Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jackson Right to Hold Out, Vikings Right to Hold Firm in Negotiations for Jackson

At the end of the 2009 NFL season, the contract of San Diego Chargers' number one wide-receiver Vincent Jackson, a perennial top 15 wide-out since entering the league in 2005, expired. In any other year, that would have entitled Jackson to free-agency and a probable high payout. This was not any other year, however.

When the NFL owners seized on the opportunity afforded under the current collective bargaining agreement to opt out of the essential terms of the agreement in 2010, one of the consequences was that players with less than six years of service in the NFL who otherwise would have been free agents were denied free agency. Vincent Jackson fell in this category of players.

That did not make Jackson happy, but it did please the Chargers who tendered the restricted free-agent $3.268 million for 2010, a figure well below what Jackson would have received as a signing bonus, alone, had he hit free-agency this year. When Jackson failed to sign his tender by June 15, the Chargers reduced their offer, as per the terms of the CBA, to $768,000. That figure is further reduced due to Jackson's three-game DUI-related suspension and his three-game suspension for failing to report to the team.

The only legitimate argument against Jackson's recalcitrance is that he elected to sign a five-year deal with the Chargers as a rookie, when either he knew or he (or his agent) should have known that the owners had the right to void the CBA and, thus, activate the six-year free-agency clause. With that said, it is otherwise difficult to fault Jackson for his response to the Chargers' offer. Even at $3.268 million, Jackson would be receiving well below what free-agent receivers of his stature currently receive. With the risk of injury that playing in the NFL brings, he is far wiser simply to sit out 2010 and wait for free-agency in 2011.

As Jackson properly looked out for his best interests in the face of a hold-the-line Chargers' offer that borders on the petulant, the Minnesota Vikings, too, rightly held their ground in negotiations for the receiver. Although the addition of Hank Baskett provides the Vikings with little more than a B-string punt and kick returner--still an upgrade over Bernard Berrian or Greg Camarillo in those roles--and leaves the Vikings with few, if any, weapons at the wide-receiver position, San Diego Chargers' G.M. A.J. Smith's asking price of a second- and third- or fourth-round draft pick for Jackson was absurd and only further suggests that Smith, rather than Jackson, has been the obstacle to the Chargers resolution of their issue with Jackson.

Should the Chargers wait until the end of the season to part ways with Jackson, an effective certainly should the October 19th trade deadline pass without a deal for Jackson, they will receive, at best, a third-round compensatory pick in the 2012 NFL draft, and could even receive far less or nothing at all depending both on how much Jackson signs for in free-agency and the terms of the next CBA. The Chargers can still negotiate a trade through the trade deadline, but they must now contend with the fact that Jackson will only be eligible in week seven--and that assumes Jackson is up to speed on a team's playbook and fit to play that week. That only diminishes the Chargers' leverage and increases the Vikings'.

In short, the Chargers vastly over-played their hand, the very same way they over-played their hand in the Michael Turner fiasco. And there was no reason for the Vikings to step in and save Smith from himself.

The Vikings offered the Chargers a second-round pick and a conditional pick, reported to have been a third-round pick, predicated on whether the team and Jackson agreed to a long-term deal. The Chargers wanted the conditional pick guaranteed. The Vikings' declined that invitation.

Now, the Chargers will be fortunate to get more than a guaranteed third-round pick in 2011. In the real world, that's better than the 2012 compensatory pick that the Chargers could receive in 2012, but that's not Smith's world. Instead, Smith is willing to gamble that Jackson's loss of a season and non-production in 2010 will not hurt his free-agency value in 2011 and that the NFL will maintain or improve upon, from a team perspective, the terms of compensation for the loss of a free-agent under the new CBA. Neither seems likely.

More likely is that some team will sign Jackson to a long-term deal with the Chargers receiving virtually nothing in return until at least 2012. That's a fool's move by Smith who could have avoided the entire affair by working out a long-term deal with Jackson last Spring or trading Jackson prior to yesterday's deadline, a movement by which would have made Jackson eligible to play in week five. Perhaps Smith will be enlightened over the next month, but few are betting on it, meaning that the Vikings likely will have to look elsewhere to resolve their 2010 receiver issues.

