Monday, April 23, 2007

On The Come?

Say what? Last week, Minnesota Vikings' player personnel director Rick Spielman apparently broke ranks and let slip one of the franchise's best kept secrets. During an interview with a local writer, Spielman acknowledged that the Vikings remain $25 million under the 2007 salary cap and noted that the team was interested in spending wisely rather than just spending. "We're looking for players on the come," Spielman said.

If you've followed the Vikings since the Red McComb's era, you've probably heard this song and dance before. When a high-ranking Vikings' official says that the team is interested in value and not largesse--despite obtaining little of value and retaining considerable largesse (more like $30 million by most estimates)--it's clear that the shell game has returned to the Twin Cities.

In Mike Tice's last season as head coach, the Vikings finished 9-7. Frustrated by what he viewed to be an underperforming team, Wilf fired Tice, declaring that the team was poised to contend under new head coach Brad Childress.

From that 9-7 team, the Vikings lost one meaningful starter--quarterback Daunte Culpepper who played half of the 2005 season before sustaining a season-ending injury. The team finished with a better record using Daunte's replacement, Brad Johnson, than it had amassed with Daunte as the starter in 2005. Enter Brad Childress.

With better talent at several positions and an improved defense, the 2006 Vikings nevertheless floundered. And while some, including the head coach, resorted to the cliched "if a few plays in a few games had gone differently" bit to suggest that the Vikings easily could have gone 10-6 last year rather than 6-10, some were bold enough to point out that, by the same logic, the team just as easily could have been 2-14--or worse.

Wilf and Childress responded to fan discontent by contending that the team's changing philosophy--from whatever Tice's philosophy was to whatever Childress' philosophy is--would require time to produce results on the field. Never mind that the change to Childress was, according to Zygi, "going to pay immediate dividends." Now, Zygi is contending that that time it will take for the Vikings to show improvement will be somewhere in the neighborhood of three years. And Spielman is offering cover by digging for diamonds in the rough.

I love a good football yarn as much as the next guy, but spare me another story about a guy who can run fast and has potential. Matt Jones was to have been the next unstoppable receiver with his blazing speed and great athleticism. Skeptics scoffed at the notion that a lanky college quarterback who'd never played receiver in college could make the transition to all-world receiver. So far, the skeptics have proven correct.

Spielman wants us to believe that the Vikings have outdone even what Matt Jones is still attempting to do. For, instead of finding a college football player who the Vikings hope to convert to a wide receiver, the Vikings have simply found a really fast guy who supposedly is athletic. And he's never played football.

When Spielman says that the team's philosophy is to find guys on the come rather than guys who have established themselves and are requesting their due pay day, what he is really saying is that the Vikings are looking to fill obvious voids on their club in as penny ante a fashion as possible. Whatever it takes to meet the salary floor in 2007 will do.

It's not on the come. It's come on.

Up Next: Three Good Scenarios for the Vikings in Round One of the Draft.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, like finding an old friend...well, quite possibly a very boring old friend, but a friend indeed! I always liked your thoughts and stories -- didn't always agree -- but I liked them. Your thorough and long and dryly written reports are a struggle to read through to the end, but I ususally do anyway. Where is our skinny-assed old friend, Mr. Cheer or Die? Maybe you could get him to take some photos of the first mini-camp where the newest members of the Vikings gather. That was always the best part of his blog.

Recommendation: At the end of each report, include a summary of what you just said!

Anonymous said...

Geek, I just submitted the last comment. I don't have a Google account and don't care to, but I don't mind identifying myself as MikLev over at Purple Thoughts.

shimrod said...

Zygi is looking to move the team, no doubt about it. He spent money year one to cover his ass and that's the last time we'll see him spend any more than the minimum. The overpriced stadium proposal is just another part of the strategy. They have a plan all right. Build through the draft for their next city.

Vikes Geek said...

MikLev,

I'll see if COD is interested. He's due for some input.

As for dry, it would be easy to go another route. The problem is that in this town, nobody seems very interested in covering the Vikings with anything other than rose-colored glasses. And some of the columnists try so hard to be funny I'm embarrassed for them.

The previous column got a bit long but there was quite a bit that has been left unsaid about a guy that the Vikings are at least considering taking with the number seven pick.

VG

Vikes Geek said...

Shimrod,

I've yet to be convinced that Zygi knows what he is doing. I was suspicious the moment I heard his cliche-ridden speech after purchasing the team and I am more suspicious now.

I agree that Zygi is doing everything that an NFL owner would do if they were intent on moving a team out of Minnesota. He spent money in year one because he had no choice under the cap rules and probably thought it was worth one more try to get a stadium built for free. He followed that with an amateurishly executed proposal to build a stadium in Blaine and hired a rookie head coach with an ego too big to allow him to admit his own short-comings and eyesight too poor to recognize the same. And, to top it all off, he has assembled a crack personnel team comprised primarily of people who either were good enough for Red (Studwell and Brzezinski) or not good enough for Miami (Spielman).

Two weeks ago, Wilf unveiled a preposterous stadium plan intent either on driving a final wedge between the Vikings and the State Legislature or trying to make anything less preposterous seem reasonable by contrast. That came on the heals of his commitment to "rebuilding" a team that didn't need rebuilding when he bought it.

The Vikings have become the most poorly run professional franchise in town, only slightly better run than the NBDL team that plays at Target Center. Either Zygi is a moron because he doesn't realize the damage that he is doing to the franchise or he is a moron because he believes that he is positioning himself to move the team when there is no better market currently desireous of an NFL team.

It makes me long for the wisdom of Mike Lynn.

VG

Anonymous said...

VikesGeek...
Thanks for your reply!! I mean it. That would be great to entice COD to contribute now and then. I miss him but understand his COD blog became a burden on him.

I'll be a regular visitor now that I know you are back on the internet.
MikLev