VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData and Patrick Donnelly, who has written on a variety of Minnesota sports topics. Mitchell and Donnelly are Twin Cities-based Vikings and NFL experts who crunch numbers, watch video and tell you what's on their minds.

Posts about Tarvaris Jackson

Reviewing a decade of drafts

Posted by: Patrick Donnelly Updated: April 26, 2012 - 12:33 PM

How will we look back on the Vikings' 2012 draft? The Purple could reap a harvest of multiple Pro Bowlers, consistent starters and quality reserves, as they did in 2007 and 2003. They could bring aboard a heap of busts that would make the 2005 draft look decent by comparison. Or they could land somewhere in the middle.

Let's take a look at their last 10 drafts to see how each group of rookies stack up. For the purposes of our discussion, we've sorted the picks into the following categories: 

Pro Bowlers: Actually selected to the Pro Bowl roster, not named as a replacement for an injured player or a Super Bowl participant

Starters: Have started at least eight games in a season, either for the Vikings or another team

Reserves: Made the Vikings' roster but did not start at least half of a season

Never made the roster: They might have played for somebody else, but they never made the Vikings' 53-man team.

And away we go …


2011

Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Christian Ponder (1), Kyle Rudolph (2)
Reserves: Christian Ballard (4), Brandon Burton (5), DeMarcus Love (6), Mistral Raymond (6), Brandon Fusco (6), D'Aundre Reed (7), Stephen Burton (7)
Never made the roster: Ross Homan (6)

 

2010
Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: None
Reserves: Chris Cook (2), Toby Gerhart (2), Everson Griffen (4), Chris DeGeare (5), Joe Webb (6), Mickey Shuler (7), Ryan D'Imperio (7)
Never made the roster: Nate Triplett (5)

 

2009
Pro Bowlers: Percy Harvin (1)
Starters: Phil Loadholt (2), Asher Allen (3), Jamarca Sanford (7)
Reserves: Jasper Brinkley (5)
Never made the roster: None

 

2008
Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Tyrell Johnson (2), John Sullivan (6)
Reserves: J.D. Booty (5), Letroy Guion (5), Jaymar Johnson (6)
Never made the roster: None

 

2007
Pro Bowlers: Adrian Peterson (1), Sidney Rice (2)
Starters: Marcus McCauley (3), Brian Robison (4)
Reserves: Aundrae Allison (5), Rufus Alexander (6)
Never made the roster: Tyler Thigpen (7), Chandler Williams (7)

 

2006
Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Chad Greenway (1), Cedric Griffin (2), Ryan Cook (2), Tarvaris Jackson (2), Ray Edwards (4)
Reserves: Greg Blue (5)
Never made the roster: Tyrone Culver (6)

 

2005
Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Troy Williamson (1), Erasmus James (1), Marcus Johnson (2)
Reserves: Ciatrick Fason (4), C.J. Mosley (6)
Never made the roster: Dustin Fox (3), Adrian Ward (7)

 

2004
Pro Bowlers: None
Starters: Kenechi Udeze (1), Darrion Scott (3), Mewelde Moore (4)
Reserves: Dontarrious Thomas (2), Nat Dorsey (4), Rod Davis (5), Jeff Dugan (7)
Never made the roster: Deandre' Eiland (6)

 

2003
Pro Bowlers: Kevin Williams (1), E.J. Henderson (2)
Starters: Nate Burleson (3), Eddie Johnson (6)
Reserves: Onterrio Smith (4), Mike Nattiel (6), Keenan Howry (7)
Never made the roster: None

 

2002
Pro Bowlers: Bryant McKinnie (1)
Starters: Brian Williams (4), Nick Rogers (6)
Reserves: Raonall Smith (2), Willie Offord (3)
Never made the roster: Edward Ta'amu (4), Chad Beasley (7)

VikesCentric: A memorable rivalry

Posted by: Patrick Donnelly Updated: October 7, 2011 - 10:41 AM

 

For two teams that don't play in the same division, the Vikings and Cardinals have put together a pretty impressive run of memorable games lately. Sunday's game will be the sixth meeting between the teams in the last nine years, and four of the last five games have carried special significance for the Purple.

So join us, won't you, as we take a walk down memory lane and revisit this curious rivalry between the desert dwellers and the tenants of the tundra.

