Losing Can Be a Tradition Too

While having breakfast with a few friends ( Monday Morning Quarterbacks ), we began to discuss the recent performances, of some of our Minnesota sports teams. Before discussing the individual teams, we discussed 2 key axioms that continue to be true:

1 – If you want to know how a player will play, in the future, look at his past. Not always true, but likely.

2- Player has potential. Translation: he’s not good enough, to contribute right now.

Timberwolves

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They finished the season on a 6 game losing streak, playing against teams not really playing to win, either out of playoffs, or resting for the playoffs. Their record was 31-51. All the talk says they should be better, but there not. They have upgraded the team, substantially this year, and should take a major step in making the playoffs.

 

The Wild

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Their best season ever. Fans at a fever pitch. No. 2 seed. They just can’t win in the playoffs. I hear all this bs, that they are playing well, the puck just can’t find the net. We are still using the antiquated method, of determining winners by the score, this is not pee wee hockey, where everybody does everything right. The excuses are juvenile. It’s like saying they lost because the Zamboni needs a tuneup.

 

The Twins 

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We are optimistic every year, until around mid-season, then they usually tank.  This year they took us all, for a stressful roller coaster ride, that led to a wild card play-in game ,against the dreaded New York Yankees, which unfortunately was a loss.. It will be interesting to what moves, the new powers to be, will make. How long have we heard about the potential of Buxton, Sano, Keplar, and Vargas? Pitching won’t get better, with no major additions. We are finally, in the last year of Mauer’s contract, which will leave some money to spend on pitchers.

 

The Vikings 

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Once again we were all excited for the 2017 season, when the curse struck again. Arguably our 2 best players, Sam Bradford and Delvin Cook,  went down to injury. So talk now, is one of, can we play 500 ball, rather than  the previous goal of the Super Bowl.

The hope is to have decent play, from the quarterback position,  and hope the newly minted offensive line, performs better than last year. Would also be great if we could get offense generated from Laquan Treadwell and Michael Floyd, after completing his 4 game suspension. Then have Schumer show some gambling and excitement, in his calls.

 

Gopher Hockey 

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To summarize, we are the hockey state. We have more D-1 talent than any other state. We used to have a winning tradition. The Gophers tend to start the year, ranked in the top 5, and slowly decline to the teens, and then go to the playoffs and lose.

 

Gopher Basketball 

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While they had great season in 2016, they didn’t get one win in the NCAA tournament, and haven’t for several years. Hope is high for 2017 with all the talent coming back, Fitzgerald will be healty, and the addition of top recruit, Washington

You can establish a losing tradition easier than a winning tradition. Take a look at Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU: all great winning traditions. Even in Minnesota we have Eden Prairie High School, Hopkins High School, De LaSalle High School. You can have a total market, like Minnesota, that can have a losing tradition.

Of the teams discussed, when was the last time one of those teams, took you to the promised land?

Todd Haley is an Offensive Coach

While picking my lineup for week 5 in Fantasy Football, I looked at the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. the Pittsburgh  Steelers. The Jags were No. 1  in pass defense, and No. 32 in run defense. So I decided to go with Le’veon Bell, arguably the best running back in the NFL, to go crazy against the worst run defense in football.

The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive ( as in something stinks ) Coordinator is Todd Haley, who has been in this position since 2012. He previously was the head coach with the Kansas city Chiefs, where he compiled a 19-26 record, and was fired midway through the 2011 season.Pitt ben-roethlisberger-todd-haley-60f5e019157aa802

I assumed the game plan, was to attack the porous Jag run defense. Wrong!! If you can believe it, this offensive genius, called for 55 pass plays, against the best pass defense, in the NFL,  and 20 running plays. After the game, I’m sure he now knows, why the Jags are No. 1 against the pass, they picked off 5 interceptions.

The Steelers were soundly defeated 30-9 by the Jags.

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NBA West Gets Even Better

The Minnesota Timberwolves certainly improved their team this off season. They are hoping to make the playoffs this year. That still will be a problem, as the west league leaders, also vastly improved. Lets take a look at the teams and how they potentially improved.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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They traded Zack Levine for Jimmy Butler, a 3 time all-star, picked up role player Taj Gibson, picked up Jamal Crawford, another part to the puzzle, and Jeff Teague to handle the point. They will mesh with current roster of potential all-stars in Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng. They also kept role players Shabazz Muhammad, Tyus Jones, Nemajia Bjelica, and Cole Aldrich.

