March was a busy month in the NFL. Like the NCAA, the NFL had it’s own March Madness. The majority of the madness included the bombshell of bounty hunters, which was a hot topic up in Minnesota. Before we officially, turn the page towards April and the NFL draft, let’s review the final week of March for the Vikings:
John Sullivan, who was the Vikings center on the 2009 team who battled New Orleans in the NFC Championship game, went on-air with KFAN-1130 and joined teammate Chris Kluwe in applauding Commissioner Roger Goodell on his harsh punishment towards the Saints’ personnel. In one word, Sullivan summed up the Saints’ actions as “despicable:”
Center John Sullivan…agreed with Kluwe’s assessment and also wants to see the NFL penalize two other former Saints: safety Darren Sharper and defensive end Bobby McCray. … Sullivan questioned the meat behind the in-season suspension of Saints general manager Mickey Loomis — “seems like it would be more effective as a punishment during the draft,” he said
Sullivan made it clear: the Saints went after Brett Favre with an intent to hurt him
“..the guys that went after it in the wrong way, that’s the exact opposite of sportsmanship. It’s just disgusting. To think that you’re going to take money to hit someone illegally and hurt them out of the game, I can’t even fathom that somebody would do that.”
Like I have said in a previous post, playing defense is about stopping the opponents from scoring. It’s not to say “they have a really good player, let’s purposely knock him out of the game so we have a better chance to win.” If that’s one mindset, I agree with Kluwe’s stance, you’re a coward because you know you can’t win the game fairly.
“I really think if you go back and look at that game, anybody who took a shot at Brett illegally and you can with the intention of trying to injury him [should be banned],” Sullivan said. “And the big two that come to mind are Sharper and Bobby McCray. They’ve go to do something to those guys, too, whether it’s no Hall of Fame [or] you’re not allowed to be associated with the NFL anymore. I have a hard time talking about it. It just disgusts me that you would go out there and try to hurt somebody and take away their livelihood. It’s just gross.”
“As a union member, I’ll be very upset if we come to the defense of these acts,” he said. ”They’re indefensible. You can’t defend them. It’s despicable, has no place in the sport.”
Joining his teammates stance, Vikings’ line backer Chad Greenway also agrees with the discipline.
Greenway said he thought Goodell made the right move by coming down hard on the Saints, suspending coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season and suspending Williams indefinitely.
“I think you need to have them learn their lesson, and have it be a lesson to everybody else in the NFL that this is just not going to be happening,” Greenway said. ’…it’s not the culture anymore and the game has changed a lot.”
Greenway made note, that despite what some fans have been saying, this conduct isn’t a commonplace in the NFL.
“I think the most disturbing thing is that it really seemed to follow one buy around the NFL,” Greenway said, referring to Williams.
“So, to me, that’s when people go off saying, ‘This is something that happens in 50 percent of the locker rooms in the NFL,’ it just simply is not true from my knowledge. Obviously, I don’t know every team and how the culture is, but I do know it is not as rampant as people think it is…”
So please stop saying it [paying someone to injure someone] happens everywhere. It doesn’t!
Now, let’s move on from talking about the bounty situation, but stick with Chad Greenway.
Last week, Greenway was in the twin cities to give back by launching his program “Chad’s Locker,” which will “provide chronically and critically ill children, and their families with access to iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, Xbox game systems and other electronic games.” Reporters caught up with Greenway to get his take on the upcoming football season:
“Obviously, when you’re 3-13, the panic button, everybody wants to hit that,” Greenway said. ”I think from our perspective, if you want to get back, you have to do it the right way. Be consistent and grow your team.
“When you’re 3-13 trying to come back and rebuild the team, you’re going to be questioned, whether you spend more money than anybody in free agency or you’re not spending any money in free agency. I think we’ve got to trust what they’re doing, that’s why they’re in those positions, and as a player that’s what I’m doing. All I’m doing is trying to make myself better.”
Greenway’s opinion on the offense:
“I think if you stand back and look at it from a perspective of maybe being positive instead of negative and say, ‘Why can’t we win those [close] games this year?’ We know Christian (Ponder’s) going to be a young quarterback coming back in, but he has experience now. That was the one benefit from last year that people tend to forget about was that he got a lot of snaps.
“Obviously, the question is, ‘Can he stay healthy?’ But he has some snaps and he had an off season now to come in and be as effective as he can be. I think, obviously, getting Adrian (Peterson) back to 100 percent will be huge for us.”
I’ll get back to AP in a bit, but what’s Chad’s feelings on his defense?
“…we’ve got to get our defense back the way it was playing in 2008 and 2009,” Greenway said, “and that’s going to come down to discipline, fundamentals…It’s more about just guys doing their jobs…”
“…get back to basics and do things the right way,” Greenway said. “We’ve proven that we can win that way. You obviously need to have a great pass rush, but we had that last year. Top-five, I think, in sacks. (The Vikings tied the Eagles for the NFL lead with 50 sacks) … If you can have that, in our system you’re going to give yourself a chance, if you’re playing well in the back end. We know where we need to improve, in pass defense, at our level at linebacker and the defensive backs need to get better.”
The defense will also get their “best” corner back back on the field due to Chris Cooks not guilty verdict in his assault trial.
I wrote in February that Adrian Peterson was scheduled to begin running. HA HA HA! Yeah, that’s just happening now. No worries though, AP was anxious at the time and impatiently wanted to speed up his rehab. Coach Leslie Frazier assured reporters during the NFL owners meetings that Peterson remains on schedule:
Peterson is back in Minnesota with the Vikings’ training staff this week as he prepares to take the next step — moving from jogging in the pool to dryland.
“He’s supposed to start running this week,” Frazier said. “We’ll get a better gauge of where he is once he starts running. But everything he’s done up to this point has been very good.”
It is still up in the air when Adrian Peterson will be back to normal and able to be the dominant running back he was.
The Vikings continue to hope for Peterson to play in Week 1, but Frazier acknowledged last month Peterson may be highly limited early on.
It is also important to remember that Toby Gerhart is also coming off a knee injury.
Finally, April means the NFL draft! The Vikings have emphasized that the rebuilding of the team will begin with the draft. Now where will those picks be?
Round 1: 3rd pick (3rd overall)
Round 2: 3rd pick (35th overall)
Round 3: 3rd pick (66th overall)
Round 4: 3rd pick (98th overall), 33rd pick (128th overall, compensatory), 39th pick (134th overall, compensatory)
Round 5: 3rd pick (138th overall)
Round 6: 5th pick (175th overall, from Cleavand in Jayme Mitchell trade)
Round 7: 3rd pick (210th overall), 16th pick (223rd overall, from Philadelphia through New England as giveback in Randy Moss trade)
Overall, the Vikings have 10 picks, including seven of the first 138 picks. So Vikings fans, get ready for a busy, busy draft!