Nov. 7, 2010 – Vikings 27, Cardinals 24 (OT)
Fresh off the debacle in New England and the release of Randy Moss, Brad Childress needed his team to make a statement in the Metrodome in order to save his job. But for the first 55 minutes of the game, that statement appeared to be, "Fire the bum already!" The Cardinals led by 14 and the Vikings were spinning their wheels until Brett Favre briefly became The Ol' Gunslinger again, leading the offense on two TD drives in the final 4 minutes and 32 seconds and sending the game into overtime on a 25-yard strike to Visanthe Shiancoe with 27 seconds left.

Favre threw for a career-high 446 yards, including a 22-yard pass to Bernard Berrian (he must have had no other options) that set up Ryan Longwell's 35-yard game-winning field goal that temporarily calmed the fans' thirst for Childress' blood.

"I think they came expecting to see an execution, and it ended up a pretty good football game at the end," Childress said afterwards. But it was just a temporary reprieve for the 3-5 Vikings and their beleaguered head coach. Two weeks later, after a listless home loss to the Packers, the fans got their wish and Chilly got his pink slip.

 

Dec. 6, 2009 – Cardinals 30, Vikings 17
The Vikings were riding high at 10-1 when they traveled to Phoenix to take on the Cardinals in a nationally televised Sunday night game. The offense had been held below 27 points only once, in their lone loss at Pittsburgh a month earlier. But Favre threw two picks (after having thrown only three in the previous 11 games) and Adrian Peterson was held to 19 yards on 13 carries as the Vikings fell behind 21-10 at the half and didn't do much the rest of the way.

In many ways, this game was the beginning of the end for the magical 2009 season. Favre was seen quarreling with Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on the sidelines, the first actual evidence of the infamous schism that became an undercurrent of the final two months of the season. Throw in E.J. Henderson's gruesome broken leg, which forced rookie Jasper Brinkley into a key role the rest of the way, and this loss knocked the Vikings off-kilter on both sides of the ball.

 

Dec. 14, 2008 – Vikings 35, Cardinals 14
At 8-5, the visiting Vikings needed two wins in their last three games to wrap up a playoff berth, while the Cardinals already had sewn up the NFC West (their first division title in 33 years), and from the outset it was clear which team had shown up to play. Stepping in for the injured Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris Jackson threw a career-high four touchdown passes and the Vikings raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Berrian returned a punt 82 yards for Minnesota's first score, and Jackson later hit him on a 41-yard rainbow for another TD (too bad B-Twice wasn't on Twitter yet) and the rout was on.

The Vikings went on to beat the Giants in Week 17 to clinch the NFC North before losing to the Eagles and some guy named McNabb in the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals were destroyed in New England the next week, then rattled off a nice little four-game winning streak to reach their first-ever Super Bowl.

 

Nov. 26, 2006 – Vikings 31, Cardinals 26
Umm … OK, this one's not actually worth remembering. The Vikings got three TD passes from Brad Johnson (to Marcus Robinson, Billy McMullen and Jeff Dugan – I told you it wasn't worth remembering) while Cardinals rookie Matt Leinart threw for 405 yards, a mark he hasn't come close to matching since. Denny Green made his not-so-triumphant return to Minnesota that day, but his 2-9 Cards were no match for Chilly's 5-6 juggernaut. Arizona did tie an NFL record with two 99-yard touchdowns – a kickoff return by J.J. Arrington and a fumble return by Adrian Wilson – but the Vikings pulled out to a 31-13 lead in the fourth quarter and held on for what turned out to be a pretty meaningless win in a pretty meaningless season.

Perhaps the game was most notable for being the first meeting between the Cardinals and Vikings since …

 

Dec. 28, 2003 – Cardinals 18, Vikings 17
"NOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOO! The Cardinals have knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs!" Yes, all the Vikings had to do was defend one more play and the NFC North crown would have been theirs, in Mike Tice's second season as head coach, no less.

But of course, we all remember Arizona quarterback Josh McCown scrambling to his right and heaving the ball into the end zone, where journeyman receiver Nate Poole hauled it in and got two feet down for a 28-yard touchdown that sent the Vikings home for the season, put the Packers in the playoffs, and gave Paul Allen his first dose of national airtime with that painful final play call.

(NOTE: Careful readers have pointed out that Poole technically did not get two feet down -- the Vikings were victimized by the lame "force-out" rule that's since been excised from the books. True. Also a distinction without a difference. It didn't make that flight back from Phoenix any happier for the Vikings knowing that if the play had occurred in a different era they would have won. And yet, thanks to those who have pointed out the discrepancy.)

