With NBA Free Agency beginning at midnight tonight, few teams are positioned for the future better than the Minnesota Timberwolves. Coming off of a 16-66 season (worst in the NBA) there wasn’t much the Wolves could ride home about. Andrew Wiggins was acquired in a deal that sent superstar Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wiggins came in and dazzled en route to Rookie of the Year honors. Rookie guard Zach Lavine showed off his athleticism winning the NBA Dunk contest in dominating fashion. After this injury plagued season, the Wolves were going to get a high draft pick, and ended up winning the Draft Lottery with many expecting New York or Los Angeles to win despite the Wolves having the worst record and greatest chance to win. With the Timberwolves winning the lottery, they were poised to add another cornerstone to a solid foundation for the future.
With the first pick in the 2015 NBA draft the Wolves selected Karl-Anthony Towns out of Kentucky. He’s a big man with a versatile skill set. He has a sweet shooting stroke, can block shots with overall solid defensive play, and post-up in the paint. The Wolves needed a dominant big man to pair with Andrew Wiggins and this could become one of the league’s dynamic duos in years to come. It will be interesting to see if Towns can live up to the hype of being the first pick in the draft. He should be a solid piece for this team to build around.
Later on in the first round, the Cavaliers selected Tyus Jones (Point Guard out of Duke University, and native of Apple Valley, MN). The Cavaliers then traded the Point Guard to Minnesota in exchange for it’s two second round selections (31 and 36 overall). The trade brought the hometown kid back to Minnesota. He now has a chance to fill the backup Point Guard role behind Ricky Rubio and potentially win an NBA championship on the same floor he won a state championship on his high school days at Apple Valley.
As far as I am concerned, the Timberwolves hit a homerun at this year’s draft and have a young corp that will be formidable. With players like Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach Lavine, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgei Dieng, and Tyus Jones they have a young nucleus loaded with great talent.
After a controversy filled 2014, the Vikings going into this off-season as a team on the rise. New head coach Mike Zimmer went 7-9 in his first season which was a couple of possessions away from 9-7 (losses to Miami and Buffalo in the last seconds of these games). After a lackluster year in 2013, the Vikings looked lifeless. Zimmer came in and helped inject much needed juice into the organization. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had to work without Adrian Peterson and Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph (most of the year) and still finished with a Rookie of the Year season. Every successful organization has a great Quarterback and Head Coach combination. Going forward, Mike Zimmer and Teddy Bridgewater set the Vikings up for success for many years to come. However, in a division with Green Bay, Detroit, and Chicago in it, it’s a tough road. It’s a road the Vikings aren’t afraid to face head on.
At the combine this week, Coach Zimmer said, “I have to do a much better job and I need to be more demanding this season. We need to get better and the message will be clear when I put in the tape we’ll show our guys when they come in for the first week of OTAs.”
The one big question coming into this new season is, will Adrian Peterson be back? Peterson’s cap hit for this year is $15.4 million and the Vikings would gain $13 million in cap space if he was released or traded. The trade value for Peterson is not great. Releasing him may sound appealing with a deep pool of quality free agents and draft picks, but that move does not make the Vikings a better team. The organization seems to want him back, but with recent comments from A.P claiming his uneasiness about coming back, the feeling does not appear to be mutual. Personally, I would love to see the 2012 MVP come back, with a chip on his shoulder and add the dynamic element he has brought to this team for several years.
With the draft and free agency upcoming I expect to see an aggressive approach to both. Rick Speilman has managed to bring in 7 first round picks the last 3 drafts and not mortgage the future on them. That’s an impressive feat to say the least. With the 11th pick in this years draft, I expect the Vikings to go with a receiver who can stretch the field and add to an already talented receiving corp. It was an underachieving group and without a true number one receiver, it’s a glaring need. Devante Parker went to Louisville, as did QB Teddy Bridgewater, it could be a reunion in the making. However, nothing would surprise me and I could see the Vikings looking elsewhere. The Vikings have a few holes in their defense that could easily be filled in the early rounds or via free agency.
