Sunday, September 25, 2016

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Cold Viking Fan
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[NOTE FROM ADAM: This is a guest post from Sam Neumann. He is the author of three books, including the New York Times Bestseller Memoirs of a Gas Station: A Delightfully Awkward Journey Across the Alaskan Tundra. He is a lifelong Vikings fan who currently resides in Denver. You can follow him on Twitter @NeumSamN.]

Why Do I Do This?

By Sam Neumann

I’m sitting here a day after the Vikings astonishing, embarrassing, and all-too-Vikings playoff loss to the Seahawks, and try as I might, I really cannot get the visual of a 27-yard field goal going wide left out of my head. Just make the kick, Blair. You’ve been crushing the ball all day in temperatures that are wholly unreasonable for a kicker to do his job. You drilled a 47-yarder with the laces squarely pointed toward you. You’re responsible for the team’s only points. This one’s for the win. It’s a chip shot. Just make the kick.

But he didn’t, and as I watched that kick sail wide, I’m thinking “unbelievable” and “of course” at the same time. Unbelievable because, heck, that’s a 99% kick right there, and this is one of the (statistically) best kickers in the NFL. Of course, because this is the Vikings we’re talking about, and that’s what they do. They don’t just lose. They lose spectacularly. They crush your soul.

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Instead of working on a Monday morning (overrated), I decided to yammer on for 40 minutes about the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings offseason, what priorities should/should not be in free agency and the draft, who’s safe and who’s not on the offensive line and which training camp battles I’m excited to see. Straight off the cuff, unprepared (shocker), unrehearsed Vikings takes if you’re into that sort of thing.

All this and other “Shut Up, Old Man” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

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Last year's first round pick made a splash on Sunday

most important players
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings suffered the cruelest of ends to their 2015 season, but there is hope. It begins with the NFL Draft this spring, when teams have the chance to improve their roster with the best talent that the NCAA has to offer. The Vikings have used their most recent first-round picks — top-12 selections in 2014 and 2015 — to build defensively, but may be in a position this offseason to focus on their most pressing offensive needs. After Sunday’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings will select 23rd-overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

It was painfully obvious on Sunday that the Vikings have a number of roster holes to fill through free agency and the draft. A porous offensive line struggled to protect Teddy Bridgewater (as they have all year) and a lack of offensive weaponry prevented Minnesota from scoring an offensive touchdown. In frigid conditions, the kicking game also played a major factor in the loss. Punter Jeff Locke averaged just 34.4 yards on five attempts and failed to “spin the laces” out on Blair Walsh’s missed game-winning field goal.

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That was a less than ideal way for the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings to end the 2015 campaign. But let’s not lose the forest through the trees, this season was a damn good year and this young football team is ahead of schedule with Mike Zimmer. We went 11-5, won a division title, and will be in the mix as legitimate Super Bowl contenders next season. Take a while to let this game marinate, but not all is lost. This team’s best football is ahead of it.

Talking Points Include
• Was It Cold Out?
• Bud Grant is My Idol
• Blair Walsh is Not the Reason We Lost
• This is Not Adrian Peterson’s Team
• Free Teddy Bridgewater
• There Are OTHER Pieces on this Offense
• Offensive Line Needs to be Overhauled
• The Defense Was the MVP Today
• Trae Waynes was Impressive
• Josh Robinson was Not
• The Seahawks Did Everything to Lose the Game, We Gave Them a Gift
• Twitter and Facebook Questions
• Why 2016 Will Be HUGEEEEE
• Podcast Offseason Programming Plan

All this and other “WAS IT COLD OUT? I HAD NO IDEA.” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

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Adam Thielen
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

While we try to figure out just where our latest playoff heartbreaker will rank in Minnesota Vikings lore, and some of try to find a suitable nickname for the missed kick that ensured the loss, there also exists an urge to collectively cast our gaze to the future.

One of the first things that needs to be addressed in any offseason are the questions surrounding the current roster and figuring out just which players could end up moving on in the coming months.

As of today, here are the Vikings players set to see their current contracts expire prior to the 2016 season. The list is loosely ranked by playing time and production, so don’t put too much stock into the order in which they appear:

2016 Minnesota Vikings Free Agents

Mike Harris, OL, 27

By quite a large margin, Mike Harris was the Vikings most consistent offensive lineman in 2015. That might not be saying much, but I would hate to have witnessed what the unit would’ve looked like with out him. The Vikings can’t afford to take a step backwards at offensive line this offseason (they need to take a few huge steps forwards) and resigning Harris should be a priority near the top of Rick Spielman’s to-do list.

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