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The Purple and Gold Standard



Updated: 2018-01-18T20:47:49-06:00

 



Seven Good Questions with Bleeding Green Nation

2018-01-18T20:47:49-06:00

Because mo’ important games get mo’ questions. It’s once again time to get some intel from the folks that run the site for the Minnesota Vikings’ next opponent. This week, we’re talking with Bleeding Green Nation, the site that knows everything about the Philadelphia Eagles. Lead blogger Brandon Gowton took the time to answer some of our questions for this one. You can see the questions I’ve answered for him right here (with a comments section that’s gone. . .well, we’ll say “as expected”), and here are his answers for us. 1) Most experts thought the Eagles were dead in the water after the injury to Carson Wentz, particularly after the way Nick Foles closed the season. However, Foles had a pretty solid performance against Atlanta in the Divisional Round. Do you think he’s turned a bit of a corner following his first couple of starts this season? I’ve never been the biggest believer in Nick Foles, so I can’t say I feel super confident in him. His first half against the Falcons really confirmed my concerns. He wasn’t accurate. He left plays on the field. He held on to the ball for too long. He was playing scared to some extent. Then he started to turn things around in the second half. He got in a rhythm and started delivering accurate passes. Instead of fading backwards or sideways in the pocket, he stepped up and kept his eyes down the field to make some nice throws. That was encouraging to see. If Foles plays with confidence, he gives the Eagles a chance. I do think Doug Pederson deserves a lot of credit for Foles’ performance. It wasn’t like Foles was doing anything impressive on his own. He was mostly just executing the offense. The Eagles’ offensive line also did a really good job of protecting him. He only got sacked once and hit four times throughout the game. If the line can continue to hold up, there’s a chance Foles can be competent enough to give the Eagles a chance. I don’t have much faith he’s going to turn in a huge performance but he can at least avoid being the reason the team loses. 2) What is the Eagles’ biggest strength? Do Eagles fans see something about the Vikings they feel they can exploit? The Eagles’ biggest strength is their play in the trenches. Philadelphia’s offensive line has been great all year. They can open holes for the run game (third most rushing yards) and keep the quarterback well-protected (12th in adjusted sack rate). The Eagles’ big uglies straight up bullied the Falcons last week. Jason Kelce is an AP All-Pro first-team center. Lane Johnson is All-Pro first-team at right tackle. Brandon Brooks is a really good right guard. Stefen Wisniewski is a solid left guard who made some big blocks in the screen game against Atlanta. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the weak point of the offensive line at left tackle, but he’s at least shown the ability to be serviceable. The Vikings have a good defensive line, no doubt. But I like the Eagles’ chances right now against most d-lines in the league. It should be a great battle on Sunday. The bigger mismatch, though, has to be the Eagles’ defensive line going up against Minnesota’s o-line. Case Keenum ranks third in percentage of plays under pressure this season, per Pro Football Focus. Philadelphia, meanwhile, generated the most pressures in 2017. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox had really big games against Atlanta. Graham going up against Vikings right tackle Rashod Hill, who struggled to handle Cam Jordan in the Saints game, is a mismatch. I think the Birds will be able to pressure Keenum. But bringing him down will be easier said than done. Keenum’s sack percentage ranks second fewest in the league. 3) What is the Eagles’ biggest weakness? Do you feel that the Vikings have the ability to potentially take advantage of it? Quarterback is an obvious weakness for the Eagles. If the Vikings can get to Foles, they can potentially rattle his confidence and force him into bad habits. I know I just said I feel good about the Eagles in pass protection in the previous section, bu[...]



Norse Code Podcast Episode 222: Boo Santa and Punch Horses with Guest Ben Natan

2018-01-18T12:19:27-06:00

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This week, Arif and Dusty are joined by Eagles fan and Wide Left co-host Ben Natan to discuss position matchups including Ben’s favorite receiver, the similarities between Nick Foles and Cam Newton, and the paucity of miracle plays in the playoffs. Where should you punch a horse? Find out on this week’s Norse Code!

