Friday, July 1, 2016

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A lot of people are talking about the great pieces the Vikings are putting together, and there is even some speculation that Minnesota could be the dark horse and sneak into the Playoffs this season. That being said, what do you see as the biggest key to the Vikings’ success in the upcoming season? 

Brent: Offensive Line
I will try to differentiate yet again, as I like to try to provide a different perspective for each Question of the Week. I think the glaring answer here is obviously Teddy Bridgewater. There is little question in my mind that the Vikings would have been much, much worse last year had he not played so well in the second half of the season. That said, in order for Bridgewater to continue his progression as an NFL quarterback without hitting a sophomore slump, I feel the offensive line is the biggest key for the Vikings’ success. Not only will the O-line pave the way for Adrian Peterson to run wild, but its ability to help keep Bridgewater upright will be essential to take advantage of deep-threat Mike Wallace. Wallace is a perfect fit for Norv Turner’s offense and the deep threat the Vikings have been looking for to complement their power run game. In my opinion, success on offense starts with the offensive line; without that unit providing consistency, neither Peterson, Bridgewater or Wallace can thrive as intended.

Lindsey: Offensive Line
You’ve heard me complain about the offensive line before, and I have to go back to it with this question. Bottom line: the crew needs to improve. Granted, injuries to Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt hurt the Vikings last season, and I expect the O-Line to automatically improve with their healthy return. However, Matt Kalil has been abysmal the last two seasons. If he doesn’t get his stuff together, we’re in trouble. I’m also hoping that Fusco can possibly move over to left guard to fill that vacancy.

A huge piece of Minnesota’s success in 2015 is of course Teddy Bridgewater and his performance, and also the impact of Adrian Peterson, but neither one can perform well if there is no protection. Bridgewater spent way too much time on the ground last season … that needs to change if the Vikings hope to see the postseason.

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An American flag flutters in the wind over the Vikings' new stadium

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In a move expected by many, the NFL’s 32 owners approved the Competition Committee’s proposal on extra points for the 2015 season. The rule changes, which were passed on a 30-2 vote Tuesday, are as follows:

  • The extra point will now be kicked from the 15-yard line with two-point conversions remaining at the 2-yard line.
  • If the defense returns a blocked extra point or failed two-point try for a touchdown, they will be awarded two points. Under the previous rule the ball was dead on a failed try.

Blair Walsh, the Vikings’ ace fourth-year kicker, has been nearly perfect when kicking extra points — in 109 attempts, he’s missed just one kick, giving him a 99.1 career percentage in such situations. With the changes, extra points will now move to the 15-yard line, where Walsh has been nearly as successful.

In 31 career attempts between 30-39 yards (extra points are now 33 yards), Walsh has connected on 28 kicks. His leg from this distance is close to perfection, as he’s a 90.3 percent kicker in this range. When news broke of the rule changes, Walsh shared his response on Twitter:

For Walsh, the change in distance is negligible. His percentages from either distance are above average, and 33-yard field goals are routine for most NFL kickers. Defensive coaches and special teams coordinators will adjust their gameplans, scheming more “block” concepts into these plays, but I expect minimal effect on box scores next season.

If anything, the news is beneficial to players like Walsh; an increased importance on the extra point equates to an increase in value for kickers who can deliver from this range. Walsh, in turn, may enjoy a salary increase once his rookie contract expires.

For more Vikings news, check out the links below:

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In the inaugural edition of the Purple FTW! Mailbag, I answer some of your questions tossed in through Twitter, Facebook, and the Purple FTW! Voicemail.

Talkers include:
• Did the Vikings do a good job filling needs in the offseason?
• Trades that could still be made in 2015
• Would I do ____ for a Vikings Super Bowl?
• The affects of Fusco moving to left guard
• Why I got into podcasting
• Why I refuse to watch “The Avengers”

A fun little bite sized morsel to get your through the midweek hunger pains on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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GUMP

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

More often than not, Skip Bayless embraces the role of human clickbait, bred by ESPN to incite anger among fan bases and drive traffic to his daily morning show, ESPN First Take. A little over a year ago, Bayless made the Vikings a target by criticizing then-rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater:

Bayless’s jab at Bridgewater sparked heated debate; “Are his hands too small? Is he too skinny to play in the NFL?”. One year later, and Bridgewater, like most who end up on the other end of Bayless’s buffoonery, is smashing those low expectations. He won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award and finished the season as the league’s best rookie quarterback — Bridgewater threw 14 touchdowns and went 6-6 as the team’s starter.

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T.J. Clemmings was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 11th pick of the fourth round (110th overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft. GM Rick Spieman waited until the fourth round to add an offensive player, and Clemmings has the size and athleticism to earn playing time as a rookie at guard or tackle. Injury concerns and a rough Senior Bowl week pushed him out of the first round and down on teams boards. The Vikings are hoping Clemmings can develop into a staple along the offensive line and prove to be this year’s steal of the draft.

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