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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
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    For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    [size=18px]For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form[/size]

    Mike McFeely, The Forum
    Published Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Mike Tice opined during training camp that Michael Bennett could rush for 1,600 yards this season for the Minnesota Vikings. With Bennett’s 106 yards against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, the running back needs only 1,423 yards over the final eight games to make his coach look like a seer.

    Ridiculous, yes. But for one game, the Invisible Sprinter was a factor as the Vikings beat the Lions 27-14.

    “It’s been awhile and I feel good,� Bennett said. “But the win feels better. So we’re thankful for that and looking forward to moving on to next week.�

    That is about as loquacious as Bennett got after the game. He might be a touch gun-shy.

    Bennett’s been roasted and toasted on a spit for most of the season – and that’s by his coach. Named the starter by Tice in camp, Bennett suffered a neck injury before the season opener and became the forgotten man. He was offered for trade to Arizona. He sank to third on the depth chart behind Mewelde Moore and Moe Williams.

    He was as deep in the doghouse as anybody on the dysfunctional Vikings, quite an accomplishment since Bennett is not one of the players allegedly involved with the Lake Minnetonka sex cruise.

    “You guys call it a doghouse and I call it trying to go with the guy that’s hot,� Tice said. “I don’t know that Mike was ever in the doghouse. I just felt and I think we all felt on the staff that Mewelde was running the ball with more confidence and maybe running the ball harder to a certain point.

    “Some of it had to do with Mike’s neck and then losing a little confidence in himself, but he hung in there and battled.�

    Bennett is in the final year of a five-year contract he signed after being drafted in the first round out of Wisconsin in 2001. He’s making about $900,000 this season. With a history of fragility and lack of production to go with that pricetag, there is zero chance he will be back with the Vikings next year.

    But look at the positive: With 177 yards on the season after Sunday, Bennett is more than 1/10th of the way to Tice’s bold prediction.

    The Vikings’ franchise quarterback has a shredded right knee and, bad-case scenario, could miss all of next season. Worst-case scenario, Daunte Culpepper never returns. The franchise is in turmoil after the Minnetonka mess, which has KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities digging through Vikings players’ garbage looking for dirt. There are no prospects for a new stadium. There will be a major off-season upheaval at Winter Park, which obviously will include a new head coach.

    Yet, after watching Detroit bumble around the Metrodome Sunday, you came away with this impression: The Vikings are in better shape than the Lions. And it’s not even close.

    The reason, of course, is Joey Harrington.

    The quarterback, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2002 draft, might be the worst big-money QB ever to don an NFL uniform. And that includes Ryan Leaf.

    Harrington has no ability – or will – to look downfield or to find a second or third receiver. And if he does find a receiver more than 10 yards down the field, chances are only 50-50 that his right arm will be strong enough to deliver the pass. Moving in the pocket, Harrington appears to be wearing cement Nikes.

    And to think, the Lions only had to pony up about $20 million for the pleasure of tying their franchise’s fortunes to this cadaver. It’s likely the Lions will cut Harrington after this season, meaning their return on that $20 million will be fewer than 20 victories and no playoff berths over the quarterback’s four years in Detroit.

    Forum sports columnist Mike McFeely can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 10 a.m.-noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5580 or [email protected]

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Grassdog61's Avatar
    Grassdog61 is offline Rookie
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    Dec 1969

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    Now lets see if we can go to NY and establish the running game like we did against Detroit - ball control is the only way we're gonna win that game and we need it bad. Amazing what Bennett can do when you give him the ball more than 5-6 times a game (its about time Tice). Bennett got 18 carries Sunday against Detroit - he's only had 41 carries all year. Give him the damn ball, commit to the run, and then things will open up for the passing game. Brad looked good. Nothing spectacular, but effective.

  3. #3
    Prophet Guest

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    The author forgot to mention that for one game Bennett was given the opportunity to perform. Like I posted in another Bennett thread:

    Doesn't surprise me. I think any back needs ~20 carries for a good enough sample size to see what they can do. Bennett's carries this year:

    Week 1: 6 carries
    Week 2: 3 carries
    Week 3: 2 carries
    Week 4: 1 carry
    Week 5: bye
    Week 6: 3 carries
    Week 7: 6 carries
    Week 8: 2 carries
    Week 9: 18 carries

    Bennett had a grand total of 23 carries in the first 7 games and he had 18 carries in the 8th game this year. He still didn't receive the magical 20 carries.

    I never understand how people can continue to rip on him when he doesn't even get an opportunity to play. He gets one game the whole year where he gets a reasonable number of carries and goes over 100 yards. There isn't an RB in the game that would thrive with a 3.2 carry/game average. I'm not saying he is some kind of superhero, just compare apples to apples.

  4. #4
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    If you are averaging less then 3 yards per carry you aren't going to get 20+ carries.

    He needs to sustain the production for it to mean anything past last game.

  5. #5
    Prophet Guest

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    "Del Rio" wrote:
    If you are averaging less then 3 yards per carry you aren't going to get 20+ carries.

