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 Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most 
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Post Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
The Vikings' biggest problem? They're failing when it matters most

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Under head coach Mike Zimmer, they’ve been a team that operates on a thin margin. Sure, they’ve had a few comfortable wins. But generally speaking they wear teams down, keep games close and rely on an ability to make a game-changing play — often on defense or special teams, but sometimes on offense — to rack up wins.

With all of their injuries and problems on the offensive line this season, they’ve become a team of even thinner margins. If one thing goes wrong on any down of any given offensive drive — something big like a penalty or sack but also something as small as a dropped pass to make it 2nd-and-10 instead of 2nd-and-5 — it’s likely to bog down and result in either a field goal or a punt.

That puts even more pressure on the defense, which has been largely OK during this losing skid but also has failed to lock down games (the two against Detroit in particular) that it has converted into victories in the past.

It adds up to a team that largely performs the same for the vast majority of each game but FEELS entirely different than it did even a month ago when crunch time arrives.


The first sentence of the quote above really stood out to me because the same statement could be applied to the Vikings last two seasons under Leslie Frazier. Those teams were also operating on thin margins. They came out on the right side of enough of them in 2012 to win 10 games. They ended up on the wrong side of 5 or 6 close games in 2013 and finished with a losing record of 5-10-1 rather than repeating as a playoff team.

There are obviously differences between the teams the Vikes have fielded over each of the past 5 seasons but that razor thin margin of error strikes me as common to all of them.

How much progress have they really made? :(


Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:47 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Aside from the defense there has been little progress, in my view. And we are currently seeing a decline in the offense for multiple reasons. I find all this disturbing. I also fully agree with Rand's thinking here...

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What we can probably see in retrospect is that the Vikings’ overwhelming turnover margin and propensity to score on special teams and defense earlier this year obscured reality. They were still largely a team operating on thin margins. Their big plays just happened to be exceptionally big.


I know I sound like a broken record but the Viking keep operating as half a team. Season after season they just can't get balanced. Yes, the injuries have been devastating but lately there's always something in the way of this team performing in an elite manner.

For example, during the last two seasons in particular I've been getting increasingly suspicious of the planning and handling of the offense. I don't claim to be on the same level as most NFL coaches, if any of them. But from what I can tell, there have been a fair share of questionable decisions during the last few years, with some of them making the offense look as if it's an afterthought. There are unsettling similarities between this offense and the early years of Chili-ball futility. So I think the "failing" began before the middle of this season.


Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:43 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
"Failing when it matters most" is the freakin' team motto. It's definitely not new to this coaching staff :P

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Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:20 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
We're all sounding like a broken record at this time lol

But I appreciate the nuances of each spin of the record.


Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:22 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Yep.
Nothing appreciably different than Frazier or chili

Who is the common denominator??????


Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Cliff wrote:
"Failing when it matters most" is the freakin' team motto. It's definitely not new to this coaching staff :P


:lol:


Tue Dec 06, 2016 9:59 am
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
2012 and 2013 were much different teams than 2015 and 2016.



In 2012 the issue was the QB and lack of quality WR targets. Defense was good, but not great. Team over achieved thanks to 2000 yd season by #28
in 2013 the issue was the Defense. League worst secondary, couldn't score enough points to overcome that deficiency

Note that in the above years OL was not an issue. QB play, pathetic WR corps, and Defense were.

2014 was a year of transition. We lost AP due to the child abuse scandal and Cassel to injury. Bridgewater ended up having to start sooner than anyone wanted, plus we had a new coaching staff. The defense made big strides towards improving.

2015 Dominant Defense and AP drove success along with just enough plays from TB. OL and Kicker hampered success

2016 Even more dominant Defense, great ST outside of Kicker. WR group emerging. Kicking issue finally got addressed after costing us a few games, OL depleted by injuries. AP also out due to injury.

In 2011 this team was a disaster at LB, Secondary, QB, and WR. Three of those four are now considered a strength. QB seems to be headed in the right direction, but needs to prove it. OL has become a mess in the process of fixing all the other problems.

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Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:52 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
mansquatch wrote:
2012 and 2013 were much different teams than 2015 and 2016.


Sure, but they all operate(d) on thin margins. The details differ but that's remained the same.


Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:02 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Mothman wrote:
mansquatch wrote:
2012 and 2013 were much different teams than 2015 and 2016.


