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Article: 7 Questions the Minnesota Vikings Need to Answer

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#1 Tim Arcand

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 07:19 PM

The rollercoaster ride that is the Minnesota Vikings 2016 season is almost over. It started with the initial low from the shock of losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before the season started, followed quickly by the apex high of a five-game winning streak to open the season. Since then it's been mostly lows. The bottom fell out of this ride on Christmas Eve when it was revealed the Vikings' defensive backs decided to forgo the game plan on how to defense Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson and run the show their way.

According to a report from NFL.com, cornerback Xavier Rhodes said, "Us as DBs felt like we could handle him. That's how we felt as DBs that we could stay on our side and cover him." Nelson finished with nine receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns.Not only did the 38-25 loss to the Packers end any chances of making the playoffs, it left a lot of questions that need to be answered as the team finishes the season with a meaningless game against the Bears on New Year's Day.

When did head coach Mike Zimmer lose this team?
Perhaps it started when the Vikings were heading into their bye week. Reports popped up of Zimmer placing stuffed animals around the team's headquarters in Eden Prairie along with a sign that said, “Fat Cats Get Slaughtered.” Intended as a motivational message, it quickly spiraled out of control and became a distracting topic.

It could have been building through the season with Zimmer's tendency to call out players in press conferences, rankling their delicate egos. He questioned defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd on his knee injury stating “We didn’t think it was going to be, like, six years worth of hurt.” in a story from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He also accused outside linebacker Anthony Barr of having a tendency to coast in another report.

Can the damage be repaired?
Already following the initial reports of mutiny we can see a lot of backpedaling by the players. Rhodes called the incident for of a miscommunication than a mutiny.

In a tweet on Christmas Day Rhodes said, "It amazing that ppl believe everything they hear. It's more to the story. To all who knows me knows I obey authority. Merry Christmas to all."

If it's a non-story, then the best way to prove it would be for the team, especially the defense to come out and play like they did in September when the defense held opponents to 12.6 points per game. If they don't, then Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman will have some weeding out to do.

Is Zimmer's job safe?
After taking over a team that finished 5-10-1 in 2014, Zimmer was able to win a division title in only two years. He looked to be the no-nonsense head coach the team needed to take back the asylum from the inmates.

With the implosion, this season leading to at best, an 8-8 record, perhaps Zimmer's tactics are wearing thin. After all, even Leslie Frazier was able to lead the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012 with a 10-6 record in his second full season as the head coach.

Prior to the back-to-back embarrassing losses to the Colts and Packers, a report from CBSSports.com indicated Zimmer's job was safe. "Considering all he dealt with, a change would be stunning." It will be interesting to see how that opinion changes over the next few weeks.

Without a 1st-round draft pick can the Vikings improve?
After trading away their first-round pick in 2017, how can the Vikings improve with so many needs in the offensive line and the need for depth at linebacker and running back?

The biggest approach will be to get everyone back healthy and ready to go for 2017 and continue to develop the younger players on the roster. Actually, this might be the only approach with a look back at the team's recent top draft picks.

Here's a look at their top pick since 2011:

2011: Quarterback Christian Ponder—now a backup for the 2-13 49ers.
2012: Left tackle Matt Kalil—a great rookie season has been unmatched. Only the presence of TJ Clemmons still makes Kalil look very promising.

2013: Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd—the comment above says it all.
2014: Outside linebacker Anthony Barr—"coasting", enough said.
2015: Cornerback Trae Waynes—in his second season finally seeing some playing time due to injuries.
2016: Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell—one reception for 15 yards, again enough said.

Of course, on the other side of the ledger, the Vikings have found some gems later in the draft. Most recently in 2015 when they added linebacker Eric Kendricks (2nd round), defensive end Danielle Hunter (3rd round) and wide receiver Stefon Diggs (5th round). Each leading the team—Kendricks with 99 tackles, Hunter with 12 sacks and Diggs with 84 receptions.

It will be up to Spielman to excel at his wheeling and dealing to pick up additional draft picks and find talent that makes this team better.

What veterans might be facing their last game with the Vikings?
The Vikings have some very interesting roster decisions to make this offseason.

Atop the list is running back Adrian Peterson. The team's all-time leading ground gainer has only played in all 16 games once since the 2012 season. Set to make $11.75 million in 2017, it will take a renegotiated contract to keep him in purple.

Set to become a free agent in 2017, linebacker Chad Greenway hasn't decided if he will return for another season, it would be his 11th season—all with the Vikings. A story by Lindsey Young from Vikings.com quotes Greenway, "But there will be plenty of time for reflection after the season, and it isn’t over yet."
Of course, the decision is not entirely up to Greenway, the Vikings will need to see value in bringing back the 33-year-old.

