Next in our series, we take a look at Captain Kirk and the Minnesota Vikings. Was this season a success? Vikings fans, let us know your thoughts – @full10yards on the Social!
Entering the Season
The Vikings have always had the end goal of reaching a Super Bowl the moment they signed Kirk Cousins to that huge fully guaranteed contract. With pretty much the same pieces on the team, the pressure was the same as last year, the expectations were the same as last year, get to the big one.
Garrett Bradbury was the new anchor at Center and they also brought in Irv Smith to deploy some 2 tight end sets to help #establishtherun.
Kirk Cousins was entering his 2nd season as a Viking with no more excuses, no more mulligans and certainly nowhere to hide. The team was built to reach a Super Bowl and Kirk Cousins was assigned the role to lead them there. Simple.
DURING THE SEASON
If you put the last 2 seasons of the Vikings back to back, it pretty much was groundhog day;
Struggled in the division, with 3 of their 6 losses coming in the division and swept by the Bears for the 2nd straight season. A top 10 defence in terms of points per game and Kirk Cousins stinking it up on Prime Time/island games when it matters. Oh and Dalvin Cook not being fully healthy for a stretch.
They kicked off their season with home wins against the Falcons and Raiders, but away losses in Lambeau and Soldier Field.
Adam Thielen, who would later go on an miss some time through injury, along with Stefon Diggs kicked up a fuss about the offence and their involvement in it led to a lot of unrest in the VIkings camp, including Diggs being fined for missing practice.
They seemingly managed to kiss and make up as Kirk Cousins then went hell for leather with the rock and a relatively easy stretch saw them improve to 8-3 with their only loss before the bye coming to the Kansas City Chiefs (the Matt Moore led one, not the Patrick Mahomes one).
Losses against Green Bay and Chicago meant that they entered the playoffs as a wildcard and a 10-3 record.
Perhaps their most dominant display of the season came in the wildcard round, where they absolutely dominated the red hot Saints andVikings fans thinking maybe, just maybe, Kirk Cousins has turned a corner.
Unfortunately, around that corner was step 1 as a dismal performance against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round saw them go out with a whimper amidst more rumours of unrest with Stefon Diggs, who visibly threw his helmet to the ground during that Wildcard game.
With no NFC title game being played, you have to grade the season as that the Vikings underachieved and Kirk Cousins really hasn’t gone to prove that he was worth that guaranteed contract or that he is the guy to take this team to the holy land.
Kevin Stefanski has agreed to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Mike Zimmer is likely to be retained by the Vikings.
It’s hard to put a finger on what to do with Minnesota to help them take the next step, though many will still point to the Quarterback position, as they have done for the past several years. There are a lot of well paid players on both sides of the ball and some creativity with the salary cap will be required. It’s hard to pinpoint where they’ll bolster in the draft as one week they look complete and another they have more holes than a cheese grater (NFC North Green Bay Packers joke there). You have to feel that they’ll add something to the offensive line due to the way they want to run their offence, and they’ll probably focus on defence, Xavier Rhodes did not have a pro bowl worthy season.
Come next season, will it be Groundhog day once again for the Vikings in 2020? Probably.
The NFL has nearly completed it’s list of head-coaches for 2020 with just the Cleveland Browns outstanding but seem poised to sign Josh McDaniels from the New England Patriots.
The hiring of Patriots Special Teams coach Joe Judge by the New York Giants came as a particular surprise to many, having seemingly not had enough experience to make the jump to leading a franchise.
Within the reaction to that hiring however, there was also some sighs of disappointment, especially from those who are becoming concerned that the “Rooney Rule” has become stagnant in its attempts to increase the number of minority race head-coaches.
Steve Wyche reported to NFL Network that upon the hiring of Judge by the Giants, that many of the league’s black coaches and co-ordinators were “not happy” with the decision to once again skip over ethnic minority candidates.
Wyche also explained that although the teams were indeed having candidates in to meet the Rooney Rule, the lack of minority hiring’s was alarming.
What is the Rooney Rule?
The Rooney Rule, named after the former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, was bought into existence by the leagues diversity committee in 2003 following the firing of Tony Dungy and Dennis Green.
Given that both coaches had been wildly successful during their tenures, and the fact that only seven black candidates had been given NFL head-coaching jobs until 2002, it was considered important that something was done to deal with the issue.
The ruling meant that from 2003, all senior football operations positions now had to interview at least one ethnic minority for the role unless the assistant coach has wording in his contract to guarantee him the job.
The rules impact was immediately visible as the percentage of ethnic minority head-coaches shot up from 6% to 22% in just four years with the change in place.
There have been a lot of subsequent calls for the ruling to be employed in the Premier League in the UK and US college football where the percentage of minority head-coaches is still just 6%.
Why the Rooney Rule isn’t working.
Although the Rooney Rule was effective in the immediate years after its arrival in the league, the Detroit Lions even being fined $200,000 in 2003 for failing to comply, the long-term success of the rule has come into question.
