Monday, March 27, 2017

kyle rudolph

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Where Do the Vikings Head From Here
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

[In part one of this three-part series, Austin Belisle and Brett Anderson team up to put together an in-depth offseason plan for the Minnesota Vikings.]

Football, more than any other sport, is an unpredictable game. A loose ball, a tipped pass, a broken tackle; the slightest shift in momentum or circumstance can flip competition on its head. Franchises prepare for the random nature of the game, but often fall victim to factors they can’t control.

Such was the case for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. From Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury to the merry-go-round at offensive line, the team struggled to bounce back in the face of adversity. Players on the defensive side of the ball underperformed, turmoil forced a turnover on the coaching staff, and Mike Zimmer’s eye blurred Minnesota’s season outlook.

Combined, the weekly distractions and diversions were too much for the Vikings to overcome. They stalled to an 8-8 finish after starting the season 5-0; missing the playoffs just one year removed from winning the NFC North. Like any team in the NFL, the Vikings had one end-goal in mind: the Super Bowl. But dreaming of a Lombardi Trophy and winning the actual game are two different things.

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Kyle Rudolph
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Our first installment of our Vikings Free Agency Primer series: The Tight Ends

It’s the time of year to start speculating (and gently trying to nudge Rick Spielman in the right direction) about the fixes for a roster that lost as many games as it won in 2016. Obviously, health is a major part of their past failures and future (hopefully) successes, but the 2017 version of the Minnesota Vikings will not be turnover-free.

Thus, the Vikings Territory team is taking a position-by-position look at the current talent, contract situations, and potential moves that could make some sense heading into next season. We may even plant our flags with a prediction or two along the way.

First up, I’ve decided to take on one of my favorite positions to watch in the modern NFL. Tight ends can be such a factor in the run game, in pass protection, and as an attacking target that they seem to be becoming more and more important to today’s offenses.

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Breaking Down the Vikings Quarterback's Greatest Strengths and Detrimental Weaknesses

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

“I think 7-9 is a best-case scenario.”

I said those words on an episode of About The Labor after Teddy Bridgewater shattered his leg. This isn’t meant to slight Shaun Hill, but I simply had no faith in the Minnesota Vikings without a competent starting quarterback.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman probably felt the same way, so he decided to act: He sent first- and conditional mid-round picks to Philadelphia in exchange for seventh-year journeyman Sam Bradford.

Bradford filled in sensationally at quarterback for Minnesota. In 15 games, he completed 71.6-percent of his passes (which broke Drew Brees’ NFL record, by the way) for 3,877 passing yards and 20 touchdowns against only five interceptions. His performance in Minnesota’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers alone was arguably worth the conditional pick shipped to Philadelphia (which ultimately became a fourth-rounder).

Just think about what we’d have to endure from Cheeseheads if the Packers had beaten the Vikings in the first game ever played at U.S. Bank Stadium. We all appreciate you, Sam.

While the Vikings fanbase is probably hung up on Bridgewater — and rightfully so, given that Zimmer called him the “nicest kid in the history of life” — Bradford made a strong case to be Minnesota’s starting quarterback moving forward, regardless of Bridgewater’s health.

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About the Labor: A Minnesota Vikings Podcast — Episode 36

Logo designed by Steve Danielson

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald begrudgingly begin the Minnesota Vikings offseason with a thorough review of the team’s offense.

PRIMARY TALKING POINTS

  • Sam Bradford’s first season in Minnesota
  • Why it’s difficult to debate quarterbacks at this point
  • Future of Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon
  • Breakout season for the wide receiver and tight end positions
  • Telling it like it is with the offense line

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Five thoughts on the Vikings' 8-8 season.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

As the 2016 Vikings season marched toward a feeble and joyless ending with a meaningless game against a similarly disinterested divisional opponent, it seemed fitting that things couldn’t just end without one more big dose of weird. In a year rife with peculiarities and distractions, from the midseason resignation of the offensive coordinator to the emergency eye surgery for the head coach, and of course the borderline comedic avalanche of injuries, the Vikings’ season-ending 38-10 victory over the Bears was overshadowed by a demonstration in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline that included protesters hanging from the rafters of U.S. Bank Stadium while the game went on underneath.

In a normal season, such a protest would be a bizarre outlier. But for fans who have followed the Vikings through what seems like every imaginable oddity in 2016, the display was met with solemn nods and casual acceptance. Of course it would end this way.

It’s been a long year.

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