Sunday slant: Well-time words or desperation?

The Vikings have had at least two veterans talk to the entire team. It is well-intentioned leadership, but it might also show an air of desperation among veterans on a young team.

Over the past week, at least two Vikings veterans have stood in front of the team and made rare speeches, imploring a sense of urgency from their younger teammates.

Antoine Winfield, the 14th-year veteran of the NFL, did it on Monday. Michael Jenkins, the second-year Vikings receiver who is in his ninth NFL season, followed suit.

From one perspective, it's the type of leadership that Leslie Frazier was hoping to find in the seven players left on the roster that are 30 years or older. From another view, it could be perceived as desperation that these speeches are being made only two games into the season.

Either way, both players felt something needed to be said.

"It's hard to win in this league. We could easily be 0-2. When there's a game like (the one against the Colts) and it's on the line and you have the chance to win …" Winfield said.

"I'm only playing this game because I want to win a championship. It's not about the money anymore. I still love to play. I think I'm still productive. I can still play at a high level, so that's why I'm here."

Winfield has been on the cusp of a Super Bowl, only to fall short with the 2009 Minnesota Vikings and he knows his years are limited. He has put his 5-foot-9, 180-pound body on the line for 13-plus seasons and held up as one of the toughest and most efficient tacklers (pound for pound or otherwise) over the last decade.

Jenkins also tasted playoff success that came up short with the 2004 Atlanta Falcons, when his team went to the NFC Championship Game in his rookie season and lost to Philadelphia. Like Winfield, he took a paycut to help ensure a roster spot on a rebuilding Vikings team this year.

"Your days are numbered once you kind of get up there. You want everybody to have that sense of urgency that you have," Jenkins said. "It's tough to win in this league, as guys find out, and you want everybody to do their best to get that win every week."

The Vikings appear to be on the right track with their roster rebuild with what they hope is a franchise left tackle in rookie Matt Kalil and a second-year quarterback in Christian Ponder who is among the league's most efficient through two games. But, to date, they haven't been consistent enough.

They struggled at times against two other teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts, that finished at the bottom of their respective divisions last year, just like the Vikings. Minnesota's comeback in the regular season opener paid off with an overtime win. Against the Colts, it came up short when the defense allowed a rookie quarterback to go 45 yards in four plays over 23 seconds to set up the Colts' winning field goal.

Those might be the two easiest games on the Vikings' schedule all season, at least the two easiest back-to-back games.

Something needed to be said, and sometimes that is more impactful for young players when it comes from their peers instead of their coaches.

"You'd hope so," Jenkins said. "You hope that they take at least one thing that you say to heart and kind of run with it. You never know.

"It's just part of being a leader. I'm not a big talker. I'm kind of a ‘show' guy, but we've got a young squad, so just letting the guys know how it is in the NFL and how things work and trying to keep everybody on the right track."

The Vikings are trying to walk the line of building a roster for the future and still being competitive and keeping hope alive for veterans whose career flames are flickering in the sunset breeze. Of the 53 players on their roster, 16 were drafted in the last two years and another 17 of them have been added via free agency or trades over the last two years. That means less than half the team has been together for more than 20 games.

Both Jenkins and Winfield said their speeches were rare, but they needed to impart on younger players the importance of each game in a 16-game schedule and how much it means to players who know their Sundays in the spotlight are limited and closing in on them quickly.

"We try to keep everybody on the same page where they're taking it just as serious as the guys that have been through it," Jenkins said. "We get that going and things will go alright."

They hope.

QUICK SLANTS

  • Vikings assistant coach Mike Singletary spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, nearly three of them as their head coach. While there wasn't much success there, he still knows the personnel on the 49ers as well as anyone with the Vikings.

    "He knows a lot of them personally, so I'm sure he'll help us out in that fashion," offensive tackle Phil Loadholt said.

    The schemes and assignments have changed since Jim Harbaugh took over for Singletary to start the 2011 season, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who played with Singletary in the 1980s with the Chicago Bears, has relied on his assistant to the head coach for some San Francisco insight.

    "We definitely picked his brain on some things regarding some of their people, and he was very helpful with both sides of the ball as well as special teams," Frazier said. "We definitely got him to conversate a little bit about their personnel, for sure."

