Monday, October 24, 2016

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Offensive line coach Tony Sparano and tight ends coach Pat Shurmur were hired by Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer to improve the 29th ranked offense. Both men have offensive coordinator and head coaching experience that Zimmer hopes will breathe new life, or at least add a few fresh ideas to Norv Turner’s Air Coryell scheme.

Zimmer said last month at an NFL owners meeting that Turner is very open to new ideas and has modified his traditional system over the years.

“Norv has changed a lot,” Zimmer said. “I used to go play against him a long time ago. Over the course of the years, a lot of the no-huddle, the [shot]gun stuff, the zone read, those are all new things. Norv is not hard-headed. I’m probably more hard-headed defensively than he is offensively.”

Turner’s system will likely continue to evolve as they incorporate a few wrinkles from Shurmur’s West Coast background and Sparano’s physical pound it style. While a total revamp of the offense is not on the forecast, here are five things to anticipate in 2016.

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Illustration by Matt Engstrom

Rick Spielman is a popular man in Minnesota of late. At the very least, with Mike Zimmer as his running mate, he could probably produce some approval ratings that will give any politician a run for their money.

Spielman has done wonders to this Vikings roster in recent years and is quickly earning reputations as a wise spender, talented evaluator of rookie talent, and tricky trader. One thing he doesn’t ever seem to produce, however, are compensatory draft picks, and that could very well be by design.

The formula that allocates compensatory picks is getting less and less secretive as time goes on, but for the next year Vikings fans can ignore the nuances and stick to the simple arithmetic to determine that this team will not recieve any in 2017.

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Back in 2015, we revealed here on Vikings Territory that former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Babatunde Aiyegbusi had taken part in a WWE tryout. Dreams of success on the football field quickly turned into dreams of success in the wrestling ring for Aiyegbusi.

Fast forward to today, where his dreams have inched even closer to becoming a reality. Aiyegbusi, and nine others, are among the latest to sign a contract to train in the WWE’s developmental system.

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Since Luke Inman is in Bangkok (for real, not a euphemism), we called in reliever Austin Belisle (@austincbelisle) of Vikings Territory to give us a few innings of hot Vikings Mock Draft talk. Austin links the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings with a very familiar name at the top, but some fresh blood in the latter rounds including TWO cornerbacks. So tune in as we run through his 7-round Vikings mock and check out his full first rounder on VT.

All that and other “Will Fuller is Not Troy Williamson, Dammit” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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This is the time a year when NFL fans exercise their well-earned right to express opinions as fact, deal only in absolutes, and show off the skills they have groomed via Madden‘s Franchise Mode for years and years. In a lot of ways, Draft season is the most exciting time of year.

Those that have been following along here at Vikings Territory for awhile now, however, might know me to be a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to these definitive projections from fans and analysts claiming to know exactly what the Vikings will do or even claiming to know exactly what they should do.

One thing that irks me most are statements about which position they should take in which round. I am a huge proponent of “best player available” or, as Rick Spielman is known to do, trading around to try and fill a need in a spot that presents the appropriate value.

What I do not subscribe to is this idea that a man actually paid to make roster decisions would actually ignore an evaluation based on career-long projections in exchange for filling an immediate need for the position at hand.

As it turns out, according to Benjamin Allbright, my ideology may not be based on reality.


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