Monday, August 21, 2017

Danny Isidora

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Bookends Need To Stay Off The Shelf

Under head coach Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings have quietly become one of the best NFL teams on paper. In reality, the defense is legitimate. Last season the Vikings ranked third in the NFL in total defense.

Today, three of the team’s best defenders are the beneficiaries of contract extensions, making them Vikings for life. Furthermore, the Vikings offense, which sputtered last season, now has the personnel to establish a refreshing new identity, post Adrian Peterson.

So, what could keep this ‘great’ team from reaching the playoffs and making a run at Super Bowl 52 in their home state? The Vikings’ Achilles heel…the offensive line.

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Interior Offensive Line
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Welcome to the last installment of the Vikings Territory Training Camp Primer series focusing on Alex Boone, Pat Elflein, Joe Berger, and the Minnesota Vikings interior offensive line.

It’s no secret the Vikings’ offensive line had a rough 2016 season. Multiple players who were expected to make an impact up front were lost for a variety of reasons; Mike Harris didn’t play a snap all year due to an undisclosed illness or injury, Phil Loadholt retired before the season, and tackles Matt Kalil, Andre Smith and Jake Long all suffered season-ending injures.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Training Camp Preview

In just 11 days, the Minnesota Vikings open training camp on the Minnesota State, Mankato campus. Rookie practices begin on Monday, July 24th and full team practices start Thursday, July 27th.

As usual, this time of year has brought optimism to the Vikings and their fans. But this year, things seem different. There’s good reason to be excited, as the offseason resulted in refreshing roster replacements, an influx of young talent, and a promising outlook on lovable quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

To recap the offseason moves, Minnesota added free agents Latavius Murray, Riley Reiff, Datone Jones, Michael Floyd, and Mike Remmers.

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Vikings Done To Fix Their Offense
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This post was guest-written by Luke Braun, who is a writer for Purple PTSD and co-host of the Purple Journal Podcast. Since before he can remember, he was immersed in the ups and crippling downs of Vikings fandom. In adulthood, he’s taken an analytical approach to evaluation, but the compelling stories of each NFL player are not lost on him. Outside of football, Luke works in digital media and the film industry, giving him a unique perspective on the characters and story of the NFL.

It’s fairly clear that the 2016 Minnesota Vikings were held back by their offense more than their defense or special teams. By DVOA, the Vikings ranked 26th on offense, while turning in the ninth-best defense. They experienced a post-bye streak of seven games where they only topped 21 points once, losing all six of the other games.

In response to the general failure of the offense, Mike Zimmer set the bar at 21 points per game for 2017, establishing a clear goal to improve. The first step to fixing a problem, however, is diagnosing it. Where did we go wrong?

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