    He needs to sustain the production for it to mean anything past last game.
    I agree that he needs more than 3 yds/carry. Look at all the rushing leaders and the majority of the time if you take their first three rushes they ain't getting much. For example, this is from week 1:

    Week 1

    M. Bennett rushed 6 times for -1 yds (-1 yards total)
    C. Williams’ first 6 rushes were for a total of 13 yards (148 total)
    J. Jones’ first 6 rushes were for a total of 38 yards (93 yards total)
    L. Tomlinson’s first 6 rushes were for a total of 28 yards and a TD (72 yards total)
    W. Parker’s first 6 rushes were for a total of 13 yards (161 yards total)
    I'm not being a Bennett apologist, just saying there is not an RB out there that would thrive with an average of 3.5 carries per game like Bennett has had during the first seven games of the season.

    If he is given the opportunity to perform with ~20 carries for a few games and doesn't produce than I will be more convinced. Even the big gun RBs have off weeks or go up against a tough run D. Bennett has not even played enough this year for anyone to give a meaningful analysis of his performance.

    I think he is too injury prone and it is no secret that he is not a smash-mouth RB. There are many RBs out there that I would take over him. I would put the Whizzinator over MB, but am not convinced that MeMo is better. I think MeMo and MB are both barely average RBs in the overall scheme of things. Both are replacable, but they could be sufficient if the play calling is somewhat coherent and the O-line does their job.

  6. #6
    6-KINGS Guest

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    If my runningback is avg less than 3 and only has at most 6 carries in a single game I would not give up on him.

    Emmitt Smith would have been benched years ago if that was the measuring stick.


  7. #7
    V4L's Avatar
    V4L is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    What about Ricky Williams? Didn't he get like 5 carries a game for awhile and still only have like 11 yards? Give him a shot and he will give ya some yards.. I see the same in Bennett.. I want to see Mikey do that in 2 straight games though against a better Giants D

  8. #8
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    In theory it is sound.

    You have to look at the games as well. We were rapidly falling behind. While most of you say you would not give up on him, our hand was being forced into a different style of play by our opponent.

    You continually turn the ball over, and your defense allows you to fall behind you cannot be so gracious in your patience to allow a guy to find the groove.

    My honest opinion is not that anything has changed with M. Bennett but that the line is getting more comfortable and better at working as a team. I don't think it would have mattered if we ran him 25+ times at first because the line was not opening holes. They continued to work at it and now they seem to be making some serious progress.

    I agree you can't judge the guy off of 6 carries, and those stats you posted Prophet were a real eye opener. We just need to keep in mind that the progression of the game dictates what you do. Sure those runners you posted didn't start out hot in their first six carries, but the game was progressing in a way they could have patience with the run.

  9. #9
    Prophet Guest

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    Good points, stats are always fun to look at but the intangibles that don't show up in the stats are often what dictates a game. My biggest gripe has nothing to do with the MeMo vs MB vs any other RB's name you want to throw in there. It is still the same old broken record of me not having confidence in the coaching staff to have the ability to adjust during the game depending on what the opposing team is giving us to work with. I really believe that Tice and company work hard at preparing for games but lack the ability to adjust on the fly. There was some hope in the Packers game where they came back from behind, but that team is in shambles so was it for real?

    That is why I am really excited about the game this week. An away game against a decent team with a lot of weapons. I agree with one of your previous posts regarding the W is not the biggest thing in this game, although it would be nice. If the Vikings can go into the Meadowlands and play a tough game against the Jints I will be a little more convinced. However, if I was the owner I would oust Tice unless he can really turn things around, even if he does I would still seriously consider dropping him back to the O-line coach and grabbing a new HC and DC in the offseason.

    Looking at the schedule, the only two games we have remaining against what I would call top-tier teams this season are against the Giants and Steelers. Assuming we make it to the playoffs I still wouldn't be convinced unless we make it past the powder puff wildcard games. The true playoff caliber teams come in the next rounds and what teams do in those games determines the quality of the team. The Vikings are not a team like the Saints that just wants to get into the playoffs. The Vikes should, and will under Zygi it appears, demand excellence both on and off the field. We want a SB win, anything short of that is a failure.

  10. #10
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: For one game, Vikings’ Bennett returns to form

    First of all this team doesn't use the run to move the chains, they just aren't designed for it. Except last week were they are adopting that strategy out of neccesity more then want.

    He didn't get his first run until the second quarter.
    He managed 3 yards, then Culpepper fumbles killing the drive.

    His second run was for a whopping -2 yards. Which lead to a punt

    At this point the game is 14-7

    His third run was for 2 yards. Penalties and a sack killed the drive.

    Now its the third quarter. He hasn't shown any signs of being able to break free. What's crazy is Moe Williams has broken free numerous times for 6+ yards but Bennett cannot.

    His fourth run 1 yard. Offensive holding, punt, killed drive.

    Now it's the fourth quarter we have had very limited success running the ball we are down 17-10 he runs for 1 yard, and for - 6 yards.

    All I am saying is the progression of that game didn't allow him to have more touches. We didn't have that luxury because Moe was running more effectively, our offense was not in rythm we were losing, and our momentum was being killed every series by something.

    Those other running backs were not in the same situation, and it is a lot easier to justify running the ball in the third quarter when you are winning.

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