Up Next: Moving the Pieces for a Better Fit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Minnesota Vikings Killing Themselves With Reaches, Passes, and Retentions

In 2004-2005, the Minnesota Vikings had what can only generously be regarded as two of the worst drafts in NFL history. In those two drafts, the Vikings selected 15 players and traded away three draft positions (one, a first-round swap, the other two later round picks). Only one of those 15 players, 2005 seventh-round selection Jeff Dugan, currently resides on the Vikings' roster and only one other of those 15 players, Mewelde Moore, is even in the NFL.

Since joining the Vikings in 2006, Minnesota's head of player personnel, Rick Spielman, has turned around those dismal draft results, adding several players to the Vikings' roster that were worthy of their selection and slot in the NFL draft. Among these players are Chad Greenway, Sidney Rice, Cedric Griffin, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Chris Cook. But Spielman, like his predecessor (whomever that might have been during the Red McCombs era), has, too, had his share of misses. And nowhere has that problem been more evident for Spielman than in the second round of the draft, where, past the clear blue-chip talent of the first round, talent scouts truly make or break their careers.

In 2006, Spielman added Cedric Griffin, a clear upgrade over whomever the Vikings had been putting on the field prior to Griffin's arrival. But Spielman also reached on center Ryan Cook and traded up to take Tarvaris Jackson. The Vikings have been unsuccessful in their attempts to convert Cook to a solid NFL tackle and equally unsuccessful attempting to use Cook as a center. At this point there can be little doubt but that Cook and Jackson were reaches, at best, and probably more worthy of being picked up as free agents. Other players that the Vikings could have selected in the second round rather than Cook include Greg Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Devin Hester.

In 2007, Spielman selected Sidney Rice in the second round. For two seasons, this looked like another wasted pick. But, after teaming with Brett Favre in 2009, Rice resurrected his career, giving him the opportunity to delay surgery in 2010 and waste what could have and should have been a career-changing contract year. The selection of Rice in round two stands out as one of Spielman's better second-round drafts in what was otherwise a fairly unimpressive second-round crop of talent.

In 2008, Spielman selected safety Tyrell Johnson from Arkansas State. The move surprised few who knew of the Vikings' need for a safety and love affair with small school talent, but the reviews since Johnson first took the field for the Vikings have been forgettable. In week one of this season, Johnson was a healthy inactive. In week two, he did little to suggest that week one's decision was off-base. Among the players that the Vikings passed on in taking Johnson were DeSean Jackson, Ray Rice, and Matt Forte.

In 2009, the Vikings selected offensive tackle Phil Loadholt in the second round of the draft after taking Percy Harvin late in the first round. On balance, these appear to be two sound picks going forward, with Loadholt expected to progress from where he is now and Harvin a solid offensive player, health issues notwithstanding, and it's not clear that there were any players more worthy of being selected after Loadholt was taken than Loadholt was of being taken where he was.

This year, perhaps in keeping with an every-other-year theme, Spielman returned to the mistakes of 2006 and 2008, ceding the Vikings' second- and third-round picks to Houston to move up to take fullback Toby Gerhart. Drafting Chris Cook earlier in the second round off-set some of the sting of the Gerhart move, but that, too, came at a cost. Rather than taking Jahvid Best in round one, the Vikings traded down and took Cook. It now seems apparent that the Vikings were competing with themselves in taking Cook early in round two when they probably could have selected him later in the round in the slot in which they took Gerhart. By maneuvering as they did in rounds one and two of the 2010 draft, the Vikings cost themselves a running back, in Best, who would have been far superior to the back that they lost in Chester Taylor, and an opportunity to have both Best and Cook.

