Archive for the Steve Hutchinson Category


Brett Favre Signs With Minnesota Vikings; Storybook Season Begins

All over the NFL on Tuesday, fans, players and critics alike rejoiced over the signing of Brett Favre to the Minnesota Vikings…except for Green Bay Packer fans…then Tuesday was a day of mourning.

To be fair, the Favre signing has brought out three different responses, each unique and passionate in some degree. To those in Green Bay and Packers fans abroad, the signing is seen as a cardinal sin and now has Packer fans ripping the cheese from their brains in disgust.

Another is the response of Minnesota Vikings fans that praise the fact that the quarterback leading them is not a no-namer, but most likely the most famous quarterback to ever play the game.

Then there’s everone else, that are caught to the point of being overjoyed that that madness has ended (or that it now will be a feature every week of the regular season).

The Vikings now enter the 2009 season with a little more confidence in what they now have with their offense. Favre will only be a larger asset to Adrian Peterson and Berrian and will only now have an even stronger arm to stretch the field with. The defense is…well the Vikings defense, a top-five defense and No. 1 against the run.

The biggest thing this season will be the fact that the Vikings needed one piece to their puzzle and Favre will be that piece.

With a storybook like setup, the Vikings are set to claim the prize that has eluded them for almost fifty years. With the Pro-Bowl running back hailed as purple Jesus to the most dangerous defensive line in football, the Vikings suddenly have a staggering team.

Favre has also been (although not open about it) wanting a fitting ending to a legacy that he rightfully claims as his own.

With that said, the NFL no longer has a standing quarterback issue in the making. Michael Vick is an Eagle and now Favre, a Viking. The offseason/preseason is now back in the hands of the NFL, and all is at peace.

What lies ahead can only be described as risky, but who would blame Minnesota? They’ve been living in four empty years since Culpepper was quarterback for the purple.

The Vikings team has an essence if you will, of storybook or comicbook like roster. It’s well known that a lot of the veterans such as Pat Williams, Antoine Winfield and Visanthe Shiancoe were spit out by their former team and have made a name for themselves in Minnesota and made the Vikings a ‘team of the misfit players.’

On top of that, many of the key players on the team carry a name/persona/alias about them. On the defense, Pat and Kevin Williams resemble the wall, Antoine Winfield is the short guy with big hit (which we all saw in his first ever Pro-Bowl season last year) and Jared Allen is the beast (no explaination needed).

On the offense, Steve Hutchinson has taken over the role leader after the departure of Pro-Bowl center Matt Birk. Rookie Percy Harvin was dangerous in college, however it is not known how well his skills will translate yet. 

At the No. 1 receiver position, Bernard Berrian is the ever-dangerous deep threat. Peterson is rightfully becoming one of the most productive running backs in the league and is quickly making a name for himself as “the chosen one.” Brett Favre could very well be the role of the redeemer.

Favre’s very goal is to go out with a bang and who could blame him? Doesn’t everyone want to leave on a good note?

With that said, the Vikings schedule is not only an easy one in 2009, but carries significance each step of the way. In week one, the Vikings face Favre’s former coach, Eric Mangini and the helpless Cleveland Browns.

Of course, the Vikings face Brett’s former team the Green Bay Packers twice, on Oct. 5 in Minneapolis on Monday Night Football and again Nov. 1 in Lambeau. Both games carry emotion for Favre, especailly his homecoming game in Novemer.

The Vikings then face the New York Giants in Week 17 (again), the team that defeated Favre in the NFC title game in 2007, Favre’s last game as a Packer.

It is Favre’s legacy on the line, it is the Vikings Super Bowl hopes and dreams (not to mention Childress’ job), but is it written that Favre will lead this team to the promised land?

Time will tell…

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Minnesota Vikings Look to Go Berserk with Deep Receiving Corps

The champion of the “Black and Blue” division for 2008 was the Minnesota Vikings.  A year of, “Guess Who’ll Be Our Quarterback This Week” was helped by a key win against the Giants as it clinched the division for the Vikings.  Tarvaris Jackson did finish the season strong and led the team to a 10-6 season.

