Monday, November 30, 2015

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In the theme of Mad Men, Sam Ekstrom (@SamEkstrom) of 105 The Ticket and Cold Omaha joined the show to make it two dark, handsome, mysterious, and creative dudes talking about Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings football. No smoking though because: 2015. And no drinking brown liquor because: 9am on a Monday. (Okay maybe a little brown liquor)

Also in the theme of the final season of Mad Men, I broke up the chat into two parts. Please enjoy! Preferably while sipping an ice cold Coca-Cola.

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Hindsight is 20/20. That’s why we jumped in our DeLorean and went back to save the Vikings from themselves in 2011. There was a run on quarterbacks early in the first round and de facto GM Rick Spielman panicked and overdrafted Christian Ponder at #12. He did hit on Kyle Rudolph in the 2nd and Brandon Fusco in the 6th, but I think we can do a touch better with hindsight and our time machine.

Come along with Purple FTW! as we redo the Vikings 2011 Draft!

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Arif: 9-7
The Vikings were 7-9 last year, and I think they played like a 6-10 team—the bad luck happened about as often as the good luck. I think Teddy improves significantly, and it looks like Adrian Peterson is playing, so that should bring the offense up to at least league average even with the OL problems. On defense there are still a lot of moving parts, with a rookie corner, some questions at LB and safety and no clear answer at LDE. That said, it can be a top-10 defense even with those questions. Normally that would be a good case for 10-6, but I think that it is not only really difficult to improve a team more than three wins in a season but also that the Vikings have one of the most difficult schedules in the country.

Carl: 10-6
The Week One matchup against the 49ers on the road will be a huge tone setter for the Vikings. I think the 49ers are beatable, and the Vikings will also pick up a win in week two against the Lions. The Vikings have some tough games early, and the week three, four and six contests could very well dig the Vikings in a hole with games against the Chargers, at Broncos and Chiefs. The Vikings should win one of those three games. After weathering a 3-2 start, the Vikings will win the next four against at Lions, at Bears, Rams and at Raiders. The Vikings then start a three-game skid with the Packers, at Falcons, and Seahawks. The Vikings will be 7-5 heading into the final four games, winning three vs at Cardinals, Bears, Giants and finishing the season with a loss to the Packers.

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Before the start of the 2014 season, Rick Spielman rewarded defensive end Everson Griffen with a five-year, $42.5 million contract. Looking back at the deal, “rewarded” may be the wrong word; Griffen had started just one game in his four years with the team, recording just 17.5 sacks in spot duty behind Jared Allen.

But, Griffen showed flashes of a potentially bright future — an interception return for a touchdown against the Rams in 2012, 5.5 sacks in just 699 snaps throughout 2013. Spielman gambled on that future, letting Jared Allen walk in free agency and trusting his roster talent. His commitment to Griffen was more than trust; it was a ringing, $20 million guaranteed endorsement.

Simply put, Griffen delivered in 2014, recording 12 sacks through 16 starts (993 snaps). To the media outside of Winter Park, Griffen’s meteoric rise was unexpected. He earned national recognition, most recently from Pro Football Focus, who listed Griffen as the 98th-best player in all of football. According to the website, Griffen’s 59 quarterback disruptions while lined up on the right side of the line were second most of all 4-3 defensive ends.

That statistic is the perfect opportunity to move down the defensive line and focus on Griffen’s counterpart; Brian Robison. Griffen is a lock to man the right edge for years to come, but Robison’s days may soon be numbered. He’s 32-years-old and played in 932 of the defense’s snaps last year, but saw his production dwindle.

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Last Friday marked the start of “real” football for Vikings fans, as the team kicked off its rookie minicamp and welcomed 10 draft picks to Winter Park. There, they joined a handful of undrafted free agents to take part in on-field drills and media introductions.

Players like seventh-round pick Edmond Robinson used the weekend as a “proving ground” of sorts, showing coaches they belong on a 53-man roster. Others, like first-round pick Trae Waynes, spent their time absorbing an NFL playbook and refining their technique on the field. In reality, the weekend was a tease for what’s to come — training camp.

There, these young players will be tested beyond their expectations. Trae Waynes will be asked to cover veterans like Jarius Wright, while Eric Kendricks will find himself in coverage against Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon. It won’t be easy, but it’ll provide coaches a true litmus test of their rookies’ abilities on the field.

After the jump, a look at other notable rookies around the NFC North!:

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