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*****Download Link Here*****

Reminder: We have a contest this week where I can mail you a copy of the local newspaper (either Star Tribune or St. Paul Pioneer Press) so you can frame the front page in your home. Just be sure to provide a one-time donation this week through our PayPal link.

Special thanks to Rhymesayers Entertainment and Atmosphere for the new theme song!

Arif - @ArifHasanNFL

Dusty - @dustyoconnell

James - @bigmono

To listen to more, this is the link to that iTunes feed. If you can’t for whatever reason subscribe via iTunes, subscribe to via our RSS feed, which should support the RSS reader or podcast organizer of your choice. You can still leave a review even if you can’t subscribe via iTunes because it’s easy to create an AppleID. We also have a YouTube channel. Our podcasts are automatically uploaded there.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss an episode and find out ways to support the show, head to our website!

But we also have a Patreon and that should make it even easier to support the best podcast for your Minnesota Vikings. We know that it’s a tough ask given all the problems involving their transaction fees, but if can manage it, check it out here. If you wanted to donate via Paypal instead of Patreon, head to this link.

Once again, contact me at arifmhasan (at) gmail dot com or the podcast at NorseCodePodcast (at) gmail dot com. Follow us on twitter at @NorseCodeDN or just me at @ArifHasanNFL. You can follow our host Dusty O’Connell at @DustyOConnell. Producer James Pogatshnik is @bigmono.




How to Beat the Eagles Defense

2018-01-18T11:24:08-06:00

Some ideas based on what’s worked earlier in the season The biggest challenge for the Vikings in the NFC Championship will be scoring against a stout Eagles defense. To that end, the biggest obstacle is overcoming a dominant Eagles defensive line, which not only generates more pressures than any other defensive line in the league, but is also excellent against the run. The Vikings have a good quarterback who can deliver the ball, extend plays at times, and can read defenses reasonably well. The Vikings also have a very capable receiver corps that can win their share of the battles against the Eagles secondary, which avoids press-man coverage and uses primarily off-man coverage with single or two-deep safeties. But where the Vikings are at a disadvantage, is their offensive line vs. the Eagles defensive front. Here is where Pat Shurmur and the Vikings need to game plan to minimize the Eagles advantage, allowing Case Keenum to deliver the ball effectively to a talented group of skill players on offense. THE GIANTS HAD THE BEST GAME PLAN AGAINST THE EAGLES’ DEFENSE Looking through tape of Eagles games this season, one somewhat surprising team had a good deal of success moving the ball effectively and scoring against the Eagles defense: The New York Football Giants. Yes, the 3-13 Giants, with the 31st ranked offense in points, and 21st in yards was somehow able to average 460 yards and 26.5 points per game in their two match-ups against the Eagles this season. And had the Giants not had one of the worst defenses in the league this year, they might have won those games. But even with an offensive line worse than the Vikings, depleted receiver corps, and not much of a running game, they were able to drive and score effectively against the Eagles’ stout defense- and defensive line. So how did they do it? They took advantage of the Eagles’ soft coverage by throwing a ton of short passes. Eli Manning had 47 and 57 pass attempts in the two games. But to illustrate, here is a video of the Giants first drive in their week 15 match-up: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bSdL38Pbv84?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> The drive was pretty straight-forward. Short slants and crossing routes against off-man coverage and a single-high safety. Most of these were 5-10 yard completions. And then a little stutter-move by a WR, causing the CB (Darby) to bite after so many short slant routes, leading to a deeper fade. From there the Giants mixed in some runs and scored. The Giants had a second drive, still in the first quarter, that was pretty much the exact same thing- leading to another touchdown. This was the second match-up between the division rivals, and the Giants had done the same thing the first game too, so this was no surprise to the Eagles defense. The Giants had lost Odell Beckham and one other receiver by this game, didn’t have much of a running game, their offensive line was mediocre, and Eli Manning wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire this season. But a methodical drive of short, high-percentage passing, with Manning in shotgun, worked very well. Manning got the ball out quick, rendering the Eagles’ pass rush ineffective, and took advantage of the soft, off-man coverage the Eagles CBs play regularly. That led them to anticipate the short route, and eventually get fooled for a deeper completion. ATLANTA USED THE SAME FORMULA, BUT GOT AWAY FROM IT In the Divisional Round, Atlanta started the game the same way and drove to the red zone before suffering a drop on a poor route that led to a field goal. But Atlanta was successful with the short slants and in-routes, and also with some pitches leading to some nice runs outside. But then Atlanta would get away from that formula at times, and throw a wide receiver screen, without blocking, which doesn’t work as well against off-coverage, as the Eagles’ CBs were good at comin[...]



