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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

Tinglehoff Effect 
Yesterdays game versus the Panthers was a concern, not so much that we lost the game, but rather the concern lies within our judgment.  I had a very strong feeling that we would lose on this day but it wasn't clear why until the opening minutes of that game.   

All week Elflein was listed as questionable as a limited participant for our upcoming game.  It was a shock to see Elflein in street clothes where on our opening offensive sequence, Easton was moved from guard to center ... to which I screamed ... NOOOOOOO! 

The in-house reasoning might have been that Easton had experience at center, but you might recall that when he was in at center in 2016, we lost most of those games.  The other reasoning behind that move was that Rashod Hill had replaced Remmers at right tackle where no one may have felt comfortable moving Berger from right guard to center, further exposing the right side of our line.  Unfortunately that was exactly the wrong move to make.  Ultimately this foolish reasoning may have either resulted-in or added to the potential of causing injury to Riley Reiff.  Although this statement may on its own seem to be incoherent, the choices made yesterday resulted in our inability to effectively run the ball.  This line adjustment effectively changed our offense from dictating to Carolina's defense to having to absorb their punishment ... or better said ... their leverage upon our offense.  Of course David Morgan also being out of the line up certainly didn't help our blocking schemes of the day but Morgan's influence paled by comparison to the coaches line adjustment when you considering the decision that was made at center.  Of course, the collective offensive struggles would ultimately result in the abandoning of the run game altogether ... making Keenum's 11-point rebound to tie the game ... all that more remarkable.  

Here were the overlooked keys.  
Not so long ago, there was a great push to get Mick Tinglehoff into the hall of fame.  The reasoning was that he actually had better stats than 7 of 8 Hall of Fame Centers but the actual motivators went well beyond these obvious distinctions.  Today, too many in that youthful crowd may think that Sid H
artman might not be all there but his article in regard to the importance of the role that a center plays in the offense tells you all that you might need to know about that position.  Although Sid Hartman might not be an X & O's type guy, his long standing relationship with former Vikings Head Coach, & Hall of Famer Bud Grant, instructed him onto the importance of that position.  The instruction was so fundemental that I could bet anyone that Sid could see the result of yesterdays contest the moment he saw Easton at center.  This stance was based upon Sid's understanding of the importance of the center through Bud Grants eyes.  God, is it any wonder why Bud will always be beloved throughout the Nation.  

In fact, based upon Buds fundemental observations expressed through Sid Hartman, you could almost to guarantee a victory in a Super Bowl if your were to "cheap-shot" or "take out" the opposing teams center in the first series of the game, by using some soon-to-be-ejected-backup-D-lineman.  Of course this type of thinking is considered to be the lowest form of "dirty pool" & is considered to be berry berry bad taboo.  The result would be an absolute all out war between the teams.  It's almost like there is a gentlemen's agreement between teams in an understanding that no offense can properly function without its center to explain how important the center is to an offense.  So when Elflein was listed as out I was expecting Berger at center.  What we got was Easton and that was a recipe for disaster.     

So hears the elephant in the room.  We drafted Elflein to play center & to be direct he's done a remarkable job.  The elephant, of course is, Joe Berger who anchored down that position & when he played center, he was doing so in pro-bowl form.  Unfortunately, with last years game of musical chairs on our offensive line, Joe lost his opportunity by losing his position at center.  It was clear that we needed him to anchor the position at right guard & that was seen as Bradford's best chance at survival ... & it did just that.  From Berger's perspective, he may never ever be a pro-bowl guard but his ultimate sacrifice has made it possible for this team to win games in 2017 by anchoring his role & keep Case Keenum clean.  Berger is like so many others on this team but his abilities, particularly at center making those desperate line calls on Sunday could have made the difference in commanding a running game, as well as to maintain a clean pocket but somewhere in that decision making linkage we became to arrogant to recognize what needed to be done & now we are paying a fairly hefty price for those foolish decisions yesterday.  Maybe it just became too hard to approach Joe Berger, for what might seem the millionth time, to once again ask him to make a change to his role again on the fly but to a man ... no body wants to pay that price again.  Be advised that neither coach Shurmur or Zimmer will make that mistake again regardless of how it might effect either Elflien's or Berger ... as it affects that group ... that band of brothers.  