Terrence Newman, the age-defying cornerback playing at the age of 38, has made nine starts for the Vikings this season. Newman has followed Zimmer from Dallas to Cincinnati and Minnesota. Excluding kickers, Newman is second only to quarterback Tom Brady (39) as the oldest active player in the NFL. While age and gravity will eventually end his career, his part in the "miscommunication" on Christmas Eve could hasten his departure from the team. Currently, Newman is unsigned for 2017.

Another player set to be a free agent in 2017, is wide receiver and kick-return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson. Still playing on his rookie contract, the Vikings refused to extend his contract this offseason. That may have been the wake-up call he needed. He's been a greater part of the offense this season with a career-high eight starts resulting in 51 receptions—the most in this four-year career. He also added another kick-off return for a touchdown, tying with Percy Harvin for the most in team history. At only 25, Patterson has a huge upside in his versatility. The Vikings must find a way to retain his services.

Another wide receiver whose future is much less certain is Jarius Wright. He entered the season as the most seasoned receiver on the roster. That translated to only six receptions in six games, the fewest in his five seasons. Signed through 2019, Wright is set to make only $2.5 million next season—a reasonable amount that could keep him on the roster for at least another season.

Kalil is also unsigned for 2017. Based on the disaster that Clemmons was at left tackle, Kalil might have some leverage, but not much. Based on the poor draft class for offensive linemen next season, Vikings might be wise to sign him to a one-year contract.

Who will be the starting quarterback in 2017?
This might not be as big of a decision as many people think. There are still some people who think Teddy Bridgewater may not be ready in 2017.

With Sam Bradford signed through 2017, it should be an easy decision. He leads the NFL completing 71.3 percent of his passes. His passer rating of 98.3 surpasses his previous high of 90.9 from 2013, his last season with the Rams. His four interceptions are currently a career low. All of this while playing behind a patched up offensive line.

The decision is an easy one. Whatever problems the Vikings offense has had this season, there are not the fault of Bradford.

What can Bradford do with a complete offseason with the Vikings?
As mentioned above, the odds are good that Bradford heads into the offseason as the team's top quarterback with Bridgewater at the backup. The Vikings are Bradford's third team in three years. After getting out from under the losing ways of the Rams, he's had his best two seasons. In four years with St. Louis he was 18-30-1. A win against the Bears on New Year's Day will give him a 15-15 mark since leaving.

It still falls short of what the expectations are for the first overall pick in the draft, but it's a step in the right direction. Since the incredible season Brett Favre had in 2009 with a 107.2 passer rating, no quarterback has exceeded 90.

Bradford needs only 98 passing yards to exceed his career high in a season of 3,725 yards. Even if he fails to complete a single pass in the Bears game, he will have the third most passing yards of any quarterback since 2004. That season Daunte Culpepper passed for 4,717 yards and in 2009 Farve passed for 4,202.

With a rebuilt and healthy line in front of him, and a full offseason working with the same offensive coordinator, look for Bradford to get better and become a leader on this team.

No doubt there are plenty of other questions that need to be answered this offseason. There will be plenty of speculation leading up to the draft at the end of April. Especially seeing teams like the Giants and Texans, who the Vikings defeated earlier this season, and the Cowboys, who they held to only 17 points, battle their way in the playoffs.

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#2 Dave The Dastardly

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 10:22 PM

Here's some answers; Newman's toast. Zim has to make a statement reinforcing the strange idea that as head coach he's in charge. A DB's gotta go to reestablish that statement and Old Man Newman makes the perfect sacrificial lamb. Waynes will be shot at sunrise. Rhodes gets the picture, but also realizes he now has to cover the opponent's top two receivers... at the same time.

 

AP is history. Too much for too little. Adrian's pride won't let him play for less money so he won't renegotiate. Jerry offers him even less than the Vikes, but AP gets to carry Elliott's mouthguard and towels while serving as the team's mentor; you misbehave he whips you with a switch.

 

Kalil returns at a greatly reduced contract. One-year deal. He's better than Clemmings even if he comes back with only one leg. If nothing else they can move him to guard if they can find a better tackle in the draft.

 

Greenway takes a well-deserved retirement. If he thought the Vikes had a shot at making the SuperDuper Bowl next year he'd consider staying. The way things look right now, that's a far stretch of the imagination. I don't think he smokes dope.

 

Jarius Wright and Treadwell are trade bait. Wright's worth more than Treadwell, but he's been in the doghouse all year for some reason. Might as well trade him for a few bones and let him actually play somewhere else. They might be able to swap Treadwell for a 7th rounder. If they throw in a couple new footballs. But if we include Clemmings in the trade the deal's off. Feeling sorry for the guy, Spielman gets him a job at the airport as a turnstile.

 

With Wright and Treadwell gone, Patterson gets a new contract and suffers immediate pass-pattern amnesia. They start sending him downfield with a seeing-eye dog.

