VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.

Posts about Percy Harvin

VikesCentric: Bridled optimism

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: September 10, 2014 - 7:54 AM

On one hand, Vikings fans need to take a deep breath and realize their squad just manhandled a Rams team that doesn’t appear to be very good and was using their second and third-string quarterbacks. On the other hand, the Week 1 victory was different for many reasons and should be cause for a dash or two of optimism.

Those who watched Sunday’s 34-6 dismantling of the Rams knew they were watching a different product on the field – from the aggressiveness and improved tackling on defense to the imagination on offense.

This is a different-looking Vikings team that’s already starting to produce some different results.

I mean seriously, when was the last time the Vikings even won a road game? Um, that would be Dec. 23, 2012 when they inexplicably pounded a 12-2 Texans team 23-6. That’s also the last time the Vikings held any opponent to six points or less. The last time before that was their 34-3 shellacking of the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs following the 2009 season. And the last time the Vikings held an opponent to six points or less in a regular season game prior to 2012 was their 24-3 win over the Falcons to open the 2007 season.

Here’s a few more “last times” from Week 1.

The last time the Vikings won by as many as 28 points on the road was Sept. 28, 1994 at Chicago.

The last time the Vikings won by 28 points on the road in Week 1 was their 40-9 victory over the Saints to open the 1976 season. That’s 38 years ago. No current Vikings player was even alive 38 years ago. Not even Cullen Loeffler (he’s the Vikings’ elder statesman at 33).

The last time the Vikings won by 28 points under a first-year head coach was 22 years ago under Denny Green when they beat the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sept. 27, 1992. Rich Gannon threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns in that game. Terry Allen rushed for two touchdowns and caught another. Cris Carter had 11 receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns. And the Vikings picked off Boomer Esiason four times. Yeah, that was a while ago.

I love this one despite the meaningless nature of preseason games: the last time the Vikings won all four of their preseason games and then won in Week 1 was – wait for it – the 1998 season. Yes, that season. You know, the one in which they went 15-1 and then made it to the NFC Championship Game and… I’ll stop there. No, I’m not comparing the 2014 Vikings to the 1998 Vikings.

The last time the Vikings had a wide receiver gain 100 yards rushing in a game, as Cordarrelle Patterson did on Sunday, was… never. Not even Percy Harvin managed that trick in a Vikings uniform.

The last time the Vikings returned an interception for a touchdown, as Harrison Smith did on Sunday, was Dec. 16, 2012 by Everson Griffen against the Rams. The last time a Vikings player returned an interception for a touchdown against someone other than the Rams was… Harrison Smith, who did it twice in 2012, against the Bears and the Cardinals at home. The last time someone other than Smith returned an interception for a touchdown against someone other than the Rams was in 2010 when Jared Allen did it in the last game of the season against the Lions.

The last time the Vikings won on the road without getting either 100 rushing yards or a touchdown from Adrian Peterson was, once again, that 23-6 game against Houston in December 2012. Since Peterson came into the league in 2007, the Vikings have now won just four road games in which he has been held under 100 yards and out of the end zone.

So yeah, Sunday’s game against the Rams was definitely different.

Give yourself permission to feel good about that first victory, Vikings fans.  Optimism, yes. Unbridled merriment, not yet. We’ll hold off on saving up money for playoff tickets or planning a Super Bowl parade route for now. However, we might revisit that notion if the Vikings find a way to take out the Patriots on Sunday.

On that note, one more “last time” stat: the last time the New England Patriots (0-1) started a season 0-2 was 2001. That’s a long time ago. They also won the Super Bowl that year, beating (kind of ironically) the Rams 20—17.


Head on over to VikingsJournal.com for a detailed breakdown on how Sugaring the A-Gap is head coach Mike Zimmer’s Pressure Du Jour and a fun look at Cordarrelle Patterson’s epic 67-yard touchdown run against the Rams.

Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData, head writer at VikingsJournal.com, co-host of the Fantasy Football Pants Party at 1500ESPN.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

VikesCentric: Get this man the ball!

Posted by: AJ Mansour Updated: September 8, 2014 - 8:42 AM

When Percy Harvin was traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the 2013 NFL season, not many expected the Vikings would be able to replace him. Beyond that, there was certainly nobody that thought the team would be able to improve off of what Harvin had done in 2011-2012.

In his final games as a Viking Harvin was beginning to come into his own as a runner and receiver. In 2011, Percy had 967 yards receiving and 345 yards rushing. 2012 was going much the same way before injury sidelined him for the final seven games of the year.

The relationship between Percy and the team falls apart behind the scenes, Harvin is traded for draft picks to the Seahawks and the rest is history.

Enter Cordarrelle Patterson.

Drafted near the back end of the first round after the Vikings made a trade with this next week’s opponent, the New England Patriots, Cordarrelle Patterson came into the NFL with loads of talent, but not much polish to show it off.

Thought by many to be one of the best receivers in his draft class, Patterson slipped to number 29 where the Vikings jumped up to snatch him.

The beginning part of his rookie season was bumpy. Struggling to grasp the offensive playbook, not yet able to run crisp route, Patterson watched most of the Vikings games from the sidelines as his receiving buddies were on the field and featured. Frustrated with the lack of opportunities, Cordarrelle funneled his emotions onto the football field. Since he wasn’t getting opportunities to be involved in the offense, he took matters into his own hands and made the best of the opportunities where he did get the ball, on kickoff returns.

After averaging 27 yards per return in his first NFL game, Cordarrelle took one to the house in his second game against the Chicago Bears. Sprinkle in a 69 yard return here, an NFL record 109 yard TD return against the Packers and Patterson suddenly had the attention of a coaching staff that was struggling to trust him.

But there was still this pesky problem of getting his route running up to NFL standards. So the Vikings found a way around it in the form of bubble screens and handoffs to their uber talented wide receiver.

By the end of the year, having really only played half the season on offense, Patterson was sitting pretty with 469 yards receiving (4TDs), 158 rushing yards (3TDs) and 1,393 kickoff return yards (2TDs).

Fast-forward to 2014 and people wondered if the league would have caught up to him now that the secret was out. Well, if Sunday’s game in St. Louis was any indication, the rest of the league still has a lot of work to do to catch CP!

On their way to the team’s first road victory since Christian Ponder led the team to a win in Houston at the end of the 2012 season, the Vikings steamrolled the St. Louis Rams heralded defensive front en route to a 34-6 opening week victory. And Cordarrelle was a big part of it.


Finishing the day with 26 receiving yards, 102 rushing yards (1TD) and 48 return yards, Cordarrelle made his impact felt. It was a 67-yard run that really turned the tide of the game for the Vikings. His performance also paved the way for one of the best MEMEs I think I've ever seen.

“It was a big play,” head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game. “When you get a one play drive like that, Cordarrelle made a great run and the offensive line did a great job blocking…he made a great run.”

Matt Cassel continued saying, “Anytime the ball is in his hands there’s a chance for a big play.”

So it got me thinking, how often does Patterson turn a touch into a big play?

For sake of the argument, let’s define a touch as anytime he catches, runs or returns the football. And we’ll define a big play as anything over 15 yards.

Under those parameters, here’s the data breakdown

Over the span of the 2013 season, Cordarrelle had a total 132 touches and turned those touches into 2,020 yards and 9 touchdowns. Extend that out through the first game of the 2014 season and that means, that on average, Patterson accumulates 20.33 yards per touch and scores one touchdown every 10.8 touches!

But how does that compare to some of the league’s best WR, RB and KRs?

Those are some pretty impressive stats for Patterson when you compare them to the league’s best. Moral of the story…GET THIS MAN THE BALL!!

Fortunately, I think this new coaching staff is aware of the threat they have in #84.

“We always want to get our playmakers the football,” Mike Zimmer said yesterday. “However we can do that throwing it, catching it handing it, it doesn’t matter.”