So what will we remember from this year's Vikings-Cardinals game? Will it be the start of the Christian Ponder Era? Will Donovan McNabb save his job and get head coach Leslie Frazier his first victory since the interim tag was removed from his title? Or maybe Larry Fitzgerald will blow up for four touchdowns, Kevin Kolb will start earning that ridiculous contract he weasled out of the Cardinals, and Berrian will insult a nun on Facebook. As recent history has shown, almost anything is possible when the Vikings and Cardinals get together.

 

 

Patrick Donnelly is a Senior Editor at SportsData, contributor to the Maple Street Press Vikings 2011 Annual (on newsstands now!), and has covered the Vikings for FOXSportsNorth.com, Viking Update and the Associated Press.

VikesCentric: Why is Bernard Berrian still on the Vikings' roster?

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: October 6, 2011 - 3:48 PM

At the risk of being told to "sit down n shut up" in the comments section below by the surly subject of today's rant, I'll ask anyway: why is Bernard Berrian still on the Vikings' roster? 

I mean, seriously, what purpose does he serve?
 
I know, I know: original stuff, Bo. Vikings fans have been asking themselves the same thing for the better part of the past three years. Yet here we are four games into a winless season and Berrian is still on the team… in the starting lineup no less.
 
And Vikings faithful seem so adamant about making a change at quarterback? Really?
 
No, the quarterback play hasn't been great, but I don't think anyone who has watched the Vikings play this season can honestly say Donovan McNabb has been the only problem, or even their biggest problem.
 
Don't misunderstand me: it is not my intent at all to make excuses for McNabb. His accuracy is not up to its normal mediocre standards. Yet the deadly combination of poor pass protection and a shallow talent pool at wide receiver is doing him no favors.
 
Let's be honest, with or without McNabb, this edition of the Vikings is not postseason-bound. As such, it could be argued by reasonable people that it might indeed be time to "sell hope" or "build for the future" or "throw in the towel" (call it what you will) by handing the keys of the car over to Christian Ponder.
 
Admittedly, Ponder's mobility would come in handy behind the Vikings' leaky line; however, there's still that nagging issue of receiver talent. That brings us back to Berrian, who's nowhere near as good as he thinks he is and, looking back, never was.
 
Before going any further, when I say "lack of receiver talent" I am specifically not referring to Percy Harvin. If I had my druthers, Harvin or Adrian Peterson would touch the ball four out of every five plays the Vikings run. But that's just me.
 
Beyond Harvin things get bleak in a hurry in the receiving corps. Michael Jenkins is a big target and fine downfield blocker, but he's not a starting NFL wide receiver. Neither is Berrian. And Greg Camarillo can't even scratch out some playing time ahead of either one of them.
 
Berrian's straight-faced assertion earlier this week that he's "been open for four years" can't be heard while maintaining a straight face. It's laughable. To think that NFL quarterbacks would intentionally "freeze out" a wide open receiver is preposterous. Of course, on a certain level I would not blame Brett Favre, Tarvaris Jackson, McNabb, et al. for ignoring Berrian given his startling lack of production and frequent lack of anything resembling effort to fight for a ball in flight.
 
And to answer your question, Bernard, any member of the media would love to sit down and watch game tape with you and have you point out how you're open every play. So if that offer still stands, let's set something up with everyone. I'll bring the popcorn.
 
Since the start of the 2010 season Berrian has been targeted 70 times and caught 30 passes – none for touchdowns. If he has really been wide open on all 70 of those targets (which is what Bernard would lead us to believe) he should have caught more than 30 passes and should have found the end zone at least once or twice.
 
And things seem to be going from bad to worse – and not just on Twitter – for Bernard. He is currently on pace for eight receptions this season. Eight. In 16 games. As a starter.
 
The Minnesota native lining up for the Cardinals at wide receiver against the Vikings this coming Sunday frequently catches that many passes in a game (and may catch that many in one half if Antoine Winfield is out).
 
Enough is enough. If so many folks can call for Ponder to replace McNabb, then I'll take up the cause for Devin Aromashodu to replace B-Twice. If the Vikings are intent on keeping Berrian – and judging from the pay cut he took this preseason in order to stay on the team that appears to be the plan – can we at least have him sitting on the bench more often?
 
Although I might suggest the Vikes do Berrian and everyone else a favor and release him so that he can go to a team that really knows how to best utilize his vast talents.
 
With that, I'll just sit down and shut up now. My faithful VikesCentric blog followers, the floor is yours... other than quarterback, what other changes to the starting lineup and/or roster would you like to see?
 
 
Bo Mitchell is VP of content at SportsData and co-host of the Fantasy Football Weekly radio show on Saturday mornings on KFAN 100.3 FM.
 
