1. What did you think of Sam Bradford’s Viking debut?
Kras: Sam Bradford looked solid in his Vikings debut. He had 22 completions for 286 yards and 2 TDs. Bradford looked as though he had a good handle on the offense and made some really nice throws, both down field and into tight coverage. It is a small sample size from Bradford against a defense that was missing its top CB in Sam Shields. Adrian Peterson had a hard time getting anything going on the ground. Teams are lining up to stop A.P. and until Bradford and the passing game have continued success it will likely continue. Bradford will face a much tougher challenge next week in Carolina, likely without A.P. If the Vikings can come out of Carolina with a win and a healthy Bradford, they will be in great shape heading forward.
Nate Leer: I was impressed with Bradford’s quick release, accuracy and arm strength. He seemed very much on the same page with his 2 best receiving options – WR Stefon Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph. His quick release is especially important because the Vikes O-line looks pretty bad. With his lack of mobility, Bradford will have to get the ball out quick to stay in one piece.
2. Is Stefon Diggs a true # 1 wide receiver?
Kras: Stefon Diggs continues to impress and in a big way on Sunday night, totaling 9 catches for 182 yards and 1 TD. Diggs showed glimpses of being brilliant last season but he did not sustain it over the entire season. Diggs is also in an offense that primarily focuses on the run and not the pass so it stands to reason that there might be weeks he has dips in production. Diggs is off to a great start so far this year and should continue to be the #1 receiver on the team. I will need to see a bit more from him before I declare him a true #1 receiver in the NFL.
Nate Leer: I will admit I have been fooled by Vikings WRs in the past – Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson most recently – but Diggs looks like a different caliber of receiver and pro. It is obviously a stretch but he looks like a poor man’s Antonio Brown with his ability to play bigger than he measures, compete for the ball and make plays after the catch. The Vikes seem to have found a gem in the 5th round. Can you Diggs it!?!
3. What would you need to see the Twins get in a trade for Brian Dozier?
Kras: I think we can all agree that they need pitching, and more pitching. It would be hard to believe that they would be able to get an ace for Dozier from a team but a #2 wouldn’t be out of the question. Starting pitching is a need for the Twins as we know but the bullpen needs work as well. If the opportunity comes along to get a quality reliever for the back end of the rotation and a promising prospect who could be ready for next year, the Twins would have to consider it. It’s hard to believe Dozier will bring the required pieces to turn this club around but you have to start somewhere and he is a valuable asset.
Nate Leer: I think the new GM of the Twins needs to take the long view of the team in general and that includes trading Dozier. His value will likely never be higher as he is having a monster year and will just get more expensive. Trading him to a team like the Yankees or Dodgers could return 1 or 2 position prospects and several pitching prospects at various levels of the minors. Getting back a major league level infielder, a starting pitcher and a reliever who are close and a lower-level elite pitching prospect would really help the Twins organization. If they could add in some talent through trades of Trevor Plouffe, Ervin Santana and maybe Kennys Vargas or Byung Ho Park, the organization would be on the road to a solid rebuild.
1. Should Zach Britton be a candidate to win the Cy Young Award?
Kras: Zach Britton has been impressive this year but the idea of a closer winning the Cy Young Award might be a tough sell. Britton has gone 45 of 45 in save opportunities to go along with 67 strikeouts, 0.59 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. All numbers are very impressive and part of the reason Baltimore is in position to make a postseason run. It’s not that Britton has done anything wrong to where he shouldn’t get the award, it is just hard to duplicate what a quality starting pitcher does for a team over the course of an entire season.
Nate Leer: I definitely think so. There is no great candidate this year and elite closers are so valuable. Besides actually slamming the door on teams, I think it provides a psychological boost to their teams to know that if they win the first 8 innings, they win!
2. Of all the week 2 injuries in the NFL, which injuries impact their team the most?
Kras: The two injuries that will have a big impact on their team going forward are the Adrian Peterson knee injury and the DeMarcus Ware fractured forearm. Ware will be back in 4-5 weeks but he is an intricate part of that defense and a guy who is a great complement to Von Miller. He will be missed but he will be back and the Broncos should be able to fill the void in the time being. Adrian Peterson left Sunday’s game with what looked to be a serious knee injury that later was said to be less severe than originally feared. With the loss of Teddy Bridgewater already this year, it would be another devastating blow to a Minnesota team that is hoping to make some noise this year.
Nate Leer: I think Kras is probably correct about these being the biggest losses. However, I think Danny Woodhead’s ACL tear may be just as bad. To start with, he is done for the year. Also, while I like Melvin Gordon’s talent, I am not sure he is proven yet. I suspect the Chargers will need to pass the ball a lot this year to win games and they do not have another healthy RB who has shown the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield. The Chargers have a few aging vets who would like to win soon and the loss of Woodhead (and Brandon Oliver in the preseason) is a real blow to their borderline playoff hopes.
3. Were you surprised by the 3-0 loss the USA had against Team Europe in the WCH?
Kras: Team Europe is a quality team but Team USA was a favorite to go deep into the tournament and now they are at risk of not making the semifinal round. This game may have been a case of running into a hot goalie. Team USA put 35 shots on net and Jaroslav Halak turned all of them aside. Team USA has a match-up against Canada next and that will be no easy task, especially since USA has to win to have a chance to advance. It’s an unfortunate spot for Team USA to be in but Team Europe is loaded with talent and good goaltending.