23

November

Packers Win Starts the Vikings Dominoes Falling…

Brett Favre and Brad ChildressWriters have already waxed lyrically to death about the collapse of the Minnesota Vikings and the fall from grace of their quarterback Brett Farve.  Since everyone has probably gotten tired of it I won’t say much more about it other than there is a little bit of poetic justice that it was the Packers who ultimately hammered in the last nail in the coffin of Farve’s career.

More importantly I think this is a turning point for the Minnesota Vikings, and the implications of this game are far more reaching than a just a loss or the culmination of failures for the season.  The lynch pin for this is, of course, Brett Farve and Brad Childress, with Brett Farve being the one to push over the first domino.

The firing of Brad Childress was the first domino to fall.  Obviously everyone saw this coming after the drubbing that his team endured in a 31-3 loss to the Packers, their most hated rivals.

During the game, the team was visibly angry, mostly at themselves; DE Ray Edwards attempt to talk to the secondary and ended up in a shouting match with rookie CB Chris Cook, CB Asher Allen threw his helmet into the bench and Darrell Bevell said something to Brett Farve that caused a spat after Farve threw an interception.  Add in the fact that the fans were vocally shouting “fire Childress” during the game while owner Zigi Wilf was livid after the game and dodged reporters, and it was rather apparent that Childress was going to be the first head on the chopping block.

Personally, I don’t think the entire fault lies with Childress, football is a team sport and winning takes a team effort. Conversely losing the way they did to the Packers is also a team effort but they can’t fire the entire team.

The second domino to fall was Leslie Frasier’s promotion to interim head coach.  In his first press conference Frasier adamantly stated that Brett Farve will remain as the starting QB.  While pundits across the country will claim its Farve’s streak of consecutive starts that is the main reason behind this, my feeling is that both Childress and Frasier are telling the truth: Farve still remains the team’s best option for winning.

Frasier is essentially on a 6 game audition for a permanent head coaching position, whether it be with the Vikings or another team and he can’t wait for a quarterback to develop, he needs one to win for him now.  It is essential for him to show marked improvement with the team that Brad Childress left him and so the logical move is to keep the stability at the position and keep Brett Farve as the starting QB.

This again has huge implications, namely in regard to backup quarterback and current heir apparent Tarvaris Jackson, who is the third domino.  For one, it’s a complete vote of no confidence in Jackson. He’s been with the Vikings for 4 years now and can be considered “developed.”

The Vikings must know already what they have with Jackson and its disappointing at best. He’s no better than Favre, a player with a 69.8 QB rating (currently 32 out of 33 qualifying QBs), 10 touchdowns to 17 interceptions (leads the league), and 6 fumbles.  Considering that this is most likely Favre’s final year, it would seem like the Vikings have to start Jackson just to get him some more experience for the upcoming seasons. But with that being said, there are no indications that he is going to get that chance this year.

Finally, Jackson’s biggest supporter (Brad Childress) was just fired, so it becomes very unlikely that either the Vikings decide to keep him or he resigns with the Vikings as a free agent.

The fourth domino is the rest of the players.  The Vikings were built with a win now mentality; they were the second oldest team on starting day and many of their players are highly paid veterans and Pro Bowlers.  As Mike Sherman can attest to, money becomes very tight with so many highly paid veteran players.

In 2011 alone, the Vikings will have big names like Sidney Rice, Ray Edwards, Pat Williams, Chad Greenway and Ben Leber to sign (you can factor in Brett Favre’s pay raise and the money they spent for a month of service from Randy Moss as well).  It’s highly unlikely that they will have the money to bring everyone back and pockets will be even tighter this year if you to factor in a likely high draft pick contract.  Of course this is all predicated on there being football next year, but it’s likely that free agency will remain mostly unchanged and there may or may not be a rookie wage scale implemented.

The final domino is the biggest free agent of them all, owner Zigi Wilf.  The Vikings lease on the Metrodome expires next year and the organization has been pushing for a new stadium to replace the 20 year old “old stereo” as head coach Mike McCarthy puts it. While it’s unlikely that they are shooting for a stadium like the one Dallas or New York just built, even a more realistic modern stadium is likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, a portion of which is probably going to have to be paid by the state as a tax on its citizens.