 

The Good

The running back duo is at the top of the league.  Adrian Peterson is the best in the NFL with his power and underestimated speed.  People wonder when he will just fall apart, but so far they have been disappointed on that score. The other half is Chester Taylor, who is the better blocker and receiver.  He completes Peterson and a strong rushing attack.

What has plagued Minnesota since Moss left is now a strength for the Vikings. The receiving corps may actually be relied on this season as it could be the surprise of the league due to its depth.  Bernard Berrian is still the No. 1 receiver and will have a better season because of the receiver on his other side, Percy Harvin.

The Vikings’ first round pick is very fast and has monstrous big play ability. Plus, Harvin can be moved around and can even play running back.

Bobby Wade is the team’s unofficial No. 1 as he has led the team in receptions the last two seasons. He will probably be bumped down to the No. 3 because of Harvin, but he will still be a reliable target.

If having these receivers were not enough, Sidney Rice showed flashes of big play ability as well, but he needs to do it on a more consistent basis if he does not want to get lost in a suddenly deep Viking corps.

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe came out of nowhere last season and was actually one of the most productive tight ends in the league. He did not do much with the Giants, and his first year with the Vikings did not yield much, but as the season moved on, the quarterbacks, mainly Jackson, started to rely on him and came through.

The obvious strength of the team and one of the best units in the NFL is the defense. The line is like no other. Jared Allen was crazed last season as he had his best season in three years.

Then there are the Williams boys who are a whole lot of beef.  Seeing that their suspension won’t go into effect until midseason at the earliest, the dynamic bulk will be shutting down opposing backs once again.

The linebackers are not much to look at, but Chad Greenway is getting closer to being a dynamic linebacker.  Henderson and Leber are not Pro Bowl-caliber players, but they do their part.  With the huge line, their jobs are to basically catch the few people that make it past Williams Wall or Allen’s mighty grasp.

The secondary has been a reliable part of the defense, but it lost its general Darren Sharper. The Vikings were able to sign Winfield to rejoin Cedric Griffin at the cornerback position. It will be up to Winfield or Madieu Williams to be the successor to Sharper.

 

The Bad

The quarterback position is arguably the most important position on a team, but it was a rollercoaster ride in 2008 for the Vikings.

Jackson started out as the starter, but a small injury and inconsistency gave Gus Frerotte the shot. He performed well, but it was not to last as Jackson would later regain the starting job and finished the season on a high note by throwing eight touchdowns with only one or two interceptions.

This season, Jackson will have to beat out Sage Rosenfels for the chance to work with a deep receiving corps.

The offensive line had its way with many defensive lines last season, thanks in part to Matt Birk and Steve Hutchinson.  Now Birk is gone and Hutchinson will have to be the anchor.  Sullivan will have big shoes to fill as he replaces Birk at center.

 

The Ugly

The “Black and Blue” division will earn its name this year as the Bears, Packers, and even the Lions improved greatly during the offseason. The problem is the Vikings gained a talented receiver, but lost in other key positions, making it a toss-up for the division.

The ugliest part of the Vikings’ offseason was the Brett Favre situation. This was the wrong move for Childress and the Vikings, as it revealed a couple things. First, the coaches have no faith in Jackson or Rosenfels, whom the team traded for in the offseason.

Instead of working with a young quarterback who finished the regular season on a high note, the Vikings vied for a retired quarterback who is the reason why the Jets did not make the playoffs last season.

The flip side to that coin is that the team does not have faith in its current personnel to get the job done. Everyone heard how players like Jared Allen were urging, almost to the point of pleading, Favre to join the team. How is a team supposed to win if they do not hold loyalty or have faith in each other and so clearly demonstrate that?

 

Fantasy

Adrian Peterson is the consensus No. 1 fantasy player, enough said.

