Thursday, August 17, 2017

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Epic failures in the red zone spoiled the Vikings’ visit to Lincoln Financial Field as the Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) handed the Minnesota Vikings (5-1) their first loss of the season with a butt-ugly 21-10 defeat. The red zone woes from 2015 appear to be haunting the Vikings’ offense again this season, and it was certainly evident on Sunday.

According to teamranking.com, the Vikings rank 27th in the league in red zone efficiency. This season’s poor red zone production is somewhat surprising because the Vikings have an accurate quarterback in Sam Bradford and big, athletic pass-catchers like Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Charles Johnson and Laquon Treadwell. Yet with all that talent, the Vikings have only managed eight touchdowns in 17 red zone opportunities.

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In the triumphant return of Bump & Run, I give advice on how to cope with that obnoxious Eagles beat writer, and explain why not being undefeated is actually better. Plus, my most outside-the-box (read: stupid) touchdown pick yet. This and more in our first post-loss episode.

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Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears

The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings offensive line is Charmin soft (just ask Mike Zimmer), so I’ve taken it upon myself to fix it the best way I know how: outlandish trade scenarios. Later on in the show, friend of the program Julie DiCaro (670 The Score – Chicago) swings in for an early look at the Halloween Vikings-Bears brouhaha on Monday Night Football. I ask her if she’s looking forward to the return of Bae Cutler, could the Purple actually drop 2 in a row, and what she’ll do if her beloved Cubs actually win the World Series.

All that and more “This is Hardees territory, NOT Carl Jrs” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

SWAG! Order The GREATEST T-SHIRT OF ALL-TIME

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What Went Wrong, Week 7

Blame the Turnstile OL
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Without a doubt, Sam Bradford deserves some of the blame for the Minnesota Vikings’ loss on Sunday afternoon. In his return to Philadelphia, he was inexplicably inaccurate, careless with the football, and surprisingly incompetent from the pocket — when there was a pocket.

When a quarterback fails to recognize disguised coverages, as Bradford did against the Eagles, he automatically puts an offense at a disadvantage. Even worse, though, is when an offensive line blatantly misses blocks or free rushers. Minnesota’s front-five hurtled back to Earth last week, giving up six sacks in their ugliest performance of the season.

Head coach Mike Zimmer didn’t mince words when describing the unit’s play. “They didn’t block anybody,” he said, per Brian Murphy. “We were soft, got overpowered. It was a little bit of man-on-man and we got whipped.”

Sunday’s game represented a chance for Minnesota’s offense to grow, to build on the progress they’d made since losing Adrian Peterson in Week 2. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner had changed the system dramatically, employing a heavy dose of shotgun formations and quick-hitting passes that allowed Bradford to pick apart opposing defenses behind a shaky line.

But against the Eagles, Turner reverted to the tendencies that led to 43 Teddy Bridgewater sacks in 2015 — seven-step drops, slow-developing play action passes, and predictable runs on first down. His playcalling choices compounded the struggles of the offensive line, which had been masked to this point by Turner’s clever adjustments.

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NFC North
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In Week Seven of the 2016 NFL regular season, two NFC North teams won, and two lost. Unfortunately, one of the losing teams was none other than our beloved Minnesota Vikings. They still boast a division best 5-1 record, but valuable ground was lost in the standings this week.

Perhaps even more importantly, a blueprint to beat the Vikings is now sprawled out across the table in plain sight of all opposing coaching staffs. That plan includes overwhelming an offensive line that may be incapable of changing things up (or, you know, getting better) in a meaningful enough way to fend off the league’s better defenses.

While flaws were exposed by Philadelphia this week (flaws that most Minnesota fans suspected would surface at some point) there are no other teams in this division that are without blemishes of their own. For that reason, it is important to stay grounded and remember that securing a playoff spot is the only real prerequisite for making a run at the Super Bowl.

And what’s the best way to secure a playoff spot? Why, winning the North, of course!

Let’s take a look around the NFC North and see what our greatest enemies are up to.

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