  • While Frazier hasn't experienced the early success of Harbaugh in their NFL head coaching careers, you can give Frazier the award for better personality. Frazier has almost always been accommodating and patient with reporter inquiries, but Harbaugh was petulant at best during his conference call with Vikings reporters last Wednesday. Asked about Randy Moss taking a secondary role in the receiver corps, Harbaugh simply said, "Those are your words" without expanding on his reply. When asked about Minnesota RB Toby Gerhart, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, he said he was a "football player" and that was about as big a compliment as he could give Gerhart. It was a brutal effort on the conference call by Harbaugh, making it easy to root against the full-of-himself 49er.

  • If the Vikings were looking to enter the ranks of the 63 interceptions through Week 2 of the NFL this year, they will have to break Alex Smith's streak of 216 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest streak in 49ers history.

    Remember when Smith was in danger of losing his starting job? He has won 16 of his last 19 starts and ranks third in the NFL with a 115.9 passer rating, and he is 12-0 when he has a passer rating over 100.

  • Phil Loadholt had a locker next to Randy Moss when the moody receiver was with the Vikings for four games in 2010. Asked if he's ever been teammates with a player who had as big of a chip on his shoulder as Moss, Loadholt said: "He really did. He was a different kind of player, a great teammate and I learned a lot from him."

  • Despite the strength of the physical 49ers defense being in stopping the run, the Vikings are looking to muscle up.

    "We're going to try to establish the run. We won't get away from it," Frazier told 49ers reporters. "Although San Francisco plays the run as well as anybody in our league, we feel good about Adrian (Peterson), Toby Gerhart, our offensive line. We want to get the run established. I also believe we have the ability to throw the ball down field. We can't get away from trying to run the football."

  • The Vikings are back to 200/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, according to Bovada.lv. That's where they started the season, but after Adrian Peterson showed well in the regular-season opener, those odds drop to 150/1 for one week. The favorite is the 49ers at 5/1.

  • The Vikings are tied with the St. Louis Rams for longest odds to win the NFC Championship at 66/1 and they are easily last to win the NFC North Division. While Green Bay is 2/5 and Detroit and Chicago are both 4/1, the Vikings are 25/1.

  • Another blemish on the Vikings' defensive track record: Andrew Luck engineered the drive that resulted in a game-winning score in the final minute of the fourth quarter of last Sunday's Vikings loss. Luck was the first rookie QB to do so during the month of September since Archie Manning of the Saints in 1971.

  • The Packers have gone 29 games without a 100-yard rusher, so Bovada.lv placed the over-under for the 2012 season at one.

