SKOL Thoughts: Teddy, Rhino’s and Rookies

The middle of August is a very hectic time for me. Fall softball has begun for my children.  School has started back.  Fall sports & play by play on the Homers Radio Network begun to ramp up.  While I love sitting down to record the SKOL Show with my brother in arms, Roger Turner, there just hasn’t been any free time to record.  There is far too much going on with my favorite team to stand by in silence!  So, i’ve decided to put some of these thoughts down in blog form, instead of running my mouth about them.  Enjoy!

Teddy Bridgewater

Rumors are flying. Vikings twitter is in a tizzy!  Teddy is cleared to practice.  Teddy isn’t cleared to practice.  Which is it?  It is my personal opinion that he is probably getting close to coming off of the PUP.  I’m simply basing that off the tweets of several people that are in the know.  I trust their sources.  Up until this past weekend, I would have never considered it a possibility.  Mostly because of Teddy’s contract situation.  I had just assumed Rick was going to store him on the PUP, letting his contract toll for the 2018 season.  Let’s just consider the possibility that this is about to go down.  Sometime, late this week, Teddy Bridgewater returns to practice for the Minnesota Vikings.  Now what?  Does he compete with Sam Bradford immediately?  Does get snaps in the preseason?  Will one of these guys get traded before the season starts?  They are all valid questions.  Every one of them is tough to answer.  Especially when I consider my mindset on this topic just a few days ago.  At this point, however, I have to think that just about anything is possible.  No matter what, I expect the team to bring Bridgewater along very slowly.  One thing is for sure; not placing Teddy on the PUP list to start the season put s the team in a tough spot at quarterback for the future.  Both Bradford and Bridgewater will be free agents after the 2017 season.  If Bridgewater is going to be healthy enough to play sometime this season, one would have to wonder why the team didn’t pick up his 5th year option?  In hindsight, it would have given them a lot more flexibility for the future.  Now the team is in a tough spot.  The only thing worse than having a quarterback controversy, is not having a quarterback at all.  The team is going to have to make a decision at some point during the season.  Which guy do they extend?  Think back to last season.  Through the first 6 weeks, there is little doubt that Bradford would have shown enough to earn him an extension.  Then the bottom fell out.  I would not want to be Rick Speilman in this situation.  One thing is clear.  Vikings nation is firmly in the corner of Teddy Bridgewater.  Even with the surgically repaired leg, most Vikings fans would rather see Teddy start week 1.  We like Sam, sure, but Teddy is our quarterback.  We’re still weeks from the season opener, yet there is drama.  We should be used to it by now.  For the team Teddy camp, I’ll leave you with this.  His number one fan has a bigger voice than any of us.  Remember this?  “I want Teddy.  I don’t want him going somewhere else.” – Mike Zimmer.

Left Guard Battle?

Is there a competition for starting left guard? If you watched Nick Easton’s performance this past Friday night, you may be wondering.  Sure, it’s just a preseason game but the offensive line hasn’t looked that solid in years.  Especially in the run game, an area that Boone has been known to struggle. He was graded as poor by PFF in the run blocking department last season. While he posted a decent pass blocking grade, he was still pretty average among left guards across the NFL.  There is certainly room for a lot of improvement.  We have all heard  Mike Zimmer’s attention to fixing the run game.  Nick Easton may be the answer.  You have to at least wonder if the team isn’t thinking the same thing.  When asked specifically if the team had settled on Berger and Boone as starting guards, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said, “We’ve got a couple more weeks. We’re going to put the best five guys out there.” That would at least seem to leave the door open for a change, if they are serious about putting the five best guys out there. I’m not sold they will really consider benching Boone. He is under contract as the highest paid guard on the roster and carries a contract figure that would leave a little over 3 million if he was cut.  I would think that would eliminate him from being a surprise cut.  Not to mention, with the rash of injuries last season, the team would likely want to hold on to anyone and everyone who can play.  As outspoken as Boone is, putting him on the bench would cause a distraction. I’m pulling for Easton.  The thought of Easton, Elflein and Berger run blocking on the inside excites me.  The thought of having a new starter in every position across the line also excites me.  I would love to distance ourselves from the dumpster fire that has been our offensive line the past two seasons.  I’ll bet Mike Zimmer would too.

Rookies Standing Out on Defense

-Jaleel Johnson – All spring it felt like the team was playing Johnson out of position, as he was backing up Linval Joseph at nose guard.  Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen even commented on how Johnson was struggling in rookie mini-camp and was in danger of not even making the team. It wasn’t until guys like Datone Jones and Will Sutton struggled in camp, that Johnson got his shot to move to three technique.  He’s played both preseason games in that spot, and has thrived.  Sure it was against backup players, but he has been solid enough to get a look with the starting unit, especially with Tom Johnson struggling in the run game.

  -Ben Gedeon – drafted in the 4th round, Vikings fans everywhere immediately questioned the pick.  Penned mostly as an inside backer at Michigan, many didn’t see the pick as a fit with Eric Kendricks and Kentrell Brothers already on the roster.  Emmanuel Lamur and Edmond Robinson were given first crack to replace Chad Greenway as the starting weakside linebacker, but never took the job through the spring or training camp.  Enter Ben Gedeon.  Over the past few weeks, he has slowly emerged as the guy taking all of the first team reps, including a start vs the Seahawks on Friday.  He tallied 5 tackles and looked strong in the run game.  While there is plenty of room for Gedeon to improve in pass coverage, it’s his nose for the football that is currently winning him the starting job.

-Tashawn Bower – just give this kid Mr Mankato, already!  Though the first two preseason games, he has tallied 8 tackles and 2 sacks.  A lot of Vikings fans didn’t know this kid coming into training camp, but anyone that attended practice instantly noticed him.  He’s managed to carry that over into the preseason games.  Many people considered Bower to be simply a pass rusher, but he has shown to be very strong against the run as well.  His performance early on is starting to make Vikings fans wonder if Spielman hasn’t found another LSU diamond in the rough(see Danielle Hunter).  Bower is playing himself onto a roster that is already loaded with defensive ends.

That should pretty much cover it, this week. I’m going to work to have another Mixlr live show, on the Homers Radio Network, next Monday at 7pm.  We’ll follow up on the 3rd preseason game against the 49ers and give some other thoughts on current Vikings news.  I’ve been working with http://MNVikingsCorner.com‘s Daniel House about making a guest appearance on the show.  He has had phenomenal coverage of everything Vikings, all offseason.  If there was a Mr .Mankato for Vikings media, he would be it.  Be sure to check him out @VikingsCorner or @DanielHouseNFL!  Also, be sure to check out http://Vikefans.com or follow them on twitter @Vikefans.  They are big supporters of the SKOL Show and their support is much appreciated.  Last but not least, you can follow myself @StephenATurner on twitter and follow along with everything SKOL Show at @SkolShow on twitter!  Be sure to @ me and let me know your thoughts on our favorite loveable losers, the Minnesota Vikings!