Packers Periscope: Week 5 vs Minnesota Vikings

The Past:  The last time the Packer met the Vikings was on week 12 of the 2013 season and was headlined by the “triumphant” return of Matt Flynn.  Much like the parable of the prodigal son, Flynn left the Packers with a spectacular 460 yard, 6 touchdown performance in 2011 to a lucrative deal with the Seattle Seahawks.  However, Flynn didn’t find much success outside the Packers and eventually ended up a free street agent after the Bills cut him.  The Packers, dealing with their own quarterback injuries in Aaron Rodgers and Seneca Wallace, welcomed the return of their prodigal son to 3rd string quarterback Scott Tolzien.  Flynn made an impact within 10 days, taking over for Tolzien in the 3rd quarter down by 23-7 and lead the Packers to a 26-26 tie after both teams converted field goals in overtime, despite the fact that everyone and their mother is an expert on the NFL officiating nowadays, two entire teams found out the hard way that you can indeed play a game to a tie and many players on both sides were genuinely surprised.  Outside a disaster on all fronts against the Lions on Thanksgiving, Flynn was able to right the ship and keep the Packers afloat until Rodgers came back for the last regular season game to win the division.

The Present: With a short week, all eyes are on the health of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who had to be carted off the field on Sunday against the the Falcons.  The Vikings are one of the worst offenses in the league, only behind Cleveland and Jacksonville, with a -29.2% DVOA while ranking 30th in passing and 22nd in running.  Of course the headline of the Vikings (and maybe the NFL as a whole at the moment), is the loss of Adrian Peterson, who is currently on the exempt list on child abuse charges.  While the Vikings do have some decent running backs in Matt Asiata and Jerrick McKinnon, there really is no substitute for All-Day and defenses have not be showing as much fear against the Vikings running game, which makes the passing game all that more important.  In terms of passing, traitor Greg Jennings, Cordarelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph lead the teams receiving unit but uncertainty at the quarterback position almost definitely gives the Packers defense the advantage.  Historically, Christian Ponder has been incredibly inconsistent against the Packers (he’s graded from 2.1 to -5.4 according to PFF against the Packers), but being demoted and then not released certainly doesn’t bode well on his psyche.

On defense, the Vikings are about average, ranking 20th in defensive DVOA, with a considerably better run defense than pass defense.  the Vikings most significant change is the loss of Jared Allen, who joined the division rival Chicago Bears (but did not play on Sunday due to pneumonia) but the Vikings still have some talented pass rushers in Everson Griffin and Brian Robinson.  Overall, the Packers would appear to have an advantage in both passing and running the football; head coach Mike McCarthy has vowed to put more emphasis on the running game (as he does almost every week after falling back on his pass-first mentality) and hopefully the Packers can start fielding a more diverse offense that forces defenses to account for all players.

The Vikings right now are a very beatable team for the Packers, not only do the Packers get some luck with the murky availability of Teddy Bridgewater and the loss of Adrian Peterson but the Packers should be able to win both on offense and defense, which is something that hasn’t been the case this season so far.

The Future: Of all the NFC North teams, the Vikings are the only team in an identity crisis.  At the moment, the Vikings are unsure if they have their quarterback of the future (which has probably been the case since Dante Culpepper) and their current identity as a running team highlighted by Adrian Peterson is almost certainly over as Peterson will likely never play for the Vikings again.  Just as the Packers were in disarray when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last season, the Vikings are still trying to find out what team they have and it’s not been pretty.  One would think that the Vikings would begin to shift towards a most aggressive passing team in order to keep up with Detriot, Chicago and Green Bay, however the Vikings biggest problem has been finding a quarterback and it’s not completely certain that Bridgewater is the guy either; keep in mind while Bridgewater is a 1st round pick, even the Vikings passed on him once, selecting Anthony Barr with the 9th overall pick and only trading back up with the Seahawks for the 32nd pick in order to nab him later.

In terms of salary cap, the Vikings have the 3rd least dead money at $6 million in the NFC North and have ample room to re-sign pending free agents or sign injury replacements should they occur.  Free agency also looks quite good, they have no outstanding pending free agents until 2016; the only big name is Christian Ponder in 2015, who certainly won’t command a huge contract for any team, and Matt Asiata who may see his stock rise depending on how well he does this season.  The first big name free agent that comes up is Harrison Smith and perhaps Chad Greenway in 2016, but its likely that Greenway might be relegated to a lower contract since he will be 33 by then.

Finally in terms of the draft, the Vikings have seen mixed results.  First round pick Anthony Barr has had a quietly good season so far but only has 2 sacks and 18 tackles so far.  Teddy Bridgewater has been good in limited snaps, but figures to be the starting quarterback from here on end with incumbent Matt Cassel on IR with a foot injury.  The rest of the 2014 draft class has largely been invisible; 3rd round pick Scott Crichton, 6th round pick Antone Exum and 7th round pick Jabari Price have seen 8 snaps or less while 7th round linebacker Brandon Watts hasn’t played a down on defense and 6th round rookie Kendall James isn’t even on the roster anymore.  Outsider of 1st round pick Barr, the only rookie on defense to play any significant amount of snaps is 7th round defensive tackle Stephen Shamar, who has graded out negatively.  On offense, 3rd round pick Jerrick McKinnon has been the only rookie to see any snaps as 4th round pick David Yankey, once thought to be one of the best guard prospects coming out of college, is currently a backup behind Charlie Johnson and Jets castoff Vladimir Ducasse.