The jury remains out on the 2010 second-round and how it played out for the Vikings, but, at first and second blush, it appears that the Vikings made one two mistakes in selecting Gerhart, another in how they dealt with the selection of Cook, and another in by-passing Best. Compounding the angst is the fact that most insiders and even most Vikings' fans felt at the time of the draft that the Vikings were making these very mistakes.

Missing every other year on second-round talent will not break a team as quickly as would the Vikings' former modus operandi of missing on first-round talent, but it does distinguish the perennial contenders from the mere playoff teams. What also distinguishes these two groups of teams in the NFL, and what threatens playoff teams with relegation to non-playoff status, is poor evaluation of talent already on the squad. In 2010, the Vikings face this very crisis.

The Vikings have already made several head-scratching personnel decisions in 2010, including the still inexplicable trade of Darius Reynaud to the New York Giants. That trade, of course, was part of the more inept decision to deal a still young Sage Rosenfels for a bag of beans, all to satiate the ego of the Vikings' head coach who continues his attempts to paper over his reach for Jackson in 2006. The result of that trade was to leave the Vikings with no viable punt- or kick-returner and a back-up quarterback whose staunchest supporter appears intent on pushing Jackson to the back even as he does all he can to keep him in the fold.

The sole explanation for moving Reynaud was that he was going to "get caught up in a numbers game." "Why?" One might rightfully ask. Because, the head coach has explained, there were too many good players.

Those "good players" presumably include fourth tight end Mickey Shuler, a player who has yet to see the black side of the inactive list, Bernard Berrian, who has hauled in three passes for 27 yards as the number one receiver in 2010, Toby Gerhart, who was supposed to be Chester Taylor's replacement but who has played like a suitable substitute for Naufahu Tahi with the apparent upside of an undersized Jim Kleinsasser, Ryan Cook, who plays only when all other offensive linemen have been exhausted, and Greg Lewis, who rarely sees the field, despite the Vikings' clear depth issues at receiver. Surely the ninth-ranked return man in the NFL in 2009 would have been a better keep than any of these players. And, just as surely, roster space had little to do with the Vikings' decision to move Reynaud. What the real reason was, we may never know.

The Vikings routinely preach the value of draft picks and roster decisions. Unquestionably, the team is accurate in assigning such value. But the Vikings do not practice what they preach when they too often make unnecessary moves that lead to misses in round two of the draft or when they make roster moves that go beyond the inexplicable. At some point, the team has to address these issues or fail for the short-coming.

Up Next: Making Better Use of Existing Talent.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Berrian and Favre Rain on Peterson's Return to Form

Adrian Peterson rushed for145 yards, his first 100-yard-plus regular-season rushing performance in over half a year of games, the Minnesota Vikings had possession of the ball for nearly a quarter more than did the Miami Dolphins, and the Vikings ran nearly 30 more plays than did the Dolphins. Logically, then, the Vikings' lost their 2010 home opener to the Dolphins by a score of 14-10.

From a macro perspective, the Vikings lost because they could not convert drives into the red zone into points and because they turned over the ball too many times. From a micro perspective, they lost because Brett Favre played poorly, Bernard Berrian played like a disinterested slug, and the Vikings' coaching staff could not figure out how to punch the ball in from a yard and a half out.

Favre's early struggles were somewhat predictable, if not in degree at least in kind. Too often on Sunday, he had balls batted back in his face, made a poor read (i.e., threw to Berrian), or failed to hit his man. The result was a dreadful 44 quarterback rating the likes of which Vikings' fans routinely knew when head coach Brad Childress was manhandling his play callers. No matter the cause, however, clearly Favre must play better going forward if the Vikings are to have any prospect of making the playoffs.

Making Favre's prospects more difficult is the continuing putrid play of purported wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Yesterday, the Vikings' "field stretcher" was targeted five times and made two catches for 24 yards, excrutiatingly modest numbers for the team's top-paid pass catcher. What Berrian did not do yesterday, however, is measurably more disturbing than what he was able to do.

During a drive that seemed destined to lead to a score, Favre threw to Berrian in single coverage. The pass was one of Favre's patented bullets thrown short of the play, requiring the receiver to turn and do a slight comeback. Berrian did just that for a nice gain.