It will be interesting to see how the Vikings improve heading into the 2015 season. Hopefully it will be a step forward to becoming a Super Bowl contender.
In 2012, the Vikings had one of the best drafts in the NFL. As a result of their great work on draft weekend, the Vikings went from a 3-13 team in 2011 to a 10-6 team in 2012. That’s the biggest one season turn around in Vikings franchise history. It’s fair to say the franchises’ fan base has been rejuvenated. Fans like myself are really looking forward to the 2013 season in hopes of seeing an even better football team. However, in a tough NFC North division, it could be a tough road. Quarterback Christian Ponder is still young and developing and does not have much depth as far as his receiving corp goes. And the whole Percy Harvin drama worries me a little. I’d say just give the guy the money he deserves to get him to calm down. I’d hate to see a guy of Percy Harvin’s talent get away and I’m hoping Rick Speilman and the front office can iron things out with the best receiver to play in Minnesota since Randy Moss. I still remember how things went down with Randy after the 2004 season, and I’d hate to see that happen with Harvin. The Vikings have the 23rd pick in this years draft, here’s what I think the Vikings should do with that pick.
Here are the two needs that stick out with the Vikings: Middle Linebacker and Wide Receiver. At Middle Linebacker, there are two players who may be on the board still, despite their on field talent, due to off the field issues. The players are Alec Ogletree from Georgia and Manti Teo from Notre Dame. I think either of these guys could come to Minnesota and become a starter and be an upgrade from Jasper Brinkley. Another option for the Vikings is to get a big vertical threat at Wide Receiver. The guy I think would be a great value pick would be Robert Woods out of USC. Seeing as how the Vikings selected two players out of USC last year (Matt Kalil and Rhett Ellison), he may be able to progress quicker in the Vikings offensive system than other prospects.
I’m really looking forward to this years draft. Can’t wait to see what happens
Over 50 years of Vikings football has been played in Minnesota. Of those, 30 have been played in the Metrodome. Many people, including myself think the Metrodome is outdated and the Vikings needed a new facility. After this last season, the Vikings lease was up. They were free to move wherever they’d like. But, owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, along with the rest of the organization have been committed to a stadium solution in Minnesota. After a week of debating in the Minnesota state legislature, a solution has been reached. The bill will now have to be approved by the Minneapolis city council and signed by Governor Mark Dayton, which is expected to happen within the next two weeks.
Over the last week fans rallied at the Mall of America and the capital, urging their elected officials to vote YES on a stadium bill. Well, it was all worth it, because the bill has been passed. The new stadium is going to be open for the 2016 NFL season and will be built at the current Downtown East Metrodome sight. Vikings fans can rejoice because the Vikings will be in Minnesota for the next generation of fans.
As a longtime Vikings fan, I’m very happy about this new stadium. The Vikings will now have a venue Minnesotans can be proud of and have a better game day experience at. The Vikings are contributing $477 million of the $975 million dollar facility, while the state is contributing $348 million, and the city of Minneapolis is contributing $150 million. I’d like to say thank you to all the officials who helped this bill pass. Without you, this stadium wouldn’t be built.
Skol Vikings! Let’s build this stadium!
The Minnesota Vikings are heading into a rebuilding process. Many issues of last year are still present this off-season. However, there’s no lockout, so this offseason is much different. Teams will have OTA’s and Mini-Camps. Leslie Frazier is heading into his 2nd season at the helm of the Vikings. In his first full season, Frazier and the Vikings went 3-13. With a 3-13 season comes rebuilding. It also means getting a high pick at the NFL draft.
