Back around the time that the season began, we were happily helping Star Tribune mainstay Mark Craig promote his book 100 Things Vikings Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die (which is fantastic, by the way) and our “Three Questions” series seemed like the perfect opportunity to invite him back and see if anything from 2016 would’ve changed his Top 100 list had he waited just one more season.
We’ll see how he responds below, but first I invite you to catch up on our growing list of guest appearances from those kind enough to take part in the “Three Questions” series:
Okay, here’s where we find out what Mark Craig has to say…
1. If you had waited a year to publish your book, what (if any) of the crazy events from the 2016 season would have cracked your Top 100?
Great question. It feels like this season followed the tone I kind of set for the book. A tone that mirrors Vikings history. A fast start, a competitive drive, a fight to the end and then a disappointment. I can’t say for sure which stories would have ended up being mentioned in the book, but certainly losing Teddy 12 days before the season and then trading for Bradford four days later was a series of events that could change the course of Vikings history. A 23-year-old franchise QB goes down in a freak, non-contact practice drill and gets replaced by a former No. 1 overall pick, who goes on to set an NFL record for completions and will begin next year as the starter. Who knows where that will lead, or if Teddy will even be able to play again. There are other candidates as well: Norv Turner resigning with the team at 5-2, Mike Zimmer’s eye situation, which led to him having to miss a game; the team plane getting stuck in the snow in Appleton and players having to be lowered two-by-two in a fireman’s bucket after spending six hours on the tarmac, Adrian Peterson’s likely final season, seven different offensive line combinations, including five left tackles, etc.
2. Call your shot! Where is Adrian Peterson playing next September?
No, I don’t think he will be here next September. First, we all know the team won’t pick up his $18 million option for 2017. From the reporting I’ve done, the most Adrian will make is a $5 million-a-year average. He’ll likely sign a two-year deal with about $9 million guaranteed, but I don’t think it will be in Minnesota. Adrian is a very confident, prideful man. I think it will be much easier on his ego for him to accept that kind of pay cut from another team of his choosing than to return for that kind of a pay cut. The Vikings have interest in him, but only on their financial terms. They see him more as a role player than a franchise player. Pat Shurmur’s offense wouldn’t be built around Adrian and might not even be a good fit for Adrian. And whether Peterson returns or not, the Vikings are likely to tap into what is considered a deep and talented running back group in the draft. So I think the Vikings will talk to Adrian’s agent, give them the freedom to test the market and be OK with an alternative plan when Peterson signs elsewhere.
3. Bradford’s record-breaking accuracy has some sold on him while others discredit the success due to the short passes. Which end of the spectrum do you fall into?
Well, I would never discredit a 71.9 completion percentage no matter what the circumstances were. One could make the argument that Sam was responsible for both the running and passing games once Pat Shurmur took over. The shorter passing game essentially replaced the non-existent running game and helped an offensive line decimated by injuries. It’s also plain to see that Bradford is an accurate deep passer as well. He wasn’t perfect this season. But, overall, there aren’t many players who could do what Bradford did this year. He joined a team eight days before the opener. He started Week 2. He learned Turner’s offense, which is not an easy thing to do. Then Turner quit on him and another adjustment had to be made with Shurmur. There was no running game and the line used 12 players, including five left tackles. And Bradford is under contract for 2017, which is important because the Vikings aren’t sure when, or if, Teddy Bridgewater will be able to return. Bradford’s completion percentage, his low interception ratio, his toughness, his intelligence and his durability — which was a huge concern at the outset of the trade — are all things Vikings fans should take some comfort in.