Tag Archives: Vikings

Minnesota Vikings 2015 Preview

In his first year as head coach, Mike Zimmer was left thinking “What if?”

What if, Adrian Peterson was able to play more than one game?

What if, the Vikings started Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback from day one?

The Vikings finished the season 7-9, but four of those losses came at a point differential of three points or less.  Most Vikings fans look at the last five games the Vikings played though and consider optimism.  They went 3-2 and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seemed to get better every week.

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This season Bridgewater gets the help he didn’t have last year with the return of running back Adrian Peterson starting in the backfield.  Peterson has earned the right for people not to doubt his abilities, no matter the wear and tear or age of the veteran running back.   Last season Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Asiata, filled in admirably splitting carries in Peterson’s absence, but let’s be serious – Peterson can do the work of three running backs on a team.   The addition of Peterson, should only be a positive for the even-keeled Bridgewater.  Offensive coordinator Norv Turner must be thrilled because of Peterson returning and a full off-season for tight end Kyle Rudolph to recover from nagging injuries that have plagued him the last two years.

Rudolph would benefit greatly  in a well balanced Norv Turner offense, but the questions come from the threats on the outside.  The Vikings acquired Mike Wallace from Miami, who was pretty much a bust for the Dolphins.  Wallace provides a deep threat but not much else.  The Vikings seem like they got a bust in their own in Cordaralle Patterson, who currently is fourth on the depth chart.  Patterson has all the physical tools, but seemingly lacks the focus and heart (some would say) to be anything more than a big kick returner.  The Vikings return their best receiver from last year Charles Johnson, who started the season on the Cleveland Browns practice squad, so. . . there’s that. . .

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The offensive line might be a continuous work in progress during the season which should bring some cause for concern.  The younger players on the line David Yankey (left guard) and Matt Kalil (left tackle) must show that they can hang in this league or they might be rotation players at best.  Kalil came in with high hopes from USC in 2012 and was looked on as a player who can protect the blindside on this team for a decade.  This might be his last chance.

Defensively the Vikings have veterans up front, who bought into coach Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme and by mid-season were able to put it all together.  Linval Jospeh left the bright lights of New York to come play for Minnesota at about $3.5 million a year and it worked out for both sides.  Last year the Vikings drafted linebacker  Anthony Barr out of UCLA in the first round and this season they supplied him a reunion of sorts by drafting his teammate out of UCLA Eric Kendricks.  The familiarity between the two athletic linebackers is something to keep an eye on as they both grow in Zimmer’s defense.

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There is a lot to like in the secondary of this defense.  Last year, as a rookie Antoine Exum was adamant about not wanting to convert from corner back to safety, but this year it looks like the he will be playing safety alongside Harrison Smith who has a motor that doesn’t stop.  Reports from Vikings camp has been that the staff is very pleased at the leap in maturity Exum has taken.  In front of the safeties are two first round picks at corner back.  Xavier Rhodes (2013) and Trae Waynes (this year’s eleventh pick).  Waynes will probably start at nickel corner and battle for that second spot with veteran Captain Munnerlin.  If Rhodes is a quick learner, this is the kind of secondary that can cover a lot of ground against even the best passing attacks in the league.

Everyone knew, Mike Zimmer was a great hire for Minnesota when they made the change last year.   He says all the right things publicly and has veterans and rookies buying into his philosophies.  The defense should be fine this year while the offense is going to need a lot of help from  that offensive line.  Although having Peterson back is great, Bridewater is going to need one of these receivers to become his go-to-guy.

Predicted Record: 9-7

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Adrian Peterson

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

6 Destinations For Adrian Peterson

With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson now reinstated to play in the league, it’s obvious there will be many teams interested in gaining his services.  Only issue is, Peterson is still under contract with the Minnesota Vikings, a team that he feels did him wrong when he was going through his child abuse issues last season.   Whatever verdict the jury of public opinion holds on Peterson, in football terms – he has served for his crime and is now ready to play.   Peterson is thirty years old and plays a position in which 30 is considered “done.”   Peterson of course is a different kind of athlete, super-human in strength and recovery ability – he’s like the Hulk and Wolverine combined.  Here is a list of six teams that could and should be in play for Peterson’s services.