To a man we must admit that Danny Isidora is undisciplined & overly rambunctious (he drools over getting down field), most likely do to the fact that he's desperate to chip in his services ... but there is one unmistakable fact.  Isidora makes a significant difference in the run game.  As much as we loved Bud Grant, we had to endure his unwritten rule in regard to playing rookies & that thought process cost us opportunities.  The is an overall fear in regard to inexperience & it sometimes causes us to freeze-up ... rather than to take action.  Yesterday, if Easton was left at left guard, moving Berger to center, followed by inserting Isidora at right guard with Riley Reiff at left tackle & Rashod Hill at right tackle, we might have still lost that game yesterday but in my opinion, Riley Reiff would not have been injured.  Why, you might ask?  Well, to be direct, we would have dictated our running game with a great deal of authority with that set, with active & sturdy line calls at center ... and most importantly of all ... we would not have ever had to abandon our run game due to ineffective line play.  Feelings are real things and what Berger has been asked to do may have hurt him, but it is absolutely clear that he is the real deal & it is high time we treat him that way.  To be direct ... it's never about money as money doesn't motivate us to stick our head through a wall ... does it?  It's always the stupid little stuff that no one can seem to put their finger on.            

Last year when Rashod Hill was announced as our left tackle versus the Bears on week 17, the comment, "Who the hell is this Mook?", rang through my ears.  I have no idea what possessed me but my immediate response was, "Be careful as this guy just might be our starter for the next 10 years at tackle".  Then we watched him keep Bradford clean the entire game ... something we were unable to do all season long.  Rashod Hill is the real deal & he was an exceptional find off the practice squad where our 2017 won-loss record can be directly attributed to his role as well.

My expectations are that Riley Reiff will definitely be out this week in our upcoming bout versus the Bengalis where both Elflien & Remmers will be expected to return to full participation this week but still be listed as questionable.  That puts Rashod Hill at left tackle with Remmers at right tackle with Elflein back at center.  Berger will remain at right guard with Easton back at left guard.  Be prepared to insert Berger back at center moving Isidora at right guard.  Sirles will have to back up both tackle positions where we're going to have to hope that Remmers can hold up where Sirles will not have to be called upon.

A. A. Ron is expected to return this week & travel to Charlotte, NC to face the Panthers.  If the Packers lose that game A. A. Ron & the Packers will be out of the playoff chase for 2017 leaving the #2 seed tie-breaker in Newton's court.  If the Panthers lose, we'll have a firm lock on all the tie breakers for the #2 seed in the playoffs ... assuming that we take care of business.  Of course the problem with the later is that A. A. Ron will then be eligible to re-enter his fragile bones ... to run wild again in this years tournament ... that is ... if they can somehow get past us.  It'll then come down to the a Packers revenge match in Green Bay to try to thwart our run in the show ... WHAT DRAMA!  The Fudge Packers final attempt might look something like that recent Bengal's vs. Steeler's throw down that was as ugly as it gets in the NFL.  Those Fudger's better think twice about that plan of attack as it's now crystal clear that everything in Green Bay revolves around their delicate poster boy.  Tit for Tat might not end so well for the Fudge Packers.  If you're wearing those horns on that day, you might be thinking about pulling your pants down like Moss did but leave all that guff to the final tick of the clock indicating a victory on Curly Lambeau's field.  Unless that happens ... you'll have nothing to celebrate.   

As for Reiff, his foot would almost have to be hanging by a thread for him to miss that Packer bout.  

The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: January 20, 2016