To kick of the 2012 draft many knew who the 1st two selections would be. Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck went to the Indianapolis Colts, and Robert Griffin III QB from Baylor went to the Washington Redskins. The 3rd pick was going to be the first “interesting” pick. The Vikings had three different ways they were looking to go. There’s what many thought was the obvious choice, Matt Kalil (LT, USC). Then there were two wild cards, Justin Blackmon (WR Ok. St), and Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU). Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman had very high praise for Morris Claiborne despite his 4 out of 50 score on the Wonderlic test done each year at the NFL Combine to test players’ intelligence. After hours on the phone with the Cleveland Browns, a deal was struck. The Browns swapped first round picks, so the Browns took Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama). The Vikings got a 4th, 5th, and 7th round pick in the trade. Matt Kalil got the phone call from Vikings brass saying he was the newest Minnesota Viking.
Matt Kalil was one of the best offensive linemen in college football. Like his brother Ryan (now playing Center for the Carolina Panthers), played at USC. He became an All-American tackle at USC and was nicknamed “The Hammer”. Kalil now has the task of protecting Christian Ponder’s blindside and becoming a franchise Left Tackle.
Next, the Vikings traded back into the first round. For the first time since the 2005 draft, the Vikings would have two first round selections. After trading their 2nd round pick and a 4th round pick, the Vikings were in position to draft Harrison Smith. Secondary play was mediocre in last years dismal campaign. With the 29th pick, the Vikings selected Harrison Smith (S, Notre Dame). Smith can be inserted in the starting lineup right away and can contribute on special teams.
In the 3rd Round, the Vikings still had many holes to fill on their football team. Keeping with the secondary theme, the Vikings selected a Cornerback. Josh Robinson out of Central Florida. He’s short for a corner. Robinson also ran a 4.33 40 yard dash at the combine, the fastest of any prospect in attendance.
In the 4th round, the Vikings changed things up. Getting away from the defensive side, the Vikings needed a Wide Receiver. With their 1st of 2 4th round picks, Minnesota selected Jarius Wright (WR, Arkansas). He was a reliable receiver at Arkansas from 2008-2011. Now he joins a receiving corp that lacks talent with the exception of Percy Harvin.
The Vikings had another 4th round selection, and this pick kind of confused me. But, with their second 4th round pick, the Vikings selected Rhett Ellison out of USC. Ellison got most of his time at Tight End but also got time at fullback, which is a need for the Vikings. With Jim Kleinsasser gone, someone will need to fill the role he played.
Heading into the ladder rounds of the draft, the Vikings used a 5th round pick on another Cornerback. The Vikings selected Robert Blanton (CB, Notre Dame). Blanton is a tall cornerback, who could also play Safety. It will be interesting to see how he fits into the Vikings defensive scheme.
With their 2nd 5th round pick, the Vikings went back to the offensive side of the ball. The Vikings selected Greg Childs (WR, Arkansas). Clearly there is lack of depth at Wide Receiver, so Childs could see some playing time early. Childs ran a 4.41 40 yard dash at the combine, and said “I’m just a playmaker.” We’ll see what he has to offer very soon.
Heading into the 6th round, the Vikings pulled a rabbit from the hat with a very peculiar pick. Instead of addressing a need at Linebacker, the Vikings got a Kicker. Blair Walsh out of Georgia. The Vikings have a Kicker, long time All-Pro Ryan Longwell. So, I’m guessing Walsh will either be cut, or be put into the placekicking role.
In the 7th round the Vikings picked LB Audie Cole and DE Trevor Guyton. Each will have a tough road to making the team. Cole could contribute on special teams, but I don’t see where Guyton will fit in.
Thanks for reading my Vikings Draft recap and analysis. Im satisfied with the Vikings’ picks, but I want to see them on the field. I’d give the Vikings a B for a grade. Now the Vikings will sign some un-drafted free agents and get ready for OTA’s and the 2012 season.
In my previous blog post, we discussed the AFC teams that I predict will finish last in their division. Next, we’re going to take a look at the worst teams in the NFC. Let’s take a look into the NFC North, the division my hometown Minnesota Vikings play in.
