Thursday, September 07, 2006

Vikings Leading Candidate to Land George

Yes, it's a teaser, the Vikings do not currently have any plans to sign free-agent quarterback Jeff George. The point, however, was not to lure readers in under a false pretense. Rather, the point was to highlight one of the rituals of free agency that recently has risen to absurd heights in the land of 10,000 lakes.

While the line about the Vikings being the leading candidate to land George is ludicrous it is only slightly more ludicrous than those offered up by the agent for recently released wide receiver Quincy Morgan.

Unprompted, Morgan's agent offered two delicious, if utterly fallacious statements to the local press. The first comment was that the Vikings were the leading candidate to sign Morgan. That not only presumes that the Vikings have an interest in Morgan--which they purportedly do for some reason--but also that someone else has an interest in Morgan. The latter presumption is a bit hard to swallow given Morgan's lackluster recent performance and the general lack of need around the league for a number seven receiver with some baggage.

Morgan's agent also stated that Morgan would solve Minnesota's search for a kick/punt returner. The evidence supporting that contention is nowhere to be found, but that didn't stop Morgan's agent from making the claim. Nor did it stop the locals from queing up already for Morgan jerseys. Sigh.

More Receiver Curiousity

When the Vikings inked former Eagles' wide receiver Todd Pinkston to a deal last week, Vikings fans initially responded with a collective yawn. After awaking from their slumber, however, they undoubtedly began to wonder--and wonder quite seriously--about the state of the Vikings' receiving corps.

For the past two seasons, Vikings' fans have been told that the Vikings' receiving corps was set. While the meaning of the term "set" has not yet been properly conveyed from the team to the fans, the best guess is that by "set" the Vikings' coaching staff meant that the Vikings had what they needed to compete in the NFL at the wide receiver position.

Some fans wondered aloud last year whether the Vikings actually did have the necessary receiving corps to both stretch the field and maintain ball control. That was after the Vikings had parted with Randy Moss for a bag of beans, but before fans had the benefit of seeing what the Vikings actually had--or did not have--in purported field stretcher, aka big bean, Troy Williamson.

Again this season, Vikings' coaches contended that the Vikings' receiving corps was set. That was after the Vikings lost disappointing Nate Burleson to a ludicrously high bid from the Seattle Seahawks, but before the team lost Koren Robinson.

The math thus suggested that, despite losing their number one and number two receiver from the 2004 season--with, as yet, no noticeable replacement having arisen--the Vikings' believed that they had a full stable of receivers heading into 2006. Robinson would be the stretcher and Wiggins and Taylor would keep the chains moving.

Assuming that Robinson was the Vikings' number one receiver--a contention that the Vikings have denied since KoRo arrived in Minnesota--the Vikings' coaching staff can be forgiven if they found the need to upgrade the receiving corps after Robinson's dismissal.

What is mystifying, however, are the Vikings' recent wide receiver moves. The addition of Morgan, should that come to fruition, is meaningful only if one substitutes Morgan's agent's opinion of his client for the actual on-field performance history of Morgan. Because only a delusional flight of fancy can change the fact that Morgan is neither a deep threat nor a punt/kick returner.

Even more mystifying is the evolving Pinkston affair. When the Vikings signed Pinkston, they said that they were looking to sign a player who could stretch the field and keep defenses from pinching up. In his hay day--if he had one--Pinkston was not that receiver. He certainly is not today. Yet the Vikings' front office claimed that he was and is just such a weapon.

What's odd, however, is that not even Pinkston believes that he can stretch the field. Interviewed yesterday, Pinkston said that he was "here to contribute" and that he was "not here to be the deep threat."

That we knew. One wonders if the Vikings' brass understands that yet.

Vikings' fans hoping for some field-stretching ability will have to content themselves with the possibility that the newly installed West Coast offense will produce more slants and quick hits that will prove more frustrating to cover than the garden variety post and fade routes. Because, unless Williamson shows something that he has yet to show, the Vikings do not have a legitimate deep threat on their roster.

That's not meant to suggest that the Vikings will not have a very capable passing game. In fact, quite the contrary. Under Tice, the Vikings were so enamored with the deep ball that it seemed that it was attempted every other play. The more tempered short passing game offered under Childress should not only prove more sustainable, but should actually have the ironic consequence of opening up the deep game.

If only the Vikings had a deep threat.

Up Next: Additions and losses. Plus, who's still out there?


Lichty said...

Ahhh the Burleson affair.

Aaron Gleeman said it best when asked by an out of state colleague to explain how Minnesota fans felt about Hutchinson/Burleson saga.

Is like sleeping with your friend's sister and in retaliation the friend saying "I'll show you, I'm going to sleep with your brother."

Vikes Geek said...

Hard to argue with that, at least from my perspective. The deal that the Seahawks gave Burleson makes little sense to me. And now, despite having Jackson and Burleson--both receiving number one receiver money--as well as Engram, the Seahawks are trying to sign Branch, another number one receiver requesting number one receiver dollars. And Seattle is biting. This is the kind of spending that eventually dooms a team under the league's salary cap rules. Maybe Seattle is simply playing for the moment, however.