Saturday, May 28, 2016

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A closer look at the winners and losers from the 2015 Hall of Fame Game.

Matt Engstrom Hall of Fame Game Vikings Steelers
Illustration by Matt Engstrom (mattengstrom.com)

The first game of the 2015 NFL season is officially in the books. And after travelling to Canton, Ohio and beating the Steelers in front of a predominantly black and yellow crowd, the Vikings can stand proudly and puff their chests out as the only undefeated team in the NFL. (Side note: Zimmer is still perfect in Exhibition Games and the one true Preseason Champion.)

These preseason games are critical for coaches to evaluate the players currently on their roster. It gives them a chance to see how rookies handle NFL-level opponents. Preseason games allow teammates to establish additional chemistry on the field against competition they’re not used to seeing every day in practice.

It’s also a great opportunity for hack bloggers and media types to hastily determine who’s doing good for themselves and who isn’t.

So, with this being a Vikings blog (and me being a hack blogger) let’s take a look at the winners and losers from the Hall of Fame game against the Steelers.

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Image courtesy of Chris Price

It is with great pleasure that I announce another addition to the Vikings Territory team.

If you’ve been reading about the Minnesota Vikings over the last four years, then it is highly unlikely that you have not read the work of beat writer Brian Hall.

Brian, most known for his work at FOX Sports North and his opinions on the Twins, will bring many much-welcomed attributes to the pages of VT in 2015. I trust you will all enjoy his contributions here just as much as I’ve enjoyed reading his work elsewhere over the years.

Please join me in welcoming Brian to VT and be sure to check back for his first articles in the very near future. You can also follow Brian on the Twitter machine.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If Matt Kalil can play halfway decent like he did last night, and if the team can stay healthy like they did last night, then I dare say that this Vikings offense has the ingredients to be as good (if not better) than what we all witnessed in 2009.

One thing that stuck out to me during the Hall of Fame Game in Canton was just how talented and deep we look to be at the tight end position. Somewhat int he shadow of Adrian Peterson’s return and the acquisition of some speedy receivers, I’m thinking Teddy Bridgewater’s “safety blankets” could be some of our best weapons throughout the 2015 season.

Of all the starters, albeit in very limited action, it was tight end Kyle Rudolph that impressed me the most. Bridgewater targeted him twice on the opening drive. Both passes were caught, both went for first downs, and Rudolph showed some tenacity as he shed three tackles to gain his 22 yards of production.

As fantasy football players everywhere will be quick to point out, the problem with Rudolph isn’t his potential and talent, it always seems to be his ability to come out of a game unscathed. He’s missed 15 games over the last two seasons and, according to a recent Pioneer Press article, he knows something needs to change.

Mike Zimmer named one of NFL's Most Influential
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t worried about rookie cornerback Trae Waynes, even if Twitter was close to exploding over his play last night. The first-round draft pick was called for multiple holding and pass interference penalties throughout the night while struggling to play off coverage against the Steelers’ backup receivers.

Waynes played 54 defensive snaps — just behind fellow rookie Danielle Hunter — seeing his first action at left cornerback on the Vikings’ third play from scrimmage. Despite his early struggles, Zimmer kept Waynes in for 84 percent of the defense’s snaps. Why?:

“Part of the thing, what I wanted to do, was not take him out. I wanted to find out what kind of toughness he had when things happen like that. When you get a couple of penalties on you, how are you going to fight back, how are you going to respond?”

“I thought he did a nice job with those things, but he’s just got to learn some of the technical things about the NFL. Athletically, and the type of kid he is, he’s going to be fine.”

The biggest knock on Waynes coming out of Michigan State was his grabbiness and physicality in coverage. He often tugged opposing receivers’ jerseys, hooked their wrists at the catch point, and jammed well past five yards down the field. In the NFL, those same tactics are almost impossible to get away with, and that showed throughout the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday night.

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Image Courtesy of Vikings.com

The Hall of Fame Game went down Sunday night in Canton, Ohio. Our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings came out on top of the Pittsburgh Steelers 14-3 in a game that quenched the collective thirst of a the football world, even though it featured no Adrian Peterson or Ben Roethlisberger and something-called Landry Jones played the whole darn game. There’s a lot of positives and some false-negatives to pick through for our team in purple, and we do so in our first game recap show of the 2015 season.

Other “The Hall of Jerome Bettis” Talking Points Include
• Vikings defeat the Steelers 14-3
• Mick Tingelhoff love from Purple FTW! (240 straight starts!)
• Fran Tarkenton’s introduction speech was ELITE
• Adrian in full uniform, but didn’t play
• Cris Collinsworth is underrated, but…
• Teddy Bridgewater looked smooth as creamy peanut butter
• Jerick McKinnon is going to be more involved and electric
• Calm down on Trae Waynes, please.
• Remember, Xavier Rhodes was hot garbage until about Week 4 last year
• I’d rather have a cornerback who’s too aggressive & grabby than too passive
• 2nd Half was the Stefon Diggs Show
• Don’t count out Marcus Sherels yet
• MyCole Pruitt is going to be a special player
• Eric Kendricks has made Audie Cole & Gerald Hodges better via young competition
• Brian Peters love
• Special teams questions: Jeff Locke stanks
• Matt Kalil looked OK. Has some easy preseason spots to gain confidence
• Jabari Price is a G
• Adam Thielen could be legit
• I liked how TJ Clemmings looked
• Shamar Stephen & Tom Johnson are 1s going against 2s and 3s
• Joe Banyard – What could have been
• Taylor Heinicke looks smoother and more in command than Mike Kafka
Bookmark our Amazon Link to show some love!

All that and other “Brian Peters over Mike Mauti” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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