Former Coach Picks Vikings at 8-8
Former Minnesota Vikings assistant coach
Dean Dalton now follows the NFL while working for national and local
media. In an interview with Sports Headliners, he predicted the 2007
Vikings will have an 8-8 record, improving on last season’s 6-10 but
will finish in third place in the NFC North behind the Chicago Bears (12-4),
Green Bay Packers (9-7) and just ahead of the fast improving Detroit
Lions (7-9). Last season the records of those teams were 13-3, 8-8
The Bears, who lost to Indianapolis in the
Super Bowl, are superior or compare favorably to their division rivals
in all elements that make up a football team, including coaching,
according to Dalton. Questions about running backs, defensive line and
special teams moderate optimism about the Packers who did close the
season with momentum winning four straight games. Dalton likes a lot of
the Vikings personnel but has concerns about the quarterbacks and wide
receivers. He likes the Lions’ wide receivers and the potential of the
defensive line, sees Detroit as on "the bubble” for a winning season and
closing the gap between themselves, the Packers and Vikings.
Although the NFC North is certainly not the
best of the NFL’s divisions, and the Bears are the “class of the North,”
according to Dalton, the competition will be intense. Dalton identified
potential key developments important to the success of the division’s
With a new defensive coordinator in Bob
Babich and an off-season contract hassle involving linebacker
Lance Briggs, Dalton will watch the Bears’ defense to see if it
continues the high level of play that helped Chicago rank fifth in
fewest NFL yards per game. Then, too, there is the “erratic play” of
quarterback Rex Grossman. “The Bears don’t need him to
win games,” Dalton said. “They just need him not to put them in bad
positions. He has the capability of being a playmaker at the
quarterback position but he’s also showed a lot of inexperience and poor
decision making last year that cost his team. ….”
The Vikings? “The key is going to be the
maturation and productivity of Tarvaris Jackson, without a doubt,”
Dalton answered. Jackson will be in his second season having
played in four late games in 2006. His
numbers looked like this: 81 pass attempts, 47 completions, two
touchdown passes and four interceptions.
Dalton is an admirer of rookie running back
Adrian Peterson and expects him to “help take pressure off”
Jackson, allowing the young quarterback not to be responsible for so
much of the team’s offensive production. Dalton also said the“talented offensive line” needs to be “much
better” in pass protection and run blocking.
Rookie running back Brandon Jackson
could be a key to the Packer season. He will compete with Vernand
Morency to replace the now departed Ahman Green.
Dalton said the Packers need to run the ball effectively to complement
the team’s No. 1 asset, the passing and leadership of quarterback
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson was the
No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and is expected to perform spectacularly for
the Lions. However, Dalton said the key to the team’s offensive
production will also be the line “which was horrific last year.” A
better performance by the line will also help another need area, the
running game, according to Dalton.
Dalton was asked who he
believes are the most valuable players on each of the division’s
teams. He said the Bears’ Brian Urlacher is “arguably the best
middle linebacker” in the NFL and his choice as Chicago’s MVP. No
surprise either is Dalton’s pick in Green Bay, Favre.
“How Favre goes, so go the Packers, and he
should have an improved year,” Dalton said. “His line will be much
26, has emerged as one of the two or three best defensive tackles in the
NFL, according to Dalton. He had a major impact last season as the
Vikings performed as the best defense against the run in the league.
Dalton describes the 6-5, 311 pound Williams as a “force” inside.
Detroit’s Mike Furrey,
a converted safety, is an interesting choice as team MVP. He emerged as
a productive wide receiver last year catching six touchdown passes and
Dalton sees important work ahead for the 30-year-old journeyman.