Sure, but they all operate(d) on thin margins. The details differ but that's remained the same.


Aren't "thin margins" kind of the name of the game in the NFL though? Something like 45% of all games since 2002 were won by 7 points or less with 15% of that being victories by 3 points.

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Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:10 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Cliff wrote:


Sure, close games are common enough but not all teams operate on similarly thin margins. For example, the Patriots average scoring margin over the past 6 or 7 years is usually well over a TD a game, often 10 points or more (it's +9.3 this season). Dallas' average margin of victory this season is +8.8. In contrast, the Vikings are at +2.

To nobody's surprise, the Vikings best average scoring margin in the past 10 years came in 2009, when they were at +10.3. Other than that season, their best average in this category since 2003 came last year, when they were at +3.6.

In contrast, NE has only had 1 season lower than +6.3 since 2003 and they haven't had a negative margin in that period, while the Vikings have had several. In fact, they are often up in double digits.

I know I'm comparing the Vikings to the best but that illustrates what's possible and how much distance there is between a team built to win over a long period of time and a team like the Vikes that continually operates on thin margins.

PS.) Those stats are from https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/a ... 2016-12-08


Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:38 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
The ONLY thing the Vikings should be compared to is "The Best". Being the best is the ONLY goal. If Spielman cannot create that kind of structure then he should be gone. Our owner is NOT cheap. He is investing top market money into the team yet we are nowhere near being the leagues premier organization. THAT is failure in my book.


Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:57 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
chicagopurple wrote:
The ONLY thing the Vikings should be compared to is "The Best". Being the best is the ONLY goal. If Spielman cannot create that kind of structure then he should be gone. Our owner is NOT cheap. He is investing top market money into the team yet we are nowhere near being the leagues premier organization. THAT is failure in my book.


I agree: they should be aiming for the top so comparing them to the best is a great way to see how they're measuring up.

Considering how many teams we've seen get to the Super Bowl, much less win it, since the last time we saw the Vikes get there, I think it's safe to say they're not measuring up as well they could. Heck, the Panthers franchise entered the league in 1995 and they've already made it to 2 Super Bowls! The Bucs and Seahawks entered the league the last season the Vikings played in a Super Bowl and they've both been to and won the big game since then. The Seahawks have been there 3 times.

Over the weekend, a friend of mine mentioned the possibility of the Lions getting to the Super Bowl this year and I just said, "Please, no. I don't think i could take it if the Lions won a Super Bowl before the Vikings"!


Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:02 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Mothman wrote:
chicagopurple wrote:
The ONLY thing the Vikings should be compared to is "The Best". Being the best is the ONLY goal. If Spielman cannot create that kind of structure then he should be gone. Our owner is NOT cheap. He is investing top market money into the team yet we are nowhere near being the leagues premier organization. THAT is failure in my book.


I agree: they should be aiming for the top so comparing them to the best is a great way to see how they're measuring up.

Considering how many teams we've seen get to the Super Bowl, much less win it, since the last time we saw the Vikes get there, I think it's safe to say they're not measuring up as well they could. Heck, the Panthers franchise entered the league in 1995 and they've already made it to 2 Super Bowls! The Bucs and Seahawks entered the league the last season the Vikings played in a Super Bowl and they've both been to and won the big game since then. The Seahawks have been there 3 times.

Over the weekend, a friend of mine mentioned the possibility of the Lions getting to the Super Bowl this year and I just said, "Please, no. I don't think i could take it if the Lions won a Super Bowl before the Vikings"!

I agree! I've been a Spielman backer for since he took over completely. But after the last couple of years I'm backing off that support. I really counted on him addressing the o line this year and he has failed miserably imo. We haven't had a decent line in years and this year's troubles are the last straw for me. The guy doesn't know how to build a whole team. He's decent with some picks but can't build a solid complete team in a timely fashion. I'm beginning to think it's time to bail on him.

I wouldn't have any idea who would be better as this is an area where I haven't really paid much attention to NFL wide.

Who would be a better GM?

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Tue Dec 06, 2016 9:25 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
germannorseman wrote:
I agree! I've been a Spielman backer for since he took over completely. But after the last couple of years I'm backing off that support. I really counted on him addressing the o line this year and he has failed miserably imo. We haven't had a decent line in years and this year's troubles are the last straw for me. The guy doesn't know how to build a whole team. He's decent with some picks but can't build a solid complete team in a timely fashion. I'm beginning to think it's time to bail on him.

