The Minnesota Vikings Should Fall Short Of Super Bowl Expectations (2018)

Introduction

Over the past two months, NFL pundits have repeatedly stated that the Minnesota Vikings made the right decision in signing Kirk Cousins to a three-year, 84 million dollar contract. In fact, former Vikings wide receiver and the co-host of First Things First, Cris Carter stated that the team made the right decision because “Kirk Cousins is the final piece to propel the Vikings to a Super Bowl.” However, this is not the case as Cousins should be the catalyst for the Vikings to fall short of their super bowl expectations.

When an organization decides to invest a large sum of money into the quarterback position, the quarterback will immediately become the focal point of the offense. This is because the organization wants to give the quarterback as many opportunities as possible to prove that their investment in him was the right decision. Due to this, the team would call a lot of passing plays to give him a chance to demonstrate that he is a franchise quarterback and is capable of making all the necessary throws to lead the team to victory. While it is reasonable to expect an organization to give their new investment many opportunities to prove themselves at a certain point, it will affect the performance of the rest of the team. For instance, if Allen gets the chance to throw a lot, the offense will spend less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions or sacks that result in short drives. As a result, the defense would have to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest which leads to the unit being more susceptible to giving up yards and points. Since they would be unable regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense.

Kirk Cousins in Washington

A perfect example of this is how the role of Kirk Cousins within the offense changed after the Washington Redskins applied the franchise tag in 2016. Throughout the 2015 season, the Washington Redskins decided to implement an offensive system that was centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Kirk Cousins would hand the ball off to Alfred Morris or Matt Jones in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy was successful, the Redskins called a play action pass where Kirk would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards downfield. However, on occasion, Kirk would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily that allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route. As a result of this, the Redskins offense was able to stay on the field for a more extended period, which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Redskins offense was on the field for an average of “31:29” thus the defense was only on the field for 28:31. Due to this philosophy, the Washington Redskins won the NFC East with a 9-7 record.

However, it was an entirely different story over the next two seasons because the team made wholesale changes to the offensive system. This is because the organization wanted to see if he could lead the team to victory while being the focal point of the offense before giving him a big contract. As a result, the Redskins went from a run-heavy offense to more of a passing offense to evaluate his decision making; and ability to make all the throws without having the running game to preoccupy the defense. For instance, the Redskins dialed back on the play action bootlegs where he would fake the handoff to the running backs and roll out in the opposite direction to hit the wide open receiver. In place of the conservative offense, they decided to call the traditional three to five step drop passing plays to gauge whether Cousins can make the right decision with the football when the defense is ready for a pass. For instance, Kirk would take a 3 to 5 step drop from under center and proceed to throw the ball to a receiver on a curl, crossing and corner routes as well as screens.

Although it is reasonable to expect a team to give their potential investment many opportunities to prove that he deserves a long-term commitment at a certain point, it will affect the performance of the rest of the team. Since the team had Kirk Cousins throw the ball a lot, the offense spent less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions, sacks or big plays that result in short drives. As a result, the defense went back on the field without the proper amount of rest which led the defense to be more susceptible to giving up yards and points. Since they would be unable regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Redskins offense was on the field for an average of “29:36” thus the defense was on the field for 31:24. Unfortunately, over these two years, the team compiled a record of 15-16 with one tie, and they failed to make the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings

As a result of this, the Minnesota Vikings should experience a significant change to the offensive system. During the 2017 season, the team implemented an offensive system centered around the running and short passing game. For example, Case Keenum would give the football to the running backs on first and second down in an attempt to get the defense to stack the box. If the strategy were successful, Case would line up in shotgun formation to throw the ball to receivers on a crossing, corner, curl or out route. The game plan allowed Minnesota to consistently move the chains and stay on the field for long periods of time. According to teamrankings.com, the unit was on the field for 32:07 which meant the defense was able to get plenty of rest between defensive possessions. Unfortunately, the Vikings are going to feature more of the passing game in 2018 because of the substantial commitment to Kirk Cousins. The expected change in the offensive system should increase the likelihood that the defensive unit spends more time on the field. The extra wear and tear should cost the team a game or two during the regular season which should alter the race for home-field advantage.

The Greatest Of All Time: A Term That Should Not Be Used In Team Sports

Introduction

Over the last two to three decades, sports pundits have been on a quest to determine which athlete is deserving of the moniker greatest of all time. For instance, Emmanuel Altenor formerly of Bleacher Report stated that we’ve seen many great players throughout NBA history “but which players in the game’s history stand out above the rest?”. However, one can argue that it is impossible to determine who is the greatest of all time because a substantial amount of players were subjected to different systems and responsibilities. Those responsibilities fundamentally altered how they approached their respective sport. A perfect example of this is Jason Kidd and Chris Paul; they are regarded as two of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Unfortunately, it is impossible to accurately compare them because they spent the majority of their careers in two different systems.

