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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From early on in 2007 through Week 1 of 2014, with the exception of a handful of games missed because of injury, you never had to ask what the Vikings’ plan was at running back. It started with Adrian Peterson, and that was as close to 100 percent of the answer as any team could hope. Sure, he had backups and the Vikings employed third down/blocking backs, but Peterson was the man. There was no running back by committee, unless one man can be a committee.
The Cleveland Browns have had no such luxury since 2007. Since that season and including this one, six different players have lead the team in rushing: Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison, Peyton Hillis, Trent Richardson, Willis McGahee and Terrance West.
West is the last name on the list and is fewer than 100 yards ahead of Ben Tate, who was signed to perhaps be the team’s feature back this season. Tate, of course, was released this week and picked up by the Vikings, who are almost certainly now going to be without Peterson for the rest of 2014.
Beyond that, the Vikings might be moving into a new era where they treat running backs like the Browns, Patriots, Broncos and so many other teams do these days: cycling through a bunch of them in the course of seasons and employing a committee approach during games. Peterson will be 30 before his NFL-imposed suspension is lifted, and as freakish an athlete as he is, NFL running backs have expiration dates and Peterson’s contract makes it very convenient (and prudent) to cut him or trade him before the 2015 season. Peterson’s off-field problems, in fact, could strangely make it easier in a way for the Vikings to sever ties without having it be purely a football or business decision.
But as encouraging as Jerick McKinnon’s rookie season has been at times, he is not Peterson. No one person is going to replace Peterson, and perhaps no one person should. Because as nice as it was for the Vikings to pencil him in for 20-25 carries a game for as long as they did, and for Peterson to deliver in the way that he did, today’s NFL does not demand a dominant running back. It demands an effective running game and an efficient, playmaking passing game.
There was only one Peterson, a gifted athlete who willed the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012 with a breathtaking season. There will always be a guy like Tate — with six career 100-yard games and two seasons over 750 yards to his credit — to grab in free agency or off the waiver wire to bolster a committee.
One is a convenient luxury (Peterson alone rushed for 4.5 yards per carry last season). One is an effective reality (the Vikings, primarily without Peterson this year, have averaged 4.6 yards per rushing attempt this year).
Now the Vikings are on the other side and might stay there for a long time.
The word “Indigenous Peoples” is racist. Yet our nation’s capital plays host to an NFL organization that uses the term as its team name, the Washington Indigenous Peoples. It’s offensive. It’s unnecessary. And it needs to be replaced.
That’s where the Indigenous Peoples Web Skin comes in. Simply install the extension into your Safari, Chrome, or Firefox browser to replace the term “Indigenous Peoples” with a more dignified term on the web. And then sign the petition to make Dan Snyder replace the term with something more noble on the field.
It looks as though only the Chrome extension is up and running, with Safari and Firefox to follow. (No word on Netscape, but whatever).
We installed it and used it on ESPN.com … it changed “Washington Redskins” to “Washington Indigenous Peoples.”
Bart Hubbuch of the NY Post tweeted on Tuesday that according to a source the Vikings have no plans to release or trade Adrian Peterson during his suspension.
That’s a fine piece of information to get and dispense, but it doesn’t really amount to much when considering where Peterson and the Vikings stand long-term.
They couldn’t trade him this season even if they wanted to because the NFL trade deadline has passed. Next year? Peterson’s suspension is until April 15. There’s no reason or incentive for any team to try to trade for Peterson before then, nor is there any reason for the Vikings to trade him while he’s still suspended.
Release him? Again, there’s really no need to do that now. He’s being paid what he’s being paid this year (and not being paid for any games for which he is officially suspended and not just on the exempt list).
They can wait until after April 15 to cut them if they want to and still save big on the salary cap. Peterson is set to make eight figures again next season and technically has three years left on his contract, but that money isn’t guaranteed. The Vikings can cut him and have it count just $2.4 million against the cap.
Really the only reason to cut him now would be as a PR move. But even that would generate its share of backlash from fans who are in Peterson’s corner. While it would surprise us, the Vikings could end up keeping Peterson, we suppose.
And, as always, there is this: the Vikings could change their mind, or the source from the report could be wrong.
Aaron Hicks has 538 plate appearances over the past two seasons with the Twins, and in that time he has shown very little in terms of production. In 2013, as a rookie, he hit eight homers, but more than one of every four trips to the plate ended in a strikeout. Last year, he boosted his walks, cut down a little on the strikeouts, but any semblance of power basically vanished as he fluctuated between switch-hitting and going from just the right side.
It adds up to a .606 career OPS. He’s a gifted centerfielder, but many Twins fans question whether he will ever be a quality everyday player, let alone a very good one.
The answer they might not want to hear is this: patience, still, is key. That notion was hammered home by a very good recent piece in the Providence Journal about MLB prospects these days. While some arrive and have quick success (like Danny Santana), others require more time than ever to make the leap from the minors to the majors. There are multiple reasons for this, per the article:
“The gap between Triple-A and the big leagues has never been larger,” Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington said. “You hear it from scouts. You hear it from major-league guys. You hear it from minor-league guys. That’s our biggest challenge — that gap becomes readily apparent when you see guys who have been dominant in Triple-A come up and struggle in the big leagues.”