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6.  Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones’ crew goes here just because it’s the team linked to Peterson for some time now.  Peterson is from the state of Texas and played his college ball at Oklahoma, the alma-mater of owner Jerry Jones.   The Cowboys lost their star running back Demarco Murray to free agency and have enough money under the cap to make something happen if this is truly Peterson’s desired destination.  The problem with Dallas is that – they have other needs that need a lot more attention – mainly on defense.  Dallas has the best offensive line in football and a nice running back stable under contract as is.   To put more money into this offense really doesn’t make much sense when they have tools to make it happen on that side of the ball already.

5.  Cincinnati Bengals – Before people speak of their admiration for the dual running back threat of Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill, let’s be real.  They are both nice backs but Adrian Peterson is great – even at 30.  If Adrian really plays hard ball with the Vikings, the Bengals should be willing to part with a draft pick and one of these backs (presumably Hill) – the Bengals are a team that just make the playoffs and can’t do much else.  It’s becoming a common and annoying trend in the NFL and the fact that Marvin Lewis still has a head coaching job is beyond rational thought.  Andy Dalton usually takes the blame for the team’s losses but he played pretty well in the first round loss last season with about half of his offense actually able to play.  The Bengals really need to shake up things and they have the money and tools to make a game changer like this happen for their franchise.

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4. New England Patriots –  Why wouldn’t the sneakiest team in the league give this a shot?  They are limited with cap room, but with the possibility of Peterson maybe restructuring (or the Patriots cutting ties with folks abruptly like they always do. . .) there could be a deadly deal waiting in the near future.  The Patriots have a very limited window to win another championship with Tom Brady and having a running back like Peterson, helps protect Brady for another grueling NFL season.   A player at the end of his career, like Peterson, would most likely be elated at the idea of playing for a team with a championship pedigree.   The Pats have the last pick in the first round and if the Vikings really want to hold out for a first round pick for Peterson, this might be the most realistic chance they have for that.

3.  Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are another team, much like the Cowboys that can use help on the defensive side, but his is a team that might want to make up for their past mistakes.  Remember the Colts were the ones that traded a first round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson – yeah, that’s called “a swing and a miss.”   The Colts have been depending on Andrew Luck for every and anything that is offensively related, Peterson could ease the young man’s load by a bunch and probably help elevate Luck to his best year yet.  Pagano wants to run the ball at heart anyhow and Peterson would be in a position with an elite quarterback and a team with playoff aspirations.

2.  Oakland Raiders – When the Raiders name came up for the Peterson sweepstakes it seemed like a joke, because for the most part that’s what Raiders rumors are – terrible, terrible jokes.  The Raiders, financially are in in a position where they could “over-pay” Peterson if they wanted to.  For Peterson, this takes him to a team in the midst of rebuilding and working up a second year quarterback in Derek Carr.  If anybody knows anything about football though, it’s that historically, Oakland is where players go to die.  Big name players at the ends of their careers end up here and they usually fizzle out fast.  For the Raiders it would sell  jerseys, but they still wouldn’t be a playoff team, so this move makes little sense  –  which is the Raider way. . .

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1.  Minnesota Vikings – Although Peterson and the Vikings have a shaky relationship as of now, the easiest things for both sides would be to apologize and move on.   Peterson is quite frankly the best player in Vikings history and it would mean something for the franchise to keep him there till his career is over.  The Vikings are a team that are not in a bad spot to make a playoff run this upcoming season and from a public relations standpoint – Peterson can really do something for his image by staying with this team when they need him most.  The Vikings won 7 games last season and with Peterson in the backfield, they could very well be a team who can win 9 games this season.   Second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seemed to get better as the year went along and that was without elite help around him.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio