Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Watching T.J. Ward sack Teddy Bridgewater and hand the Vikings their second loss of the season last week, I couldn’t help but wonder — “Why don’t the Vikings have an impact strong safety on their roster?”.

There’s Harrison Smith, but he can’t be in two spots at once. The Vikings’ free safety is already making plays against the run and in coverage, most notably when he intercepted Peyton Manning last week and tackled Danny Woodhead with one arm the week before. Since the start of the 2014 season, he’s been Minnesota’s most impressive defender, and he’s close to taking the title of the league’s best safety.

But every Batman needs his Robin, and Smith is operating a one-man show through four games this season. Veteran special teams ace and muscle-bound defensive back Andrew Sendejo opened Week 1 as the starter opposite Smith, but was replaced by Robert Blanton halfway into the Vikings’ embarrassing loss in San Fran…er, Santa Clara.

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings continue their Bye Bye Bye Week as we fans Drive Ourselves Crazy.

THEE Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) swings by to talk a little Purple. Whether he liked the Gerald Hodges trade or Wants Him Back, if new center Nick Easton can help the offensive line get N*SYNC, why Norv needs to spend A Little More Time worrying about Teddy Dave Bridgewater, and we cast Vikings: The Sitcom.

Editors Note: The episode will not be full of N*SYNC puns. This I Promise You.

All that and other “Harrison is JT” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

Despite a narrow loss to Denver Sunday, quite a few positives stood out for the Vikings in Week 4. One of those positives was nose tackle Linval Joseph.

Against the Broncos, Joseph finished the game with three run stops as well as a monster pass deflection. ESPN1500’s Andrew Krammer put together an interesting breakdown of the Vikings’ defensive performance Sunday, including a few images of Joseph’s plays, which you can view here.

Several Vikings fans took to Twitter to comment on Joseph’s noticeable performance against the Broncos, including our friends Luke Spinman and Austin Belisle:

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

At this point last year, the Minnesota Vikings were 2-2, having just beat the Atlanta Falcons behind an eye-opening performance from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. In his first NFL start, Bridgewater completed 19 passes for 317 yards and even scored a touchdown with his legs. The elation in Minnesota would quickly end, though, as the franchise’s newfound quarterback missed the next game and watched as his team fell to the Green Bay Packers.

Suffering from the humiliation at Lambeau Field, the Vikings continued their losing streak against the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills to fall to 2-5. Bridgewater struggled, the running game sputtered without Adrian Peterson, and the defense was a sieve at best against the run. Their 2-2 start, kicked off by a drubbing of the St. Louis Rams, wasn’t enough to keep pace with the NFC’s playoff contenders.

This year, the Vikings find themselves in a familiar, yet much different position. Though they enter the Week 5 bye at 2-2, this is a team that’s deeper, more talented, and playing at a higher level than their 2014 counterparts through four games. The record doesn’t necessarily reflect this, and an ugly Week 1 loss to the 49ers swayed expectations early, but three strong performances against the Lions, Chargers, and Broncos put the Vikings in excellent position to compete for an NFC playoff spot this season.

The Vikings won’t return to the field until Week 6, when they host the Kansas City Chiefs at TCF Bank Stadium in a crucial inter-conference matchup. Until then, head coach Mike Zimmer will have much to assess in his time off, including a few ugly trends in his team’s two losses. After the jump, we’ll dive into the game film from the Vikings’ Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos and try to figure out what went wrong. As the famous saying goes, “The eye in the sky never lies…”

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

All right, Vikings fans, we’ve made it to Bye Week. With four weeks down and a .500 record, there have been some ups and downs to the season thus far. Looking back over the games under our belt, which Vikings player has impressed you the most? Check out our answers, and as always, leave us a comment to let us know your opinion!

Carl: Adrian Peterson, RB
Mike Zimmer has put his stamp on the 2015 Minnesota Vikings football team, and the result is a roster full of players buying into a team-first approach. Yes, this question is a bit harder to answer because so far this season both the offense and defense appear to be playing good “team” ball. But individually, Adrian Peterson has impressed me the most after four games. His 372 yards leads the NFL in rushing and his 5.0 yards per carry average has been a shot in the arm for the offense. After seeing the run game struggle in the preseason, it has been a joy to see some explosiveness back in the backfield.

Brent: Anthony Barr, LB*
There isn’t any doubt that expectations of Barr were sky high going into his second year, but nagging injuries that lingered into the preseason created some cause for concern. Barr has been outstanding thus far and outside of Harrison Smith is having the best season of any Vikings defender. What has been most impressive is Barr’s improvement in coverage through four weeks. Picking off Peyton Manning will be on Barr’s highlight reel for a long time and for good reason. Imagine if he were to have come away with the second INT.

*(other considerations: Joe Berger, Linval Joseph & Eric Kendricks)

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