Thursday, October 27, 2016

adrian peterson

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shift from Peterson to Bridgewater
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Teddy Bridgewater’s only played in 17 total games with Adrian Peterson, and yet, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in a bind. Peterson’s 1,485 rushing yards led the league last year and propelled the Vikings to an NFC North title and playoff berth; the team’s first since 2009. But it could be argued that Peterson’s success affected Bridgewater, limiting the young quarterback to the role of ‘dink-and-dunk’ game manager.

This wouldn’t be an issue if Peterson weren’t on the wrong side of 30. A younger running back, like Jerick McKinnon, could learn to work with Bridgewater, adapt to the quarterback’s preferred shotgun formation, and become a liable threat in the passing game. But Peterson is Peterson, and asking an old dog to learn new tricks will only come with challenges. And challenges take time, time the Vikings can’t afford to waste with their Super Bowl quickly opening.

To burst through that window, Minnesota needs to focus on the future. Right now, the future is Bridgewater and his ability to carry the Vikings’ offense. Peterson himself admitted just yesterday that this is the third-year quarterback’s team to lead:

“For this third year we are expecting big things from him,” Peterson said. “I don’t think it’s pressure toward him, but he understands it now even more going into this next year. He’s the leader of this team when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. He just knows that and takes control.”

All signs indicate a shift from Peterson to Bridgewater: the addition of Laquon Treadwell; the hiring of Pat Shurmur; reports of Bridgewater’s improved deep ball; Peterson’s own admission that he must improve as a pass-catcher and shotgun runner.

But if it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it, right? That very well may be the case in 2016, especially with Norv Turner at the helm of the offense. Peterson shows no signs of slowing down and remains a focal point of the organization. With one lucrative year remaining on his contract, there’s no reason for Turner not to run Peterson into the ground.

I’ve pitched the ball; it’s up to Vikings Territory staff — and a special guest — to answer the question:

How many rushing yards will Peterson have in 2016?

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Looking back on 10 years of Rick Spielman

Spielman's best and worst moves
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(Note: This is a two-part series. The first part focuses on Spielman’s best moves. Part two, an analysis of the worst moves, will be posted tomorrow.)

Earlier this week marked the 10-year anniversary of Rick Spielman joining the Minnesota Vikings. Spielman’s job has evolved over time—he was initially hired as the Vice President of Player Personnel in 2006, replacing the short-tenured Fran Foley in the Vikings’ “Triangle of Authority,” and in 2012 was promoted to General Manager and has acted as the single voice for all football matters since then. Ten years is more than enough time to make your mark on a franchise, so we (okay, technically it was Brett’s idea) thought it would be good to look back on some of Spielman’s best an worst moves at the helm.

Since he didn’t assume full control until 2012, attributing transactions prior to that year directly to Spielman is a cloudy proposition; indeed, it was exceedingly difficult to pin down who exactly in that infamous triangle was calling the shots from 2006-2012. But we can rely on educated guesses to navigate those years, and the assumption is that most football personnel moves have had Spielman’s fingerprints on them since he arrived in town. If conventional wisdom indicates a particular decision was made outside of his control, I’ll note that and categorize accordingly.

Our first installment of this two-part series looks back at Rick Spielman’s best moves.

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Projecting the Vikings' Final 53-Man Roster
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The 2016 season inched forward a bit when the Vikings opened their OTA offseason workouts. With that came plenty of early optimism about the Vikings’ talented roster. Teddy is ready to throw for 10,000 yards. Adrian Peterson is in the best shape of his life. 2015 top pick Trae Waynes is thriving and Aaron Boone looks great in purple.

If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest of claims that the Vikings are a true Super Bowl contender.

It is too early to say most of these things, but when you start to stack Minnesota’s roster, you can see why the hype exists. I struggled with my first attempt to pencil in a final 53-man roster, mostly because there will be talented players who will inevitably be cut. The front office won’t have an easy task on their hands, but I’d take a loaded roster over a barren one any day of the week.

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final 53-man roster for the Vikings
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The bubble; the void at the bottom of an NFL roster where a player’s season can sink or swim. Minnesota Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels has made a living on the bubble, scraping his way onto the final 53-man roster like clockwork each year. Journeymen and undrafted free agents spend most of their careers on the edge, but they’re not the only ones in fear of the eventual ‘pop.’

When a team like the Vikings consistently builds through the draft and retains young talent each offseason, they make it more difficult for those at the bottom of the depth chart to stick around. Sometimes, it’s a matter of circumstances; when Rick Spielman uses a first round pick on a wide receiver, another will have to go to make room on the roster. Other times, it’s a matter of players wearing out their welcome; think Gerald Hodges last year, and possibly, Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason.

Front offices have to make sacrifices when constructing a roster. It’s the reality of life in the NFL, where starting positions are only guaranteed if your name is Adrian Peterson or Teddy Bridgewater. Spielman’s cuts, as they do each year, will include a few surprising names. Who, exactly? That’s what the Vikings Territory team is going to try and answer today!

Fill in the blank — ‘Player X’ will not make the final 53-man roster for the Vikings.

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Bold Vikings Predictions for the 2016 Season
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With the news cycle at an offseason low, it’s time to start thinking big. The Minnesota Vikings begin organized team activities (OTAs) next week, marking the high-point in what’s been a frustratingly quiet period since the conclusion of the 2016 NFL Draft.

We’re tired of waiting for the action to begin, though; pull out the crystal balls and put on your thinking caps. The Vikings Territory team — and a special guest — are sharing their bold predictions for the 2016 season. Will Rick Spielman make a surprising trade? Does Moritz Böhringer crack the starting lineup? Read after the jump and see what we think!

What’s your way-too-early bold prediction for the 2016 season?

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