As the Vikings contingent prepares to head to Indianapolis to give the draft class of 2012 the once-over at the NFL Combine, starting next week in Indianapolis, Rick Spielman will be doing so as the general manager of the proverbial war room.
On Thursday, he fielded questions about the new roles inside Winter Park as it pertains to his duties and those of the rest of the insiders making the final decisions on who stays, who comes and who goes on the Vikings roster in 2012.
Gone is the Triangle of Authority. Spielman’s input in the final decisions will be much greater now that he is officially the general manager and not a vice president. The tripod has been replaced by a monopod of authority that starts (and, if needed, ends) with Spielman, but he plans to maintain a system that incorporates the opinions of others, from Leslie Frazier to George Paton to Scott Studwell.
While he promised “new things” coming for the vision of the team’s future, he said he plans to incorporate the opinions of everyone in an effort to return the Vikings to the playoffs. Asked to elaborate on his ideas, he said he is hoping to pull in differing opinions.
“Just from a standpoint on an overall vision and working with Leslie on our philosophy and where my philosophy is,” Spielman said. “You know, just going forward on how we are going to improve and some of my thoughts, which are a little stronger than they have been in the past on what I think we have to improve.”
Paton’s role is going to morph into more responsibility, which Spielman is glad to delegate now that Paton has been retained and will continue to be an important behind-the-scenes part of the Vikings organization.
“George’s role will change,” Spielman said. “He’ll be the one doing some of the things I did last year as far as, during the season, he handled mainly the pro stuff and caught up on the college stuff this time of year after we got done with our (free-agent evaluations). He’ll be more actively out seeing college kids next fall. (He will be) also overseeing the pro department as well. Then I will be a little bit more in-house and handling some of the responsibilities that I have to do.”
Scott Studwell, the director of college scouting, will continue to rack up frequent flyer miles in his capacity as the eyes and ears of much of the Vikings scouting efforts.
“Studwell’s a road warrior,” Spielman said. “He loves his job.”
Spielman has waited patiently for his opportunity to imprint his vision on the franchise, something that he wasn’t able to do as strongly when he was a voice among a chorus of opinions in the business model employed by the Vikings from the time Brad Childress was brought in and the Triangle of Authority was spawned. Spielman is embracing the challenge and is looking to create his own legacy moving forward.
“It’s been very exciting,” Spielman said. “You get a chance to put a stamp on some things. We’re doing some things a little differently. Hopefully you’ll see some improvements that won’t be written about in the paper. I’ve been very excited on how it’s gone so far.”
An interesting “trending topic” has been that the Vikings might actually be interested in drafting Baylor QB Robert Griffin III in April’s draft if the Rams don’t take advantage of their position at No. 2 to swing a deal with Cleveland to get the Nos. 4 and 22 picks, but Spielman expressed confidence in current starter Christian Ponder. According to the draft value chart, if the Rams made a deal with the Browns, the value of the No. 2 pick in exchange for Nos. 4 and 22 would be almost identical – the No. 2 pick would be worth 2,600 mythical draft value points, while Nos. 4 and 22 would be worth 2,580 points. If the Browns throw in a sixth- or seventh-round pick, it would be almost identical. To move up to the Vikings pick at No. 3, the Browns would be grossly overspending to give both first-rounders. In that scenario, a first-, third- and fourth-round pick would suffice – allowing Cleveland to keep its second first-round pick and its second-rounder.
When Brett Favre came to the Vikings, he disclosed that he played the final five games of his only season with the Jets with a torn biceps tendon. Pre-injury, the Jets were 8-3. Post-injury, they were 1-4. The Favre confession cost the Jets, their G.M. and their head coach a total of $125,000 in the NFL’s party fund. Get ready to see Fine-a-palooza II. Jets guard Matt Slauson told the Newark Star-Ledger that he played the entire season with a torn labrum, rotator cuff and biceps tendon in his left shoulder/arm. He claims the injury happened in November. November 2010! The league’s fined-based party fund just upgraded the champagne.
Don’t expect to see any changes in the kickoff rules that pushed the kick line to the 35-yard line, resulting in an off-the-charts increase in touchbacks on kickoffs. In a Chicago Tribune story, the NFL indicated that concussions were down 50 percent this year. Ever the opportunists, don’t be shocked to see more teams using a roster spot on a kickoff specialist, as it would appear the change is here to stay.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.