On the very next play, seeing that Berrian was again in single-man coverage, Favre again went to him. The pass again required a slight comeback on Berrian's part--the kind that Sidney Rice and Favre routinely hooked up on last season for easy scores in front of overwhelmed cornerbacks. Only, on this play, one play after making the very same play, Berrian kept running with no endgame in sight. Had the corner not gotten out of the way to intercept a pass that should have been caught for a touchdown, Berrian would still be trying to find his way out of the corners undergarments, so intent was he on ensconcing himself in the corner.

Dan Dierdorf, as Dierdorf is wont to do, ripped Favre for "throwing into coverage." As is so often the case, Dierdorf misunderstood the play (as well as the nature of football, in general, a game in which players, more often than not, are covered by at least one player). Contrary to Dierdorf's view of the play, this one was on Berrian, who demonstrated both a short attention span and an outrageous non-chalance given his position. It was yet another reason to wonder why a player who has failed to eclipse six receptions in any regular-season game as a Viking and who has not topped 100 yards receiving since 2008, remains in the Vikings' starting lineup or even on the roster. Surely someone walking the street can best Berrian's 2010 totals of 3 receptions and 27 yards.

Not to be outdone by the play of Favre and Berrian, the Vikings' offensive coaching staff all but decided to mail it in on Sunday. But for Peterson's return to his early career form--thanks in large part, no doubt, to his massive new gloves--the Vikings would have been the single most miserable offense in the NFL on Sunday, making even the woeful Buffalo Bills look sound. Of particular concern was the playcalling in the red zone, and, even more specifically, the failure to score from the one-yard-line late in the game.

On the fateful fourth-and-goal play, the Vikings opted to bring in three tight ends to pair with two running backs, ensuring that no Dolphin would cut the edge and make the play from behind. That's a nice move, if the ball is at the five. From the one, however, it is completely pointless, as the Dolphins' defense quickly demonstrated.

With no possibility of making a play in the backfield off of the edge, the Dolphins focused their defensive attention on the middle of the Vikings' line, Brad Childress' favorite point of attack in goal-line situations. Childress, of course, bit and the Vikings were stuffed behind the line of scrimmage from pressure up the middle over their overmatched center and guards.

After a day of errant passes from Favre, it was evident, and probably prudent, for the Vikings not to rely on Favre to get the go-ahead score. But that doesn't explain the Vikings' decision to perpetuate a challenge of our weaker against their stronger players along the line or the decision to use a package suited for the five-yard-line on the one-yard-line.

A better tactic, and one we almost assuredly will never see Childress use, would have been to put Jim Kleinsasser and Kevin Williams in the backfield and Peterson at quarterback (Joe Webb would be better, but, given that the Vikings had him listed as the emergency quarterback, that was not an option). That, at least, would have provided fair ground for the Vikings to challenge the Dolphins to give their best shot. As it was, the Dolphins' best shot wasn't even necessary.

At 0-2, the Vikings are in a position that was not entirely unforeseeable even before the team lost Sidney Rice and Chris Cook. But the team's dismal showing in the clutch on offense in two straight games now raises the prospect of a far more desperate situation in the weeks ahead. If the Vikings do not soon begin dotting their "i's" and crossing their "t's," and if they do not resolve their abundantly desperate situation at wide receiver, they could find themselves too far behind after week seven to even think about wild-card possibilities. And if the Wilf's think that the stadium is an uphill battle in a down economy, they might want to consider those prospects given a team with a losing season and without a starter at quarterback if and when games resume in 2011.

Up Next: They're Not Worthy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Time for Vikings to Put Sysyphusian Exercise to Bed

It's been eight games--half a season--since Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson last eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the regular season. Over those eight games, Peterson has averaged 19 carries per game, with a high of 26 carries and a low of nine. When the Vikings have faced stronger run defenses, Peterson has tended, however slightly, to have more receiving opportunities. Given an otherwise limited passing game, that latter approach ought to prevail today against a Miami Dolphins team that his good against the run but below average against the pass.