Jason Kidd

Throughout the NBA career of Jason Kidd, he had to play in offensive systems centered around ball movement. During his tenure with the New Jersey Nets, Kidd would bring the basketball up to the three-point line and passes the basketball to a big man in the high post area. Once this happened, the big man would analyze the defense to determine the next course of action. For instance, if the defense double covers the player posting up in the low post, he would enter a dribble handoff with a perimeter player. On the other hand, if the defense single covers the player posting up in the low post, he would dump the ball into the low block to start the process of shooting the ball. Another example of this is his tenure with the Phoenix Suns, Kidd would bring the ball up to the three-point line and pass the basketball to a teammate. Once this happens, the teammate will analyze how the defender chooses to defend him. If the defender gives him space, he will shoot the mid-range jumper.  On the other hand, if the defender plays him tight, the teammate will give the ball to another player who is going to restart the process of analyzing the defender. The process would continue until they found an open shot or the shot clock wound down. Due to this, Jason Kidd found himself standing behind the three-point line as a bystander or running all over the court trying to get open. The only time Jason had an opportunity to dominate the game was when the opposing team missed a shot. Once this happened, his team got the rebound and gave the ball to him to start the process of a fast break. During the fast break, Jason Kidd threw an outlet pass down court or ran down the middle of the court to get the attention of the defense. If this occurs, he will look to kick the basketball out to one of the players running down the wing.  On the other hand, if it doesn’t happen, he will continue driving to the basket looking to get around the defender for an open shot or draw a foul.

 

 

Chris Paul

On the other hand, Chris Paul got the opportunity to play in offensive systems centered around the pick and roll as well as post ups. For instance, Paul would bring the ball up to the three-point line and then a big man would set a screen. Once the pick was set Paul would pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Paul would go over it and take the wide open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Paul would go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he would score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not. However there were instances where Chris Paul would throw the ball into the mid to low block for a post up. For instance, Chris would bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another perimeter player. The second perimeter player would immediately give the ball to him to dump it into the low post.  Once that happens, the big man will attempt to back down the defender with one of his shoulders to get within comfortable range to shoot a jump hook. Another example of this is when Paul would bring the basketball up to the three-point line and passes the basketball to a big man in the high post area. Once this happened, the big man would analyze the defense to determine the next course of action. For instance,  If the defender gave him a few feet of space, he would pull up to shoot the wide-open mid-range jumper. On the other hand, if the defender played him tight, he will attempt to drive towards the basket for an easy basket, to draw a foul or attract a double team.

Conclusion

Due to the difference in systems, Chris Paul has averaged more points and assists per game than Jason Kidd during his career. According to Basketball-Reference,  Paul averages 18.7 points per game and 9.8 assists per game. On the other hand, Kidd averaged 12.6 points per game and 8.7 assists per game. As a result, people should only compare great players who played the same position in the same system.

How To Book The Return Of Daniel Bryan 

Over the past week, the WWE announced that Daniel Bryan had been medically cleared to return to the ring as an active wrestler. According to WWE.com, “following more than two years of extensive evaluations, four-time World Champion Daniel Bryan has been medically cleared to return to in-ring competition… Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher”. However, the company needs to develop a storyline where they have an explanation as to why he stopped wrestling for them in case the concussions come back; or if he decided to leave the company in five months after his contract expires.

As a result, the Tuesday after WrestleMania, the new authority figure for Smackdown Live should set up a meeting with Daniel Bryan. During this meeting, the authority figure informs Daniel that he can’t be given an opportunity to compete for the title immediately. This is because I am scared to put you in a high profile matches such as championship bouts knowing that one strike could bring back the concussion symptoms. If that happened, your long-term health would be in danger, and I would lose the trust of the fans because the show didn’t deliver what was promised. The false advertisement would hurt the long-term earning potential of Smackdown Live because fans will be hesitant to buy tickets out of fear of being lied to again. Furthermore, putting you in a high profile match will anger the rest of the roster because they’ve been working hard for the past year to get in position to be in a title match.

