Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Friday League: the Bootleg

The Viking Passing Game: Hope you enjoy rollouts
There is one type of play we should expect to see quite often in 2012: a QB rollout with a short dumpoff around the line of scrimmage.

In Christian Ponder's rookie season, the best skill he showcased was mobility and athleticism. But he also took a lot of sacks, tried to scramble a lot, and got forced into some really lousy decisions. Given the Vikings' offensive line problems, it makes sense that Bill Musgrave is going to move Ponder out of the pocket a lot to avoid such problems. Sure, presumably Ponder will improve his pocket presence with experience, and the Vikings can improve their pass blocking. But the Vikes will still be well-served to frequently roll Ponder out off of play action.

And the Vikings' top pass catchers will be Percy Harvin (who plays out of the slot and the backfield, who catches a high number of passes in short range, and is very effective running after the catch) and two tight ends, Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. At this point it doesn't seem likely the Vikings will be adding an immediate deep threat to the roster. Those are players who will catch the ball at or near the line of scrimmage a lot, and without other legitimate WR options, they'll be catching the ball a lot.

The play-action bootleg can be a very good play, leading to the sort of high percentage throws that keep drives moving. I'm not sure, though, that in the NFL you can build an entire passing offense off of it. We'll find out. Get ready for a lot of Christian Ponder running toward the sidelines and bulleting the ball to a pass catcher a few yards in front of him.

Percy Harvin, and why to watch pro sports
If I'm watching a sport, I'd rather watch the best players in the world playing. But I'd also rather watch a sports league where everybody acknowledges that the main goals are to 1) make money and 2) win, without pretending there is some other purpose. Sometimes crassness is better than illusion (I mean, come on).

So I don't care all that much if Percy Harvin was a trouble-maker at Florida (Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, Sporting News). A lot of college students are trouble-makers! I imagine those college students that are begged to attend a given college for free and then treated like the most important people at that campus at a very young age develop the sense of entitlement to cause some trouble. What, eveeeer.

Chuck Foreman and Adrian Peterson
At Football Outsiders, Mike Tanier ranks the top-five Viking running backs, giving Chuck Foreman the nod over Adrian Peterson.

As a runner, I think Peterson has already exceeded Foreman: consider that Foreman's best yards per attempt season is equal to Peterson's worst (4.4), or that Peterson is the first Viking to win a rushing title. But as a football player, Foreman may indeed have the edge.

Chuck Foreman was a very good receiver, which Peterson is not. Foreman had receiving numbers that Peterson hasn't come close to (in shorter seasons, Foreman had four seasons of 50+ catches, with a career high of 73). If you compare the players by their yards from scrimmage instead of just their rushing, Foreman has a case: in their first five seasons, their yards from scrimmage per game is essentially the same (110.9 for Foreman, 110.4 for Peterson).

If you throw out any accounting for their different eras or the quality of their teammates, Foreman did as much as Peterson to help his offense, albeit in different ways.

Fantasy Box: My Unsolicited Fantasy Basketball Strategy
It is simple: avoid players who will tank your free throw percentage. And that means targeting rebounders that also shoot well at the free throw line.

When you draft a team you probably have to sacrifice one or two stat categories, but there's no reason for that category to be free throw percentage. If you focus on big men to get field goal percentage, scoring, rebounding, and blocks, yes, you're probably not going to do well in the assists and steals categories. But there are big men with decent FT%, so there's no reason that has to be a category you sacrifice along with it (and presumably you'll be drafting guards that are good foul shooters anyway).

There's no reason to sacrifice FT%; tank another cumulative stat category, and the efficiency stat category of FT% can just come along with quality players.

Kick Ass Links
Viking Team Needs (PFT).

Ricky Rubio and Minnesota (Grantland).

Mock draft! (SI).

Marvin Mitchell (Star Tribune).

Chris Cook (Pioneer Press).

Here's some video of a public forum about the Viking stadium (here. Oh wait, wrong link. Here. Alright, real link to Star Tribune here, but it isn't as much fun. Or at least I assume, because I didn't watch it: I figured I should justify spending 20 minutes searching for public forum scenes from Parks and Recreation. I'm glad Community is back, but this hiatus from Pawnee has been too much. I'd move to that town if it were real).

A review of Magic/Bird (New York). Weird to look at. I've stared at too many basketball cards of those guys to look at actors dressed up as them.

God bless you, Gregory Pratt. A look at baseball sportswriters and headline writers overusing the "call to arms" cliche (City Pages).

You keep seeing Matt Kalil in the mock drafts: is it all so clear-cut? (Pioneer Press). Probably.

Bloody hell, people. Sharks have been swimming around on this planet for over 400 million years. They predate dinosaurs. And insects. If you are ever worried you have too easy a time falling asleep, just imagine the ages and ages of murderous memory swimming about on this planet.

Have a good weekend, suckers.


  1. You are right to be unsure if, in the NFL, you can build an entire passing offense off of the bootleg. The season finale against the Bears illustrated this nicely. Musgrave called the play where Ponder fakes a handoff and rolls the other way repeatedly. The Bears, particularly Israel Idonije, sniffed it out every time. And it eventually got Ponder drilled (by Idonije) and knocked out of that game.

    I don't blame Musgrave for calling the play a lot. It was one of the few passing plays that worked for the Vikings when he was in there. But it's best used in moderation.

  2. "If you are ever worried you have too easy a time falling asleep,"


    " just imagine the ages and ages of murderous memory swimming about on this planet."



    why am I smiling?

  3. Moderation is best when used within sensible limits.

  4. There was nothing moderate about the Vikings use of the bootleg. They were calling it every third play while Ponder was quarterbacking. At least it seemed that way.

  5. It sure seemed that way. Great article by the way. If all the rummers are true and the Vikings are looking past Kail or to move down. It worries me, like you, that we will be in the same situation as last season. In my opinion the best situation would be a trade around 8-10 where we would pick up multiple picks and still draft a stud L-OT like Riley Rieff, an extremely athletic player from Iowa. Big Ten football makes offensive linemen NFL ready. Having 2 picks in the early second, and maybe 2 in the third would go a long way in filling some of the other holes.