“He will be a big contributor to helping
Calvin Johnson, their new top draft pick who they want to be the
franchise MVP," Dalton said. “By Furrey being so productive it opened things up for
wide receiver Roy Williams on the other side last year.“
Dalton will detail
NFC North team-by-team ranking of
quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive and defensive linemen,
linebackers, defensive backs, special teams and coaches in the next
"The key is going to be the
maturation and productivity of Tarvaris Jackson, without a
Dean Dalton on the Vikings
Watch List for MIAC Football
There’s plenty to look forward to when
football begins later this summer. From outstanding players to predicted
standings, here’s a capsule look:
Senior quarterbacks Alex Kofoed, Saint
John’s, Matt Penz, St. Olaf, and Ben Wetzell, Bethel, will
lead three of the best teams in the conference. Kofoed has been a first
team all-conference choice the last two years and was a second team
selection as a freshman. Penz led the MIAC in passing last year and
returns the majority of his offensive helpers including senior wide outs
Horace Gant and Andrew Schmiesing (baseball outfielder and
11th round pick of the Minnesota Twins last spring). Wetzell
led Bethel to a MIAC co-title with Saint John’s and was third in the
conference in rushing and fifth in total offense, but he will be without
all-American running back Phil Porta who graduated.
Protecting those three star quarterbacks will be three senior linemen
who were first team all-MIAC last year.
are Bethel center
6-2, 280, Saint John’s center Andrew Salvato, 6-1, 290, and St.
6-1, 305. The trio will again be three of the best in the conference,
and could possibly end up on some all-American teams.
Conference defensive players attracting notice include St. Olaf
defensive end James Bechdol, Saint John’s junior lineman Nick
Gunderson, Gustavus senior linebacker Jared Sieling, and
Bethel senior safety Brandon Carr. All four were first team all-MIAC
last season and NCAA Division III all-region selections. Bechdol led St. Olaf and was
fourth in the conference in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (14).
Gunderson was second in sacks (9.5) and first in the conference in
tackles for loss (18.5). Sieling was fourth in the MIAC in tackles
(63). Carr led the conference in interceptions (seven) and was second
in passes defended (13).
All-region last season, St. Olaf senior kicker and punter Paul
Fortman could be an all-American in 2007. Fortman led the conference
in punting (40.2 yards) and in scoring among kickers with 51 points ( second
place had 27).
predicted order of finish in the conference: St. Olaf, Saint John's,
Bethel, Concordia, St. Thomas, Carleton, Gustavus, Hamline, Augsburg.
Quarterback Alex Kofoed of
Saint John's has been first team all-conference the last two years.
St. Olaf and Saint John's are top picks to win the MIAC.
Following yesterday’s win over Oakland and series sweep, the Twins are
now a season high six games over .500. Justin Morneau has hit
safely in 10 of his last 11 games, batting .395 (17-43) with nine runs,
two doubles, five homers and 15 RBI in that span. The Twins drew
134,348 total fans during the Oakland series, an average of 33,587 per
ostrich race and also a camel race will be part of Canterbury Park’s
first Extreme Race Day presented by SPAM on Sunday afternoon. Various
horse races featuring something out of the ordinary will be staged
including a horse racing first, “The Battle of the Surfaces.” The race
will feature as many as 20 horses competing against each other at 1 and
1/16th miles on the turf and the dirt simultaneously.
Wagering isn’t allowed on the camel and ostrich races.
Sporting News gave its opinions on which NFL training camps will be
the most grueling using a 1-5 scale, with five “being boot camp.” The
Lions received a five, the Vikings a four, Packers a two and the Bears a
Gopher athletic director Joel Maturi wrote via e-mail that a magazine report
that Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis was offered the
Minnesota football job last winter isn't accurate. Maturi wrote that
Tim Brewster was the only person offered the position as head
Gophers, for the first time since they went to Alexandria in the 1970's,
will practice off campus when they open their pre-season practice at
Saint John’s in Collegeville next month. Here’s Brewster talking about
the upcoming six days at Saint John’s: “This will be a wonderful
opportunity for our football team to spend time and come together as a
family on one of the great college campuses in the country. It also will
be a special honor for us to practice where the winningest head coach in
college football history resides in the legendary coach
Gopher basketball coach Tubby Smith will be the grand marshal in
Wednesday night’s Aquatennial Torchlight Parade.
President and general manager
today announced the Minnesota Wild has re-signed right wing Matt Foy,
Erik Reitz, right wing Aaron Voros and right wing Joel
Ward to 2007-08 contracts. All four played at the Wild's
Houston farm team last year.
Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Twins
John M. Williams, DDS
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