For his part, Cordarrelle has the same mindset.

“When I get the ball in my hands, I just expect to do great things with it,” Patterson said after the game. “I do a great job visualizing it. When I visualize, things start slowing down for me.”

It was fun to see some of the different ways Norv found to get the ball into Cordarrelle’s hands. What’s even more promising is the optimistic viewpoint that this is only the beginning and it’s going to get better from here.

The road gets a little more difficult the next four games for the Vikings, but the opposing defenses are nothing to fear. The opportunities will be there, it’s time to take advantage of what we might have in Cordarrelle Patterson. So Mr. Turner, get this man the ball any way you can!

READ MORE at VikingsJournal.com...

 - Defense Helps Zimmer To His First Head-Coaching Win.

 - RECAP: Minnesota Vikings Show They Can Overcome Mistakes, Even If They Still Make Them

VikesCentric: The Vikings' first-round history at this year's 'need' positions

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: April 23, 2013 - 11:50 AM

The countdown to the Thursday night start of the NFL Draft is officially on. No, we don't have an actual clock ticking down the seconds on the wall here at the SportsData offices, but I wouldn't be opposed to the idea. Then again, I'm sure NFL Network and ESPN will have one gracing the corner of their screen soon enough.

 
As the countdown winds down, Vikings fans and media members continue to speculate who the team will select with their bevy of picks. Most of the focus centers on four positions of need: wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and defensive line.
 
What's that? Teams don't draft for need? They just take the best player available regardless of position. Yeah, right. And Manti Te'o had a real online relationship with a real girl.
 
Speaking of Te'o, the whole catfish saga is water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. It was all pretty dumb. He probably lied or made up some of it to cover his butt and I'm sure he was embarrassed by the whole mess. But who among us is proud of 100 percent of what they did during their college years? [crickets] If Te'o doesn't have some kind of compulsive lying disorder, I only care about whether he can play football. Likewise, if the Vikings or any other team think he can play, they likely won't downgrade him for the bizarre episode that played out last fall or the media frenzy that's sure to follow him this summer.
 
In fact, I would not be one bit surprised if Te'o were to wind up with the Vikings. And they'll have to take him with one of those first round picks if they want him, barring some trade maneuvers to move into the early second round.  I think he goes in round one.
 
The talk of linebackers, wide receivers, corners and d-linemen got the VikesCentric crew reflecting on past first-round picks the Vikings have spent on the aforementioned positions identified most often as their need positions.
 
Let's take a glance back at Vikings history, shall we?
 
Vikings First-round selections      
       
Defensive linemen Wide Receivers Linebackers Cornerbacks
Erasmus James (2005) Percy Harvin (2009) Chad Greenway (2006) D. Washington (1994)
Kenechi Udeze (2004) Troy Williamson (2005) Dwayne Rudd (1997)  
Kevin Williams (2003) Randy Moss (1998) Fred McNeill (1974)  
Chris Hovan (2000) Gene Washington (1967) Jeff Seimon (1972)  
Dimitrius Underwood (1999) Jack Snow (1965)    
Duane Clemons (1996)      
Derrick Alexander (1995)      
Gerald Robinson (1986)      
Chris Doleman (1985)      
Keith Millard (1984)      
Doug Martin (1980)      
Randy Halloway (1978)      
James White (1976)      
Mark Mullaney (1975)      
Alan Page (1967)      
Jerry Shay (1966)      
Carl Eller (1964)      
Jim Dunaway (1972)      
 
As you can see in the chart above, the Vikings have spent a lot of first-round picks on defensive linemen with varying degrees of success. The good includes three Hall of Famers (Eller, Page and Doleman) along with an All-Pro (Millard). The bad includes almost everyone else (I said almost), with special distinction going to Underwood as the worst Vikings draft pick of all time. In fact, the Vikings have spent more first-round draft picks on defensive linemen (18) than any position, but have not done so since Erasmus James in 2005. With Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffen all entering the final year of their contracts, they may increase that number by one.
 