Vikings vs. Eagles NFC Championship Preview: Depth Charge

2018-01-18T11:00:05-06:00

Minnesota and Philadelphia are the last two teams standing in the NFC because they have built the two deepest rosters. Next man up. It’s one of the most commonly used clichés in all of football, especially in today’s iteration of the NFL. A simple equation makes the old saying increasingly relevant: players are constantly getting bigger, faster, and stronger while ligaments, tendons, and brains remain largely unchanged. The diagnosis and treatment of injuries is always evolving and rule tweaks to improve player safety are helping, but it will never erase the dangers of a sport that features multitudinous brutal collisions. In short: players are going to get hurt, so you better plan accordingly. The next man up better be worth a damn; chances are you’ll need him. One common bond that the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles share as they both stand one victory away from Super Bowl LII: they planned ahead. These two teams finished tied for the best record in the league in large part because they have two of the deepest and most complete rosters in the NFL. Rick Spielman and Howie Roseman should be looking down at the field on Sunday and beaming with pride. The Vikings and Eagles General Managers have meticulously built their teams over the past several years to find their teams in this position. Both have carefully acquired draft capital, cautiously maneuvered the cap, and relied on their coaches and scouts to build two of the most talented defenses in the NFL. Of course, even the best-laid plans of birds and Norsemen go often askew. The Vikings were forced to go to Case Keenum in Week 2. Then they were forced to lean on Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon when star rookie Dalvin Cook tore his ACL. Meanwhile, Philadelphia lost MVP candidate Carson Wentz with less than a month remaining in what looked to be a dream season. Suddenly, Nick Foles was at the helm of the top seed in the NFC. These devastating injuries would have wrecked teams with lesser depth. Just look how the Packers disintegrated once Aaron Rodgers went down. The Texans’ season started circling the drain the moment that Deshaun Watson was out. The Colts’ Luck ran out with Andrew. The Giants were bent without Beckham. Yet here are the Vikings and Eagles, half of the NFL’s Final Four. Regardless of the outcome, a recent Rams quarterback castoff will be playing for their franchise’s first Super Bowl title two weeks from Sunday. And it was all made possible because they’re surrounded by two of the best-assembled rosters in the league. We’ll get more into the quarterbacks later on, but for now let’s look at some of the key matchups between these talented teams that will help decide Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. Since we started with a cliché, let’s keep the theme going with another classic: this game could be won or lost in the trenches. The Eagles have an excellent assortment of talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage. On offense, they boast what Pro Football Focus considers to be the best right side of the line in the league. Right guard Brandon Brooks was graded as the fourth best guard in the league by PFF, and he has a first team All-Pro on either side of him. Center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson definitely earned their accolades this season. Along with Stefen Wisniewski, a very serviceable left guard, it’s easy to see why the Eagles finished third in rushing and fourth in yards per carry this season. Kelce is probably the best run blocking center in the NFL and definitely the linchpin up front for Philly. Kelce (#62) is great at getting to the second level and usually finishes blocks like his opponents were tackling sleds. The matchup between Kelce and Linval Joseph should be an incredible battle on Sunday. If Linval can do his usual thing and eat up space in the middle, it could go a long way toward shutting down Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount out of the backfield. Philadelphia only[...]



