1. Did the Eagles Super Bowl win make you feel better or worse about the Vikings loss in the NFC Championship game?
Nate Leer: My answer is yes and no. I feel better about the D and worse about the O. Seeing Eagles QB tear apart another well coached D indicated that he and HC Doug Pederson have indeed figured out how best to use Foles limited talents. That makes how bad the Vikes D looked in Philly appear to be less catastrophic. The flip side is that the Pats were able to move the ball basically at will against the Philly D. That makes it clear that the Vikes O, particularly the OC Pat Shurmur and QB Case Keenum, underperformed. The Pats used tempo to negate the Philly pass rush and were able to throw the ball around all night. Of course Keenum isn’t Brady but he could have thrown for 200 less yards and still had a big game. Shurmur’s limited creativity is almost as glaring as Keenum’s lack of arm strength. Hopefully the Vikes find upgrades at both QB and OC this offseason.
Kras: Since I am looking at this as a neutral fan, I think Vikings fans should feel a little better about what the Eagles did to them in the NFC Championship game. Aside from some struggles in the Atlanta game, Philly’s O was pretty flawless throughout the playoffs. That said, it was not a good showing from a Vikes D that ranked among the league’s best all year long. The Vikings looked like they were still in a daze from the Minnesota Miracle that took place the week before. HC Mike Zimmer didn’t have the team prepared and couldn’t make any ingame adjustments to slow down the dangerous Nick Foles led Eagles O.
2. Would you rather see the Vikings pursue QB Kirk Cousins at any cost or have them take a more reasonable approach and try and save some money for future use?
Kras: Personally, I think spending the long term money on Cousins is crazy. If I am Vikings leadership, I am looking HARD at every option and hoping to not give any unproven QB over $20 million. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are going to have many options in that regard. I think it would be a better option to use the franchise tag on Case Keenum versus giving out a 6 year deal with $80+ million in guaranteed money. Keenum might not be the best option, but he might be the most reasonably priced before it’s all said and done. If they do franchise Keenum, it buys them one more year of evaluating where they think Keenum can take them and it also defers a huge QB contract at least one more year.
Nate Leer: I certainly get Kras’s rationale about avoiding overpaying Cousins but I hope franchising Keenum is looked at as essentially the last option. He is the healthiest QB who played for them this year but I would rather take a chance on a couple QBs with more upside, such as Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. Of course I wouldn’t pay either of them much more than 5 million per year. However, if they could get both for around $12 million total next year, they could focus resources on the O line. Ideally they would sign them to contracts where the Vikes will have some control and bargaining power for 2019 and beyond. Other options include AJ McCarron, Josh McCown and, potentially, Tyrod Taylor. Hopefully one of the options would distinguish themselves this year and be the answer going forward. The absolute worst thing they can do is get in deep with a marginal and/or injury prone QB. That is the recipe that doomed franchises such as the Giants and Colts and also made it hard for the very competent Ravens management to compete consistently.
3. Have the Wolves turned a corner and become a real top tier NBA team or were their most recent wins a result of playing harder for celebrities in town for the Super Bowl?
Nate Leer: I think they have made significant strides as a team and have emerged as a top flight contender to lose to the Warriors in the Conference Finals. Jimmy Butler has added an edge and commitment to D that this team sorely needed. The young studs seem to be buying in and both KAT and Wiggy are elite offensive machines when their 3 ball is falling. Lately that has been the case more often than not. This team could use another shooter but I think they are turning into the team we all hoped they could be. That won’t translate to a title this year but they could be on the road to truly competing for the ultimate goal as soon as next year.
Kras: I don’t think so. I think there could have been some extra effort for all the stars that were in town over the weekend but even with that, they are not a real contender. The Wolves still have a ways to go in their development. They still lack the shooting that would be required to compete with Houston or Golden State and their D is not consistent enough to slow those teams down over a 7 game series. I think they are improving and the team aspect has really showed with this group over the last month. However, they are far from elite.
1. Who is more likely to be back in the Super Bowl next year, the Pats or Eagles?
Nate Leer: Historically, the Super Bowl loser regresses the most the next year. However, the Pats are likely to be so motivated to get one more ring with this group that I see them as the clear favorite to make, and win, the big game. I would not be shocked to see the Pats make moves that have more of a short term focus such as trading picks for help at key spots. The Eagles look to be an ascending powerhouse so we could even have a rematch. That is obviously highly unlikely but these are arguably the 2 best coached, most complete teams in the league and both have elite QBs. It’s still hard to believe but the Eagles may have 2.
Kras: I would have to take the Eagles. They have a quality roster that, for the most part, will be returning next season. They made their postseason run with backup QB Nick Foles who doesn’t seem to be as talented as regular starter Carson Wentz. With that said, Foles looked pretty good throughout the playoffs and the lack of mistakes and turnovers by him really elevated the confidence of the rest of the O. The Patriots on the other hand may be looking at taking a step back for the first time in a long time. With the departure of DC Matt Patricia, there will surely be some new implementation with a new coach coming in. Also, QB Tom Brady will be another year older. I’m not sure how much longer he can play at even an above average level. Father Time is undefeated and he looks to be closing in on TB12. All that and the potential threat of TE Rob Gronkowski retiring have the Pats poised for a major rebuild in the coming years.
2. Is QB Nick Foles still a member of the Eagles next season? If not, where do you think he lands?
Nate Leer: I think the Eagles will hold on to Foles until they are sure Carson Wentz is back. If that means holding him into the season, he is unlikely to get traded. However, if they feel Wentz is fully healthy come summer, it would make sense to trade Foles and sign another veteran. Wentz is a hard worker so I expect him back sooner than later. Getting a high pick or a couple mid rounders for Foles would be a nice payoff for the Eagles. Foles is a relatively expensive backup but would be a cheap starter for a team in need. If the Eagles OC Frank Reich leaves, his new team could be an ideal spot for Foles. I put it at 50/50 that Foles is back for the Eagles next year and that mostly depends on the health of Wentz.
Kras: I believe the Eagles should trade him, if they can. It was an impressive postseason run by Foles who did all he could to boost his trade stock. Foles has 1 year left on his deal and, at the right price, a team may be willing to give him a look. Teams such as Arizona, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Buffalo, and the New York Jets may be thinking about giving Foles a look. On the other hand, as many QB needy teams as there are, there are plenty of potential QB candidates coming up in this year’s draft. Again, I am firmly in the camp that says trade him if you can but the Eagles may want to keep him going into next season. With Carson Wentz’s return date uncertain, Foles is fit to run this O.
3. Do you think MLB should implement a pitch clock? Are you for or against the idea?
Kras: I don’t want to see a pitch clock introduced to the game. With that said, I would be mildly intrigued to see what it would do or how it would change the game, if at all. I think it is important for MLB to try and find a way to speed games up but there are only so many things they can do without changing the structure of the game. To me, relief pitchers have been one of the biggest reasons a game can drag on but I don’t see how the league can change that. I can say I would rather see a pitch clock than a runner start on 2B during extra inning games.
Nate Leer: As Kras kind of breaks down, this is an imperfect solution but maybe the best option. I think it is worth trying a limited pitch clock to see if it drastically affects competition and/or actually helps the problem. The players are reluctant to go along with this change but have not offered any concrete solutions. When guys like Twins 2B Brian Dozier say players should be allowed to police themselves, I don’t want to hear it. They, like the rest of us, have known this was an issue for years but have done nothing to proactively make changes. If nothing else, maybe the pitch clock will force the players to get serious about offering real ideas to solve the problem. Unless and until that happens, the league has no choice but to take this action.