4 vs Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew 7 – 67/TE Tony Scheffler 1-16
Week 5 vs Titans TE Jared Cook 5 – 37 – 1TD
Week 6 vs Redskins TE Fred Davis 3 – 46. Note: LB/FB Darrel Young scores on LBs during endzone playaction. The same play will be used against Vikes for a TD in week 8 vs Tampa when Eric Loring Scores
Week 7 vs Cardinals TE Rob Housler…yes Rob Housler 5 – 54(10.1 yards per catch) First Down!
Week 8 vs Tampa Bay TE Dallas Clark 3 – 40(13.3 ypc)/ FB Eric Loring scores TD on exact play used in playaction during previous Redskins game.
Week 9 vs Seahawks TE Zack Miller 2 -47
Week 10 vs Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew 3 – 32 – 1TD (in two games 10 – 99 – 1TD)
Week 11 BYE
Week 12 vs Bears(who refuse to throw to TEs) TE Kellen Davis 1 – 15/TE Evan Rodriguez 1- 11
Week 13 vs Packers TE Jermichael Finley 6 – 60
Week 14 vs Bears TE Kellen Davis 3 – 25
Week 15 vs Rams TE Lance Kendricks 3 – 35 – 1TD/TE Chris Harkey 1 – 21
Week 16 vs Texans TE Owen Daniels 3 – 27
Week 17 vs Packers TE Jermichael Finley 8 – 72 (in two games 14 – 132)
I found it interesting in the post season how Green Bay decided to attack the Viking defense. Over the middle and underneath. Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and John Kuhn attacked the middle knowing the Vikes MLB would not be able to handle the pressure. In those 16 games the opposing TE position alone averaged just over 11.3 yards per catch and scored 6 TDs!
So here is my point. Spielman had me believing that this year was going to be another brilliant draft by him and his people. I was feeling it with DT Floyd and CB Rhodes, these guys are drafting need and shoring up their Defense! Guess What! They traded back into the first round just like last year! I couldn’t believe it! Who is this Spielman guy?! They needed a ILB bad and Ogletree, Te’o, and Minter where all right there for the taking!
To me this was an absolute no brainer and Spielman is really a Draft genius….
With the 29th overall pick the Vikings draft, Cordarrelle Patterson, WR , Tennessee.
Wait, what?! You traded away your picks including your #52 for a WR?! The draft is deep with Wideouts! I could not believe it. Maybe some of the old Dolphins Spielman is still there.
I’m not saying Patterson is an awful pick, because he is not. Frankly, his ability to run after the catch is amazing. But I definitely think it was a price too high considering the blatant need for ILB. I guess the Vikes think they can mask the hole on Defense again this year by slowing opposing teams offenses down with the Run and kill them with spot on FGs. Be assured the numbers do speak for themselves and I don’t find it a coincidence the Bears new Coaching staff went after TE Martellus Bennett this offseason. Everyone but the Vikes see the glaring hole. Of course when you make a playoff run it’s no big deal, but I have a feeling this year it will be. Spielman blinked and I saw what was before.