Thorsday Open Thread: January 18, 2018

2018-01-18T03:00:01-06:00

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We are oh so close to the weekend....and the NFC Championship Game

Happy Thirsty Thorsday, everyone!

Hey, we’re almost there! Three more long, painstakingly slow days.

Around the DN since our last open thread:

The Vikings made a couple practice squad roster moves, per Chris.

Chris wonders which Eagles player you would steal for the Vikings.

We had this one yesterday, Thomas Morstead doubled down on a class move when some Vikings fans donated money to his charity.

Saxyprince posted Climbing the Pocket: Episode 63 [Can You Digg It?].

Vikings news from other sources:

From the Pioneer Press, Mackensie Alexander isn’t worried about the Eagles targeting him on Sunday.

From Vikings.com, see Coach Zimmer’s Wednesday media address, NFL playbook has a preview of Vikings-Eagles, and lots more to look through in the media vault.

We come to our media selection.

Here’s one from back in my day.

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zsZDiWyYNEU?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no">

Again, we all know the rules, but in case someone is new:

-No discussion of politics or religion
-No feeding of the trolls
-This isn’t a male version of The View, so leave the gender hatred at the door
-Keep the bad language to a minimum (using the spoiler tags, if you must)
-Speaking of which, if discussing a newer show or movie, please use spoiler tags
-No pictures that could get someone fired or in serious trouble with their employer
-If you can’t disagree in a civil manner, feel free to go away
-While navigating the open thread, just assume it’s sarcasm

With that, the beer light is on and the bar is open. Belly up & tie one on. Don’t forget to tip your waitress, & try the head cheese




Vikings sign Nick Truesdell to practice squad, waive Storm Norton

2018-01-17T22:32:38-06:00

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Now there’s a third tight end available

When the Minnesota Vikings decided to activate quarterback Sam Bradford to the 53-man roster prior to Sunday’s playoff victory, they made room for him by waiving tight end Kyle Carter. Ordinarily, they would have just brought Carter back to the practice squad. However, during the postseason, there is a 10-day wait on any waiver claims, which means that if the Vikings want Carter back, they will have to wait until after the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The move, however, left the Vikings with just two true tight ends in Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan. The team remedied that problem yesterday with the signing of a familiar face.

The Vikings have brought back tight end Nick Truesdell, who spent Training Camp with the Vikings and was a part of their final cuts. To make room for him on the practice squad, the team waived offensive tackle Storm Norton.

The 6’7”, 250-pound Truesdell is well-traveled. After having some legal issues in college, he spent some time in several indoor football leagues before finally getting a shot with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016. After being waived by the Colts, he returned to the indoor football league scene, and was brought in by the Vikings for Training Camp this past season before being a part of their final cuts.

Norton, an undrafted rookie out of Toledo, was signed by the team in mid-December.

So, with this move, the Vikings’ practice squad now looks like this:




Which Eagles’ player would you steal for the Vikings?

