RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Vikings Postgame Meltdown: Bridgewater, third downs and a terrible call

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 21st at 4:25pm 275941761

1) If the Vikings wanted a diversion from the “distraction” of Adrian Peterson, it arrived Sunday when Matt Cassel was carted off the field with a toe injury. In came rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, and suddenly a juicy on-field story had emerged.

How did the rookie fare in the Vikings’ 20-9 loss to the Saints? Well, it was a mixed bag. The raw numbers — 12 for 20, 150 yards, no turnovers — were quite nice, particularly for a debut. Bridgewater usually looked composed, particularly in the face of some heavy rushes. On the other hand, this is a touchdown league and call Bridgewater could produce in roughly three quarters of football were a pair of field goals.

Maybe some of that falls on offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who looked a little conservative (again) Sunday. We get that Peterson isn’t around to carry the ball and take on the focus of a defense, but Cordarrelle Patterson and co. could still be used in more dynamic ways.

We’d say some of it falls on Bridgewater, too, though. He had the chance to make some plays and missed. It was a promising beginning for a rookie QB, but also an uneven one.

2) The biggest stat of the day came on the Saints’ third-down conversion rate. The Vikings under Mike Zimmer had been quite good in that category in the first two weeks of the season, allowing opposing offenses to convert just 9 of 28 third downs into first downs — in line with what Zimmer had consistently accomplished as D coordinator with the Bengals.

That all fell apart Sunday, though, as the Saints converted 9 of 13 third downs into first downs. That detracted from what was, at times, an impressive defensive effort (particularly after a terrible start).

The NFL is built on three things right now: turnovers (neither team had any), converting on third down (the Saints trumped the Vikings on Sunday) and cashing in scoring chances for TDs instead of FGs (the Saints had three TDs, the Vikings had three FGs on Sunday).

3) Speaking of third down, though, the Vikings should have been off the field on a critical third down in the second half. With New Orleans up 13-9 and facing third and long, Captain Munnerlyn blitzed off the corner, wrapped up Drew Brees and threw him to the ground. Apparently he did this with too much gusto for the refs because it earned him a flag — a penalty that was complete garbage and could be looked at as a turning point. Instead of punting, the Saints used turned the gift into a scoring drive that proved to be the game’s final TD.

We understand the need to protect quarterbacks in an increasingly violent game, but here’s the thing: if Munnerlyn eases up there, Brees might escape and complete a pass. What is a defensive player supposed to do? Quarterbacks are stronger and more elusive than ever. Munnerlyn is doing anything he can to bring down a bigger player (yes, even Brees is bigger than the Captain).

Munnerlyn said postgame that he felt he let his teammates down. That’s the right thing to say, but the truth is the game let the Vikings down. The league wants to have it both ways. And in doing so, the Vikings were cheated out of a big third down stop.

Roger Goodell breaks silence, talks about Adrian Peterson

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 19th at 3:20pm 275813741

In his first public comments since news of Adrian Peterson’s indictment broke, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Friday news conference the league is prepared to dole out tougher punishment for player impropriety going forward but offered few specifics beyond the formation of various committees to help the league get its house in order.

Goodell had been silent for more than a week while the NFL felt the backlash from mounting controversies involving Peterson, Ray Rice and others.

“I got in wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter, and I’m sorry for that,” Goodell said. “I got it wrong on a number of levels, from the process that I lead, to the decision that I reached, but now I will get it right and will do whatever’s necessary to accomplish that.”

Asked specifically about Peterson’s situation about 15 minutes into a 45-minute news conference, Goodell said:

“While I’m disappointed in what Adrian Peterson was involved with, we want to see the facts. But I think what we see so far is tragic. I have two daughters who are 13. It’s very difficult to see. I think what we have to do is allow those facts to proceed.”

Reaction to Goodell on Twitter was primarily negative, including former Viking Sidney Rice tweeting “Boo this man,” among other things, as the press conference proceeded.

University of Iowa Police take a fun shot at Hawkeyes football team on Twitter

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 19th at 1:00pm 275796071

The Iowa football team is struggling — perhaps even more than the Gophers, though that’s debatable. The Hawkeyes struggled to beat Northern Iowa in their opener, barely beat Ball State (17-13) after that, then lost to Iowa State 20-17 last week.

As such, this humorous give-and-take on Twitter caught our eye:

That’s a light shot at the Hawkeyes’ struggling offense, but it’s always amusing to see those types of things coming from official Twitter accounts.

Friday (Massive lines for Ray Rice jersey exchange) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 19th at 9:50am 275737231

We are not in Baltimore right now. If we were, we’d probably be visiting every square inch of territory covered in The Wire like some sort of sick TV tourist (or, you know, visiting with our friend Holly).

Third choice, though, would be standing in line with a throng of Ravens fans who have congregated en masse for the team’s jersey exchange program. The Ravens told fans that they could trade in officially licensed Ray Rice jerseys for new Baltimore jerseys.

Based on the tweeted pictures we’re seeing (one below), a lot of fans are taking them up on it.

Whether fans are motivated by a distaste for Rice, the opportunity to trade in an old jersey for a new one at no cost or just the chance to stand in line (probably not that one), these jersey exchanges are an interesting dynamic.

They seem like an act of good will on the part of the team, which in a sense they are. But they are also shameless attempts by the NFL teams to keep their hooks in fans. The amount of time that has passed since the Ravens vehemently defended Rice and supported him can be measured, reasonably, in days. And now the line is cut just like that — but please, come support everyone else on the team!

Will it ever get to that point with the Vikings and Adrian Peterson? It’s hard to say, though the Vikings have no plans to do one as of now. But we do know that those who have been close to the Ravens over the years are just as stunned by Rice’s negative turn in the spotlight as we are here with Peterson’s.

TFD: Vikings release Jerome Simpson, and we bring you stories from when he signed

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 19th at 6:58am 275672731

The Vikings announced at 5:45 p.m. that they have released troubled WR Jerome Simpson. That brings to an end a rocky tenure from 2012-present in which he caught 74 passes for exactly 1,000 yards with the Vikings. It was a rough go from the start, but the Vikings kept bringing him back on one-year deals — three times, including this season. Here are snippets from the Star Tribune stories when he signed his initial deal in 2012 and this most recent re-sign in 2014:

2012: Since free agency began in mid-March, the Vikings have been doing their research on Simpson, both impressed with his potential and aware of his baggage. In this case, the promise seemed far greater than the risk, especially with all the glowing character reviews the Vikings front office and coaching staff received from all directions as they assessed Simpson‘s recent troubles. “Every person we talked to stood by the kid’s character,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday. “Not standing by the mistake he made, but by what this kid’s character is. And we saw that when we brought him in here on a visit.”

2014: The Vikings re-signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson to a one-year deal Friday for the third consecutive offseason despite a possible suspension. An NFL spokesman said the league is reviewing a Nov. 9 arrest in Minneapolis after which Simpson pleaded guilty to careless driving and third-degree DWI charges. Simpson received 120 hours of community service in public schools and a one-year probation. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said there were “circumstances” in his arrest, and head coach Mike Zimmer, who has previously worked with Simpson in Cincinnati, spoke to him before the signing. “We felt confident enough and comfortable enough after the new coaching staff had met with him and understood the circumstances behind the last arrest that we re-signed him back to a one-year deal,” Spielman said.

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