If the Vikings Were Looking for the Next Christian Ponder…

Purple fans couldn’t be more ecstatic right now. They’ve put together two decent seasons, finally won the coveted NFC North Title after a brutal four year drought, and have a young quarterback that has been compared to Joe Montana.  

 

It’s gotta be all up from there, right?

Teddy Bridgwater’s original success was based on the fact that in his rookie year he took a team that had won 5 games the year before and helped them win 7 games. 

What people aren’t mentioning, is that the year before that, Minnesota had a 9 win season and a playoff appearance, and the year before that they won 3 games.

This is, and always has been a very talented but highly inconsistent team, and all of that can be traced back to their failure to draft a good quarterback.   

 

Fans of Bridgewater like to blame his floundering ways on a lack of decent receivers, but a closer look shows that even that couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • Kyle Rudolph has been waiting to break out as one of the top red zone threats in the league for half a decade.
  • Greg Jennings was brought in because of his ability to stretch the field and his success as a top receiver on a championship team.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson is a player who has shown promise as an electrifying playmaker and was a standout college receiver who the Vikings were willing to mortgage half their draft on.
  • Mike Wallace has gone over 900 yards and 10 touchdowns for two separate teams, before coming to Minnesota.
  • Charles Johnson possesses some of the best measurables and potential of any receiver in the league.  
  • Stefon Diggs became the first receiver in history to go for at least 85 yards in his first 4 games.

 

    The list goes on, but none of these extremely talented receivers has been able to make either of the Vikings last two first round quarterbacks look anything other than terrible.

    Fans and commentators will retort with the fact that you don’t have to look good when you can just hand the ball off to the best running back in the league. 

     

    However, there are plenty of running backs who have succeeded at making  their quarterback better and not even a future hall of famer like Adrian Peterson can do that for Teddy.

    You don’t have to watch Minnesota’s gameplan closely at all to see that they want to pass, but even with eight guys in the box eager to stop Peterson, they have failed miserably. 

    In 2015, the next “Joe Cool” had one game that you could possibly consider great if you stretch the truth a little bit. (On December 20th, Bridgewater threw for 4 touchdowns against the Bears, but was only good for 231 yards.)

    He had one other game in which he threw multiple touchdowns (2 against the Lions) and two other 1 TD performances where he saved himself with decent yardage. 

    Other than that he was garbage. 

     

     He had 7 games (including the playoff game) where he failed to throw a touchdown, 9 games where he threw at least as many interceptions as TDs and only 2 games in which he tallied over 300 yards.

    On November 16, when the Rams decided to bench Nick Foles, his stat line read 1,678 yards, 7 TDs and 6 interceptions. 

    At that same point in the season, Teddy Bridgwater was being celebrated for his performance even though his stat line read a very similar, 1,810 yards, 7 TDs and 6 interceptions.

    So what was the difference?

    The Viking’s front office would like you to think it’s because they were winning. The rest of us know it’s because they didn’t have any other options.

    Teddy Bridgewater couldn’t have screamed any louder that he isn’t the reason the Vikings are winning when he dropped a meager 99 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception, in the biggest game of his career against the Packers in the season finale.  

     

    The next week, Blair Walsh took the blame for Bridgewater’s failure to punch the ball into the end zone, even one time, in his first playoff game against Seattle.  

    The youngster is proving early and often, that he is not cut out for the “big game” or as almost everyone else can see, the league itself. 

     

    You can try to stretch the facts anyway you want to, but it only takes one glance at each quarterback’s 2nd year stats (Ponder 2,935 yards and 18 TDs, Bridgewater 3,231 and 14 TDs) to see that…  

     

     If the Vikings were looking for the next Christian Ponder, they have failed miserably even at that.

    How Strength of Schedule Affects the Outcome of the NFL Season…

    Because of free agency, the draft, coaching changes, injuries and a ton of other factors, we all know that every season in the NFL presents a whole new variety of challenges for each team.

    So even though we are always presented a list of each team’s strength of schedule at the beginning of the year, most of us just give it a curious glance and then move on. 

     
    However, in looking back at the 2015 season, there are a few interesting facts that do pop out.

    Only two of the teams in the the top 10 of easiest schedules (Texans #30) and (Carolina #27)  made the playoffs. 

     
     While 6 teams in the top 10 of most difficult schedules (Steelers #1),  (Bengals #2), (Seahawks #4), (Cardinals #5), (Chiefs #7) and (Broncos #10) made the playoffs. 

     
    I was kind of surprised to see that the two teams with the toughest schedules (Steelers and Bengals) overall made the playoffs, but it makes perfect sense that both teams looked tired, broken and frustrated and had major players suffering from injuries as they entered their biggest games.