 

Golden State Warriors

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The defending champs will basically put the same team on the floor. Last years addition of Kevin Durant, put them over the top. With a year under his belt, Kevin should only mesh better with the teams mainstays; Stephon Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, and JaVale McGee. It’s going to be tough to dethrone the Warriors.
Houston Rockets

They added Chris Paul to an already top 5 team. He will be a great addition to the bearded wonder ; James Harden, Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, and Eric Gordon. They came close last year, but needed a go-to-guy in addition to Harden. Hopefully Chris Paul, can be that guy.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

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It was obvious last year that Oklahoma City needed additional thunder besides Russell Westbrook. I think its hard to win when one member of the team accounts for 40% of the offense, regardless of how many triple doubles you have. Especially true in the playoffs.
They signed Carmelo Anthony & Paul George. I have to believe there will be fights for the ball, or they can initiate a rule change to have 2 balls on court, at the same time.
They have cast of talent, that has been under utilized. They include Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, and Patrick Peterson. This is a team that’s going to take time. to find themselves. If all the egos can mesh, and they learn how to share one ball, they could surprise.

LA Clippers

NBA Clippersimages - CopyThey lost Paul, but still have some key pieces in Blake Griffin, & DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, and Danilo Gallinari. If Austin can up his game, and one of their other point guards can play quality minutes, they can match their recent successes.

I don’t see any other teams in the west, that are in the same league, as these teams.

NFL: Week 3 Takeways

Every Monday morning, I spend a couple of hours going thru all the Sunday NFL games. I’ve got favorites that I follow. I’ve got my fantasy teams, I have to review, and then look at available players. I also follow some of the fun stories that take place every week in the NFL, like standing or not during the national anthem. My wife said why not do a simple post that covers those issues. Just the facts.

The Vikings looked great behind Case Keenum in beating Tampa Bay. Adam Thielen, our local Minnesota boy, had 5 catches for 98 yards, in support of the 34-17 victory.

Lions lost a heartbreaker to the Falcons. It appeared Detroit scored to win the game. But the New York soothsayers said he was short, of the goal line, by half a foot. There were 4 seconds left, but referees said there was a 10 second runoff, therefore the game was over. Stafford looked great.

Eagles won a squeaker over the Giants, as a result of a 61 yard field goal, with no time left, by Elliot, for a 27-24 win. Wentz, former NDSU Bison quarterback, had an OK day.
Miami won over hapless NY Jets 20-6. Cutler  was 26-44 for 220 yards, but was unable to drive to victory.

Buffalo defeated Denver 26-16 despite losing the stat battle. Denver out gained Buffalo by nearly 100 yards. Denver quarterback Simeian was 24-40 for 259 yards.

Rookie K. Hunt of the Chiefs, had another great day, picking 172 Yards, and leads the NFL. The Chiefs beat the Chargers 24- 10 to remain unbeaten.

Dew Brees of New Orleans was 22/29 for 200 yards, leading the Saints to a 34-13 victory over Carolina. Adrian Peterson was 9/33 yards. Adrian doesn’t have a 1oo total yards, for the season.

Oakland evaporated. Last week they hit on all cylinders, and this week they had no cylinders, losing 27-10 to Washington.  3 members of the team, are on a lot of my fantasy teams, Lynch, Carr, and Crabtree. This week they combined  for 9 fantasy points, and last week they had 72.

Brady Watch: At 40, he was 25/35 for 375 yards, and 5 touchdowns. He generated another come-from-behind victory, winning 36-33 on a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds left.

Rodgers led Green Bay to another come-from behind victory, over Cincinnati in overtime 27-24. Rodgers was 28/42, for 313 yards and 3 TD’s.

Send me a comment, if you enjoyed a simple weekend recap like this?

I can Make a Case for Keenum

The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Tampa Bay Bucs 34 – 17 , on Sunday. I was certainly impressed, by Minnesota backup Quarterback Case Keenum. He threw for 369 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions, and more importantly he had success  with the long ball.  He threw 11 passes over 20 yards, connecting on 7.