I wouldn't have any idea who would be better as this is an area where I haven't really paid much attention to NFL wide.

Who would be a better GM?


It's hard to say but I listed a few potential candidates in the "Rick Spielman" thread:

Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio
Dolphins G.M. Chris Grier
Ravens assistant G.M. Eric DeCosta
Chiefs director of football operations Chris Ballard

There are others too. I think Caserio and DeCosta are particularly interesting just because they've both been pretty involved with successful organizations and have seen how things are done in those places.


Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:58 am
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
stealing management from the Pats would be quite the coup!


Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:55 am
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
chicagopurple wrote:
stealing management from the Pats would be quite the coup!



I'd love to see it happen. But I'm not holding my breath on that one.


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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
VikingPaul73 wrote:
Yep.
Nothing appreciably different than Frazier or chili

Who is the common denominator??????


I really hope we arent trying to compare Zimmer and Frazier :steamed:

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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Pondering Her Percy wrote:
I really hope we arent trying to compare Zimmer and Frazier :steamed:


Read the post. It's not a comparison of the two coaches, although there would be nothing wrong with that.


Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:26 am
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Pondering Her Percy wrote:
VikingPaul73 wrote:
Yep.
Nothing appreciably different than Frazier or chili

Who is the common denominator??????


I really hope we arent trying to compare Zimmer and Frazier :steamed:


Why?

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Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:42 am
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Jordysghost wrote:
Pondering Her Percy wrote:
VikingPaul73 wrote:
Yep.
Nothing appreciably different than Frazier or chili

Who is the common denominator??????


I really hope we arent trying to compare Zimmer and Frazier :steamed:


Why?


Based on past comments, I suspect he feels one is so superior to the other that the comparison isn't worth making. However, I really don't think comparing the two coaches is the point in this thread anyway.


Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:54 am
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Mothman wrote:
Jordysghost wrote:
Pondering Her Percy wrote:

I really hope we arent trying to compare Zimmer and Frazier :steamed:


Why?



Based on past comments, I suspect he feels one is so superior to the other that the comparison isn't worth making.


I dont at all mind thinking Zimmer is superior to Frazier. (I do, for one) but I don't think that means one should abstain from a comparison.

I compare players and coaches to their better or worse previous counterparts all the time.

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Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:58 am
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stat ... game/2016/

To the point about tight margins. This information will state the obvious: The NFL is competitive!

Avg point differential by teams is -0.3. If you take out the top 2 and bottom 2 as outliers, the average is close to zero. if you look at only the top teams, including the top 2, the average is 3.17, or a field goal. (Why replacing Walsh was such a big deal...)

Point of this is that teams having narrow margins of error is not uncommon in the NFL. Most games are not blow outs. Dallas' margin of victory over the Vikings was 2 points. Basically the difference between win and loss is as we saw above, a field goal.

Now I agree, our offense is anemic and cannot overcome even the simple mistakes as well as other teams in the league and that is a problem. But the idea that narrow margins are somehow a problem in the NFL denies the data. Most games are close and the teams that win are those that show consistent grit and make fewer mistakes / more plays when it counts. (This is a marked change from Frasier to Zimmer btw.)

I'm still not persuaded that if we had our 5 offensive players healthy this wouldn't be a 10-2 team. The corrollary of that comparison is why it is important. If you accept that having them back makes us 10-2, then it is reasonable to conclude that not having them is a major reason why we are 6-6. Therefore the talent isn't the issue so much as the durability.

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Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:17 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Jordysghost wrote:
I dont at all mind thinking Zimmer is superior to Frazier. (I do, for one) but I don't think that means one should abstain from a comparison.


I don't either. There's value in it and sometime we can learn from such comparisons.


Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:22 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Mothman wrote:
Based on past comments, I suspect he feels one is so superior to the other that the comparison isn't worth making. However, I really don't think comparing the two coaches is the point in this thread anyway.


That's exactly what I think

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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
mansquatch wrote:
https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/average-scoring-margin-point-differential-per-game/2016/

To the point about tight margins. This information will state the obvious: The NFL is competitive!