Using Peterson out of the backfield was the mantra on this site prior to last week's sub-standard offensive showing against the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, the Vikings' coaching staff failed to heed this call, going to Peterson a mere three times out of the backfield and opting for players such as the otherwise invisible Bernard Berrian on far too many other occasions.

In addition to having a sure-handed back the likes of Marshall Faulk coming out of the backfield, what bodes well for the Vikings' use of Peterson as an open-field receiver is that it plays directly to the Vikings' offensive line strength--or weakness, if you will. The key to a successful screen play is allowing the defensive linemen to believe that they have beaten their blocks. For the Vikings, no sell job is even required as 3/5 of the offensive line is routinely beaten. All that is required is for Peterson to slip out of the backfield, also, another relatively easy task as Peterson clearly despises lingering in the backfield.

What was said last week bears repeating. For every two screen plays that the Vikings run to Peterson, Minnesota can chalk up seven points. It seems so simple. Yet, for coaches who insist on convincing fans that they have known best all along and that Peterson, despite his "great hands" and statistics to the contrary, cannot catch the ball, its been a Sisyphusian exercise. Last week would have been a good time to disengage from that exercise, this week might prove mandatory in that respect.

Up Next: Post-game plus Vincent Jackson and Money Issues.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time for Vikings and Peterson to Figure Out Peterson

From the time that Adrian Peterson first arrived in Minnesota, Minnesota Vikings' fans have been treated to a common chorus from NFL commentators, both locally and nationally. The mantra has been that Adrian Peterson is one of the most gifted backs ever to play the game. Many even, however myopically, have compared Peterson to the legendary Jim Brown.

Three plus years into his NFL career, and already as close to the end of that career as he is to the beginning, Peterson has yet to merit such loud pronouncements. In a league in which numerous young runners are more than besting Peterson's production on a week to week basis, the time has come for the Vikings and Peterson to figure things out--to determine if Peterson is closer to the Chris Johnsons of the NFL than to the Pierre Thomases. As of today, the answer to that question is not as evident as it appeared when Peterson took the Bears to the shed for nearly 300 yards nearly three years ago.

With four very good running backs yet to play this week, Peterson already sits at number seven on the week in rushing yardage production and outside the top ten in yards-per-carry average. That's certainly the hallmark of a good running back, but it's not the sign of an elite running back, and certainly not evidence of the successor to the likes of Jim Brown.

Since Peterson's presumed watershed game against the San Diego Chargers in his rookie season, the Vikings' running back has rushed for over 3,000 yards, yet his yards-per-carry figures have dropped every year and his overall yardage dropped 25% last season from his 2008 production. The Vikings and their mouthpieces continue to trot out the same tired lines that the opposition is keying on Peterson and stuffing the box, daring the Vikings to pass. The claim not only is no longer accurate, it is also irrelevant.

When Brett Favre showed opposing teams that he could pass the Vikings down the field and to victory, opponents began peeling back on their men in the box and approached the Vikings with a more even defensive hand, honoring the pass as well as the run. Still, Peterson's numbers declined from a year earlier, and dramatically so in terms of overall yardage. Given a new, multi-faceted offense, quite the opposite should have occurred with an elite running back.

The continuing explosiveness of Chris Johnson and the success of running backs such as Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, Jerome Harrison, and Shon Green, among others, suggests either that Peterson simply is not what he has been touted to be or that Peterson and the Vikings have failed to get the most out of the running back. If the latter is happening and the Vikings are winning, all is forgiven. If the latter is happening and the Vikings are losing and failing to factor their purported most dominant offensive threat into the offensive game plan in the final half of a close contest against an expected challenger for the NFC Championship, all is in question.

Starting with the game this week against the Miami Dolphins, it is time for the Vikings to figure out how to use Peterson (including employing him in a substantial role as a receiver in the screen game) and it is time for Peterson to produce in accordance with what he believes himself to be as a running back in the NFL.