Therefore, I have a proposal for you Daniel, why don’t you earn a title bout by trying to beat every male superstar on the roster. The plan will allow me to gauge how you stack up against the rest of the roster and whether your head is healthy enough to handle the WWE wrestling schedule. After a couple of seconds to think about the proposal, Daniel Bryan accepts the offer because he rather earn a championship opportunity than it being handed to him. The following week, Bryan beats Tye Dillinger in a very competitive bout where he shows a significant amount of ring rust. Over the next 2-3 months, he continues to defeats the jobbers of Smackdown Live and slowly starts to shake off the ring rust. At SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan faces his first real test as he squares off against Bobby Roode, in the match Bobby is the first opponent to target the head successfully. As a result of this, Bryan begins to have problems with his equilibrium which leads to him losing the bout. After the match, the authority figure orders the doctor to evaluate Daniel for a concussion, and it is determined he is okay.

Even though Daniel Bryan didn’t suffer a concussion,  the authority figure warns him that he wouldn’t be booked in bouts if that continued to happen. As a result of this, he requests to have the next few weeks off to prepare for a rematch against Roode at the next network. This is because he decides to incorporate some mixed martial arts wrestling into his style in an attempt to reduce the number of hits to the head. Due to this, Bryan spends his time off drilling single and double leg takedowns against several college wrestlers in Washington. During the rematch, Daniel stuns Bobby by immediately going for a takedown which Roode doesn’t know how to defend. After the takedown, Daniel Bryan pursues several submission holds that prevent Bobby from mounting any offense. The style pays dividends right away because he wins the contest without taking much damage.

Throughout the next two months, superstars have trouble stopping Daniel Bryan’s style because they aren’t used to defending takedowns. As a result, he can go on a prolonged winning streak without a massive amount of damage. The winning streak leads him into a match against a man who has a history of competing in MMA bouts, Shinsuke Nakamura. Due to this, Daniel knows his style isn’t going to work against him because Nakamura has been taught how to stop takedowns. Therefore, he decides to bring back his old technique to try to overcome the obstacle that is Shinsuke Nakamura. The match could go in one of two directions if  Bryan chooses to leave the company Nakamura can give him a kayfabe concussion which renders him medically unfit to compete in the WWE. On the other hand, if he stays, they can have a close match to set up a series of matches. Daniel should lose the first match of the series because he is afraid to go full speed out of fear of being injured. After the match, Bryan concludes that he must go full pace to win the series. The next four bouts go back and forth with Daniel Bryan winning the last contest and the series. The authority informs Daniel Bryan that he has passed all the tests and will get a title bout at WrestleMania 35.

In conclusion, a climb the mountain type storyline would give WWE a simple explanation as to why Daniel Bryan stopped wrestling for them in case the injury resurfaced, or he leaves. Furthermore, the company can use the storyline to explain why he is in random contest with superstars.

The New York Giants: The Story Of Two Different Teams

Over the first five games of the regular season, the New York Giants have implemented an offensive system that is heavily dependent on the quick passing game. The team installed this offense to showcase the breakaway speed of Odell Beckham. The organization knew that provided he had man-to-man against a corner; corners would be unable to keep up with his speed. As a result of this, the team fell into the habit of calling quick passing plays that focused on slants, screens, out, in and curl routes because they wanted to give him the ball as fast as possible. Although the offense increases the chances of significant plays happening to lead to quick scores; It opens the door for the team to have the ball for less time because of a fast touchdown, 3 and out or turnover. As a consequence of this, the defense was forced to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest. Which led to the unit giving up more yards and points late in games because they were not able to regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Giants offense was on the field for an average of “27:25” thus the defense was on the field for 32:35.

However, Odell Beckham suffered a broken ankle against the Chargers last week that required season-ending surgery. As a result of this, the team was forced to drastically change their offense from a quick passing attack to a heavy run attack. For instance,  Eli became more of a game manager who is in charge of handing the ball off more often in hopes of getting the defense to stack the box. According to ESPN, Eli handed off the ball to the running back 31 times for 148 yards last night against the Broncos. The renewed commitment to the running game has forced the opposing team to put men in the box, which makes it easier for the receivers to get open because they are facing more man to man coverage. Due to this, the team can complete enough throws to keep drives alive; and force the opposing team to put more players in coverage which opens up the running game again. As a result, the defense spent less time on the field meaning they had more time to rest between drives.  According to ESPN, the unit was on the field for 29:24 last night against the Broncos which was about 3 minutes less than the previous five weeks. The change in philosophy led to the New York Giants to get the first win of the season versus the Broncos.

If the Giants continue their commitment to the running game, they should creep back into contention for a wild-card spot. But if they revert to depending on the passing game, the New York Giants will be contending for a top-five draft pick.