Thursday, February 11, 2016

adam thielen

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keeping mike wallace
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Any way you look at it, Mike Wallace’s first season with the Vikings was a disappointment. He was acquired last offseason to be a deep threat for Teddy Bridgewater and, presumably, resemble a number one receiver. Neither really came to fruition; Wallace posted career lows in receiving yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns, and his longest reception was 34 yards. While he did find a workmanlike niche in the offense, there wasn’t a single game in which Wallace made a major splash. In all, it wasn’t the game-changing presence the Vikings had hoped for.

Wallace is signed through 2017, and owed $11.5 million each of the next two years. That would make him the fourth-highest paid receiver in the league for 2017—not exactly a slot that matches his production. For that reason, many Vikings fans are in favor of cutting bait and using the money elsewhere. However, there are plenty of reasons it makes sense to bring the speedy receiver back for 2016. Here are a few:

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Special Teams Player of the Year
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Territory asked, and the readers spoke; in this series of articles, the team will announce the winners of our fan-voted awards, from the Minnesota Vikings’ MVP of 2015 to the Rookie of the Year. Today, a look at the Special Teams Player of the Year, as voted by you, the fans.

Blair Walsh, K — Minnesota Vikings

One play doesn’t define a game, a season, or even a career. Despite missing the game-winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month, Blair Walsh put together one of the best campaigns of his short tenure in the NFL. Even before the year began, the front office expressed confidence in their kicker, signing Walsh to a four-year, $14 million contract at the start of training camp.

He failed to deliver early on, especially in the preseason. While battling a nasty case of the “yips,” Walsh went just 5-of-11 in exhibition games and struggled to connect on the new, 33-yard extra points. His first attempt of the year was a miss against the San Francisco 49ers. He missed a field goal against the Denver Broncos in a game that was ultimately decide by three points. And then, the misses stopped.

Over the next four games, Walsh was a perfect 13-for-13, averaging nearly 40 yards per field goal. In two of those games, he drilled game-winning kicks against the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams. The pressure to perform didn’t seem to weigh on Walsh, and that’s the same mentality he’s taking into 2016.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

A 20-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers earned the Minnesota Vikings their first division championship since 2009 and this season has been one heck of a ride. We’ll have plenty more on the victory over Green Bay, the regular season as a whole, and the attempted redemption coming up against Seattle.

For now, however, I want to take a second to a minute to wrap ourselves up in VT‘s own time honored tradition of handing out a game ball from you, the readers.

This heralded (by me) award was given to Harrison Smith last week.  Teddy Bridgewater and Stefon Diggs are tied for a team lead with three game balls each this season, but neither is likely to break that tie via your votes this week. A list of the weekly outcomes can always be found on our Schedule Page.

Moving onto this week’s nominees…

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings are your NFC North Champions after defeating the hated Green Bay Packers 20-13 Sunday Night at Lambeau Field. Everson Griffen and the Vikings defense kept Aaron Rodgers and Eddie “Slim” Lacy in check to bring home the Purple’s first division title since 2009. The Vikes square off against the Seattle Seahawks (revenge game, son) in the Wild Card Round at noon Sunday at The Bank. But before we look ahead, let’s look back at the Vikings shaking off the “You can’t beat Green Bay/You can’t win big games in prime time” narratives.

Other “This is Our Damn Division” Talking Points Include
• The Idea of Losing Intentionally Was Moronic
• Defense Take a Bow
• We Don’t Win Without Everson Griffen. Period.
• Teddy Was Okay When Throwing Right-Handed….
• Adrian Got His Rushing Title
• FREE McKinnon
• Adam Thielen: NFC Title Game MVP
• Vikings Got the Calls?
• Zimmer Farmer Blow = Elite
• Zimmer End of Half/Game Management…
• Twitter Qs
• Charting Out the Vikings Revenge Tour

All this and other “Home ” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Marcus Sherels spent much of the offseason surrounded by question marks, specifically those addressing his status with the team. Like Cordarrelle Patterson, he’s a backup at his native position whose main contributions come on special teams. Unlike Patterson, though, Sherels is making an impact in the return game and being rewarded for his winning efforts.

On Monday, Sherels was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the Chicago Bears. In the first quarter, he returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, putting the Vikings up 7-3 at Soldier Field in a game Minnesota needed to win. Sherels also returned a punt 12 yards on the Vikings’ game-winning drive and led the team with two special teams tackles.

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