Jim Caldwell has often been at the forefront of the argument for whether minority head-coaches are getting a fair amount of chances.
Having coached in Superbowl XLIV with the Indianapolis Colts before a successful spell with the Detroit Lions between 2014-2017 in which he took them to two playoff berths and just one losing season at 7-9, the decisions to fire him, let alone to not hire him, were seen as confusing.
It has been suggested that the Rooney Rule rather than becoming a progressive, inescapably positive and definitive fork in the road for the future of ethnic minority coaches, has in-fact devolved into a tick-box exercise performed by general managers and owners so they can avoid a fine.
The agent for Pittsburgh coach Teryl Austin told The Athletic that he felt his client received a “token” interview from the Lions in 2017.
This regression from genuine interviews with a mix of coaches of creeds and colours, to nothing more than a need to fill a quota can be seen in the current crop of candidates.
2019 marked the lowest total of black NFL head-coaches since the creation of the legislation with just Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, Anthony Lynn of the Chargers and Brain Flores of the Dolphins remaining.
What can be done to change the impact of the rule?
As the Rooney Rule continues to struggle to have the desired impact on the leagues hiring process, calls to change the system are increasing.
The concern that the lack of ethnic minorities in front office or ownership positions is becoming more vocal as older, white general managers continue to pick from the carousel of young, white assistant NFL coaches or college head-coaches.
Without disregarding the achievements of Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay or Cliff Kingsbury, there seems are fairly defined theme about the leagues current taste in what a head coach should look like.
As with many issues of race, the importance of education should not be forgotten.
Teaching young players of colour that they have as much of a future as a coach as on the pitch will be crucial to generate a continuous stream of talented young, football brains.
Of all races.
What do you think can be done? Get in touch with us here at the Full10Yards on social media @Full10Yards
Tim and Adam’s best bets are below. Go check out our podcast as to why we have plumped for those selections and make sure you check out tdtips.com for Adam’s in depth analysis from a betting standpoint!
Best bet giveaway away below too. Head over to @full10yards on twitter and RT the pinned tweet for your chance to win the bet if it wins!
Not a great week last week for Tim and Adam; Adam able to squeeze out a 50p profit to £1 level stakes giving his yearly P/L a healthy £12.05. He’s dragging Tim up who can’t get anything going with another -£5.09 posted meaning he is currently -£10.18.
Rob joined us on the podcast to give us a third opinion on this week’s NFL action. All bets below.
Best Bet Giveaway:
The best bet giveaway is below. For your chance to win, head over to @full10yards on Twitter and RT the Prize Giveaway Tweet! 1 winner picked at random, must be a follower of the @full10yards account to qualify.
Good luck with all your bets, please gamble responsibly!
By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y), Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland) and Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)
Get your binoculars out folks, it’s time to look ahead to week 3 in the NFL.
Up 2, No good?
2 weeks in and we only 9 teams are left chasing the perfect 16-0 season.
There are some familiar names there with the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Cowboys all sitting pretty, but heading into week 3 there are 5 other teams who have yet to taste defeat. Looking ahead to the week 3 slate of games I predict that the Ravens perfect start ends against the aforementioned Chiefs and despite the Saints QB worries I see them handling the Seahawks who have won their 2 games by just a combined 3 points so far. The 49ers, Packers and Bills however, open their matchups with great chances to all move to 3-0.
You would have had pretty good odds on these teams all being undefeated after 3 weeks and maybe it’s just a reminder that sometimes you have to look past stats because I’m not confident that any of those teams are particularly good.
The $84 Million Mistake
What is up with Kirk Cousins?
After a week 1 performance where he threw for less than 100 yards on just 10 pass attempts, he was nothing short of woeful in week 2. After throwing 2 interceptions and fumbling twice against the Packers the pressure is on for a bounceback performance against the Raiders. Cousins has even admitted himself that if he continues to play so poorly he will not stay the starting quarterback for much longer. That seems unlikely though considering he is guaranteed $60 million over this year and next as the only way out of that contract is to find a trading partner.
Just checking the market for an overpaid below average quarterback…….yea, not that hot.
The Vikings need to continue to pound the rock and wish away the next 15 months until they can stop overpaying at the QB position.
Primetime in Cleveland
The Browns took care of business on MNF but it’s safe to say that the level of competition increases quite dramatically for SNF.
If you want an indicator of how bad the Browns have been in recent times, Sunday will mark their 1st appearance on Sunday Night Football for 11 years. The home opener against Tennessee saw the hyped up Browns completely fall flat ahead of high expectations and although expectations for Sunday are somewhat tempered in comparison they will not want to put on a show in the national spotlight. It’s a tough assignment against an impressive Rams team however, and Aaron Donald will be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on the Cleveland offensive line.
It could be a rough night for Baker Mayfield and company for the 2nd time in 3 weeks or could it be the offseason hype begins to be released on the biggest of regular season stages?
Game of Jones
Here we go, first NFL start for Quaterback Daniel Jones, the
#6 overall pick out of Duke in the 2019 draft.
