There are many ways to sum up the Vikings’ 2016 season…as long as it ends with yet another “crash and burn” story like only the Vikings can conjure up, then you’ve done your part in first witnessing the debacle, then lamenting over it.
The 2016 campaign for the Vikings were highly anticipated to be the year that they were to make a deep run in the playoffs, picking up where they left off from the soul crushing defeat to Seattle that ended the 2015 season.Yes the Vikings were primed and ready. Then something happened…Teddy Bridgewater went down in a freak non-contact injury and in an instant he was lost for the year. Suddenly the 2016 season was already in jeopardy before it had even begun.
Knowing the window of opportunity closes fast in the NFL, a window the Vikings had thought was now open, they made a daring unexpected move. Rick Speilman pulled off a trade that would send Sam Bradford-the then “starter” for the Eagles to Minnesota for our first round pick and a pick to be determined by how far the Vikings had gotten in the playoffs. Of course we now know they didn’t get there, so it became a fourth round pick.
Many pundits-and fans alike hated this trade because of the drafts picks that were given up in particular a coveted first round pick. I am not one of those people. If the Vikings thought they were Superbowl contenders,they needed to make a move to give them the best opportunity to reach that goal…of course it didn’t happen, but no one could have predicted the injury riddled season that was lying ahead-and ready to attack.
After a 5-0 start, it seemed that the bold move would pay instant dividends as pundits and fans alike were talking Vikings-playoffs-Superbowl…but the injuries had just begun to rear it’s ugly head. The offensive line took the biggest hit, although that had actually started in OTA’s with Phil Loadholt retiring, John Sullivan being released and Mike Harris unable to play with an undisclosed illness. Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, and newly acquired Jake Long-all starters, were all placed on the IR list. Add Sharrif Floyd to the IR as well as he never saw the field of play in 2016. IR was a very bad word in Viking-land in 2016.
Many key players also went down with varying injuries..most notably Peterson, which required knee surgery. Fusco, Boone, Berger, Sirles, and Clemmings also lost playing time due to injuries/concussions. Unfortunately Diggs had knee and hip issues down the stretch that limited him in the final games. Sherels also missed games with an ankle injury. There were other assorted injuries here and there but you get the picture-the injury bug struck hard on the Vikings in 2016.
There were some bright spots though, as we all witnessed elite play and became “Hooked on a Thielen” for real. At the start of OTA’s and into training camp, Adam Thielan wasn’t on anyone’s radar as the next top-tier Wide Receiver, which is probably why Laquon Treadwell was likely targeted in the first round.Take into account the unknown future of Cordarrelle Patterson and the WR group consisted of Stefon Diggs…and Jarius Wright.
By the time training camp was over, Thielen overtook everyone except Diggs. What a remarkable story for the local kid! Now the Vikings have a legitamate #1 and #2 receiver. At this point Treadwell can only hope to be the #3 guy…a first round pick! Well look at it this way, Charles Johnson won’t be on the roster next year.
But alas, there just weren’t enough bright spots to shine through the dark cloud of reality, that was the Vikings season. So, to make a long story short, as the injuries plied up, so did the losses. The Vikings managed to finish the season at just 8-8…third place in the NFC North…and a harsh reminder that 16 games is a long season that, from start to finish can bring elation or despair in every game. How ironic is it that when the Bradford trade happened, the biggest worry was his injury-prone history…but after 15 consecutive games played, he literally was the last man standing…
And now as we look forward to the upcoming draft and the shape of the team for the 2017 season, lets tale a peek into what we may see before the first snap:
I have always been a huge fan of Chad Greenway-since day one. He is the epitomy of what a coach and a fan wants in every ball player; be a hard worker, be a role model and leader in the locker room, be involved in the community, be unselfish, be thankful for the opportunity you’ve been given-and the reward, and of course be a great player. Greenway was all of these, and so much more.
Mike Zimmer has stated he would love to have Greenway back for one more year, but judging by the way he saluted the fans at the last game of the season, he may have made up his mind already. I hope he stays…
Just because you are under contract doesn’t mean a thing in today’s league. Adrian Peterson is one of those players. He made it perfectly clear he would love to remain a Viking-but understands it’s a business…he wants his money, and Speilman will want to restructure the contract to reflect his age, while keeping in mind he has only played roughly one season of football in the past three seasons.
I expect Peterson to be traded for a second or third round pick.
Brian Robison was quoted as saying he expects Danielle Hunter to take over the starting position next year-he is right, but the question is will Robison be willing to be a backup? I hope so, he has always given it his all and understood the team approach to getting at the QB.
As for TJ Clemmings-release him ASAP he has poor technique and flails worse than a pantomime feeling for an invisible wall.
Other players to mention are Munnerlyn, Newman, Patterson, Floyd, and Kalil. Out of these players I think Floyd has the biggest chance of being released.
Munnerlyn and Newman can be kept for depth, Patty may have found his niche, although he will never be a great route runner, and we need all the help we can get on the O-Line, so Kalil stays.
Remember anyone is expendable-there will always be the unexpected move we never saw coming…
I question Tony Sparano. Zimmer brought him in to bring nastiness to the Offensive Line, but unless you think playing “Pat-a-Cake” with the opposing defensive lineman, is acceptable than you would agree that we seemed to take a step in the wrong direction from last year (which was bad enough.) Perhaps it was a product of the carousel that was the offensive line as there were 10 different combinations on the O-Line throughout the year.
But still, technique is technique right? But what do I know-nothing but what I see on the TV and yell at the TV! I wouldn’t be surprised if Sparano is shown the door…we’ll see.
Pat Shurmur took a more conservative approach to the offense after the Turner walkout. Resulting in three step drop backs and quicker releases.This was both good and bad for the offense. It was good because it helped keep Bradford upright much more often, but bad because some throws-especially on third down and long were 3-5 yard passes, which ended in punt after punt.
Again, perhaps the play calling was a product of the offensive line woes. But one thing for sure is in the NFL you have to be aggressive when you have the ball on offense-there is no reason why you can’t have a stout defense and a high-octane offense. Lets get it done!!!
I think it’s time for Zimmer to relinquish his duties as the primary defensive play caller and let the Defensive Coordinator George Edwards assume play calling. It seemed evident that Zimmer was overwhelmed at times with being a head coach and calling the defensive plays…lets Edwards have a crack at it-and keep (an eye) on him.
Mike Priefer continues bring success to Special Teams-as a whole. We all know the Blair Walsh debacle and the up and down season of Punter Jeff Locke, but all in all, Special Teams remains special for the Vikings.
I think Mike Zimmer now realizes this is a make-or-break year for him regarding his future status as a head coach for the Vikings. I am in full support of him, but I think we all saw some chinks in the armor this year that need to be hammered out. I think he will right the ship and get the team back to their winning ways. He is committed, and is simply too good of a coach to fail…even the “Great Hoodie” himself had a rough start as Head Coach.
I know some people give Rick Speilman a hard time and think he should be fired, but I think he has brought in great talent-remember, Zimmer gives his input with what he wants as he shapes the team-it’s a collaborative effort, although, in the end Speilman pulls the strings. No one can predict injuries-this year was defined by just that unfortunately.
Most people think its an impossible task to “fix” the offensive line in one season-with no first round pick to boot…but, just like Zimmer said he wouldn’t bet against Teddy Bridgewater coming back…I wouldn’t bet against Rick Speilman to get us right back in the mix of contenders in 2017. Between the Draft and Free Agency, there will be moves made for the betterment of the Minnesota Vikings, and the ship will sail mightily once more! Who knows…the Superbowl will be played in Minnesota next year…
Do I hear “Purple Reign”