Here's a breakdown of Vikings first-round draft picks:
Vikings First-round selections by position      
QB RB WR OL DL LB CB S
3 10 5 7 18 4 1 2
 
An entire list of Vikings first-round picks can be found here.
 
If the Vikings do wind up taking Te'o, he will become just the fifth linebacker ever selected in the first-round by the team. Of the previous four linebackers selected, three turned out golden (Greenway, McNeill and Seimon). That's a nice precedent of success.
 
The Vikings history of first-round wide receivers has been all over the map: one bust (Williamson), one player who spent his entire career with a team other than the Vikings (Snow), one All-Pro who played just seven years (Washington)… and then the talented yet enigmatic Harvin and Moss.
 
The team's history at cornerbacks selected in the first-round is brief, as you can see. I had to double-check this one to be certain the count was correct. But it's true -- Dewayne Washington is the only cornerback the Vikings have ever selected in the first round. That's the lowest of any position aside from tight end, kicker and punter – on which they have never used a first-rounder.
 
Of course, none of this really matters to general manager Rick Speilman. I'm pretty certain he's not going to review the Vikings' first-round history by position and let it help dictate which players they'll select. It is, however, pretty interesting and pretty fun to look back at the breakdown. Besides, those among you who are card-carrying Vikings rubes might be able to use this data to stump your friends with some Vikings Draft Day trivia Thursday.
 
I'll see you at the Draft Party at Mall of America Field. Enjoy the festivities.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Jennings' value (both real and fantasy) remain intact

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 21, 2013 - 11:05 AM

The signing of Greg Jennings by the Minnesota Vikings represents decent value, even if you think five years and $48 million is fairly pricey. Face it, that's the market for wide receivers of his ilk. It's a more palatable contract than the five-year, $60 million deal that Mike Wallace signed for in Miami. It's also easier to swallow than the five-year, $56 million deal that Dwayne Bowe signed for in Kansas City this offseason or the five-year, $55.6 million Vincent Jackson was given by Tampa Bay last offseason.

 
Jennings is every bit as good as Jackson – even better in some aspects of his game. V-Jax is the better downfield threat (for now), but Jennings is more versatile, has better hands and is better after the catch. He's also eight months younger than Jackson. And I'd take Jennings any day of the week over Bowe, who's had exactly one great season surrounded by several inconsistent campaigns. Wallace is more explosive than any of the four receivers in this discussion, but he's the most one-dimensional and the least-accomplished. He's also the youngest of the bunch by a wide margin, but making him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL was a stretch.
 
A year or two from now, comparable wide receivers will be getting paid even more in free agency. The sticker shock will wear off for all of the above.
 
In as much as the signing represents fair "real world" value for Jennings, it also represents sneaky value for him in another aspect that I know is near and dear to the hearts of many reading this: fantasy football.
 
The knee-jerk reaction to the Jennings move from many in the fantasy football industry was that it would severely hamper his fantasy value. The argument against Jennings is clear. He goes from catching passes in a pass-happy offense from Aaron Rodgers to catching passes in a run-first offense from Christian Ponder. That's a valid point, and not as much of a rip on Ponder (at least from my perspective) as it is a nod to Rodgers, who many (including yours truly) believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. From where I sit, Jennings was looking at a downgrade in quarterback quality by some degree regardless of where he decided to sign.
 
Based on the move west and the fact he's coming off his most injury-riddled seasons, many fantasy cheat sheets will have Jennings ranked outside their top-30 or maybe even top-40 wide receivers next summer.
 
That could make him a fantasy value.
 
To be certain, in those fantasy football drafts conducted in Minnesota amongst (presumably) a majority of Minnesota Vikings fans, Jennings' value will be inflated due to the homer factor. Elsewhere, that won't be the case.
 