    While the teams with the easiest schedules (Falcons #32) and (Colts 31) had decent runs but sputtered out and didn’t make the playoffs. 

     
    The two teams headed to the Super Bowl took very different paths. 

    The Broncos who had the 10th toughest schedule in the league, have struggled with injury and frustration as they’ve won their two playoff games by a total of only 9 points. 

     
    The Panthers on the other hand, have been cruising as they appear to have hit their second peak of the season, and have won their two games by a total of 41 points. 

     
    Although fans talk all season about he fact that the teams who succeeded while playing a weak schedule will fold when the competition gets tough, the opposite seems true. As the teams who haven’t been roughed up all year seem to be more fresh and ready to go as the playoffs approach.

    So even though an easy schedule may not better your chances to reach the playoffs, it just may make it easier to succeed once you are there.

    My First Move as General Manager of the Green Bay Packers would be to…

    Package their 1st and 3rd round picks from 2016, their 2nd round pick from 2017, and send them to Cleveland for veteran LT and former Badger Joe Thomas. 

     

    That way I would take a big step in straightening out the rubik’s cube that is the offensive line, and securing Aaron Rodger’s blind spot for the rest of his career.

    After that, I would fire everyone on the training and medical staff, no questions asked, and hire a research team to figure out why the hell this squad can’t stay healthy.  

     

    I’d follow that with a meeting with Tim Mastay. This guy used to be our secret weapon, now he has consistently cost us field position, and in my opinion a few games. We need him alive and kicking.

      

    Charles Woodson would get a call about being a defensive assistant. Mainly because this young, docile team needs a strong, positive voice in the locker room, and I think he would be a great mentor for Ha Ha, Damarious, Quinten and Micah. 
     

    In free agency I’d  go hard after Antonio Gates. I know… I know…he’s not what he used to be, and he’d cost a pretty penny, but after settling for field goals a ridiculous amount of times last season, we could finally give Rodgers a decent redzone target, and add another veteran leader to our locker room. 

     
    There would be mandatory passing catching drills daily, and automatic benching for dropped passes.

    Once the team is up by at least a touchdown,  Aaron Rodgers would have veto power over any conservative play calls, going for it on 4th down would be his choice, and the Hail Mary pass would be a regular play in the playbook.

    The remaining draft picks would be spent on a edge rushing outside linebacker to eventually replace Julius Peppers, a hard nosed middle linebacker, an athletic nose tackle, a speed demon running back, and a sure handed tight end.  

     
    After that I’d kick back, crack open a beer, figure out a way to heat the bleachers in Lambeau Field and enjoy the ride to the Super Bowl.

    Nobody Wants to See These Young Bucks in the Playoffs…

    They me be inconsistent, and even downright awful at times, but if the Bucks have proven anything in this roller coaster ride of a season, it’s that when they are focused, they can hang with anybody.

    It seems a long way out, and maybe even improbable, but I know the Golden State Warriors don’t want to be locked up with them in a 7 game series. 

     
    When Greg Monroe came to town this fan base was in a frenzy. To listen to fans in Wisconsin talk after free agency, you would have thought this team was headed for an undefeated season, and a championship.

    Then reality struck. Turnovers, poor communication and bricks rained down on Milwaukee like cats and dogs.
    All of a sudden, the conversation turned from trophies, to tanking, lottery picks, and trading away stars.

    But then, like what happens with most young franchises that are built on a solid foundation, one player started to find his groove, then another, and then the team started to look like a young squad should in the second year of rebuilding. 

     
    They began to gel and play defense and now this team who individually looked like world beaters but together seemed like a circus, has started to find chemistry.

    Khris Middleton has rediscovered his shot and his place as the leader of this team, the one that everyone else can use to help define their game and build around.

    “We’re getting back to our principles,” Middleton said. “We’re starting to figure out these rotations and how we need to play defense and getting back to stuff we were doing last year. It’s been great these last couple games.”

    Greg Monroe is finding his place as the stabilizer. Realizing the team is better when he just relaxes and let’s the game happen, instead of trying to carry everyone.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo is the wild card on this team. Just like any forward who has the moves and agility of a guard, he presents a matchup problem for opponents. The problem is, no one, including the “Greek Freak” knows just how good he can be or exactly where he fits on this team.  

      
    Michael Carter-Williams is the one caught in the middle of this inexperienced team. How is a facilitator supposed to figure out his role when the rest of the team is still defining theirs? 

    That is why he can look so on point some nights and so discombobulated on others. He has shown the talent to be a great leader but will need the most patience to find his niche.  
      
    Jabari Parker has very high exactions to live up to after being a high draft pick but is also the least experienced of this young crew due to missing a major portion of his rookie season with an injury. Because of this, he may take some time to reach his full potential but with the flashes he’s shown I’m sure it will be well worth the wait.