 

Bradford is "The Guy". Bridgewater comes back as the backup. With the way this league goes through QB's you gotta have two. Bradford goes down in Week Two, Bridgewater goes down in Week Four. Both out for the season. Spielman bails Johnny Football out of rehab and he starts Week Five. They start handing out paper bags to the fans; no eye holes. Zims found studying Cleveland's playbook.

 

Shurmer gets demoted to QB coach, Little Norv gets the ax and Zim runs a classified ad looking for anyone with Madden Football experience who can prove he knows a three-yard pass on 3rd and 15 don't cut it.

 

Spielman discovers you can draft offensive lineman and burns three choices on big guys with slow feet and short arms while Zim insists they take at least one interior defensive lineman that that can play with an owie and take up two-blockers. The seldom seen Shariff Floyd is seldom seen. He gets a job with the CIA.

 

Hunter leads the league in sacks, but doesn't get to start and doesn't make All Pro because Zim doesn't think he's ready.

 

Spielman calls Jerry and offers him the whole team for Elliot.

 

My blood pressure reaches new highs, I shoot my TV set and join the nunnery. They don't find out I'm a guy until they catch me chewing snuff and sipping tabernacle wine while watching the Vikes on the pastor's TV while he's out consoling football widows.

 

Once a Viking's fan, always a Vikings fan. You just can't get out of the habit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#3 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 07:13 AM

They will just always be the Vikings. Until they actually win the Super Bowl it's hard to take this franchise seriously.
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#4 Wytefang

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 10:34 AM

A few thoughts:

 

1. Bradford is the real deal and a huge coup for us (at least from what we're seeing so far - putting up these stats behind an awful O-line is absolutely and undeniably impressive).  

2. Crying about a lack of 1st Round pick isn't terribly intelligent as we ended up with a bona fide, and GOOD, starting QB out of it - Bradford appears to be the real deal.  

3. Not going to miss timid Teddy, honestly.  I think we'd seen his peak.  

4. Treadwell does suck but maybe he'll develop.  What a shame that he's been a bust so far though.  Sigh.

5.  Wright's done.  He's been hurt way too much this season and a non-factor.  I was a big fan of his but no longer, time for him to go.

 

6. Cordarrell has done more than well enough to be kept around.  Well done, dude.

7. O-line has to be fixed.  It's the only priority for now.

8.  AND THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT ON MY LIST - actually questioning whether Zim is a good coach or that he could lose his job is sheer idiocy.  He's a great coach.  Period.  That's easy, easy to see.  Fans who start whining about him get what they deserve if that whining leads to his eventual removal or something.  We're quite lucky to have Coach Zimmer.  Dude's a winner and clearly knows how to coach.  

 

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#5 OJ_notTheJuice

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 07:38 PM

A few thoughts:

1. Bradford is the real deal and a huge coup for us (at least from what we're seeing so far - putting up these stats behind an awful O-line is absolutely and undeniably impressive).

2. Crying about a lack of 1st Round pick isn't terribly intelligent as we ended up with a bona fide, and GOOD, starting QB out of it - Bradford appears to be the real deal.

3. Not going to miss timid Teddy, honestly. I think we'd seen his peak.

4. Treadwell does suck but maybe he'll develop. What a shame that he's been a bust so far though. Sigh.

5. Wright's done. He's been hurt way too much this season and a non-factor. I was a big fan of his but no longer, time for him to go.

6. Cordarrell has done more than well enough to be kept around. Well done, dude.

7. O-line has to be fixed. It's the only priority for now.

8. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT ON MY LIST - actually questioning whether Zim is a good coach or that he could lose his job is sheer idiocy. He's a great coach. Period. That's easy, easy to see. Fans who start whining about him get what they deserve if that whining leads to his eventual removal or something. We're quite lucky to have Coach Zimmer. Dude's a winner and clearly knows how to coach.


You watched Bradford all season and came away with him being less timid than Teddy?? Crazy

#6 Vanimal46

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 09:45 PM

Not sure when Zimmer lost the team this year. After the TNF game vs the Cowboys the defense/team gave up on the season.

They'll have to strike gold in the later rounds of the draft and be creative to improve w/o the 1st round pick.

Vets who are gone:

-AP, Greenway (retire), Newman (retire), Wright, Asiata, Andre Smith, Hill, Clemmings, Fusco

Vets who may surprisingly leave:

-Robison (cap casualty or retire), Sherels, Rudolph (cap casualty), Floyd (cap casualty)

Bradford's success depends entirely on rebuilding the OL. Which has to be priority #1-10 this offseason.

#7 TheLeviathan

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 09:50 PM

I see them bringing back Clemmings and Newman.  Clemmings can be moved inside or provide depth at RT, you won't cut a guy as cheap as him.  I don't see Rudolph being cut either, much to my chagrin.