Berrian is a No. 2 receiver as his quarterback situation is shaky and Harvin will see the ball a lot because of his big play ability.

Shiancoe is a No. 1 tight end if he can improve just a little more. If he can reach the 700 yard mark and score five-six touchdowns like last season, then he will be a good addition.

The Vikings defense gives up few yards, few points, and forces turnovers. It is a top three defense after the Steelers and maybe the Giants.

Kicker Ryan Longwell is accurate and the Vikings will get in scoring range often this season.

The sleeper is Harvin. Everyone knows of his ability, but he can have a year like the Eagles’ Jackson did last season.

 

Season Record Prediction

10-6, Second Place, “Black and Blue Division”

 

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Has Adrian Peterson Actually Hurt The Minnesota Vikings?

The Minnesota Vikings have been arguably the most turbulent franchise throughout the young 21st century. 2000 was a year of offensive prowess powered by the jaw dropping passes from first-year starter Daunte Culpepper and the equally staggering catches by Randy Moss.

 

This campaign, which ended in a 41-0 drubbing laid on by the NFC champion New York Giants, appeared to be the beginning of a run that would land the Vikings at least one championship.

 

However, as is life in the NFL, the Vikings never put together consecutive years of success. Coaching transitions, inconsistency in drafting young talent, egos, and injuries have halted the Vikings from becoming an upper-tier team in the NFC.

 

In 2006 it appeared that the Vikings were in full-fledged rebuilding mode. Brad Childress brought a new attitude to Minnesota that was a breath of fresh air from the disappointing Mike Tice era. Tarvaris Jackson, an inexperienced yet extremely talented quarterback from Alabama State, instilled a hope amongst Vikings brass that the search to replace Daunte Culpepper was finally complete.

 

In a relatively small media market and with little talent to boast, the Vikings were going to spend the next couple of seasons developing their 2006 second-round quarterback and surround him with viable weapons through the draft and free agency. There was little sense of urgency to compile division championships because they simply weren’t very good.

 

But with the seventh pick in the 2007 NFL draft, that all changed.

 

There was no doubt that Adrian Peterson was a physical freak coming out of college. The Oklahoma product punished defenses from the moment he stepped on the field as a true freshman. Remarkably, he finished second in the Heisman voting as a freshman. His next two seasons at Oklahoma were limited by injuries that some NFL scouts worried came from his taxing running style.

 

This deterred some teams from selecting Peterson, but not the Vikings. And they reaped the benefits immediately. Peterson broke the all-time rushing record for a rookie and easily won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Simultaneously, he sparked the Vikings to a surprising run in which a Week 16 Sunday night victory against the Redskins could have catapulted them to a Wild Card berth. However, they lost that game, and finished the season 8-8.

 

While Peterson’s startling rookie campaign brought the Vikings life and a renewed sense of faith within the Vikings fan base, it also created the pressure to win. With a dominant running back tandem in Peterson and Chester Taylor, along with a solid offensive line and a talented defense, the Vikings were forced to abandon their multi-year plan to regain NFC prominence.

 

Heading into 2008, Tarvaris Jackson was not granted the necessary time to develop what many scouts believed he needed in order to reach his potential. Instead, Head Coach Brad Childress placed a leash on the quarterback many thought would be the future of the Vikings franchise.

 

Sure enough, all it took was an 0-2 start for the Vikings to pull Jackson in favor of veteran Gus Frerotte. All of a sudden, the Vikings had strayed away from the plan they hoped would allow them to reemerge as an NFC power.

 

Now, all the Vikings have proved to be is a .500 team with flashes of brilliance, but also long stretches of mediocrity. After grabbing back the starting position in December, Jackson actually played well down the stretch, en route to a division crown for the Vikings. But all positive sentiments coming from that month were washed away in a very pedestrian playoff performance against the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Many believe that Vikings are a win-now team. If Brett Favre signs with the Vikings, then that would confirm that statement. They would be a win in 2009 team. But down the road, many questions would linger: After being benched on multiple occasions, is Tarvaris Jackson the future? What about John David Booty, the Vikings 2007 fifth round pick from USC?