Last season, the NFC North was very underrated. Chicago and Green Bay surprised many by ending up with 11-5 (Bears) and 10-6 (Packers) records. Green Bay was 8-6 after 14 games and crushed the New York Giants and narrowly defeated the Chicago Bears to end up at 10-6 and the 6th seed in the NFC playoff bracket. Green Bay had the most injuries of any NFL team and still won the Super Bowl. A few starters are returning that were hurt last year. I’m expecting Green Bay to win their first NFC North title under Aaron Rodgers. Chicago also stayed competitive last season and won the NFC North. However, last year was a fluke for Chicago in my opinion. They’ve added former Cowboys, Marion Barber and Roy Williams. Repeating as NFC North champions will be a difficult task for the Bears. Then there’s the Minnesota Vikings who didn’t live up to the high expectations of last season. Last year was a total disaster in Minnesota. Expectations aren’t so high in Minnesota this year. However, Minnesota did get a proven winning veteran Quarterback in Donovan McNabb. We all know how Washington threw McNabb under the bus last season, and the Redskins sent him to Minnesota. The Vikings dumped LT Bryant McKinnie and lost DE Ray Edwards and WR Sidney Rice to Free Agency. However, Donovan McNabb still has a talented team around him. So I expect Minnesota to surprise many and get into the playoffs. Last, we have the Detroit Lions. Detroit fans have had a miserable franchise for a long time. But this year, could be a different story. Winning their last four games last year, they have momentum heading into this year to build off of. Matt Stafford looks like a promising QB, but he needs to stay healthy. The defense has also taken steps forward by signing former Titans LB Stephen Tulloch and drafting Auburn DT Nick Fairley. However, they will be the cellar dweller team this year. I won’t believe Detroit’s uprising until I see them winning consistently.
Heading down south the NFC South division could be the best division in football. There’s the 2009 champion New Orleans Saints, the rising Atlanta Falcons, and upstarting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Atlanta traded five draft picks to add one of the top WRs in the NFL Draft in Alabama’s Julio Jones. The Falcons have all the pieces to make a deep post-season run. New Orleans has one of the NFL’s top Quarterbacks in Drew Brees and the NFL’s best passing attack. The Saints should win plenty of games this season and will find a place in the playoffs. Tampa Bay also surprised many last season. But, I think in a tough conference and division, it could be difficult for the Buccaneers to duplicate the success they had last season. I expect a third place finish from Tampa Bay. In Carolina, it was a complete disaster last season. With the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton, QB out of Auburn. Cam Newton has a lot of upside, and could win the starting job in Carolina as a rookie. However, he’s in a very competitive division, and I can’t see them anywhere but last place in the NFC South.
People usually have thought that the NFC East was the toughest division in football. The NFC East hasn’t been represented in the Super Bowl since 2007, by the miracle run of the New York Giants. They beat the Super Bowl favored Cowboys in the playoffs that season. Now, the Giants don’t look so great. The Cowboys will be a better football team this year under Jason Garrett. New York Head Coach Tom Coughlin has his job on the line this season, and I think the Giants will falter under the pressure. Then there’s the “Dream Team” in Philadelphia. The Eagles could fly all the way to the Super Bowl. They’re my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. But, we want to single out one team to be the cellar dweller right? Well, Washington has given up on their season. There’s no talent on this team at all and the Head Coach axed his two star players in Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth. Not only do I think the Redskins will be last in the NFC East, but I think they’ll be last in the NFL.
From the east coast, we head to the west coast. The NFC West has been the weakest division in football for a few years in a row now. Last year the Seattle Seahawks got into the Playoffs with a 7-9 record. Don’t expect that to happen again any time soon. Seattle lost it’s franchise Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to the Tennessee Titans. But, they brought in QB Tarvaris Jackson and WR Sidney Rice from the Minnesota Vikings. Tarvaris Jackson is not much of a QB and Pete Carol isn’t much of a coach, so I don’t expect them to win many games this season. But, the 49ers have an even worse QB situation and they have a rookie Head Coach. Jim Harbaugh could turn the 49ers into a winning team, but I don’t think he can do it with Alex Smith.
