Thursday, March 15, 2012

National Friday League: Coming and Going

Steve Hutchinson
Steve Hutchinson came to the Vikings as the premiere free agent of the Brad Childress era. Acquiring him via the famous "poison pill," Hutchinson was the centerpiece signing of Childress' plan to build the Vikings from the lines first. And during Hutchinson's time with the team, there were some spectacular rushing accomplishments. In 2007, the Vikings rushed for a team record 2,634 yards rushing, which featured an incredible 5.3 yards per rush and included Adrian Peterson's single-game record of 295 rushing yards. In 2008, Hutchinson was a feature blocker for the Vikings' first ever rushing champion, as Adrian Peterson rushed for a team record 1,760 yards. Hutchinson deserves a lot of credit for these accomplishments: he was a major reason the Vikings had their best ever rushing attack during those seasons. Over his six seasons with the team, Hutchinson was a Pro Bowler four times.

But during Hutchinson's time with the Vikes, the offensive line was always better at run blocking than pass blocking, and by the end of his tenure the run blocking was falling off as well (I thought Adrian Peterson did a spectacular job grinding for everything he could in '11, and he certainly had to). The Vikes are rebuilding and Hutchinson is not the productive player he was: it is the right time for him to go.

Joe Webb > Tim Tebow (or, I hesitate to even write about this because by statistical measure Tebow is so obviously terrible)
I don't think Joe Webb should be #1 on the Viking depth chart, but I also think it is worth observing how much objectively better Webb is than Tim Tebow. In their two years in the league, Webb has been the more accurate passer by far (57.9% to 47.3%), and if Tebow's saving grace is his running and mobility, Webb is still better (6.9 yards per rush v. 5.4, 6.7% sack rate v. 9.9%). All this really means is that if you think Tim Tebow can develop into a starting NFL quarterback that you can build around and win with, I can't see any reason you shouldn't think the same of Webb.

The Vikes are slow in Free Agency
At Grantland, Bill Barnwell suggested the Vikings take the 2012 free agent period slowly. I think he makes a convincing argument. The top roster question the Vikings need an answer to is whether Christian Ponder is worth building around for the long-term. There's not an answer now--there likely will be by this time next year. This year the Vikes need to make low-key moves to improve glaring weak spots and build up depth on a shaky roster. Next year, there is a better idea all around where the franchise is or isn't going, and the Vikes know which big money players and big money positions can make the biggest difference for the team.

There isn't one non-QB free agent that would transform the Vikings instantly (a deep threat WR might do it, but FA wide receivers do fail with new teams, often in a major way, and so it isn't a guarantee, and there needs to be long-term rebuilding at the position, not big money for one player). Big name signings give us joy and pleasure in March, but they aren't what's called for to turn this team around.

Basketball Box
Ricky Rubio has been a delight and he will be missed, badly. I really thought the Wolves could not only make the playoffs, but make a little run once they got there. I feel fairly confident that an ACL injury won't damage Rubio's game long-term, but a little bit of joy has left the NBA without him.

This may make you like Robert Parish (Pro Basketball Talk).

I love equivocating statements. At the Pioneer Press: "Charley Walters: Minnesota Vikings still could trade away No. 3 Draft Pick." Of course they could. They could also use it. They could also decide to pass on the pick. They could also figure out if some other team still has rights to Herschel Walker, then trade all their 2012 draft picks for those rights. They "could" do just about anything allowed under league rules and the laws of physics. Some of the things they could do are more likely than others--like either trading the #3 pick, or using the #3 pick. If I had to guess, I'd settle on one of those two things happening. But certainly, there is no question that they "could" trade it. In other news, tomorrow morning it could be sunny. It also could be cloudy. As the Star Tribune wrote last week, "Hartman: Vikings might cut ties with veterans." Sid sure stuck his neck out there making a statement. One probably could go with "will likely" or "almost certainly" if you can't be sure enough to just say "will," but "might" has a certain equivocating beauty to it. When I finish a jog, I might get a drink of water. It makes a whole hell of a lot of sense.

At The New York Times, David Brooks discusses why we don't really get to choose our favorite teams (and at Esquire Charles Pierce, who appears to derive great pleasure in unceasingly mocking David Brooks, has his fun).

I haven't tired of believing in Sage Rosenfels (Access Vikings).

I finally tired of believing in Randy Moss (Pro Football Talk).

In 2007, (essential reading, people. Essential) mock drafted the best film basketball players.

Superstar athletes often make their franchises very rich; at Yahoo!, Mike Ozanian argues Peyton Manning increased the value of the Colts by $233 million (and this argument doesn't even try to take into account the amount of money, through ticket and merchandise sales, Manning brought the franchise over that time) (via PFT).

According to Football Outsiders, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin look very very good.

Have a good one, suckers.


  1. The best part about free agency so far has been the weather here in good ol' Minnesota.

    1. It's feeling very 2007-ish so far. All that's left to do is sign a middling possession receiver and an overvalued special teamer and we're good. I would like them to sign Tracy Porter if he's not too overpriced (everybody is overpriced in free agency).