Are the people of Minnesota going to want to subsidize the Vikings?  With the economy as poor as it is and an increasing unemployment rate, states and its citizens are all trying to spend less money and giving money to the Vikings for a new stadium might not be a popular move.

The culmination of all these dominoes falling is pretty substantial; the Vikings as a team are going into 2011 with a new head coach (most likely it will be Frasier due to the potential lockout), a high draft pick (mostly likely to be used on a quarterback), lots of free agent departures and a roster that is in dire need of a youth movement.

Add on top of that that the Vikings as an organization are none too happy that they haven’t gotten a new stadium deal worked out and their current lease is expiring soon on the Metrodome and it can be said that in every aspect of the Vikings are in rebuilding mode.

While this is purely conjecture, if you were owner Zigi Wilf, doesn’t Los Angeles start to sound attractive?  It’s long been known that the NFL desperately wants to have a franchise in LA, one of the biggest markets in the country.  Recently Majestic Realty has been proposing a LA stadium fit for a NFL team with the two rumored teams interested in moving being the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings.

While neither team may actually make the move, now seems like a perfect time to get out of Minnesota.  The population of Minneapolis has a population around 3.5 million, contrast that to the greater Los Angeles area which boasts 16.7 million residents (second only to the greater New York area), and you have a huge potential for increased profit as there are 5 times the potential fans and 5 times the potential viewership in the area alone.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of moving a team is the public and economic backlash that the organization is likely to experience after moving; for one old fans are likely to hate the team as they were “deserted” and new fans are not likely to warm up to the new team for a couple years.

Considering that the team is going to be a lame duck for a couple years, why not rebuild while you are at it?  The Vikings aren’t likely to be competitive while rebuilding anyways, so it makes sense to compound the two problems together and hope that in a couple years the team can be competitive again and you can start making huge profits.

The ironic thing about this all is that if the Vikings (or whatever team they end up becoming), end up moving out of Minnesota, does that mean that post-Vikings fans will start to root for Green Bay?  Weirder things have happened.

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Thomas Hobbes is a Packers writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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18 Responses to “Packers Win Starts the Vikings Dominoes Falling…”

  1. DaveK says:

    A couple thoughts to add to you excellent analysis.

    - No team is moving to LA until the CBA deal is worked out. I also think the league is in no hurry to finalize a deal with LA as it provides too much bargaining power for owners. i.e.- Build me a stadium or I’ll move to LA. Put a team in LA and all owners needing concessions from their city have a lot less bargaining power.

    - The Vikings post Favre have to completely rebuild. As you indicated they have an older roster with a bunch of free agents. Most importantly, they just do not have a starting caliber NFL QB. One option would be to trade for Kolb but they’d have to give up quite a bit and giving up multiple high draft picks isn’t the best option when rebuilding a team. The more likely option will for them to draft a QB. By the time this new QB is ready to compete the roster will be 2-3 years older. If they draft a QB they also need to cut ties with expensive vets and re-tool the roster.

    - It takes multiple seasons to develop a young QB and that is IF you have a good coach. Frazier is a defensive coach and Bevell has never been a coordinator or coach in which he didn’t have a head coach that ran the offense. Maybe Bevell is good enough teacher to develop a young QB on his own but I have my doubts given that his mentor the last 5 years has been Brad Childress.

    The one thing MN has going for them is they have a pretty good GM. He drafts well and has a knack for finding talent.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Interesting point, how much power does the league have over stadiums and the like? Realistically I can only see one team making the move to LA, so once that happens, I would assume all the leverage disappears. I do know however that the NFL is completely desperate to have a franchise there, so that definitely has to be factored in to the equation, but a very valid point. The Vikings are in the Metrodome until 2011 anyways, so maybe the move after that.

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      • DaveK says:

        The owner of the team has the power to move the franchise but I believe it has to be approved by the other owners. I do know the Commish is heavily involved in this process and their are two competing groups vying to build a stadium in LA. They definitely want it done before the next TV deal as the LA market is huge. One stadium plan is in burbs (all private $) and one is next to the Staple center with some $ from the city.