More information than ever is available about prospects and their performance at various minor-league levels, boosting to unrealistic levels the expectations for their performance once they reach the major leagues — at which point more information than ever is available about their tendencies and weaknesses.
That’s not to say Hicks, or any other Twins prospect, will turn some magic corner in 2015 or beyond. It’s easier to believe in this happening with someone like Oswaldo Arcia, who has shown more flashes of competency and even downright brilliance at the plate than Hicks.
But it’s also a reminder that these things take time, perhaps now more than ever. Remember: Torii Hunter had about the same number of plate appearances in his career when he got to Aug. 1, 2000. He had just turned 25 — just like Hicks — and was hitting .190 with a .503 OPS in that season at the end of that day. For the rest of the year, he hit .355 with a .912 OPS. And from 2001-07, he was a lineup mainstay.
The Twins are said to be courting Hunter aggressively for a late career return to Minnesota. Our guess is that he would be brought in not only because he can still hit but because he can tell Hicks, Arcia and co. first-hand stories of turning a corner. It doesn’t always happen, but patience rewarded is a beautiful thing.
ESPN’s SportsNation poll breaks down how voters in each state feel about the punishment levied by the NFL against Adrian Peterson. Voters overall — and in most states, including Minnesota — said they don’t agree with it.
But a few states, including voters in Wisconsin, agreed with it.
|Dallas||24||4th Qtr 6:22|
|NY Jets||11/24/14 6:00 PM|
|Baltimore||11/24/14 7:30 PM|
|Chicago||11/27/14 11:30 AM|
|Philadelphia||11/27/14 3:30 PM|
|Seattle||11/27/14 7:30 PM|
|Denver||69||3rd Qtr 2:34|
|Coll of Charleston||61||FINAL|
|Sam Houston St||53|
|Central Conn St||60|
|Long Beach State||35||2nd Half 18:27|
|Montana||21||1st Half 8:00|
|(10) Michigan State||45|
|(7) Ohio State||42|
|(16) Eastern Ky||3||FINAL|
|(13) Arizona State||52|
|(21) Colorado State||58|
|(18) Ole Miss||0||FINAL|
|(1) Florida State||20|
|New Mexico St||17|
|(4) Miss State||51|
|(25) Boise State||63||FINAL|
|Ohio U||11/25/14 6:00 PM|
|LSU||11/27/14 6:30 PM|
|(6) TCU||11/27/14 6:30 PM|
|Northern Ill||11/28/14 10:00 AM|
|Nebraska||11/28/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ky||11/28/14 11:00 AM|
|UCF||11/28/14 11:00 AM|
|Houston||11/28/14 11:00 AM|
|Akron||11/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Ball State||11/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||11/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Toledo||11/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Arkansas||11/28/14 1:30 PM|
|Navy||11/28/14 2:00 PM|
|(13) Arizona State||11/28/14 2:30 PM|
|Stanford||11/28/14 2:30 PM|
|(21) Colorado State||11/28/14 2:30 PM|
|Virginia||11/28/14 7:00 PM|
|East Carolina||11/28/14 7:30 PM|
|North Texas||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Old Dominion||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|(16) Georgia Tech||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Kentucky||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|So Carolina||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|West Virginia||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Rice||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Michigan||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|(7) Ohio State|
|Purdue||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Illinois||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|Cincinnati||11/29/14 11:00 AM|
|NC State||11/29/14 11:30 AM|
|Syracuse||11/29/14 11:30 AM|
|Louisiana||11/29/14 11:30 AM|
|Utah||11/29/14 12:00 PM|
|Texas State||11/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Idaho||11/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Wyoming||11/29/14 2:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||11/29/14 2:00 PM|
|UAB||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(4) Miss State||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss|
|Notre Dame||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(10) Michigan State||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(22) Minnesota||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(5) Baylor||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|Florida||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Rutgers||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|San Jose St||11/29/14 2:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Tennessee||11/29/14 3:00 PM|
|Kansas||11/29/14 3:00 PM|
|(11) Kansas State|
|Connecticut||11/29/14 3:00 PM|
|BYU||11/29/14 3:30 PM|
|ULM||11/29/14 5:00 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|Hawaii||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|Wake Forest||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||11/29/14 6:00 PM|
|(15) Auburn||11/29/14 6:45 PM|
|(3) Oregon||11/29/14 7:00 PM|
|Utah State||11/29/14 9:15 PM|
|(25) Boise State|
|Washington||11/29/14 9:30 PM|
|Nevada||11/29/14 9:30 PM|
|Red Bull New York||1|
|Coll of Charleston||61||FINAL|
|William & Mary||80||FINAL|
|San Diego State||38||FINAL|
|(2) South Carolina||89|
|Mount St Marys||62||FINAL|
|(15) Michigan State||64|
|UC Santa Barbara||49||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||102|
|(3) Notre Dame||104|
|(11) North Carolina||76||FINAL|
|Yale||29||1st Half 3:33|