Monday, October 5, 2015

matt asiata

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In this weekly series of articles, I’ll be breaking down what went RIGHT or what went WRONG each game for the Minnesota Vikings. This week, the Vikings punished the San Diego Chargers behind a strong running attack and consistent quarterback pressure from the defensive line.

These Minnesota Vikings have the look of a certain team approximately 1,660 miles to the West — the Seattle Seahawks. Before you comment or tweet in outrage, hear me out, because the similarities are too obvious to ignore.

Like their counterparts in the Pacific Northwest, the Vikings are built to succeed through two fundamental concepts; a strong running game and a fast, aggressive defense. General manager Rick Spielman’s draft strategies and recent free agent signings have helped him achieve the look and feel of the Seahawks on both sides of the ball, from the secondary to depth at running back.

That starts with Harrison Smith, who through three games is already considered the league’s best safety, per Pro Football Focus. He’s this team’s Earl Thomas, a “quarterback of the defense” who can cover sideline to sideline and attack the line of scrimmage in run support. At linebacker, Anthony Barr, Gerald Hodges, and Eric Kendricks exemplify many of the same traits that make Seattle’s mid-level defenders so dangerous — speed, versatility to blitz or cover, and instincts.

Beyond those position groups, the Vikings’ greatest defensive strength starts at the line of scrimmage. Everson Griffen is the anchor of the group, a force against the run and an elite edge rusher. He plays a similar role to the Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, who lines up across the defensive line and is by far Seattle’s most consistent rusher, having tallied seven sacks in 2014. Joining Griffen are Brian Robison, Scott Crichton, Justin Trattou, and two of the league’s best interior linemen — Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph.

With a mix of double A-Gap blitzes, suffocating coverage from the secondary, and aggressive play from the front seven, Mike Zimmer’s defense passes the eye test. Like the Seahawks, they fly to the football and are an opportunistic bunch who have forced six turnovers through three games in 2015.

On the offensive side of the football, the Vikings are taking the Marshawn Lynch approach to moving the football, and fortunately, have the running back to do so. Adrian Peterson, the original “Beast Mode,” leads the league with 291 yards on the ground and in the past two games, rushed the ball 49 times. Last season, the Seahawks ran the football 53.63 percent of the time, and this year, the Vikings are on pace to surpass that. They’re rushing on 54.88 percent of their offensive snaps, taking the football out of Teddy Bridgewater’s hands and forcing defenses to commit to the run.

Hopefully, as they did for the Seahawks during their Super Bowl runs, the defense’s loaded boxes open up opportunities in the passing game. Russell Wilson, for example, finished the 2014 season with 3,475 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in an offense tailored to the running game. When we take Teddy Bridgewater’s statistics through three games and extrapolate them to project a 16-game season, we get the following: 2,693 yards, 5 touchdowns, 10 interceptions. Underwhelming, yes, but Bridgewater is operating behind Adrian Peterson in Norv Turner’s offense, and he hasn’t been forced to win games with his arm.

As long as the formula — suffocating defense and a run-heavy offense — are leading to victories, the Vikings should stick to the plan. A similar one took the Seahawks to multiple Super Bowls, and the Vikings have a chance to get there very soon. If last week’s win over the Chargers was any indication, they’ve fully embraced this winning identity.

After the jump, Ill dive deeper into their performance and the building blocks being put into place for a successful playoff run.

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Mike Wallace, sneaky red zone threat

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In the NFL, the red zone can make or break teams. Poor play-calling or a lack of physicality can mean the difference between three or seven points, and in most cases, those lost points can spell doom for unsuccessful offenses — just look at the New Orleans Saints, who went 1-of-4 yesterday and ultimately lost to the Arizona Cardinals.

Last season, the Vikings offense finished the year ranked 15th in red zone touchdown percentage, scoring 21 touchdowns on 39 possessions for a rate of 53.8 percent:

Image courtesy of Pro Football Reference
Image courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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The 2015 Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings preseason is in the books and now we are only 10 long days away from actually FOOTBALL football when the boys in Purple head out to Santa Clara to take on the San Francisco Shells of Their Former Selves next Monday night.

Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) stops in for his weekly spot to touch on the upcoming season, who’s in/out for the final 53 man roster, and we make fun of RG3.