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Lions bandwagon careens out of control

Posted by: Updated: September 20, 2011 - 9:47 PM

It's kind of cute, really. The down-on-their-luck, plucky kids from Detroit are on a roll. Led by Matthew Stafford and a high octane offense and Ndamukong Suh's flashy defensive playmaking, the Lions are 2-0 and everyone's darling.

So much so, in fact, that the Lions are favored to beat the Vikings on Sunday. In Minnesota. Where they haven't won since 1997. Where they've lost by an average score of 25-17 over the last 25 years.

As ESPN's NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert notes, the Vegas line on this game (The Lions are favored by 3.5-4.0 points depending on your source) is essentially unprecedented.

In the aforementioned 25-year span, the Lions have defeated the Vikings in Minnesota only four times. Not since 1991 has the winning margin been greater than four points. In the last 17 games at Mall of America Field, Detroit has scored more than 17 points just twice. They haven't scored more than 10 points in Minnesota since 2006. Heck, they've only beaten the Vikes twice in the last 9 games in Detroit. In other words, no matter where these two teams have played in the last decade, the Vikings have gone 17-3. Only one of those three Lions wins was by more than 3 points.

I get it. The Vikings are reeling. The Lions are riding high. The Vikings offense can't convert a third down and the defense has collapsed in the second half two weeks in a row. The Lions have scored 75 points in two games and haven't given up a sack. Dating back to last December, and including the preseason, they've won each of the last 10 times they've taken the field. The Vikings have won just one of their last six regular season games. Calvin Johnson is made out of titanium and has Red Bull pulsing through his veins. Percy Harvin is one sneeze away from his next migraine. Matthew Stafford is the next Tom Brady. Donovan McNabb is the next Tarvaris Jackson. Jahvid Best is the next Barry Sanders. Suh is the next Kevin Williams. And on and on.

It's all very intriguing. And almost enough to make me believe the downtrodden, underdog Vikings have no chance to pull out a win against the dominating, been-there, done-that, bona fide Super Bowl contender Lions this Sunday.

Almost.

 

Christian Peterson is the Operations Manager at LeagueSafe.com and is a contributor to Vikings.com, the 2011 Maple Street Press Vikings Annual, and the Fantasy Football Weekly radio show on Saturday Mornings on KFAN 100.3.

VikesCentric: The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Posted by: Updated: September 16, 2011 - 9:05 PM

Donovan McNabb has been here before. Just three years ago while playing for the Eagles, McNabb was so horrendous during an 8-for-18, 59-yard performance against the Ravens he was benched at halftime. In 2005, while leading what was at the time one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, he inexplicably recorded a 131-yard, 0-TD stinkbomb against the Cowboys. The year before that, he threw for just 109 yards against the Steelers in a season in which he ultimately threw for 3,875 yards and 31 touchdowns. In Week 7 of 2003, he accumulated a paltry 64 yards before going on to throw for at least 236 in seven of his next nine games.

And it’s not just McNabb. Even the best of the best are capable of laying the occasional egg. Last year, Tom Brady threw for 163 yards or less four different times. He finished the season with 3,900 yards and 36 touchdown passes. In Week 14 of 2006, Brady threw for just 78 yards and no touchdowns in an unexplainable 21-0 loss to the Dolphins. Even Peyton Manning is not immune to the occasional crap-the-bed performance. Late in 2008, he threw for just 125 yards while tossing two interceptions. In 2005, he twice threw for less than 125 yards in what was otherwise a typically Peyton-esque season of excellence.

I’m not defending the performance of McNabb nor the Vikings offense as a whole in the Week 1 loss to the Chargers; I’m merely illustrating that there are times when even the best quarterbacks on the planet go out there and fall flat on their facemasks. And maybe, just maybe, McNabb deserves the benefit of the doubt – at least for the time being.

Case in point, he nearly always bounces back in a big way from sub-standard performances. Dating back to 2003, McNabb has thrown for fewer than 175 yards seven times (excluding games in which he was injured and forced out of the game and meaningless Week 17 games in which he made only a token appearance). In those seven games, he averaged just 127 passing yards, completing 51% of his passes and throwing two touchdown passes with four interceptions.

In the seven individual games immediately following those seven Tarvaris Jackson-like flops, McNabb has averaged 313 passing yards, completing 64% of his passes while throwing 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. Included in those numbers is the 260-yard, four-touchdown performance the week after he was so horribly awful that he got benched at halftime. Thus, optimistic Vikings fans (assuming such a thing exists) can embrace the idea that No. 5 has a history of redeeming himself in a hurry.