Up Next: Paying and Not Paying--Old Ways and New Ways?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Game Not Even Donovan McNabb's Mother Could Love

The Minnesota Vikings lost a thoroughly uninspiring, time-wasting 14-9 game to the equally unimpressive New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. The loss put the Lions ahead of the Vikings in the standings for the first time in several years and cast a bright light on some areas of concern for the team, as well as shining another light on some areas for optimism.

Dreadfully awful game aside, this game was as much about measuring where the Vikings stand and where they need to improve to contend for the Super Bowl this year as it was about starting the season off on the right foot. The areas of promise included the offensive line, which did reasonably well even after Bryant McKinnie's departure, the cornerbacks, and Ryan Longwell, who kicked deep enough and high enough to remind us all what a waste it would have been to reserve a roster spot for a second kicker who could do neither.

There were also areas of promise going forward this year, including the play of Ryan Cook, however limited his action was, the play of Brett Favre (in spots), who hit consecutive passes in the first half the likes of which only very good quarterbacks see, attempt, and complete, and the aforementioned play of a patchwork cornerbacking corps.

More disconcerting was the play of the safeties, E.J. Henderson's lack of explosiveness, Favre's evident rust, the lack of any number one or number two receiver on the squad, and the pedestrian effort of Adrian Peterson.

The safeties were invisible tonight, except when they were being had along the sidelines or in the corner of the endzone on a play that should have gone for a touchdown. It could be argued that the Vikings' safeties did what they are expected to do in Leslie Frazier's cover-two system, but it looks too much like a continuation of last year's feeble effort and it simply won't suffice to move the Vikings forward. Madieu Williams' abysmal effort to interfere with Jeremy Shockey, who still caught the ball for an important first down, pretty much sums up the effort of the safeties tonight.

While the safeties remained invisible, Henderson was in on several plays. Unfortunately, he was often the last man to the ball and he clearly was restricted by his continuing recovery from his leg injury last season. On the Saints' game-sealing drive, Henderson simply could not push off on his leg as he would have done before his injury and was relegated to moving forward on the ground. The play did not suggest that Henderson is incapable of playing middle linebacker for the Vikings right now, but merely that he is not as effective as he was before the injury. That sense was bolstered by other plays during which Henderson was simply too slow to get to do what Vikings' fans remember him doing several times in the past--springing through the air to tackle a player for a loss.

Favre, too, looked off, though for a different reason. There were too many missed passes and too few key reads for a quarterback of Favre's caliber. It did not help that the Vikings went vanilla on the offense, but, when you have Bernard Berrian masquerading as a receiver and the slow-footed Greg Camerillo disguised as a down-field threat, those things can happen.

What continues to happen but should not be happening is the bottling up of Adrian Peterson. At best, tonight, Peterson was the second best back on the field. Pierre Thomas was better and Reggie Bush might have shown more given his limited opportunities. While Peterson put up some numbers in the first half, Thomas put his up when the Saints needed them. That's what Thomas can do that Peterson did not and, frankly, that the Vikings did not even ask Peterson to do. Perhaps this is the new normal for Peterson--many opportunities to carry the ball with average results. If so, that and a suspect receiving corps could make for a grim start to the season in Minnesota.

Clearly, the Vikings have two issues that they must address in the short term--the lack of a meaningful sideline deep threat and the lack of any running game after Peterson. If this were Miami, we would probably be treated to a healthy dose of Joe Webb in wildcat formation. Alas, it is not. So we probably will see more of what we saw tonight. If Peterson picks it up, fine. If not, not fine.

The options at running back are probably limited. Jahvid Best would have been a nice addition, but the Vikings opted to take Toby Gerhart, instead. Gerhart is out with a knee injury, but his presence so far has been far from inspiring and there's nobody else on the roster that looks fit to change the current scenario.