Much scrutiny over the offseason on the selection and now it’s
time to see whether or not the pick was justified.
Can the Jones be a competent enough QB at this early stage?
He performed well in his pre-season action; on 34 passes he
had416 yards at a 85.3% completion percentage, 2TDs and 0 INTs. That’s even
with the wide receivers at his disposal.
The boy has some wheels and is actually and under the radar
athlete, something which may help unlock a bit more production out of this
offence that is leaning so heavily on Saquon Barkley, their 2nd overall
pick in 2018. But we don’t need to talk about that.
This is probably the end of the road for Eli Manning, now
being benched for the second time after the Geno Smith debacle in 2018. The 2
time Super Bowl winner, with a current
starting W/L record of 116-116, will probably not see the field unless there is
an injury to Jones.
Saints or Sinners
Talking of QB changes, there will be one in New Orleans in
week 3. Of course, not by choice. Drew Brees right thumb got Donald’d and will
now miss the immediate future.
We mentioned in our takeaways about Teddy B’s offseason
decision bearing fruits, but now it’s time to put up or shut up for the 2014 32nd
overall QB out of Louisville.
Not an easy game to start with as the Saints travel to Century
Link field to face the 12 and then the Saints have a home game to face the red
hot Cowboys in Week 4.
Bridgewater needs to lean on Kamara and Thomas, as the
saints have done in recent times and try and get out of the stretch without Brees
at .500 in order to stay in contention.
Myles better than anyone else
The Cleveland Browns have been known to make some truly godawful first round draft picks, but this has changed over the past two seasons with some big names who are helping transform a franchise from a Sports Illustrated side note to a front cover pin-up.
Part of that turnaround is thanks to 2017 number one pick Myles Garrett, who to date has recorded 5 sacks in two 2019 games. If he keeps up this phenomenal pace he could reach a record-setting 25 sacks in a season. Garrett joined Redskins defender Ryan Kerrigan to pay tribute to the WWE legend Shaun ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Michaels with his post sack pose. Garrett may be a wrestling fan, but the XFL can only dream they will attract a defensive superstar that performs at 10% of the rate of Garrett.
NFL legend Lawrence Taylor was a participant in a WrestleMania back in day, and who would put it past the chiselled torso of Garrett one day stepping inside the ring.
Frank-ly I’m speechless
There is a scene in Rocky IV when late on in the fight a deflated Ivan Drago turns to his trainers and says: ‘He’s not human, He’s like a piece of iron.” Quite an apt description of Buffalo Bills running-back Frank Gore, who at 36 is still churning out fantasy relevant performances.
His 19 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown (his first since the end of 2017) in week 2 against the Giants proved that Gore will actually out-live cockroaches if there was a nuclear holocaust tomorrow. 14,836 yards rushing from someone who was drafted with a reputation for being fragile is remarkable.
Gore is going to be a solid fantasy waiver wire pickup, as he is on a team that likes to run the ball, and has teams dedicating time using a spy to cover Josh Allen. Gore can realistically top 75 yards against the Bengals in week 3. The single most awe-inspiring stat we have to ponder though is, that with 434 more yards, this season he will pass Barry Sanders, just stop to think about that.
Is overtime a crime?
When you are in an era where a current NFL head coach is nicknamed ‘Riverboat’ then you know that teams are taking more risks than they used to.
Week 2 saw two games take more twists and turns than Jeremy Wade trying to reel in an arapaima. Two games in particular saw both head coaches gamble (in one case due to a penalty) and go for two point conversions to take the lead in games:
One worked (Flacco to Sanders) and one didn’t (Fournette running in quicksand) but in both cases an extra-point would have tied the game.
We know that the extra-point is no longer automatic, but it appears there is a trend to try and kill games off early without going for a fifth quarter. With speculation rife that the NFL move to an 18 game regular season the chips-in attitude will get even greater. Overtime is a great spectacle and can bring some truly memorable plays.
The trend by coaches to try and end a game in regulation in week 2 may come back to bite them. In the case of Jaguars head-coach Doug Marrone it could be a decision that costs him his job.
What a lovely Spread!
There have only been 11 occasions in recent times where an NFL team is favoured by 20 or more points against the spread. Those teams are 2-9 in terms of covering. Beware if you are betting these games!
The Cowboys face the Dolphins at home, who were whooped by
New England by 43points in week 2 and are now even more talent poor after the
exit of their 2019 1st round pick, Minkah Fitzpatrick.
New England have another opportunity to whoop another
division rival after beating the Dolphins as the Jets come to town and are down to their 3rd
string signal caller.
Regardless, you should be able to get through your survivor and last man standing picks this week comfortably with both Dallas and New England.
So there you have it folks, week 3 is on the horizon and you are all filled in on the latest stories making the headlines. If you enjoy these articles or if there is something you think we can improve on, we’d love to hear it so let us know via DM @full10yards on Twitter or using the contact form on the website.