Thursday, February 11, 2016

Antone Exum

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Will the Cincinnati-Minnesota pipeline continue for Mike Zimmer?

George Iloka a top free agent safety for the Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Building an NFL defense is a lot like putting together an intricate puzzle. Some pieces fit perfectly within the frame, like Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith in Minnesota. Others, unfortunately, are square pegs in a round hole. They have a place somewhere, but not with the Minnesota Vikings.

For Mike Zimmer, the picture is nearly complete — a top-five unit in 2015 has a chance to become even more dominant next season. But one of those pieces has long been a blemish in what should be Mike Zimmer’s masterpiece — strong safety.

From Andrew Sendejo to Robert Blanton, and even Terence Newman, no one player has been a perfect fit beside Smith in the secondary. Despite the revolving door at the position, general manager Rick Spielman does have options. The draft is chock full of potential contributors, and players like Anthony Harris will continue to develop, but the safest path to the perfect puzzle may begin in March.

That’s when free agency opens. And that’s when safeties like Eric Berry, Reggie Nelson, and Eric Weddle will hit the open market. They’re fine pieces to add to the puzzle, but they’re not the right piece for Zimmer’s defense. Enter George Iloka, current Cincinnati Bengals strong safety and soon-to-be free agent target.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

When it comes to trades, the NFL is usually not known for these types of transactions as much as other professional sports leagues have been such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB. However, the league did have a total of 38 trades in 2015 before the start of the regular season that featured at least one player (not just draft picks) and that total is the highest it has been in the last three years.

In the last three NFL offseasons, there have been a total of 89 trades made before the start of that year’s regular season. The Vikings have been involved in four of those 89 trades, including three in 2015.

Will Minnesota and general manager Rick Spielman participate in any trades in this upcoming offseason? If they do, who has the possibility of leaving town?

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Given the quick turnaround from Week 13 to Week 14, it’s no surprise that Anthony Barr (Groin), Linval Joseph (Foot), Antone Exum (Ribs/Shoulder), and Harrison Smith (Hamstring) have all been ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. A.J. Mansour of KFAN broke the news early Tuesday morning and cast a dark shadow over the hopes of an optimistic Minnesota Vikings fan base.

Coming off a 38-7 drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings will need to regain their early season form to retain the NFC’s fifth Wild Card spot. They’re currently a game ahead of the Seahawks and two games ahead of a crowded group of teams “in the hunt.” On paper, Thursday’s game heavily favors the Cardinals, who enter Week 14 with the league’s top-ranked offense and fourth-ranked defense.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings safety Antone Exum Jr. will reportedly miss at least the next two weeks due to a rib fracture and another injury to his AC joint. The injuries occurred during Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, but it is unsure when exactly the injuries were suffered.

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings got embarrassed by the Seattle Sea-Chicken Seahawks Sunday afternoon at The Bank 38-7. The final score was not indicative of how one-sided the game was as the Purple defense gave up 38 points and 433 yards of offense to Seahawks, while Teddy and the Vikings offense was shutout and only had 4 snaps on the Seattle half of the field. It was an eye opening game for a team that has a short week and the 10-2 Arizona Cardinals on Thursday. We recap the game the was and remind ourselves that our season isn’t over. Just like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

“Good Teams Don’t Get Curb Stomped at Home” Talking Points Include:
• What does it mean to be a “true” fan?
• The Zimmer Hellfire Defense Was Non-Existent
• At Some Point Teddy Bridgewater Runs Out of Excuses
• Norv Turner Needs to be Fired
• Brandon Fusco is Terrible
• Adrian Peterson Wasn’t a Factor
• Where Did Stefon Diggs Go?
• Antone Exum is Our Man
• Penalities Have Been Killing Us
• No Time to Hang Our Heads

All that and other “Crushed Like a Grape” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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