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


16 thoughts on “Packers Periscope: Week 5 vs Minnesota Vikings

  1. I share thinking of Mike McCarthy. You are not allowed to underestimate any team in NFL. If you do that, you’ll find yourself in the trouble… This attitude should be applied to Vikings as well. Do not forgot that our “starting” NT was released by Vikings. Looking the past 4 games, it is not hard to understand why Vikings cut him… So, respect. Not fear, not overestimation. Just simple, plain respect…

    1. The underlining principle behind the logic that “our starting NT was released by the Vikings” is of course that you believe that the Vikings know what they are doing. If you do, then their record and playoff history in the past couple years shows that they haven’t been all that effective. Personally, I would go with the opinion that the Vikings have no idea what they are doing, I mean look what they did with Adrian Peterson; in which case the VIkings cutting Guion could just be that they don’t know what they are doing.

      1. well they knew that Guion doesn’t know what he is doing so they let him walk…he’s terrible…if we’re going to start taking in used Viqueens please get good ones…

      2. Well, maybe you are right ad I’m wrong, but we have 4 games behind us in which we can evaluate what Letroy showed. He showed nothing. Mike Pennel, rookie was better. So, after all, it looks like Viking did good decision for them. Maybe by accident, but still.
        And that way of thinking is just what I was warning about. Atlanta Falcons learned that. I do not want see Packers make the same mistake. You may be joking around, but Cordelle Patterson, Greg Jennings &, possibly, Bridgewater can make a lot of problems to our defense, not to mention Vikings running game, that we are not so good in stopping. So, I think it will be large margin victory, but only if we takes them seriously.
        I do not see any good in underestimating opponents or in spitting on them, that is something what speaks about us, not about them…

  2. GB is a better team than Minnesota right now. And the biggest difference is the quality of play at the most important position in sports (QB). However, if GB’s OL and DL don’t get their crap together, this will be a VERY close game that GB could well lose. I have hope for the OL. Not the DL.

    1. I think the biggest problem is not that the OL and DL can’t get their crap together, its that once they do, they need to be able to carry it on to the next week. The offensive line was atrocious against the Lions but didn’t let anyone lay a hand on Rodgers the next week against the Bears. On the flip side, the Packers DL was destroying the Lions OL, but the then let the Bears running game explode for 194 yards. So really, both units have already shown that they can be great units, just you can’t trust that they will be that way every game.

  3. Green Bay has $3.291 million in dead money, which is a little high for TT versus the last few years. $2.2 million comes from 2 players: Raji (he had a $1.4 buyout if his rookie contract 5th year option was not exercised by GB) and $800,000 for Desmond Bishop. Worthy was another $327,000. We do have the following FAs after this season:

    UNRESTRICTED (13)* Tramon Williams CB 31 7 $6,900,000
    B.J. Raji NT 28 5 $3,100,000* Bryan Bulaga T 25 4 $2,565,500
    Jarrett Bush CB 30 8 $1,600,000 Jamari Lattimore LB 25 3 1.431,000 Derek Sherrod T 25 3 $1,275,273* John Kuhn FB 32 8 $855,000* Randall Cobb WR 24 3 $812,648* Letroy Guion NT 27 6 $730,000
    Matt Flynn QB 29 6 $730,000 Davon House CB 25 3 $645,000
    Ryan Taylor TE 26 3 $645,000 Scott Tolzien QB 27 3 $645,000 RESTRICTED (3) Don BarclayT 25 2 $570,000 Jarrett Boykin WR 24 2 $570,000 Sean Richardson S 24 2 $570,000
    EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS (1)DuJuan Harris RB 26 1 $645,000

    1. Actually, $3.291 million is the 2nd lowest dead money figure in the entire NFL this season as only the Colts have less dead money at $2.2 million. The average around the league looks to be about $10 million so Thompson is actually doing quite well, even if this year’s dead money is higher than 2013.

      1. Thomas is correct. I read the same thing in an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. Yes, TT is the 2nd best in the league in terms of fiscal responsibility. This is how Green Bay survives now and in the future. You get a guy like Mike Sherman or Obama running the show here and we are in the red very quickly.

        1. GB doesn’t have to be fiscally prudent to survive in the NFL. It is a capped league with revenue sharing. GB’s situation is totally different than say, the Milwaukee Brewers, who in fact can’t sign all of their own stars. TT runs GB the way every GM should run their team, not because he has to. GB has $275 million in cash reserves.

          I really was getting at 2 points. TT usually keeps the dead money to $2-3 million. It would be very unlike TT to look at Peppers’ contract as a 1 year deal and be willing to eat $5 million in dead money. 2nd, while we do have good cap space, we also have Tramon, Cobb, Bulaga, Lattimore, Bush, Raji (or his replacement), and House up for FA next year. Yes, seems manageable but we might be a little tighter against the cap depending on what decisions and terms are reached and who plays well.

  4. Read GB Press Gazette today that Boykin is out indefinitely with groin injury, so I hope Janis gets more than one rep (that is what he had last week).
    Davante Adams is looking better, but I still believe Janis starting with J Nelson is hard to defend. Maybe I am wrong. I am not coaching the Packers, but I looked at Janis college tape and what he did in pre-season and am frankly amazed GB doesn’t play him more.

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