    “I know what skills I have,” Parker said. “I’m just playing my role. It’s there. It’s always been there.”

    John Henson is another player that could turn out to be a star in this league, but Milwaukee has been ultra “patient” with him. However, it looks like he is starting to come into his own as a defensive monster and when he does they will have no choice but to find minutes for him. 

     
    The major negative I see for the Bucks at this moment is that they are too versatile and unorthodox. 

    They have tall guards and very athletic forwards, which makes it sometimes hard to define positions and duties.

     If they are ever able to find were everyone fits and learn to gel these talents,they will create unthinkable match ups and these problems will quickly become positives. 

     
    The front office is dedicated to bringing Milwaukee not only a good team, but one that is built to last for years to come.

    That takes patience, not only with the players, but from fans.

    This young team has already shown talent and maturity beyond their years, and I can guarantee one thing. Even though this team is built for the future, if they continue to progress at this rate… 

     
    Nobody will want to meet these young Bucks in the playoffs this year!

    Why We Should All Boycott the 2016 NFL Season…

    The only thing the NFL has going for it right now is fantasy football. We are all so busy trying to see if our latest waiver wire pickup is going to get us 100 yards and a TD, that we haven’t noticed the rest of the league is on a fast track to the trash heap.

    The parity that we used to love so much, has gotten so far off, that teams are regularly winning their divisions with sub par records.  

     

    I haven’t seen a league this much in shambles since Major League Baseball in the 90’s, when they juiced up the balls and the players, and turned America’s pastime into a out of control slugfest to try to win back the fans they had lost by taking away the purity of the game in the first place.

    The NFL tried the same tactic by taking away the big hits from the defense, and putting a force field around receivers.  

     

    Since that didn’t work, they have basically taken away the run game so teams just throw, throw and throw some more.

    The 23rd ranked QB in 2015 (Tyrod Taylor) had 3,035 passing yards, and 20 passing TDs, on 380 passing attempts, compared to the QB with the most passing TDs in 2002 (Tom Brady), who went for 3,764 yards and 28 TDs, on 601 attempts.  

     

    They’ve made in so easy that anyone can do it, and they want you to believe that sacrifing quality for quantity has somehow improved the game.

    They added instant replay so we could feel like we were somehow in control of the game, but all that happens now is they blow the calls in slow-motion after allowing us to watch them several times.  

     

     
    They’ve let us know that they have stolen the integrity of the game and there is nothing we as fans can do about.

    It used to be that when there was a bad call in the league, fans would bring it up and complain about it all year.

    Now there are so many bad calls every game, every week, that they know we will get exhausted thinking about all of them and will eventually give up and wait til we encounter the same debacle next week.

    Even though they were adamant about defenders not touching the receivers, it happens on almost every play, but it’s up to the refs to decide which ones they want to call and which ones they want to allow. How convenient!

     

    Now if your team loses on a bad call, and you bring it up, you are complaining and making excuses. If your team wins, opposing fans will dig until they find a play that looks like it possibly could have been a bad call and say you cheated. 

     

    When did it get this far out of control?

    When the regular refs had a lockout in 2012 and the league brought in replacements. That year we saw some of the worst officiating possible and the fans were in an uproar. 

     

    For some reason when the “real refs” returned the officiating got better for a minute, but then it went right back to being awful.

    Was the league just trying to get us used to sloppy officiating, so now we know we are just at their mercy no matter what?

    The problem is, there are too many who just want to believe the league still has the integrity it had before the turn of the century.

    These are the same people who refuse to believe that any teams could possibly be cheating, or that the officials may be influencing the outcomes of games. They don’t want to hear it.  They prefer to live in their happy place with the wool pulled over their eyes.

    Then there are others who will tell you that it’s okay. Every team cheats so just get over it. 

     

    I myself miss the NFL the way it used to be. I liked it when QBs had to earn their paycheck like everyone else. When officials made few enough errors that you believed they were actually trying to make the right decision.

    I’m afraid that it’s gone too far. That if we ever want it to go back to the good old days where we actually got what we paid for, we need to start putting our money where our mouth is!

    If we don’t do something fast our new favorite pastime will be gone and we will have to settle for watching the other type of football.

    Aaron Rodgers is the Man…

    They want to convince you that he is washed up and overrated. That he chokes in the playoffs because he can’t handle the pressure. That he is an ordinary quarterback who just had the worst season of his career.

    Why do they want you to believe that?

    Because they are scared to death of him! 

     

    During the regular season opposing fans are not half as concerned about what their team is doing, as they are about what is going on with Aaron Rodgers.

    Why?

    Because when Aaron Rodgers has a horrible season, he throws for 3,821 yards, 31 TDs, and only 8 interceptions, leads his team to the 2nd round of the playoffs and takes them to overtime against the best statistcal team in the league. 