 

But this team should have close to 50M if they cut Floyd, Peterson, Wright, and Fusco.


#8 Vanimal46

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 12:21 PM

I see them bringing back Clemmings and Newman. Clemmings can be moved inside or provide depth at RT, you won't cut a guy as cheap as him. I don't see Rudolph being cut either, much to my chagrin.

But this team should have close to 50M if they cut Floyd, Peterson, Wright, and Fusco.


In regards to Clemmings, I was on your side a few weeks ago. But if everything stays the same, Clemmings will finish as the worst graded T in the last decade... Even that dirt cheap contract is over paying for the value he provides.

I'd rather give someone else that cheap rookie contract and let Clemmings go.
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#9 jtkoupal

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Posted 31 December 2016 - 06:48 PM

Mike Zimmer is not going anywhere. He is not on the hot seat. Once everyone got injured, he did not have enough to work with to be a legitimate contender. The offensive line was too inept to give the team a fighting chance. That performance had a trickle-down effect. Their ineptitude forced the offense into short drives, causing the defense to have to spend the entire game on the field, no crap they slipped toward the end of the year, people!!

 

Jarius Wright should be a cut. He has no trade value and if he isn't going to play, might as well save the $2M+ and invest that in keeping Patterson.

 

Treadwell had a bad year, but that isn't always uncommon for a rookie. It would be foolish to trade him. He will improve.

 

Brian Robison should be traded to open up LE for Hunter and give us another draft pick.

 

I think Bradford is the guy. Bridgewater may never recover 100%. Even if he did, I agree, I wonder how effective he was ever going to be. I like Bradford's arm a lot better than Bridgewater's.

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#10 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 09:32 AM

Mike Zimmer is not going anywhere. He is not on the hot seat. Once everyone got injured, he did not have enough to work with to be a legitimate contender. The offensive line was too inept to give the team a fighting chance. That performance had a trickle-down effect. Their ineptitude forced the offense into short drives, causing the defense to have to spend the entire game on the field, no crap they slipped toward the end of the year, people!!

Jarius Wright should be a cut. He has no trade value and if he isn't going to play, might as well save the $2M+ and invest that in keeping Patterson.

Treadwell had a bad year, but that isn't always uncommon for a rookie. It would be foolish to trade him. He will improve.

Brian Robison should be traded to open up LE for Hunter and give us another draft pick.

I think Bradford is the guy. Bridgewater may never recover 100%. Even if he did, I agree, I wonder how effective he was ever going to be. I like Bradford's arm a lot better than Bridgewater's.


I don't think anyone is going to trade for a guy going into his age 34 season with a $6.6 million cap hit.

#11 Wytefang

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Posted 05 January 2017 - 01:14 PM

 

 

A few thoughts:

1. Bradford is the real deal and a huge coup for us (at least from what we're seeing so far - putting up these stats behind an awful O-line is absolutely and undeniably impressive).

2. Crying about a lack of 1st Round pick isn't terribly intelligent as we ended up with a bona fide, and GOOD, starting QB out of it - Bradford appears to be the real deal.

3. Not going to miss timid Teddy, honestly. I think we'd seen his peak.

4. Treadwell does suck but maybe he'll develop. What a shame that he's been a bust so far though. Sigh.

5. Wright's done. He's been hurt way too much this season and a non-factor. I was a big fan of his but no longer, time for him to go.

6. Cordarrell has done more than well enough to be kept around. Well done, dude.

7. O-line has to be fixed. It's the only priority for now.

8. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT ON MY LIST - actually questioning whether Zim is a good coach or that he could lose his job is sheer idiocy. He's a great coach. Period. That's easy, easy to see. Fans who start whining about him get what they deserve if that whining leads to his eventual removal or something. We're quite lucky to have Coach Zimmer. Dude's a winner and clearly knows how to coach.
 


You watched Bradford all season and came away with him being less timid than Teddy?? Crazy

 

 

 

No, I came away with him being better in nearly every appreciable way, like most of us felt. ;)

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#12 Nemesis of Norm

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 09:33 PM

 

5.  Wright's done.  He's been hurt way too much this season and a non-factor.  I was a big fan of his but no longer, time for him to go.

 

 

 

When was Wright injured? I don't remember him being injured at all.


#13 Nemesis of Norm

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 12:58 PM

 

 

 

5.  Wright's done.  He's been hurt way too much this season and a non-factor.  I was a big fan of his but no longer, time for him to go.

 

 

 

When was Wright injured? I don't remember him being injured at all.

 

 

 

 

Answer: He wasn't. I checked the year's injury report and his worst (and only) injury status for 2016 was "questionable" for the first Chicago game. Why he was rarely seen is a mystery.




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