Despite the drop-off in passing scheme – Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating once again in 2012, whereas the Vikings ranked 31st in passing offense – there is reason for optimism for Jennings based on where you might be able to draft him. First off, he's the big fish in a little lake rather than just one of many receiving mouths to feed in Green Bay's pond.
 
Jennings will be the Vikings' go-to guy in the passing game, and he will be spending most of his time in the flanker, or "Z" position, where Percy Harvin used to line up a lot. You saw last year what kind of catch-per-game rate Harvin was on prior to injuring his ankle. For that reason I foresee Jennings having the most value in poin-per-reception fantasy formats. His yards-per-catch will likely fall short of his 15.4 career average and he might not haul in 10 touchdowns for the third time in his career, but he will most certainly have value if he stays healthy.
 
Where would I draft him? Ideally, he'd be a very good WR3 or flex receiver on fantasy teams in standard-sized leagues. If he's your No. 2 receiver, you're going to want to draft some insurance in the form of a pretty good WR3.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
 
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Jennings' value (both real and fantasy) remain intact

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 21, 2013 - 11:00 AM

The signing of Greg Jennings by the Minnesota Vikings represents decent value, even if you think five years and $48 million is fairly pricy. Face it, that's the market for wide receivers of his ilk. It's a more palatable contract than the five-year, $60 million deal that Mike Wallace signed for in Miami. It's also easier to swallow than the five-year, $56 million deal that Dwayne Bowe signed for in Kansas City this offseason or the five-year, $55.6 million Vincent Jackson was given by Tampa Bay last offseason.

 
Jennings is every bit as good as Jackson – even better in some aspects of his game. V-Jax is the better downfield threat (for now), but Jennings is more versatile, has better hands and is better after the catch. He's also eight months younger than Jackson. And I'd take Jennings any day of the week over Bowe, who's had exactly one great season surrounded by several inconsistent campaigns. Wallace is more explosive than any of the four receivers in this discussion, but he's the most one-dimensional and the least-accomplished. He's also the youngest of the bunch by a wide margin, but making him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL was a stretch.
 
A year or two from now, comparable wide receivers will be getting paid even more in free agency. The sticker shock will wear off for all of the above.
 
In as much as the signing represents fair "real world" value for Jennings, it also represents sneaky value for him in another aspect that I know is near and dear to the hearts of many reading this: fantasy football.
 
The knee-jerk reaction to the Jennings move from many in the fantasy football industry was that it would severely hamper his fantasy value. The argument against Jennings is clear. He goes from catching passes in a pass-happy offense from Aaron Rodgers to catching passes in a run-first offense from Christian Ponder. That's a valid point, and not as much of a rip on Ponder (at least from my perspective) as it is a nod to Rodgers, who many (including yours truly) believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. From where I sit, Jennings was looking at a downgrade in quarterback quality by some degree regardless of where he decided to sign.
 
Based on the move west and the fact he's coming off his most injury-riddled seasons, many fantasy cheat sheets will have Jennings ranked outside their top-30 or maybe even top-40 wide receivers next summer.
 
That could make him a fantasy value.
 
To be certain, in those fantasy football drafts conducted in Minnesota amongst (presumably) a majority of Minnesota Vikings fans, Jennings' value will be inflated due to the homer factor. Elsewhere, that won't be the case.
 
Despite the drop-off in passing scheme – Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating once again in 2012, whereas the Vikings ranked 31st in passing offense – there is reason for optimism for Jennings based on where you might be able to draft him. First off, he's the big fish in a little lake rather than just one of many receiving mouths to feed in Green Bay's pond.
 
Jennings will be the Vikings' go-to guy in the passing game, and he will be spending most of his time in the flanker, or "Z" position, where Percy Harvin used to line up a lot. You saw last year what kind of catch-per-game rate Harvin was on prior to injuring his ankle. For that reason I foresee Jennings having the most value in poin-per-reception fantasy formats. His yards-per-catch will likely fall short of his 15.4 career average and he might not haul in 10 touchdowns for the third time in his career, but he will most certainly have value if he stays healthy.
 