Thirty-nine yards is an absurdly low total for an NFL quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson generated more yards last week in a single play (a 55-yard connection with “Doug Baldwin,” who may or may not be an actual NFL player) than McNabb could muster in an entire game. If he’d managed even the 127-yard average referred to in the above analysis of McNabb’s previous faceplants, there probably wouldn’t be the same level of public outcry.

Heading into Week 2, there’s an outside chance Donovan McNabb has forgotten how to play football and Christian Ponder will be the Vikings quarterback in a matter of weeks. There’s a chance Bill Musgrave, in a fit of amnesia, doesn’t remember how to call an NFL game. There’s a chance the offensive line won’t give whoever is under center any time to throw. There’s a chance Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins will prove incapable of providing McNabb with viable options to throw to. But if history is any guide, there’s an equal chance we’ll look back at Week 1 and remember it not as a huge embarrassing failure heaped solely at the feet of Donovan McNabb, but instead as merely a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

 

Christian Peterson of LeagueSafe.com is also a contributing writer at Vikings.com and a co-host of the Fantasy Football Weekly radio show on Saturday mornings on KFAN 100.3 FM.

VikesCentric: The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Posted by: Updated: September 16, 2011 - 9:05 PM

Donovan McNabb has been here before. Just three years ago while playing for the Eagles, McNabb was so horrendous during an 8-for-18, 59-yard performance against the Ravens he was benched at halftime. In 2005, while leading what was at the time one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, he inexplicably recorded a 131-yard, 0-TD stinkbomb against the Cowboys. The year before that, he threw for just 109 yards against the Steelers in a season in which he ultimately threw for 3,875 yards and 31 touchdowns. In Week 7 of 2003, he accumulated a paltry 64 yards before going on to throw for at least 236 in seven of his next nine games.

And it’s not just McNabb. Even the best of the best are capable of laying the occasional egg. Last year, Tom Brady threw for 163 yards or less four different times. He finished the season with 3,900 yards and 36 touchdown passes. In Week 14 of 2006, Brady threw for just 78 yards and no touchdowns in an unexplainable 21-0 loss to the Dolphins. Even Peyton Manning is not immune to the occasional crap-the-bed performance. Late in 2008, he threw for just 125 yards while tossing two interceptions. In 2005, he twice threw for less than 125 yards in what was otherwise a typically Peyton-esque season of excellence.

I’m not defending the performance of McNabb nor the Vikings offense as a whole in the Week 1 loss to the Chargers; I’m merely illustrating that there are times when even the best quarterbacks on the planet go out there and fall flat on their facemasks. And maybe, just maybe, McNabb deserves the benefit of the doubt – at least for the time being.

Case in point, he nearly always bounces back in a big way from sub-standard performances. Dating back to 2003, McNabb has thrown for fewer than 175 yards seven times (excluding games in which he was injured and forced out of the game and meaningless Week 17 games in which he made only a token appearance). In those seven games, he averaged just 127 passing yards, completing 51% of his passes and throwing two touchdown passes with four interceptions.

In the seven individual games immediately following those seven Tarvaris Jackson-like flops, McNabb has averaged 313 passing yards, completing 64% of his passes while throwing 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. Included in those numbers is the 260-yard, four-touchdown performance the week after he was so horribly awful that he got benched at halftime. Thus, optimistic Vikings fans (assuming such a thing exists) can embrace the idea that No. 5 has a history of redeeming himself in a hurry.

Thirty-nine yards is an absurdly low total for an NFL quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson generated more yards last week in a single play (a 55-yard connection with “Doug Baldwin,” who may or may not be an actual NFL player) than McNabb could muster in an entire game. If he’d managed even the 127-yard average referred to in the above analysis of McNabb’s previous faceplants, there probably wouldn’t be the same level of public outcry.

Heading into Week 2, there’s an outside chance Donovan McNabb has forgotten how to play football and Christian Ponder will be the Vikings quarterback in a matter of weeks. There’s a chance Bill Musgrave, in a fit of amnesia, doesn’t remember how to call an NFL game. There’s a chance the offensive line won’t give whoever is under center any time to throw. There’s a chance Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins will prove incapable of providing McNabb with viable options to throw to. But if history is any guide, there’s an equal chance we’ll look back at Week 1 and remember it not as a huge embarrassing failure heaped solely at the feet of Donovan McNabb, but instead as merely a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

 

Christian Peterson of LeagueSafe.com is also a contributing writer at Vikings.com and a co-host of the Fantasy Football Weekly radio show on Saturday mornings on KFAN 100.3 FM.

      

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