The NFL to me is the best reality show on television. There are 32 teams trying to put together a season where they can call themselves champions. Only 12 teams (6 from each conference) will have the right to be in the NFL Playoffs out of 32. There will always be the teams that end up being last in their division, or what I call cellar dwellers. Here are the teams that I’m predicting will be cellar dwellers in the AFC when the 2011 NFL season is over.
To start off in the AFC West there are a couple of teams that will contend, the Kansas City Chiefs (defending AFC West Champions) and the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have been perennial contenders ever since the Drew Brees and Marty Schotenheimer days. But then I look at the other two teams. There are the Oakland Raiders who always seem to find a way to lose, and the Denver Broncos. John Elway is now in the front office in Denver, which will help get the Broncos back into contention. The Raiders however keep spending their money on the wrong players, then draft guys like JaMarcus Russell. You’ve got to be kidding me Al Davis. There’s not much to work with on the Raiders at all, throw in a Rookie head coach in Hue Jackson and you’ve got a formula for disaster in Oakland. The cellar dweller in the AFC West will be the Oakland Raiders.
Heading up north the AFC North seems very lethargic. It’s the same situation as the AFC West. You’ve two teams that will be contending, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. Then you have two teams who are absolute disasters, the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. Bengals Quarterback Carson Palmer retired leaving them with his brother Jordan Palmer and Andy Dahlton left as their options at Quarterback. Wide Receiver Chad Ocho Cinco was finally granted his wish and the Bengals traded him to the New England Patriots. Cincinnati’s defense is terrible as well. Fans of the Bengals, sorry to say this, but you might as well throw in the towel. Expect the Bengals to dwell in the cellar of the AFC North.
Down south, things seem to be very competitive. In the AFC South there are four teams who have a chance to get to the post-season. No team should be terrible, but one team has to be singled out. It’s unfortunate because the AFC South could be considered the best division in football. You have the best QB in the NFL in the division with Colts future Hall of Fame inductee Peyton Manning, the upstart Houston Texans, and the gritty teams in Tennessee and Jacksonville. Tennessee begins a new era with Mike Munchack after 17 seasons of Jeff Fisher’s leadership. However there’s plenty of talent on the Titans roster, so expect them to compete. In Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio is holding for dear life to his head coaching job. The Quarterback situation is rocky at best. They have long time starter David Garard, who has not produced and first round pick Blaine Gabbert. The offense hasn’t been good but the defense looks good. But, unfortunately I’m going to have to single out the Jaguars and label them as my AFC South cellar dwellers.
Last but certainly not least I take a look into the AFC East. The AFC East is another division where you have two contenders and two pretenders. The New England Patriots led by Head Coach Bill Belechick and QB Tom Brady have been contenders ever since 2001. There shouldn’t be any guessing about the Patriots. New York also has an exciting team in the Jets. In Buffalo, it’s not a good situation at all and in Miami there’s not much there either. Miami lost out on Kyle Orton and will have to rely on Chad Henne which will probably end up being a disaster. There’s a little more talent in Miami than Buffalo. Buffalo has been a terrible organization for years and I don’t expect it to change soon. So, I’ll make this quick and say Buffalo will be the cellar dwellers out east.
With the tumultuous 2010 season behind the Minnesota Vikings, many Vikings fans are wondering, will 2011 go even worse for the Vikings? The Vikings have many problems to deal with as a franchise. First of all, the Vikings have no stadium situation in cement after this NFL season. That is a big issue the Vikings and their fans have to deal with. Last year, head coach Brad Childress was fired after a 3-7 start to a season many thought would be successful. Minnesota named Leslie Frazier the new head coach and the team responded well. The Vikings posted a 3-3 record under Frazier despite the Metrodome roof collapsing and a Tuesday night game in Philadelphia. An off-season headlined by the NFL lockout, Frazier nearly cleaned house with his coaching staff. The only survival being current defensive coordinator Fred Pagic. With the NFL lockout coming to a close in the near future, the Vikings will finally be able to prepare for the 2011 season.
