Saturday, October 21, 2017

Minnesota Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Welcome to the next installment of our Minnesota Vikings Free Agency Primer series: the running backs. Check out our other primers on tight ends, defensive ends, cornerbacks, safetiesquarterbacks, wideoutsdefensive tackles and running backs.

Does everybody have their hard hats and tool belts on? Good, because we’re about to embark on the rebuilding project of our lives.

LAST SEASON

The Minnesota Vikings offensive line can only improve after the utter destruction that unfolded in 2016.

Improvement appeared inevitable for the Vikings offensive line when general manager Rick Spielman acquired Alex Boone and Andre Smith during the 2016 free agency period. Matt Kalil was finally getting the chance to play with a competent left guard. Additionally, Joe Berger and Mike Harris were set to return to the starting lineup after rock solid 2015 campaigns.

Instead, a catastrophically lethal injury bug permeated the unit and knocked Kalil, Smith, and Harris out of commission before Week 5. Spielman then acquired Jake Long to provide depth. Long made it exactly four weeks and three games before tearing his Achilles.

Minnesota was forced to move forward the rest of the 2016 season with TJ Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles starting at the bookends of the offensive line. Meanwhile, Joe Berger and Brandon Fusco sparingly missed action which called a laundry list of benchwarmers into action.

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Where Do the Vikings Head From Here
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[In part one of this three-part series, Austin Belisle and Brett Anderson team up to put together an in-depth offseason plan for the Minnesota Vikings.]

Football, more than any other sport, is an unpredictable game. A loose ball, a tipped pass, a broken tackle; the slightest shift in momentum or circumstance can flip competition on its head. Franchises prepare for the random nature of the game, but often fall victim to factors they can’t control.

Such was the case for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. From Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury to the merry-go-round at offensive line, the team struggled to bounce back in the face of adversity. Players on the defensive side of the ball underperformed, turmoil forced a turnover on the coaching staff, and Mike Zimmer’s eye blurred Minnesota’s season outlook.

Combined, the weekly distractions and diversions were too much for the Vikings to overcome. They stalled to an 8-8 finish after starting the season 5-0; missing the playoffs just one year removed from winning the NFC North. Like any team in the NFL, the Vikings had one end-goal in mind: the Super Bowl. But dreaming of a Lombardi Trophy and winning the actual game are two different things.

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Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson

The inevitable has finally come to pass (but not pass block). The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings have declined to pick up the $18 million option for Adrian Peterson in 2017. General manager Rick Spielman was adamant that the Vikings still would like to re-sign the soon to be 32-year old running back in free agency and Adrian has said the door for a return is not closed, but the die is cast and money talks. I’ll elaborate where I think he plays in 2017, deconstruct the Spielman press conference at the NFL Combine from Wednesday, and zoom through some other Purple news and notes.

All that and more “Willie Beavers and TJ Clemmings are going to be in Training Camp” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An AMG Production

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Welcome to the next installment of our Vikings Free Agency Primer series: the running backs. Check out our other primers on tight ends, defensive ends, cornerbacks, safetiesquarterbacks, wideouts, and defensive tackles.

Ah yes, here we are. The inevitable departure of Adrian Peterson has happened, and we can take a clear look at the Vikings running back situation and what to do about it.

LAST SEASON

It wasn’t good. The Vikings were dead last in the league in rushing last year, and while much of that can (and should) be attributed to the floundering offensive line play, none of the backs did much to inspire hope, either.

Peterson only played in three games due to injury, rushing 37 times for 72 yards—a putrid 1.9-yard average. While we’ll fondly remember the AP glory days—he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest players in franchise history—his legendary burst has mellowed, his injuries have begun to pile up, and his cost is most likely too high for a return. The fanbase is ready to move on, and you get the feeling Adrian is, too. It would be surprising if the Vikings re-signed him.

The absence of Peterson thrust Jerick McKinnon into the lead role in 2016, finally giving us the long look at the shifty back many fans had anxiously awaited. It went…fine. McKinnon carried the ball 159 times for 539 yards (3.4 YPC) and two touchdowns, and also had 43 catches for 255 yards and another two TDs. Again, it’s difficult for any runner to perform well without holes to run through—the YPC average was by far the lowest of his career—but McKinnon never really displayed the electrifying ability we hoped he possessed. It may still be in there, but calls for McKinnon to receive more touches have temporarily been silenced.

The Road to 50 — About the Labor Episode 47

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald discuss everything from Sharrif Floyd’s ominous future with the Minnesota Vikings to the savagery of putting peas on a pizza. In between the guys celebrate the release of Adrian Peterson, review a handful of NFL combine weigh-ins and answer a pair of open-ended questions. Episode 47 also shines a light on Drew not knowing what a pear is and a bit of a twist to the end of the show. The boys are back, and they’re cookin’ with gas now, folks.

PRIMARY TALKING POINTS

  • The guys trash Adrian Peterson one final time for old time’s sake
  • Drew doesn’t seem to know what a pear is?
  • Sharrif Floyd: Comin’ Back or Gettin’ Gone?
  • Reviewing a handful of prospects’ Combine weigh-ins
  • Two fantastic open-ended questions are answered thoroughly
  • BJ and Drew announce what about their podcast game they will be giving up for Lent
  • Drew channels his inner Veronica Corningstone

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