  • The over-under on Jay Cutler sacks in Week 3? 2½.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Over the past week, at least two Vikings veterans have stood in front of the team and made rare speeches, imploring a sense of urgency from their younger teammates. Antoine Winfield, the 14th-year veteran of the NFL, did it on Monday. Michael Jenkins, the second-year Vikings receiver who is in his ninth NFL season, followed suit. From one perspective, it's the type of leadership that Leslie Frazier was hoping to find in the seven players left on the roster that are 30 years or older. From another view, it could be perceived as desperation that these speeches are being made only two games into the season. Either way, both players felt something needed to be said. \"It's hard to win in this league. We could easily be 0-2. When there's a game like (the one against the Colts) and it's on the line and you have the chance to win …\" Winfield said. \"I'm only playing this game because I want to win a championship. It's not about the money anymore. I still love to play. I think I'm still productive. I can still play at a high level, so that's why I'm here.\" Winfield has been on the cusp of a Super Bowl, only to fall short with the 2009 Minnesota Vikings and he knows his years are limited. He has put his 5-foot-9, 180-pound body on the line for 13-plus seasons and held up as one of the toughest and most efficient tacklers (pound for pound or otherwise) over the last decade. Jenkins also tasted playoff success that came up short with the 2004 Atlanta Falcons, when his team went to the NFC Championship Game in his rookie season and lost to Philadelphia. Like Winfield, he took a paycut to help ensure a roster spot on a rebuilding Vikings team this year. \"Your days are numbered once you kind of get up there. You want everybody to have that sense of urgency that you have,\" Jenkins said. \"It's tough to win in this league, as guys find out, and you want everybody to do their best to get that win every week.\" The Vikings appear to be on the right track with their roster rebuild with what they hope is a franchise left tackle in rookie Matt Kalil and a second-year quarterback in Christian Ponder who is among the league's most efficient through two games. But, to date, they haven't been consistent enough. They struggled at times against two other teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts, that finished at the bottom of their respective divisions last year, just like the Vikings. Minnesota's comeback in the regular season opener paid off with an overtime win. Against the Colts, it came up short when the defense allowed a rookie quarterback to go 45 yards in four plays over 23 seconds to set up the Colts' winning field goal. Those might be the two easiest games on the Vikings' schedule all season, at least the two easiest back-to-back games. Something needed to be said, and sometimes that is more impactful for young players when it comes from their peers instead of their coaches. \"You'd hope so,\" Jenkins said. \"You hope that they take at least one thing that you say to heart and kind of run with it. You never know. \"It's just part of being a leader. I'm not a big talker. I'm kind of a ‘show' guy, but we've got a young squad, so just letting the guys know how it is in the NFL and how things work and trying to keep everybody on the right track.\" The Vikings are trying to walk the line of building a roster for the future and still being competitive and keeping hope alive for veterans whose career flames are flickering in the sunset breeze. Of the 53 players on their roster, 16 were drafted in the last two years and another 17 of them have been added via free agency or trades over the last two years. That means less than half the team has been together for more than 20 games. Both Jenkins and Winfield said their speeches were rare, but they needed to impart on younger players the importance of each game in a 16-game schedule and how much it means to players who know their Sundays in the spotlight are limited and closing in on them quickly. \"We try to keep everybody on the same page where they're taking it just as serious as the guys that have been through it,\" Jenkins said. \"We get that going and things will go alright.\" They hope.
  • Vikings assistant coach Mike Singletary spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, nearly three of them as their head coach. While there wasn't much success there, he still knows the personnel on the 49ers as well as anyone with the Vikings. \"He knows a lot of them personally, so I'm sure he'll help us out in that fashion,\" offensive tackle Phil Loadholt said. The schemes and assignments have changed since Jim Harbaugh took over for Singletary to start the 2011 season, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who played with Singletary in the 1980s with the Chicago Bears, has relied on his assistant to the head coach for some San Francisco insight. \"We definitely picked his brain on some things regarding some of their people, and he was very helpful with both sides of the ball as well as special teams,\" Frazier said. \"We definitely got him to conversate a little bit about their personnel, for sure.\"
  • While Frazier hasn't experienced the early success of Harbaugh in their NFL head coaching careers, you can give Frazier the award for better personality. Frazier has almost always been accommodating and patient with reporter inquiries, but Harbaugh was petulant at best during his conference call with Vikings reporters last Wednesday. Asked about Randy Moss taking a secondary role in the receiver corps, Harbaugh simply said, \"Those are your words\" without expanding on his reply. When asked about Minnesota RB Toby Gerhart, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, he said he was a \"football player\" and that was about as big a compliment as he could give Gerhart. It was a brutal effort on the conference call by Harbaugh, making it easy to root against the full-of-himself 49er.
  • If the Vikings were looking to enter the ranks of the 63 interceptions through Week 2 of the NFL this year, they will have to break Alex Smith's streak of 216 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest streak in 49ers history. Remember when Smith was in danger of losing his starting job? He has won 16 of his last 19 starts and ranks third in the NFL with a 115.9 passer rating, and he is 12-0 when he has a passer rating over 100.
  • Phil Loadholt had a locker next to Randy Moss when the moody receiver was with the Vikings for four games in 2010. Asked if he's ever been teammates with a player who had as big of a chip on his shoulder as Moss, Loadholt said: \"He really did. He was a different kind of player, a great teammate and I learned a lot from him.\"
  • Despite the strength of the physical 49ers defense being in stopping the run, the Vikings are looking to muscle up. \"We're going to try to establish the run. We won't get away from it,\" Frazier told 49ers reporters. \"Although San Francisco plays the run as well as anybody in our league, we feel good about Adrian (Peterson), Toby Gerhart, our offensive line. We want to get the run established. I also believe we have the ability to throw the ball down field. We can't get away from trying to run the football.\"
  • The Vikings are back to 200/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, according to Bovada.lv. That's where they started the season, but after Adrian Peterson showed well in the regular-season opener, those odds drop to 150/1 for one week. The favorite is the 49ers at 5/1.
  • The Vikings are tied with the St. Louis Rams for longest odds to win the NFC Championship at 66/1 and they are easily last to win the NFC North Division. While Green Bay is 2/5 and Detroit and Chicago are both 4/1, the Vikings are 25/1.
  • Another blemish on the Vikings' defensive track record: Andrew Luck engineered the drive that resulted in a game-winning score in the final minute of the fourth quarter of last Sunday's Vikings loss. Luck was the first rookie QB to do so during the month of September since Archie Manning of the Saints in 1971.
  • The Packers have gone 29 games without a 100-yard rusher, so Bovada.lv placed the over-under for the 2012 season at one.
  • The over-under on Jay Cutler sacks in Week 3? 2½.
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