For each week of the entire 2016 season, Vikings Territory will be offering up some suggestions for the Minnesota Vikings to take into consideration as they prepare for for their upcoming game. It is a way to try and emphasize the possible keys to victory during each week of the regular season.
The Vikings are opening their season in Tennessee this Sunday to face off against the Titans. Less than two weeks ago, Minnesota’s strategy to beat the Titans was likely something completely different than it currently is now.
But a whole season can change in a matter of seconds and it did just that when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down with a season-ending knee injury on August 30th. Now it is up to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and the rest of the team to pick up the pieces and still pursue this team’s ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl.
DO – Start Sam Bradford at quarterback
Minnesota just gave up a 1st round pick for this guy and they are not gong to start him on Sunday? C’mon, the smoke is so abundant at Winter Park these days some may think Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Jerome Simpson have stopped by.
A good Shaun Hill still is not as good as a bad Sam Bradford. If it was, Bradford would not be currently wearing a Vikings jersey.
DON’T – Underestimate DeMarco Murray and think his season with the Eagles meant anything
Murray with the Philadelphia Eagles in might have been the worst match since Britney Spears married that random dude in Vegas.
He is now with a team that is committed to running the ball and Murray has a better chance this season to produce like he did in 2014 when he led the league in rushing. Combined with Titans rookie running back Derrick Henry, Minnesota may have its hands full with the Tennessee rushing attack on Sunday.
DO – Blitz a ton on defense and make Marcus Mariota try and win with his arm
The Titans quarterback is no longer a rookie, but that does not mean he is capable of leading his team to victory by himself like a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. Maybe one day, but Zimmer should do his best to confuse the young quarterback with diverse blitz packages and force Mariota to commit some uncharacteristic turnovers.
DON’T – Stop continuing to feed Adrian Peterson the football, no matter what
Although Peterson managed to lead the league in rushing in 2015 with 1,485 yards, he could have had even more. For some reason, the Vikings failed to stick with the run in certain games if Peterson did not succeed early.
Last season, Minnesota was 0-4 during the games in which Peterson carried the ball 16 times or less. On the other end, when he carried the ball 20 times or more in 2015, the Vikings were 8-1.
DO – Start Trae Waynes at corner
In his second year with Minnesota, Waynes had himself an impressive preseason. He is currently listed on the Vikings’ depth chart behind fellow cornerback Terence Newman, but some people feel like that may be a little misleading.
DON’T – Go for it on 4th-and-1
A few 4th down conversions and Minnesota’s offense could impose some fear on the Tennessee defense. However, the Vikings offense only converted on 45.5 percent of 4th downs last season (5 of 11 attempts).
Even with Peterson in the backfield, turning the ball over on downs may be too risky against a Titans defense that was the fifth best in short-yardage situations (one or two yards) in 2015 according to FootballOutsiders.com.
DO – Get Jerick McKinnon at least 10 touches and Stefon Diggs at least 10 targets
Last year, Minnesota’s main offensive strategy was to establish the run and then use play-action to exploit the defense. Well maybe it is time for the Vikings to flip the script and utilize the other offensive talent on their roster besides Peterson (led the NFL with 357 touches in 2015).
McKinnon has been chomping at the bit to get his opportunity to shine on this offense while Diggs can make a play on the field no matter where he gets the ball. More involvement from these two certainly would not hurt Minnesota’s chances on Sunday.