Avg point differential by teams is -0.3. If you take out the top 2 and bottom 2 as outliers, the average is close to zero. if you look at only the top teams, including the top 2, the average is 3.17, or a field goal. (Why replacing Walsh was such a big deal...)

Point of this is that teams having narrow margins of error is not uncommon in the NFL. Most games are not blow outs. Dallas' margin of victory over the Vikings was 2 points. Basically the difference between win and loss is as we saw above, a field goal.

Now I agree, our offense is anemic and cannot overcome even the simple mistakes as well as other teams in the league and that is a problem. But the idea that narrow margins are somehow a problem in the NFL denies the data. Most games are close and the teams that win are those that show consistent grit and make fewer mistakes / more plays when it counts. (This is a marked change from Frasier to Zimmer btw.)

I'm still not persuaded that if we had our 5 offensive players healthy this wouldn't be a 10-2 team. The corrollary of that comparison is why it is important. If you accept that having them back makes us 10-2, then it is reasonable to conclude that not having them is a major reason why we are 6-6. Therefore the talent isn't the issue so much as the durability.


Injuries are awful, i feel my team would be in a significant more advantagous position if they were less decimated as well. Wish injuries werent part of the game, but unfortunately they are.

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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Pondering Her Percy wrote:
Mothman wrote:
Based on past comments, I suspect he feels one is so superior to the other that the comparison isn't worth making. However, I really don't think comparing the two coaches is the point in this thread anyway.


That's exactly what I think


At this point, that is vastly undeserved imo.

I agree Zimmer is better then Frazier, but he still could stabd to put more distance between them.

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Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:37 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
mansquatch wrote:
https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/average-scoring-margin-point-differential-per-game/2016/

To the point about tight margins. This information will state the obvious: The NFL is competitive!

Avg point differential by teams is -0.3. If you take out the top 2 and bottom 2 as outliers, the average is close to zero. if you look at only the top teams, including the top 2, the average is 3.17, or a field goal. (Why replacing Walsh was such a big deal...)

Point of this is that teams having narrow margins of error is not uncommon in the NFL. Most games are not blow outs. Dallas' margin of victory over the Vikings was 2 points. Basically the difference between win and loss is as we saw above, a field goal.

Now I agree, our offense is anemic and cannot overcome even the simple mistakes as well as other teams in the league and that is a problem. But the idea that narrow margins are somehow a problem in the NFL denies the data.


I didn't deny the data. I pointed directly to It and even included a link.

Removing the outliers and pointing to a league average without them misses the point. The idea is to be one of the teams that's above average, not to be another average team floating around in the middle of the pack. Those outliers at the top tend to be the best teams and the goal is to be the best, correct? Consequently, hovering around the league average for a prolonged period of time is less a defense than an indictment.

Narrow margins are problematic for a team like the Vikings because they reflect a middling team, not an excellent team. Look at Seattle's average scoring margins since 2012. Look at NE's for most of this century. The Vikings need to reach a level where they are one of those positive outliers at the top, a team that gets to the Super Bowl at least once in a while and hopefully wins it.

Quote:
Most games are close and the teams that win are those that show consistent grit and make fewer mistakes / more plays when it counts. (This is a marked change from Frasier to Zimmer btw.)


You could have fooled me.

Quote:
I'm still not persuaded that if we had our 5 offensive players healthy this wouldn't be a 10-2 team. The corrollary of that comparison is why it is important. If you accept that having them back makes us 10-2, then it is reasonable to conclude that not having them is a major reason why we are 6-6.


Unfortunately, I see no compelling reason to believe the team would be 10-2 with those players, even though I think Peterson would make a positive difference.


Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:43 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Pondering Her Percy wrote:
Mothman wrote:
Based on past comments, I suspect he feels one is so superior to the other that the comparison isn't worth making. However, I really don't think comparing the two coaches is the point in this thread anyway.


That's exactly what I think


Nailed it! ;)


Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:45 pm
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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
Jim, Frasier era and Zimmer era couldn't be more different on defense.

PA:
2011: 28.1 (!)
2012: 21.8 (Frasier's best year)
2013 30.0 (!!!!)
2014: 21.4 (Zimmer's first year, worst year, and still better than Frasier)
2015: 18.9
2016: 17.4

In 2016 Seattle is at 16.2. NE and BAL are at 17.3 and the Vikings are at 17.4. That is the top 4 in the NFL. DAL is #5 at 19.0 PPG. An obvious conclusion here is this: How much better would our PPG be with better offensive play?