I have to admit, I didn’t know much about Keenum, except he had been with several teams, as a backup. I googled him, and was surprised I had forgotten, what a great college career he had.

He starred at the University of Houston, where he still holds most NCAA career passing records, including:

Most passes                                 =  1,546 of 2,294
Most Passing Yards                   =  19,217 yards
Most Passing Touchdowns      =  155
Most Rushing TD’s by a QB     =  23
He holds several other records, including a 9 touchdown performance against Rice.

Keenum was able to have such a great performance, with the help of 3 key offensive weapons.

Stephon Diggs      8  catches  for 73 yards
Adam Thielen      5  catches  for 98 yards
Dalvin  Cook         5  catches  for 72 yards                                                                                                                         27 carries  for  97 yards

We’ll see if he can bring his magic throughout the season.
 

Viking Adam Thielen Living The Dream

Adam Thielen is a wide receiver with the Minnesota Vikings. The path that led him, to be a starter, for the Vikings, plays like a movie. I have always have special interest in Thielen, because he comes from Detroit Lakes, MN, which is summer resort town, in the state, of 10,000 lakes. My grandparents lived there, as well as aunts , uncles, and cousins, so I spent a lot of time there, during summertime.

I heard about this kid, who was an exceptional athlete in town, from my realtives. I started following him on the internet. He had a good career, in high school, being named Adamthielenall conference, and all state.

He ended up going to Mankato State, where he was redshirted. He improved each year, catching 74 passes, for 1,176 yards in his senior year. The Minnesota Vikings held their summer camps at Mankato State, so Thielen always hung around, during camp, being a ball boy etc. and got to know the Viking staff. He was not invited to the NFL Combine, so he attended an open tryout with the Vikings. They signed him to the practice squad.
He then moved up, to the regular team, as a member of the special teams. He worked hard everyday, and when an opportunity came, because of an injury to Stephon Diggs, he become next man up. He performed well, and became a starter in 2016, catching 67 passes for 967 yards. Prior to the start of the 2017 season, he signed a 4 year, $19 million contract.adamthilem 9767412-quinten-rollins-adam-thielen-nfl-minnesota-vikings-green-bay-packers

Back in his high school days, Thielen’s hero was the Viking’s Cris Carter. He tried to mimic his pass patterns, and routines, and now he is playing for the Vikings and being a hero to many youngsters, just like he admired Cris Carter.

MN Vikings: 1st Game 2017 Takeaways

  • 1st game of the year. Expectations are high at this point. 1st Monday night game of the year. Playing to a national TV audience against Adrian Peterson and the New Orleans Saints.
  • Adrian Peterson’s first return to the Twin Cities, since signing with the Saints. He had 6 carries for 18 yards. After his first carry, when he was booed heavily, he was underwhelming, and didn’t receive any additional booing.
  • Randy Moss was inducted into the Vikings “Ring of Honor”. He was gracious and humble in accepting the honor. He also honored former coach Dennis Green, as having the biggest impact on his career,
  • Sam Bradford was spectacular. Here are some of his highlights:
  1. Named offensive player of the week, by NFL.
  2. He was 27 of 32 for 346 yards & 3 touchdowns.
  3. He had the highest passer rating in his career; 143.
  4. 7 passes of 15 yards or more. Best in 2016 was 5.
  • Dalvin Cook gained 123 yards, on 22 carries, for a 5.8 average. He set a new rookie running back record for yards gained, by a rookie, in his first game, previously  held by Adrian Peterson. He also had a couple of outstanding pass blocks. He had 2 runs of 20 yards or more, in the fourth quarter. The Vikings only had 6 such runs, in all of 2016.
  • Adam Thielen and Stephon Diggs were beasts. Thielen had 9 catches for 137 yards, including a 44 yarder. Diggs had 7 catches for 93 yards, including a 30 yarder. The catches all came at key moments in the game, not just stat fillers, when the game had been decided.
  • The offensive line was outstanding as well. It was the first time all 5 had played together, including preseason games. 3 of the 5 weren’t with the Vikings last year. Probably the toughest position to master.
  • Last but not least, the defense was terrific. They held the Saints rushing to 60 yards. They held Brees to 291 yards and 1 touchdown.  They held the Saints to 19 points.