        Jacksonville would be the logical choice as they appear to the least profitable franchise and have trouble selling out most home games. Moving them also would be the least unpopular choice for fans. Moving the Vikings would be a PR nightmare for the league and they would have to figure out some sort of realignment. (maybe put the Rams in the North and Vikings in the West) I just don’t see it happening and I hope it doesn’t. I think that at the end of the day Wilf coughs up some more $ and the city and state find funding streams that would be acceptable to the taxpayers. (Like what the Packers did with a hotel tax, license plate fees for Packer plates, local sales tax for 5 years, etc…) They should be able to argue that the Vikings provide a bunch of renenue back to the state (income tax alone is big) and local support for hotels, restaurants, is enough to offset some tax-payer support.

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          My feeling is that the owners would allow a team to move into LA, can you imagine how much more money the TV companies would have to pay if you had to actually include the greater LA population as viewers? Obviously by getting more money from the TV deals, each team will feel the trickle down effect, not to mention probably increasing the popularity of football as a whole, which indirectly will make the owners more profit as well. I agree that the NFL probably wants Jacksonville to move, for one they are in a state with two other football teams and as you mentioned they’ve had serious issues selling out home games (obviously cause they were stupid and didn’t pick Tim Tebow in the draft :D), and the superbowl was a complete mess from the accounts I have seen (like locals taxing fans from their hotels to the stadium). Then again, you would think that if the Vikings were such a cash cow the state would have probably approved building a new stadium, professional sports seem to be doing just fine in the economy so it would be a safe bet to invest with them.

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          • DaveK says:

            The Metrodome is complete dump. The seats are cramped. The food stinks. It is full of bad seats. It’s just a horrible atmosphere and most importantly it produces no revenue for the team apart from game day. The Vikings are rated as having the 2nd lowest value of any franchise in the NFL. Wilf is correct when he says that if the Vikings want to compete and survive in in the NFL they need a new stadium. A stadium with more suites and a stadium that can generate revenue year round. The problem is that Wilf wants the taxpayers to cough up $600 million! He is asking for that much because he thinks he will eventually get it but the timing is hard right now. That is a bunch of $ for a cash strapped state and while the people of MN love their Vikings they have a long history of hating their owners. And, it doesn’t help that Wilf has repeatedly threatened to pull the team out of MN which further causes the people of MN to dislike him. You usually don’t give people you dislike a wad of cash much less give a jack-ass billionaire $600 million to build a cash machine in which the jack-ass billionaire gets to the keep all the cash. It’s just a hard pill to swallow but at the end of the day I can’t imagine the people of MN and Wilf not meeting somewhere in the middle and getting a stadium built. As much as I loath the Vikings I would be disappointed to see the rivalry dissipate and MN without a NFL team.

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            • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

              lol I’ll take another Detroit any day :D I should mention that I didn’t claim that the Vikings are likely to move out of Minnesota, only that at the moment it makes a ton of sense. Obviously a lot can happen between now and when their lease expires, my personal opinion is that Wilf doesn’t want to leave, but if he can’t get tax payer dollars to help fund a new stadium he may just have to move.

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  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Packers Lounge, packernation and Jersey Al – Packers , Cheesehead Nation. Cheesehead Nation said: Jersey Al GBP: Dominoes…: Writers have already waxed lyrically to death about the collapse of the Minnesota Viki… http://bit.ly/g9qrKt [...]

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  3. Max says:

    Nice analysis, Al. The Childress era in Minnesota is eerily similar to the Sherman era in Green Bay – Loads of talent but a coach who cannot deliver the goods.

    Can you imagine if the Packers would have gone from Mike Sherman to Brad Childress? Thankfully, the Vikings swooped in and made the mistake of hiring Chilly.

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Thomas Hobbes wrote this one, Max, but I’m glad you liked it.Good comparison of Sherman to Childress. A lot of similarities.

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  4. Tarynfor12 Taryn says:

    1)Vikings will stay in Minn-no matter how bad they were this year or rebuilding for a couple more,it is a total financial disaster for the city and state to loose them.Besides if LA is such a great place for football,how come they can’t keep a team there.

    2)Unless they make a move and draft Luck,Rice,Harvin and Petersen may want out.