PF:
2011: 21.3
2012: 23.7
2013: 24.4
2014: 20.3
2015: 22.8
2016: 19.4

There is no doubt the offense has gotten worse. The three worst years on the list were year's in which AP got hurt. OL woes mark all three seasons since Zimmer came here, most notably injuries. After 2015 they tried to fix it and instead more injuries piled up. It isn't lost on me that Ponder's best season was almost a full PPG better than the TB era. That year was also the 2000 yard season, so I don't think it is the QB...

Should be worth noting that AP is probably worth 2-3 PF all by himself. Fixing Blair Walsh and having AP healthy is probably enough to swing 3 losses this season to wins.

If I am going to fault Spielman it is in over drafting CP84 (although he is showing signs of that deal maybe not being AS BAD) and wasting the recent pick on Treadwell. However, on Treadwell I think there is an argument that going OL there would have not made a difference this season given recent OL trends league wide. Still we had bigger needs that WR and Spielman should have anticipated that. They've obviusly not done a good job in bringing OL talent up to NFL speed. However, they also have built a roster that is highly competitive in the NFL. I might counter the OL argument by saying they are healthy RB and non headcase Kicker away from potentially being a #1 seed in the NFC. That has merit, the Point stats support it just as they do the OL argument.

So back to Ricky. If you accept my premise then he has built a roster capable of a 13-14 win season, playing elite defense and special teams. This is why I'm against firing Spielman. It seems extremely likely that a replacement will be WORSE. 13-14 wins in cream of the crop in the NFL. Furthermore, you have to ask the opportunity cost question. (I've brought this up before.) If swapped out one of the past moves (ergo the "miss steps") would this roster be as good as it is today? That is really the question of a GM isn't it?

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Post Re: Rand: Vikings failing when it matters most
mansquatch wrote:
Jim, Frasier era and Zimmer era couldn't be more different on defense.


I appreciate the stats but those particulars aren't the point. To clarify: it's not about comparing the two coaches. The point is that the margin of error has remained thin under Spielman. Gains on defense under Zimmer have been offset by declines on offense.

Quote:
In 2016 Seattle is at 16.2. NE and BAL are at 17.3 and the Vikings are at 17.4. That is the top 4 in the NFL. DAL is #5 at 19.0 PPG. An obvious conclusion here is this: How much better would our PPG be with better offensive play?


Possibly much better but we don't know how much better the offense would be without the injuries. There's literally no way to know what the outcomes would have been if the Vikings had been relatively free of injuries. However, on offense they've fallen from #29 in 2015 to #31 in 2016. That's not a long fall and their previous performances shouldn't lead us to believe they would have been far better if healthy.

Quote:
So back to Ricky. If you accept my premise then he has built a roster capable of a 13-14 win season, playing elite defense and special teams.


But I don't accept that premise and I think the evidence speaks for itself. This roster hasn't approached that many wins and it didn't win 13 or 14 last year either. The only Vikings roster that's come close to the 13 win mark since Spielman's been in Minnesota was the 2009 roster and the key member of that roster was Favre, who was acquired at the 11th hour, a fortuitous move that seemed driven more by desperation than foresight.

Quote:
This is why I'm against firing Spielman. It seems extremely likely that a replacement will be WORSE.


There's no way to predict that either. I see no more reason to believe a replacement would be worse than to believe he'd be better. That seems entirely dependent on the individual and situation.

Quote:
13-14 wins in cream of the crop in the NFL.


You're referring to an entirely hypothetical 13-14 wins. It's just not convincing to use a mark the team has never achieved under Rick Spielman as an argument for keeping Rick Spielman.

Quote:
Furthermore, you have to ask the opportunity cost question. (I've brought this up before.) If swapped out one of the past moves (ergo the "miss steps") would this roster be as good as it is today? That is really the question of a GM isn't it?


I think the real measure of a GM is if he can build a genuine Super Bowl contender and a team with a good chance of sustaining success over a period of years. So far, the answer has been "no".

There's no way to definitively answer your opportunity cost question. It's certainly possible that different moves could have yielded a better result. Things might have ended up worse too. :confused:


Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:13 pm
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