Taking pressure off the running game would help, but the Vikings need someone who can stretch the field to accomplish that. When the Saints took away the Vikings' only semblance of a deep threat in Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota had no answers. That means it's either time to unleash Percy Harvin, get Peterson the ball in the flat, an apparent pipe dream, or to bring someone new to the team. As much as Javon Walker did not impress in preseason, he looked better than Berrian has looked in some time, Vincent Jackson still remains an option and the Vikings likely could get him reinstated for week four if they can swing a deal, and Antonio Bryant is out there, if the Vikings can stand the inconsistency that the Bengals could not.

Up Next: Moneyball (really).

Time for Childress to Stop Uninventing the Wheel

This will be short and to the point. If the Vikings use Adrian Peterson as a passing weapon against the New Orleans Saints tonight, they will win the game. If they do not, they will lose.

Using Peterson as a passing weapon means employing him on screen plays (with him, rather than Naufahu Tahi as the target) a minimum of four times. If Peterson has demonstrated anything in his time in Minnesota it is that he does far better in space than when he has to create his own room, particularly when he is asked to do the latter behind a creaky, sometimes immobile offensive line.

Using Peterson out of the backfield and in the flat is worth six points to Minnesota for every two successful completions. Using Peterson strictly as a running back, particularly given his poor blocking skills, makes the Vikings predictable.

If Childress can stop moving back in time, the Vikings could well take a step forward in their progression toward NFC front-runners.

Up Next: Postgame.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Pride Goeth Before Destruction

If there is a silver lining to the Minnesota Vikings' decision to move Sage Rosenfels, it is a silver lining with four prongs of varying worth. Those prongs are the fifth-round pick that the Vikings receive in return for Rosenfels, the release of a player not content with his situation on the team, the near certain retention of Joe Webb, and the possibility that Vikings' head coach Brad Childress might someday be forced to reckon with the decision.

Of these benefits, none remotely assuage what in the minds of most informed viewers amounts to a decision to release Rosenfels in favor of retaining a far lesser player. The perception of this being yet another foolish quarterback move by Childress is only enhanced by the utterly inexplicable decision to include kick returner Darius Reynaud in the deal. If the Vikings' intention was to become weaker at quarterback and at kick returner, they can proudly proclaim "Mission Accomplished."

The loss of Rosenfels means, of course, that Childress' five-year experiment with Tarvaris Jackson will continue, but for no apparent reason. Jackson's sole role with the team is that of backup to Brett Favre. With a one-year deal, that might be the only role that Jackson ever again fills for this team. If so, the Vikings still lost time, money, and one more year left on Rosenfels' contract in exchange for retaining a player that nobody else wants.

Certainly, none of this makes sense to anyone other than the handful of fans who myopically and mindlessly continue to support Childress' backing of Jackson on the wisp of a hope that Jackson might do what he has yet to do. It makes far less sense when factoring in Reynaud's inclusion in the deal to give the New York Giants a solid backup to Eli Manning and a starting kick returner, all for a late-round selection in next year's draft. And it makes the Vikings' deal for Rosenfels an utterly wasted and expensive venture, particularly given that the Vikings gave up a fourth-round last year pick to obtain Rosenfels.

In sum, in exchange for a late-round selection in the future, the Vikings gave away their best backup quarterback and their only kick returner to a team that the Vikings' ownership group idolized as children. Either the Wilf's have reverted to adolescence or Childress' pride simply won't let him give up the ghost. Including Reynaud in the deal only further suggests the bloated value that Childress places on Jackson.

Of course, it would have been better if Childress had simply said after making one bad move that he even would have considered throwing in Reynaud if it meant he could keep Jackson. But pride required action. That meant moving Reynaud with Rosenfels and keeping Jackson. It's Childress way of saying not only that he does not value one of his detractors, but also that he values highly his hand-picked successor who has never been. And all of it was done to justify a series of bad decisions dating back to the dealing of picks to trade up to take Jackson.

Ultimately, it is more pride than one man likely can swallow and pride that could lead to the Vikings' downfall should Favre get injured this year or retire after the season.

Up Next: Moneyball. Plus, Housh.