Thoughts on the Vikings from around the league.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This is the first installment of our Opposing View series, in which we gauge the league-wide perception of the Vikings by talking to bloggers from around the NFL. For each post, I’ll seek out a writer for a team on the 2017 Vikings schedule, and ask them a few short questions about the way they view our squad from afar. 

The first installment features Alex Kozora, writer for Steeler’s DepotThe Vikings play Pittsburgh in Week Two. 

 

VTTop of your head, give me the first things you think of with the Minnesota Vikings going into 2017.

Alex Kozora: Think of an offensive line that has improved but still needs to get better. An uneasy quarterback situation. Teddy Bridgewater’s future is still a complete unknown. Sam Bradford, to be general in my description, is competent but not someone who is going to outduel Stafford/Rodgers in the North. A run game that should, and desperately needs to be, better this year. Defensive ends who can get after the QB and a solid secondary.

VT: As it stands, what do you think is their biggest strength? How about weakness?

AK: Strong secondary with Harrison Smith and Rhodes. A run game that should improve but was one of the worst in the league last year. Line didn’t help. Know Kyle Rudolph isn’t regarded as a great blocker either.

VT: What’s your opinion of Mike Zimmer as a head coach?

AK: Like him. As a Steelers’ fan, know him well from his DC days in Cincinnati. No-nonsense coach. Commands respect. Defenses aren’t the most complex but technically sound. Has control over the locker room.

VT: There is a lot of disagreement about Sam Bradford in the Vikings community. What are your thoughts on him as a starting quarterback?

AK: As I mentioned earlier. Competent but not going to lead the Vikings far into the playoffs.

VT: Based on what you know about the Vikings at this point, what would you predict their 2017 record to be?

AK: Somewhere around 9-7. NFC North is still tough. Offense should be improved. 10-6 not impossible. Will compete for Wild Card spot.


Takeaways

  • I thought Alex’s analysis of Bradford was very fair: “competent but not someone who is going to outduel Stafford/Rodgers in the North.” It’s not a criticism, necessarily, but an honest evaluation of what Bradford is. And that’s okay; if the defense reaches its potential, the Vikings won’t need a gunslinger at quarterback. They’ll need competence and measured playmaking.
  • He also mentioned Mike Zimmer’s defenses “aren’t the most complex.” An interesting observation that doesn’t get discussed much in Minnesota. While I, like most of us, respect Zimmer’s defensive prowess a great deal, I wonder if opposing coaches figured it out a little in last season, leading to it becoming mediocre down the stretch. No matter how ineffective the Double-A-Gap blitz became, for example, the team kept hammering away at it. The ceiling of this defense may hinge on Zimmer’s ability and willingness to adapt.
  • While 9-7 would be an improvement on last year, it would still be a disappointment for most fans. That said, it’s hard to set your expectations above 10-6 right now. “Wild Card challengers” is a fitting moniker.

 

Thanks to Alex for participating. You can follow him on Twitter at @Alex_Kozora.