Where would I draft him? Ideally, he'd be a very good WR3 or flex receiver on fantasy teams in standard-sized leagues. If he's your No. 2 receiver, you're going to want to draft some insurance in the form of a pretty good WR3.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsDataand a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
 
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric Extra: What happens now that Harvin is gone?

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 11, 2013 - 2:25 PM

I was plugging away at our palatial SportsData offices late this morning when NFL insider Adam Schefter appeared on SportsCenter telling ESPN's audience that the Vikings were in serious talks with the Seahawks about a trade involving Percy Harvin for draft picks. Not 10 minutes later my Tweetdeck feed blew up with reports that the deal was done, pending a physical.

 
"That escalated quickly" – Ron Burgundy
 
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports was the first to report it, according to my scorecard, not that it matters much. Within seconds, others like ESPN 1500's Tom Pelissero and the Star Tribune also had it. Within minutes, reaction to the blockbuster took off via Twitter… including much of my own (@BoMitchell).
 
Yeah, some of the reaction was clearly of the tongue-in-cheek variety (see photo) and much of it was wild speculation. That's where we come in.
 
We'll probably know a lot more within the next 24-36 hours, as NFL free agency kicks off at 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday, but what say you, Vikings fans? Where do the Vikings go from here at wide receiver?
 
If it wasn't already their most glaring position of need, it most certainly is now.
 
Reports currently have the Vikings armed with at least $17 million in salary cap space as well as two first-round draft picks (their own pick plus the Seahawks' pick in return for Harvin.) That's solid ammo to go after wide receiver help.
 
The most immediate reaction to the news was that the Vikings now have more cap room to make a run at Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings in free agency. And more of a dire need to do so.
 
The Palm Beach Post reported Monday that Wallace to the Dolphins was a "done deal," but that was before the Harvin Twitter bomb exploded. The USA Today had a piece on Jennings over the weekend in which the soon-to-be-former Packers wide receiver said that the quality of quarterback would be a factor in deciding where to sign in free agency. That would seem to work against the Vikings, but never forget: money talks. Plus Jennings seems to have a certain level of admiration for Adrian Peterson, if his late-season comments are any indication.
 
One theory has the Vikings taking one of those first-round picks and making an offer to Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is a restricted free agent and was assigned a first-round tender about an hour after the Harvin news broke. Should the Vikings make Cruz an offer he can't resist to come and do his salsa dancing in Minnesota? They have an "extra" first-round pick to give the Giants now.
 
Then there's Larry Fitzgerald, for whom many Vikings fans have been pining for a long time. "Bring home, Larry," the thinking goes. "He's one of us. He belongs in purple." There's no arguing he'd be a great fit in the Vikings offense (or pretty much any offense for that matter). There's also no arguing with the potential PR bonanza, jersey sales, etc. Fitzgerald has never been a malcontent a la the departing Harvin. Quite the opposite, actually – he's long been considered a "good guy." To borrow a popular Twitter meme, if the NFL were the WWE, Fitzgerald would be a face and Harvin would be a heel. Both are fantastic, yet different, talents.
 
Of course, the Vikings could just stay the course, lay low in free agency, and grab one or two wide receivers in the draft. Having multiple first-round picks also affords them the option of moving up in round one to grab someone they really covet.
 
Let's face it, the Vikings had to get rid of Harvin because it's likely only a sliver of what actually transpired between him and the team was ever made public. He was going to be a free agent in a year, was likely going to hold out, reportedly didn't want to be here and definitely would have left in 12 months for a fat payday elsewhere. They got a good return for him, all things considered, as my VikesCentric colleague Ted Carlson points out. Moreover, if the likes of Wallace, Jennings, Cruz, Fitzgerald, or some other wide receiving talent we're not even considering yet, winds up in Purple as a result, even better.
 
Time for you to weigh in, Vikings fans… who would you like to see your team pursue at wide receiver now that Percy is gone?
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

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