2011 is not a season full of expectations in Minnesota. But the Vikings can finally turn the page on Brad Childress and Brett Favre and usher in a new era of Vikings football. If the front office can re-build this football team and load it with talent, I believe Leslie Frazier can take the Vikings deep into the post-season. The Vikings have not had a chance to sign their free agents or negotiate with their draft picks. In this post I’d like to focus in on the Vikings Quarterback situation.
With the 12th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the Vikings selected Christian Ponder, Quarterback out of Florida State. Coming from an NFL like Jimbo Fisher offense, Ponder could have an easier time adjusting to the NFL than other rookie Quarterbacks. Now, the guy is a rookie who I believe should be able to sit on the bench, clipboard in hand for 2-3 seasons under the mentorship of a veteran Quarterback. The other QB on the Vikings roster is Joe Webb, who only has 2 NFL starts to his credit, going 1-1 in them. He is a freakish athlete, but pure athletic ability won’t get you far as an NFL QB. In an NFC North division stacked with Quarterbacks, the Vikings will need to come up with someone better than Joe Webb or Christian Ponder. Now, I think there are plenty of options out there. Notable free agents include Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, and Matthew Hasselbeck. Any of those three could easily come to Minnesota and be the starting Quarterback. Other QBs on the trade market include Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb. If the Vikings can get one of these guys in Minnesota, 2011 could be a year where the Vikings make the post-season.
Overall, the situation in MN is not looking pretty. I’m just hoping for the Vikings to not be in 4th place in the NFC North at the end of the season.
This baseball season, no big blockbuster trades have occurred. With the July 31st deadline approaching, we’re bound to see some deals go down. My favorite baseball team, the Twins are in 4th place in the American League Central division. If the Twins want to make a post-season run, trades will need to happen. With Denard Span coming back soon and Ben Revere playing like an everyday player in the Big Leagues should, an outfielder has to go. Delmon Young has been a big disappointment in my regards. Last year he had a career season. One big need the Twins need to fill is a starting pitcher. The pitching has not been great for the Twins like it was in 2010. Another tradable player on the Twins roster is Matt Capps. The Twins brought Capps in last year to close. This year he has blown 7 or 8 save opportunities. If those opportunities were not blown, the Twins would be 55-45 and in 1st place in the AL central. Two other disappointments have been Matt Tolbert and Luke Hughes, they need to be dealt. Another guy who should go is Jason Repko, Trevor Plouffe and Rene Tosonni are more deserving of roster spots. If the Twins want to get out the AL central basement, the Twins have a lot of ground cover and not a lot of time to cover it.
Hey everyone. This is my first post on my mnsportsfan blog. Today I will be writing about my favorite baseball team, the Minnesota Twins. At the end of May, most fans including me thought the season was all but over and it would be a miserable year. I thought the Twins might even be as bad as the 2003 Detroit Tigers. After a 17-37 start to the season the Twins went 24-11 heading into the All-Star Break. Three key Minnesota Twins players are still out with injuries; Denard Span, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel. All three players should be back for late July to late August. Also Kevin Slowey the Twins long relief pitcher and starting pitcher Scott Baker are still on the DL. However Delmon Young will be returning to the lineup tonight against Kansas City. With the Twins only 6.5 games back the Twins still have a chance to win the AL Central division title. To make the post-season for a 3rd straight season, the Twins will need to keep pitching and scoring a lot of runs to have a chance. The Wild Card is NOT an option for the Twins because the Yankees or Red Sox will win that spot. Baseball’s 2nd half should have a lot of good in store for the fans. Hopefully the Twins go all the way and bring a championship back to Target Field!