The Stack is back on a very windy Thursday here in the upper midwest. 60+ mile an hour wind gusts. Yikes. May the shingles stay on the rooftops and not let the cold air in. Enough weather though. We have a couple of headlines to get to so let's see what is in "the stack" for today, Thursday, January 16:
Mike Zimmer new Vikings head coach
And then there was one. One head coaching vacancy remains open (Cleveland Browns) after the Minnesota Vikings hired 57-year old Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to be their new head coach Wednesday. Zimmer has built a strong reputation around the league for the work he has done as a defensive coordinator with the Bengals. He is a Bill Parcells disciple having worked with him in Dallas. He tells it like it is and if you watched HBO's Hard Knocks this summer, you saw first hand the firey passion that Zimmer brings to the table. His players respect him and he gets the most out of them. Zimmer is the exact opposite of Leslie Frazier, whom Zimmer is replacing as Vikings head coach. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Zimmer has a tall task in front of him in Minnesota. This is a team that has no quarterback of the future, multiple question marks in terms of who they re-sign and a defense that isn't that good.
Some critics/experts out there like ESPNs Antonio Pierce and Ben Goessling believe that the Vikings should have gone a different direction and gone with someone who can help the offense, mainly because their quarterback situation is a disaster. They are entitled to their opinion. In my opinion, they're dead wrong and their argument is silly. First off, all of this talk that the Vikings somehow have had a great defense the last few years is wrong. They've been stout against the run (though that has decreased in recent years), but they have been terrible against the pass. Just awful! Part of that is due to playing Cover 2 or Tampa 2. They need to play man to man, blitz a little more. Zimmer will certainly bring that to the table. He will help the defense enormously. Second, the offense isn't a mess. The quarterback situation is a mess. Yes in this day and age, you need a quarterback to have a truly successfull offense, but the Vikings were in the top half of the league in points scored. They have the best running back in the league in Adrian Peterson, a talanted group of wide receivers and tight ends and a decent offensive line. Provide some more depth and get a star quarterback and the offense is set. Zimmer will hire someone who is an offensive guru, someone like Norv Turner who reportedly has received permission to speak with Minnesota. Zimmer will help the defense and hire a genius to help the offense and develop a quarterback. It's not that hard. It's too bad these so called "experts" don't see that. Like I said though, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Overall, this is a great hire by the Vikings. They have to play two years outside at TCF Bank Stadium while their new stadium gets built and there will be growing pains, but there is no doubt in my mind that Zimmer can help turn the Vikings around.
Kershaw strikes it rich
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has struck paydirt. The ace pitcher and the team have agreed to a seven-year deal worth $215 million. That is a hefty price, but if you're the best pitcher in the game and can win 25 games a year, it's worth it. The Dodgers haven't been afraid to throw big money around since new ownership took over the team from Frank McCourt. They've assembled quite a bit of talent on the Dodgers roster. Kershaw had an ERA under two last year going 16-9 (1.83 ERA). If he had a little more offensive help, he would have had even more wins. He's won two of the last three NL Cy Young awards. He's the real deal and the best pitcher in baseball with Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander close behind. The Dodgers had to get a deal done with Kershaw. They did and it is a brilliant move, one that the Dodgers can only hope pays off as they make a legit run towards a World Series title.
Coming up Friday: NFL Championship week game previews and predictions