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Updated: March 17th, 2013 11:31am
Reusse's Reality: Harvin, Winfield blunders

Reusse's Reality: Harvin, Winfield blunders

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by Patrick Reusse
1500ESPN.com

It is astounding to me that somehow the Vikings, even with a 12-year run in this new century that has been largely unimpressive, now have a fan base that gives them the benefit of a doubt in most every circumstance.

The popular theory that they somehow have benefitted from giving up on Percy Harvin, at 24 one of the most-dynamic offensive weapons in NFL, gives me a headache. And it has son Chris, a wiser football obverser than most civilians, swearing off the idea of closely monitoring Vikiings games for the forseeable future.

This applause for the Vikings seems particularly idiotic when you discover the difference in guaranteed money was a mere $7 million between a spectacular Harvin with his best years ahead of him and the capable Greg Jennings, to overreact so quickly to Harvin's unhappiness becomes more absurd.

Forget the idea the Vikings will get a first-round receiver, at No. 23 or No. 25, that will be as dangerous for an opposing defense (or kickoff coverage unit) as Harvin. It's going to happen.

Listen to the people without an agenda who have coached Percy Harvin. No matter the maintenance required, the comment is they never had a better player.

And the other line of bull we're hearing from the Vikings apologists is they were justified in cutting Antoine Winfield because of his refusal to take a pay cut to reflect his "reduced role'' in 2012.

What reduced role would that be? He was among the most-used cornerbacks in the NFL last season. The fact he was able to move into slot as a fantastic tackler was an asset, not a sign of decline.

Winfield had a tremendous comeback season from his injuries in 2011 -- including playing with injury in 2012 and doing so exceptionally.

Here's an assessment from "Football Nation,'' which had Winfield rated as the all-around most-effective cornerback in the NFL. I should have linked to this, but it's more fun to allow the Vikes-were-right-on-Antoine crowd to have every word right here at its disposal:

 1. ANTOINE WINFIELD, Minnesota Vikings

The 35-year-old veteran came back after an injury in 2011 to show he still is an All-Pro caliber player.

Winfield's presence in the run game and in coverage made him a threat on every play.

He tackles like Troy Polamalu and covers like he was 10 years younger than he is.

He was also the top-rated corner in 2010 according to Pro Football Focus and has been a model of consistency for all defensive backs.

He didn't give up a touchdown all year and deterred teams from throwing in his direction.

The Darrelle Revis effect was indeed present all year with Winfield. Quarterbacks had a 74.0 rating when throwing at him, ninth in the league.

He didn't allow big plays as receivers only averaged 9.4 yards a catch against him, fourth best among corners.

He only had three interceptions all year but they were on crucial parts of the field in key situations.

Winfield is notoriously known to be one of the biggest hitters in the league and his run support was No. 1 by a wide margin out of ALL defensive backs in 2012.

No safety got within range of Winfield's effectiveness against the run. He had 101 tackles, including a defensive back high 44 stops.

He stuffed the run game all year with a tenacity not seen anywhere else in the league.

Two penalties all year displayed that Winfield is physically capable of still shadowing the games best at age 35.

His 2012 campaign was one, if not the best year of his career, even with just three interceptions.

Winfield is a physical marvel who has at least three more seasons left in him.

The Vikings are in luck that they have the most complete corner in the NFL going into 2013.

FOOTNOTE: Actually, no, they aren't, because money was more important to GM Rick Spielman than greatness.

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse
In this story: Percy Harvin, Antoine Winfield
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