Saturday, May 28, 2016

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The revolving door at linebacker continues for the Minnesota Vikings, who just placed Audie Cole on Injured Reserve and signed free agent Jason Trusnik to the active roster. Cole, who broke his ankle against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, will miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

Trusnik comes to Minnesota after stints with the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and New York Jets. The former Ohio Northern Klondike was an undrafted free agent following the 2007 NFL Draft and has played in 109 career games (24 starts), tallying 146 total tackles, 4 PDs, 4 FRs and 1 FF in eight seasons.

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

Now that the Vikings have eight of their 16 games behind them and boast a 6-2 record, I have an equal number of takeaways to share regarding the first half of the season…

1. Mike Zimmer is what the Vikings needed.
I know I’m echoing the masses when I say that Zimmer has been absolutely necessary for Minnesota. Although it’s only his second year as a head coach, most probably wouldn’t guess that when observing his demeanor and confidence on the sidelines. Zimmer’s years of experience with defensive backs and as a defensive coordinator primed him to transition smoothly into running the Vikings ship. The difference that Zimmer has made on Minnesota’s defense in just a season and a half is significant, and his style of leadership is invaluable. Zimmer is the type of coach who will not take less than 110 percent, and he simultaneously cares about his players and earns every bit of their respect. He’s a man of conviction, and I appreciate him more and more every week.

2. Adrian Peterson is still good. 
Adrian Peterson has had a couple great games and a couple mediocre games, but he’s still averaging just under 95 rushing yards per game, good enough for No. 1 in the NFL. It may be argued that the veteran running back’s stats are a tad misleading, because he often gets several carries only adding up to a couple of yards before launching a huge 50+-yard play. That being said, however, Peterson continues to impress, putting up numbers superior to those much younger than him. The biggest frustration in regards to No. 28 has been the fumbling issue; luckily for Peterson, three of his four dropped balls were recovered. Despite missing all but one game of the 2014 season, AP doesn’t look like he’s skipped a beat.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

I’ve repeatedly called Mike Zimmer’s defense aggressive, his coaching style brash, but never has he crossed the line into “dirty” territory. That special place is reserved for coaches like Gregg Williams, whose ties to the Minnesota Vikings trace back to 2009, when his New Orleans Saints defense nearly crippled Brett Favre in the NFC Championship Game. It was later revealed that Williams was the architect of the team’s “Bountygate” scandal — a deliberate injure-for-money operation designed to motivate defensive players.

After his year-long suspension following the league’s investigation, Williams spoke on the scandal and his role in the matter. “One of the things was it was on my watch, but there was nothing that hasn’t been done in the last 50 years in the sport and there was nothing done to try to hurt somebody,” he said.

Zimmer would have to disagree, especially after yesterday’s chippy, playoff-like game that saw Rams players repeatedly target Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings’ second-year quarterback was the victim of not one, but two questionable hits late in the game, with the final blow knocking him out for good. You’ve seen the play; Bridgewater scrambles and slides, but Rams safety LaMarcus Joyner launches himself into the quarterback’s head, briefly knocking Bridgewater out. It was clearly a dirty play, and one that left Zimmer furious at the podium:

“Well, we’re a disciplined football team, we do things right. That’s why we are the least penalized team in the league, because we play by the rules, we continue to play by the rules and just because other teams don’t do it doesn’t mean we’re going to do it.”

The game could have easily turned and become ugly after Bridgewater left for the locker room, but Zimmer supressed the fire to keep his team focused. They stuffed the Rams on the first overtime series and rode the legs of Adrian Peterson to a victory. For the second time in as many weeks, Blair Walsh kicked the game-winning field goal to move the Vikings to 6-2 and a share of the NFC North lead.

More than the play of Linval Joseph, Peterson, and Anthony Barr, it was the Vikings’ composure, discipline, and restraint that secured their fourth-straight victory. Despite the Rams’ best efforts to swing the game in their favor, Minnesota followed Mike Zimmer’s calm, collected script to yet another win.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

When Gerald Hodges was traded to San Francisco, it was rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks that was handed the keys to the defense. Those keys were tossed to Audie Cole when Kendricks was unable to face St. Louis on Sunday due to an injury to his ribs.

Cole, however, did not survive this game and Head Coach Mike Zimmer indicated he would miss the rest of this season after suffering a fractured ankle during the action.

“I think Kendricks will get back and I think we’ll be fine,” Zimmer said following the game. “[Edmond] Robinson is doing a good job. [Brandon] Watts is a doing a good job. We’re not going to cry because we have injuries. We’re going to get the next guy in there and go fight.”

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings grabbed a share of the NFC North lead with a rough and tumble 21-18 overtime win Sunday over the St. Louis Rams. That should be the headline, but it’s not. All Vikings fans already hated defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, but now we somehow hate him with the fury of a thousand suns after something-called-Lamarcus Joyner threw his elbow into Teddy Bridgewater’s face as the second-year quarterback was sliding. Us Vikings fans cannot separate the fact that we have history with Captain Bountygate, but I try not to dwell on that storyline as our 6-2 Vikes have a solid young team with a great leader in Mike Zimmer and may make some noise come playoff time. Heal up, Teddy and let’s roll.

Other “Gregg Williams Should Be Deported to Mars” Talking Points Include
• I love you Mike Zimmer. So so much.
• LOL Green Bay
• Teddy Before the Cheapshot
• Where You At Mike Wallace?
• The Offensive Line is Back!
• Old Adrian Peterson is Like 2013 Kobe
• Linval Joseph for MVP
• Containing Todd Gurley
• Trae Waynes is a UFO
• Stefon Diggs Held Quiet
• Zimmer going for the Morninwheg in OT (But it worked and was smart)
• Random Game Thoughts
• On to Oakland
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All that and other “Start Over” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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