2018-01-17T20:07:22-06:00

Why not make a strength even stronger? As a part of our lead-up to the NFC Championship Game, we’re doing a couple of themed posts with our friends over at Bleeding Green Nation, SB Nation’s home for Philadelphia Eagles football. They’ve already done a similar post to this one over on their site. The Eagles have a lot of talented players on their roster. I mean, obviously. . .you don’t get to be 13-3 with a bunch of schlubs. We know that the Minnesota Vikings have a ton of talented players as well. However, the question I want to pose here (and that I’m going to answer myself) is this: If you could steal one player off of the Eagles’ roster and put him on the Vikings’ roster, which one would it be? The “obvious” answer would probably be quarterback Carson Wentz, if a) he wasn’t injured and b) the Vikings didn’t have enough quarterback questions already. Yes, Wentz was probably on the fast track to being the NFL MVP when he tore his ACL, but he wouldn’t do the Vikings a bit of good now. So, I’m going to pass on him. He’s not the only talented offensive player the Eagles have by any stretch. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery reportedly passed on a bigger contract from the Vikings during the offseason to sign with the Eagles. (It’s probably a good thing he did. . .if he hadn’t, who knows if Adam Thielen would have emerged the way he did?) They also acquired running back Jay Ajayi in midseason, and tight end Zach Ertz is among the league’s best at the position. Rather than look at the offensive side, however, I think I would instead work on strengthening Minnesota’s already elite defense. Looking up and down the Eagles’ roster and attempting to figure out what would be best for Minnesota, there’s one name that I keep coming back to. If I were to take one player from the Eagles and bring him to Minnesota, that player would be defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. I know that we all love the work that Tom Johnson has done as the starting defensive tackle next to Linval Joseph in the wake of the (likely) career-ending injury to Sharrif Floyd. But could you imagine having a guy like Fletcher Cox next to Joseph on the interior? You’d be looking at about 650 pounds of very large, very powerful, very angry men in the middle of Minnesota’s defensive line. Oh, and defenses would still have to deal with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter coming off of the edges, too. Linval Joseph was graded by the folks at Pro Football Focus as their #11 overall interior defensive lineman, which is outstanding. Cox is one of the few players that ranks above Joseph on that list, as he came in at #6. And while Joseph has been known as more of a run stuffer during his career (though his pass rush skills have improved quite a bit since his arrival in Minnesota), Cox is relentless in pursuing opposing quarterbacks. If the Vikings could somehow pair Fletcher Cox next to Linval Joseph, it would give them the most devastating pair of defensive tackles in the National Football League, and quite frankly could give the Vikings’ famed “Williams Wall” a run for their money. With the Vikings’ secondary being among the best in the National Football League, beefing up the defensive line would make this defense even more suffocating than it already is. That’s why, if I could take any member of the Eagles and bring them to Minnesota, Fletcher Cox would be my choice. How about you folks? If you could take one player from Philadelphia and transplant them in Minnesota, who would you choose? [...]



Thomas Morstead to give charitable donations to Children’s Minnesota

2018-01-17T11:34:34-06:00

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This story just keeps getting better

On Monday, following the Minnesota Vikings’ improbable victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, we spoke about Saints’ punter Thomas Morstead, who suffered an injury on his first punt of the game, and not only played through it, but was part of the contingent that came back out onto the field at U.S. Bank Stadium for the final extra point despite his injuries. (It turns out that it was some torn rib cartilage and not a broken rib, but still. . .that hurts.)

Well, following Morstead’s performance, a Reddit user started a movement to get fans of the Vikings to donate to Morstead’s charity, named What You Give Will Grow. What You Give Will Grow is a charity that focuses primarily on pediatric cancer. The campaign started out slowly at first, but now apparently the donations have grown to in excess of $30,000.

Morstead has announced that any donations that his charity receives this week will be given to Children’s Hospital of Minnesota, and he’s got a bit of a challenge for everyone out there.

This isn’t the first time this postseason we’ve seen fans of another team show their charitable side as a show of thanks to an opposing player. After the Cincinnati Bengals helped the Buffalo Bills get into the playoffs for the first time in seventeen years, Bills’ fans donated in droves to quarterback Andy Dalton’s foundation. (Many did so in $17 increments, signifying the team’s 17-year playoff drought.)

UPDATE: As user “Rieux” points out, there is a page at the What You Give Will Grow website that is specifically tracking donations from Vikings’ fans. All of the links to the charity have now been changed to take you directly to that page instead. Thanks, Rieux!

It would be pretty awesome if Thomas Morstead had to make another trip to Minneapolis to make this happen. I’m not sure how he’d get one of those big cardboard checks onto an airplane or anything, but minor logistical things like that could be worked out at another time, presumably.

If you want to donate to What You Give Will Grow, you can just hit any of the times it’s linked in this story and hit the “Donate” button.