 

The Vikings have very little direction right now. Talent? No doubt. But even with an established veteran at quarterback, gaping holes remain on the current roster. Pedestrian wide receivers, porous special teams, and lack of discipline on the defensive side of the ball highlight their list of weaknesses.

 

Simply put, the Vikings progression has been rushed by the sudden urgency to win, which was triggered by their star running back’s explosion onto the NFL scene. Now, the Vikings are in a win-now position, without the pieces to do it.

 

 

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2009 NFL Team Rankings: 7-13

7. Minnesota Vikings– after a debate between the Vikes the Bears and the Pack I decided the Vikes because of.

Adrian Peterson- Do I really have to go on?

Defense– Against the run I shouldn’t even have to say anything but against the pass they weren’t the best but either way their offense should more than make up for it with a lethal and highly underrated wide receiving corps

There are some questions about QB but they should do good enough to manage the game.

11-5 with a wild card playoff berth

8. Green bay Packers- Yes the NFC North is going to have 2 playoff teams this year. I’ll show you why

Aaron Rodgers– In his first full year as a starter he threw for 4000+ yards with 28 TD’s 

Ryan Grant– He finally took the full load and got 1200+ yards but only 4 TD’s

WR’s- Greg Jennings was a great WR last year but Donald Driver is getting up there in age.

9. New York Giants- Some people will say I am overrating them and some may say I am underrating them but I put them at number 9 because of

Eli Manning- Say what you want about him being overrated but he does what a quarterback does and he wins games.

Brandon Jacobs– Again say what you want about him losing Derrick Ward but he does what a running back does and he gets you touchdowns. In fact he got 15 in 13 games last year.

9-7 while missing out on the playoffs narrowly

10. Houston Texans– I have them as one of 4 bounce back teams for this year and I have them taking the crown of the AFC south. Let me break it down for you.

Matt Schuab– When this guy is healthy you are really not going to fare well. 3000+ yards when missing 6 games? he averaged more than 300 yards per game that’s enough said.

Andre Johnson– He is just a complete beast he led the league in everything but TD’s. He is better than or identical than the “magical” Larry Fitzgerald.

Steve Slaton– He put up 1282 yards in his ROOKIE season which is very impressive. He also benefits from teams having to double team Andre Johnson while Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter have to be covered also.

11-5 with a wild card berth losing to the Chargers in the wild card

11. Baltimore Ravens– After a great 2008 Joe Flacco is looking to avoid the sophomore slump. Why will he? Because of this.

Running attack– Individually this running group just sucks. When put together these 3 people can really bring some numbers. Ray Rice,Willis McGahee, and Leron McLain are good together because McGahee is injury prone.

Defense– Many say this defense carried the team and I would be fine with that as long as they can use their strength to get to the promised land. This defense is top 5 for sure and will be for the next few years.

The WR’s are the Ravens biggest weakness but Flacco is in a run first offense so he will not be asked to put up great numbers.

10-6 with a wild card berth

12. Indianapolis Colts– The Indianapolis Colts have had many greats this decades and still have many but they are now on the decline of a great decade. They will still make the playoffs because of-

Peyton Manning– The official definition of consistent is Peyton Manning. He has never thrown for less than 4000 yards since his rookie season. But that will change this year where he will drop to 3850 yards. Did I also mention he was MVP last year?

WR’s– They have Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzales and Dallas Clark as their TE. Reggie Wayne is highly underrated and one of the best. Anthony Gonzales is going to have a breakout year and Dallas Clark is a great TE.

Their biggest weakness is RB. Joseph Addai has been a dissapointment so far execpt for 2007. Donald Brown shows potential but Joseph is only 25 and will get the work load.

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