Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Did the Vikings do enough to get back to the postseason?

Off-Season Report Card: Minnesota Vikings

A disastrous injury to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seemed to derail any playoff hopes for the Minnesota Vikings. Desperate, they traded for Sam Bradford and while he had a good season, the team’s playoff dreams didn’t come to fruition with an 8-8 record.

But it was a transition year for this Vikings squad. With Adrian Peterson sidelined and offensive coordinator Norv Turner quitting during the season, it’s a lot to deal with. It was a real accomplishment to finish .500, but head coach Mike Zimmer can’t expect the same participation trophy for a non-playoff season this year. Did he and general manager Rick Spielman do enough to get back to double-digit wins? Let’s poke around and find out.

Free Agents Kept

Terence Newman, Cornerback

Adam Thielen, Wide Receiver

Free Agents/Players Gained

Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, formerly of the New England Patriots

Datone Jones, Outside Linebacker, formerly of the Green Bay Packers

Latavius Murray, Running Back, formerly of the Oakland Raiders

Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, formerly of the Detroit Lions

Mike Remmers, Offensive Tackle, formerly of the Carolina Panthers

Free Agents/Players Lost

Audie Cole, Middle Linebacker, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars

Rhett Ellison, Tight End, signed with the New York Giants

Charles Johnson, Wide Receiver, signed with the Carolina Panthers

Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, signed with the Carolina Panthers

Jeff Locke, Punter, signed with the Indianapolis Colts

Captain Munnerlyn, Cornerback, signed with the Carolina Panthers

Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, signed with the Oakland Raiders

Adrian Peterson, Running Back, signed with the New Orleans Saints

Andre Smith, Offensive Tackle, signed Cincinnati Bengals

2017 NFL Draft

Round 2: Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Florida State

Round 3: Pat Elflein, Center, Ohio State

Round 4: Jaleel Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Iowa

Round 4: Ben Gedeon, Inside Linebacker, Michigan

Round 5: Rodney Adams, Wide Receiver, USF

Round 5: Danny Isidora, Offensive Guard, Miami

Round 6: Bucky Hodges, Tight End, Virginia Tech

Round 7: Stacy Coley, Wide Receiver, Miami

Round 7: Ifeadi Odenigbo, Defensive Lineman, Northwestern

Round 7: Elijah Lee, Linebacker, Kansas State

Round 7: Jack Tocho, Cornerback, N.C. State

Proposed Offensive Starters

QB: Sam Bradford

RB: Latavius Murray

WR: Adam Thielan

WR: Stefon Diggs

WR: Laquon Treadwell

TE: Kyle Rudolph

LT: Riley Reiff

RT: Mike Remmers

LG: Alex Boone

RG: Joe Berger

C: Nick Easton

Offensive Outlook

Sam Bradford joined the Vikings right before the season in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. While it didn’t result in the Super Bowl run the Vikings hoped for, Bradford still had his best year as a pro. He set a new NFL completion percentage record with 71.6 and threw for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns with five interceptions. While Bridgewater has been seen throwing some in OTAs, no one is expecting him to be ready for anything but sweatpants this season.

At wideout the team brought in Michael Floyd and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him and Laquon Treadwell starting on the outside before the season’s over with Stefon Diggs in the slot. Adam Theilan is a solid wideout though and Jarius Wright is decent off the bench.

The biggest hole in the offense coming into the spring was at running back. Minnesota brought in free agent Latavius Murray from the Oakland Raiders, but more importantly, they drafted Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. He’s primed to be an NFL star and will put Murray to a reserve role by November.

While the Vikings had good skill players, their offensive line was in shambles so that’s where they spent their free agent money. Riley Rieff and Mike Remmers are both new starters at left and right tackle respectively. I’ve slid Joe Berger in at right guard this season. He started 14 games last year at all three interior line positions. Alex Boone returns at left guard and Nick Easton keeps the job he earned in the final five games of last season at center.

Proposed Defensive Starters

DE: Danielle Hunter

DE: Everson Griffen

DT: Linval Joseph

DT: Shemar Stephen

OLB: Anthony Barr

OLB: Datone Jones

MLB: Eric Kendricks

CB: Trae Waynes

CB: Xavier Rhodes

FS: Harrison Smith

SS: Andrew Sendejo

Defensive Outlook

Defense was the strength of this team, so they didn’t have much to fix. The Vikings finished the season No. 6 in points allowed and No. 3 in yardage. The only loss was at outside linebacker with Chad Greenway retiring. The team snagged Datone Jones from NFC North rival Green Bay and will plug him into Greenway’s spot. Erik Kendricks led the team in tackles last season with 139 to go with 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recover and nine passes defended. Anthony Barr had a solid season outside with 70 tackles of his own, two sacks, four passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a pick.

At cornerback, I’ve plugged in Trae Waynes as a starter and moved Terrence Newman to the bench. This has to be Minnesota’s plan, but they were sure to keep Newman as insurance in case it doesn’t work out. Xavier Rhodes on the other side has become one of the best corners in the game. Harrison Smith, like Rhodes, is one of the best players at his position and strong safety Andrew Sendeho is getting there. He had 77 tackles last season, half a sack, two fumble recoveries, four passes defended and two interceptions.

Up front, the Vikings have an underrated group. Danielle Hunter posted 54 tackles, 12.5 sacks, a safety, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a pass defense last season. Everson Griffen had 48 tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a pass defense. Linval Joseph is probably the secret weapon on the inside. He was third on the team with 77 tackles as an interior defensive lineman and added four sacks and three forced fumbles. Shemar Stephen is likely a placeholder, but he’s a solid NFL player. Last year he had 39 tackles himself.

Grade: B-

The Vikings addressed their biggest needs in free agency and the draft, rebuilding an offensive line and adding two NFL starting level running backs. There weren’t a lot of holes on this team to begin with, but they lack a real offensive superstar with Adrian Peterson gone. They do have a couple of guys, Treadwell and Cook, that could turn into that.

O/U wins: 8.5

Preseason Schedule

Week 1: at Buffalo Bills

Week 2: at Seattle Seahawks

Week 3: San Francisco 49ers

Week 4: Miami Dolphins

Regular Season Schedule

Week 1: New Orleans Saints

Week 2: at New Orleans Saints

Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 4: Detroit Lions

Key game: Last season the Lions swept the Vikings, including an overtime game at home. It turns out those two wins put Detroit into the playoffs and knocked the Vikings out. Getting the Lions here at home and winning convincingly could set up at least a Wild Card berth at the end of the year.

Week 5: at Chicago Bears

Week 6: Green Bay Packers

Week 7: Baltimore Ravens

Week 8: at Cleveland Browns

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: at Washington Redskins

Week 11: Los Angeles Rams

Week 12: at Detroit Lions

Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons

Week 14: at Carolina Panthers

Week 15: Cincinnati Bengals

Week 16: at Green Bay Packers

Week 17: Chicago Bears

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Minnesota Vikings
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About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a sportswriter, photographer and humorist. You can email him (and you should) at adamgreenetfm@gmail.com

About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a sportswriter, photographer and humorist. You can email him (and you should) at adamgreenetfm@gmail.com

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