Other “We’re Lucky We Got Kalil Instead of RG3” Talkers Include
• Andy The Yellow
• New Rating System – The #AndySnorkel Rating
• Minnesota State Fair Food PFF Ratings
• The Washington Dumpster Fire
• What has Arif done for a scoop?
• Will RG3 get cut?
• Brady Free. What does this mean for Goodell?
• Movement on the 53 Man Roster projections? (Spoiler: Nah)
• Tyrus Thompson vs David Yankey at backup LT
• Dominique Williams vs Matt Asiata
• Fullback or Taylor Heinicke on the 53???
• Will Matt Kalil & Mike Harris’ decent preseason play translate?
• Arif: Bad signs in Clemmings play
• Robert Blanton is Denny’s… I explain why
• Heinicke love & analysis
• What to expect from Adrian Peterson
ESPN Top 100 Rankings. ONLY ONE VIKING? Who got snubbed?
• Adrian is #11. Too high?
• 2015 Season W/L Predictions Week-By-Week
• Weekly Hypothetical – NFL Players as Presidential Candidates – Who Be Who?
• Donald Trump is Cordarrelle/RG3
• Visit our new sponsor Victiv for Daily Fantasy Sports!
Support us on Amazon!

All that and other “See You In Santa Clara!” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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When reporters asked Mike Wallace Tuesday if he’s curious to see Adrian Peterson play, Vikings fans knew what the receiver would say long before he had a chance to answer the question — of course! Given the fact that the Vikings are averaging a meager three yards per carry this preseason, Peterson’s return to the backfield is long overdue. On September 14th, he’ll make his first appearance on the field since rushing for 75 yards in Week One last season. Regardless of the team’s struggles early on, offensive coordinator Norv Turner is optimistic and nearly as excited as Wallace to see No. 28 suit up against the 49ers:

“We’re going to be a good running football team,” Turner said on Tuesday. “We developed into a pretty good running team last year and obviously we’re anxious to get [Adrian] Peterson back.”

No one doubts Peterson’s rushing abilities — he’s averaged five yards per carry over his career, rushed for more than 10,000 yards, and has scored almost 90 touchdowns on the ground in eight seasons. At 30 years old, Peterson’s hit the proverbial “running back wall,” but who expects Peterson to do anything but crash through that wall this year? He’s in the best shape of his life, which is scary considering he broke the 2,000-yard mark in 2012 a year after tearing his ACL.

Don’t be surprised if Peterson carries the ball more than 300 times in 2015. In each of the seasons where he played all 16 games (2008, 2009, 2012), Peterson eclipsed that number and was projected to do so in 2013, when he carried the ball 279 times through 14 games. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon will get their touches, but Peterson is the workhorse of the group — if he stays healthy, he’ll easily rush for more than 1,200 yards.

I have one request, though. Please, please get Adrian Peterson involved in the passing game. Knowing Norv Turner’s history calling offenses, that should happen this season. But how often will Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson connect? Let’s find out.

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The Minnesota Fighting Vikings have one (ONE!) freaking preseason game left before the 2015 Season of Believin’ kicks off two Monday nights from now in Santa Clara (and hopefully ends there too).

Di Murphy (@DiMurphyMN) stops by to talk some Purple talking points, gust about Danielle Hunter, and play a lil Ya or Nah.

Other “One More Free Skate Til Showtime” Talkers Include
• Vikings down to 75. Were at 78 for Monday’s show
• ♫ Bye Bye Little Mike Kafka ♫
• The Taylor Heinicke Show premieres Thursday
• Di Murphy – How’s school?
• Cordarrelle gets repieve from the Governor
• Teddy to Wallace & CJ
• Danielle Hunter finally made a splash
• I don’t get the Trae Waynes over analysis.
• Dominique Williams or Matt Asiata
• Mike Mauti is done
• The #Vikings are #23 on ESPN’s Football Power Index. Good.
• Sports reporting should be more than just reciting PFF ratings
• Hodges, Barr, Greeway, Kendricks – LET’S GO
• What’s up with Blair Walsh?
• Tennessee Titans: What are you excited to see?
• Game Time: Ya or Nah? – 53 Man Roster Edition
• Shoutout to Master Tesfatsion heading to the Washington Post
• LOL RG3. Although I kinda feel bad for him.
• I Love/Hate Fantasy Football
PayPal Donation Love! Thank you much.
• Visit our new sponsor Victiv for Daily Fantasy Sports!
Support us on Amazon!

All that and other “Watch Your Back, Teddy” on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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