    3)Losing the Vikes from the division can ruin the division and hurt the Packers financially also,a lot of money is made because of the black and blue division rivalries.

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  5. Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

    1. How they manage to keep a NFL franchise in Jacksonville is beyond me :D But really, a lot has changed since the Raiders moved out in 1982, the NFL is the definitive sport of America now and LA does have it in them to watch football, just look at USC and UCLA football.
    2. Well any highly touted quarterback is likely to assuage the fans and the team, I’m not really sure how much leverage Harvin has (especially since he is such a high risk/reward player with his medical issues), but Rice and Peterson might leave for greener pastures (which is fine with me)
    3. Well I would assume that there would be a division reshuffling should the Vikings move, so there will be someone to take their place. It also would probably shift the focus back to the Packers-Bears games which is probably good for business, and finally, should all the Vikings fans decide to root for the Packers, well that’s profit too.

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    • JimR_in_DC says:

      My take is that Vikings fans are only behind their team in good times, and they bail out on their team in bad times. So, switching allegiances should come naturally for them. ;)

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  6. Russ says:

    Being a native Southern Californian and a Packers fan since the 60’s. I can tell you that a move to L.A. is not an automatic ticket for $uccess. Angelinos are notoriously fair-weathered fans; if you are not winning, no one will support your team! They will not sell out your stadium, watch it on T.V., or buy your merchandise unless you win consistently. Do not let the population here fool you, many people here are transplants from other parts of the country and are loyal to their native teams. It would take many years of “winning” for a younger generation of football fans to develop an affinity and identify themselves with a transplanted team such as the Vikings or Jaguars. When the Raiders moved here from Oakland in the early 80’s, they had already established themselves as a winning organization, coming in right off the heels of a Super Bowl win a couple of years prior. They continued that tradition and found a loyal fan base to this day, even after returning to northern California. The bottom line is, L.A. may not be the “Land of milk and honey” if you do not bring a new identity, and a tradition of winning, otherwise you will be a transplanted team in an empty stadium.
    Go Pack!

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Thanks for that local perspective.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I would think that would be the case with any location, no one wants to back a losing proposition and LA is no different. By moving, a team loses any accumulated loyalty that they had with their old city, which may allow them to ride a couple poor seasons (typically NFL teams that win the Super bowl have roughly a 5 year grace period where their fans won’t be screaming for blood if the season ends poorly).

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  7. [...] demise of the Vikings should benefit the Packers. Thomas Hobbes of Jersey Al's Packers blog says the dominoes are [...]

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  8. j4a1 says:

    I just don’t get the “Favre gives you the best chance to win” thing. This old chestnut just can’t stand the light of day. The simple fact is that Favre is the lowest rated starting Qb in the NFL. The last time Jackson started he took them to the playoffs. Favre’s gaffs are the biggest difference in this year’s Viking team vs last years. There is simply no getting around it. If Frasier wanted to take control of the team and show he was a bonified HC prospect, now was the perfect time. He needed to assert himself and make a dramatic change. Nothing will change in Minny while Favre is starting IMO.

    As for the Vikings leaving Minneapolis…it would be a very sad thing. That being said, I think Ziggy has one foot out the door. Minnesotans voted in a conservative legislature and the state is broke. Bridges are literally falling down. They just coughed up the cash to build two new stadiums. A third, retractable roof, $880,000,000.00 stadium is just not going to happen. The fans are all in full retreat. They are frustrated and have given up on the team.

    When describing the Vikings this year the “all in” poker analogy has been made several times. Well, what happens in poker when you go all in and lose?? The answer is, you leave. I’m hoping the Vikings stick around…but I’ve got to say..it’s not looking good.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I agree, if this goes on any further Farve will be physically removed from the game due to injuries, and that’s not how I would like his career to end either, but keep in mind that the Vikings have seen Tavaris Jackson every day during practice and much like what the Packers did with Al Harris, they must already know what they had without having to put him on the field. I will say this though, if Jackson is truly a worse QB than Farve, it should be very apparent.
      As for the Poker analogy, another option of course is to break the bank and go on tilt, but I highly doubt the Vikings will attempt to shore up their existing roster with huge free agent signings like the Bear did this year.

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