     

    Because as long as the Packers are still winning, and Aaron Rodgers is still at the helm anything can happen.

    The “choke artist” covered 101 yards in 55 seconds with no timeouts to score a touchdown, even though the refs blatantly ignored a pass interference call that ate most of the time off the clock. 

     

    Rodgers didn’t let them get in his head, he just kept doing what he does best. The result was the 2nd best play of the season, a 41 yard Hail Mary pass to Jeff Janis.

    Who had the best play of the season?

    Yep! You guessed it. Aaron Rodgers, when he threw a 61 yard Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers against the Lions. 

     

    Ridiculous plays are just “old hat” for the quarterback that the rest of the league fears.

    They fear him so much that even the refs have to make up new rules to keep him off the field, and rival fans have no explanation for his greatness except that he is paying off the refs. Makes perfect sense right? 

     

    They wanted him off the field even though his receiving core was depleted down to just 3 players due to injury.

    That’s right! James Jones, Jeff Janis and Jerad Abbrederis were all he had left in his wide receiver arsenal when he led one of the greatest drives in playoff history. 

    Yes, there are still good teams, and even great quarterbacks left in the playoffs, and yes we still may witness some magic in the next few rounds. 

     
    But the league undoubtedly robbed itself of the perfect ending when it took the ball out of his hands…

    Because Aaron Rodgers is the Man!!!

    The James Jones Conundrum: Should He Stay or Should He go?

     It’s fair to say that after Jordy Nelson went down with a season ending injury in the preseason, James Jones saved the Packers offense. 

     

    On a receiver squad that was full of inexperience, and veteran Randall Cobb who is better suited for the slot, Jones was clearly the best option as the number 1.

    He immediately proved it by hauling in 21 catches, for 424 yards and 6 touchdowns, as the team won their first 6 games. 

     

    After that he started drawing more attention from defenses, which pulled the coverage away from the Packers other receivers. They answered with a bunch of drops on key plays and the team began to sputter.

    Besides Cobb none of those others receivers had more than two years experience, and a lot of them lost time due to injury.

    The Packers are a team that covet youth. So, even though Jones finished the season with a team leading 890 yards, 17.8 yards per reception, and tied for the the team lead with 8 TDs, he is the only one of the Packers receivers who is not under contract for next year, and will probably be the first one shown the door.

    “I’ve said it before, I would love to finish my career here,” Jones said. “But I said that last time, so… It’s a crazy business. We’ll see what happens.”

    Most Packer fans would love to see what would happen if Jones got another opportunity to line up opposite Nelson with Cobb in the slot. 

     
    What kind of damage could this guy do if he had another top notch receiver drawing the other team’s best defender away from him? Well, he already answered that a few years back when he led the NFL in touchdown receptions.

    With Aaron Rodgers on the wrong side of 30 years old, and the Packers defense playing as well as we’ve seen in years, it would just seem to make sense to let A-Rod keep that extra weapon. To do whatever is necessary to bring another trophy to Title Town. 

     
    But it’s common knowledge in Green Bay, that General Manager Ted Thompson and the Packers front office always make their decisions based on what is better for the team’s future.

    The remaining receivers are all still under their rookie contracts and could make a fearsome foursome in the next few seasons if given the chance to mature under Rodgers.

    So if you had to choose, which one would you let go?

    Davante Adams is the most similar to Jones, and is probably the favorite to replace him. Although oft injured and inconsistent at times, he has shown the ability to make big plays in the clutch and seems to have earned Rodgers trust. 

     
    Ty Montgomery appears to be a younger, bigger, stronger version of Randall Cobb. It showed when we he was on the field, which wasn’t nearly often enough due to injury. 

     
    Jerad Abbrederis has one thing going for him. He was dominant as a Wisconsin Badger and has shown just enough potential as a Packer that the local fans aren’t nearly ready to give up on him. 

     
    Jeff Janis has had few opportunities to prove himself but usually always does. The biggest question is, after shredding the Arizona Cardinals on the big stage, has he finally earned Rodgers trust? 

     
    It’s a hard choice. Considering 3 of the 4 are headed into their third year, which is commonly considered the breakout year for receivers, and the other(Montgomery) possesses the skills coveted in today’s high-octane offenses.

    What Jones brings to this team that none of the youngsters can offer, is a sense of leadership, experience and camaraderie.

    “Man, it was great to be back,” Jones said,”Be back with my teammates, a lot of guys that I came in with for the first seven years of my career. It felt good. I wish it would have ended a different way. It didn’t, but it felt good to be back.”

    I think it’s time the Packers reward that loyalty by finding a way to bring him back   once again, and set this team up for another deep run in the playoffs.