Saturday, July 22, 2017

matt asiata

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Out with the old (No. 28), in with the new (No. 25)

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Mark Twain once said this of humans: “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”

I think back to childhood and remember picking scabs. You’d cut yourself, watch the blood coagulate into a rough piece of skin, then rip the protective layer away with your finger. Why’d we do it? And why do so many people continue to interrupt the body’s natural healing process?

For me, there was something oddly satisfying about the slight rush of pain and the “resetting” of the biological clock. I marveled at my skin’s ability to heal itself time and time again, but as I grew up, I grew out of the habit — or so I thought.

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image via Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings were in search of a “Thunder” style running back to pair with the “Lightning” that is Jerick McKinnon.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman noticed and acted.

Early Thursday morning (or late Wednesday night), the Minnesota Vikings announced they signed former Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray.

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Welcome to the next installment of our Vikings Free Agency Primer series: the running backs. Check out our other primers on tight ends, defensive ends, cornerbacks, safetiesquarterbacks, wideouts, and defensive tackles.

Ah yes, here we are. The inevitable departure of Adrian Peterson has happened, and we can take a clear look at the Vikings running back situation and what to do about it.

LAST SEASON

It wasn’t good. The Vikings were dead last in the league in rushing last year, and while much of that can (and should) be attributed to the floundering offensive line play, none of the backs did much to inspire hope, either.

Peterson only played in three games due to injury, rushing 37 times for 72 yards—a putrid 1.9-yard average. While we’ll fondly remember the AP glory days—he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest players in franchise history—his legendary burst has mellowed, his injuries have begun to pile up, and his cost is most likely too high for a return. The fanbase is ready to move on, and you get the feeling Adrian is, too. It would be surprising if the Vikings re-signed him.

The absence of Peterson thrust Jerick McKinnon into the lead role in 2016, finally giving us the long look at the shifty back many fans had anxiously awaited. It went…fine. McKinnon carried the ball 159 times for 539 yards (3.4 YPC) and two touchdowns, and also had 43 catches for 255 yards and another two TDs. Again, it’s difficult for any runner to perform well without holes to run through—the YPC average was by far the lowest of his career—but McKinnon never really displayed the electrifying ability we hoped he possessed. It may still be in there, but calls for McKinnon to receive more touches have temporarily been silenced.

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Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen Dominate Offensive Play Rankings

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Unfortunately, the offseason has started a little earlier than the Minnesota Vikings would have hoped.

While Minnesota ended its season on about as high of a note as it could have with a dominating 38-10 victory at home over the Chicago Bears, the Vikings will be watching the postseason from their couches as the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions compete for a Super Bowl.

The worst-case scenario has been engaged with the happiness of Vikings fans now in the hands of the Seattle Seahawks and, more so, the New York Giants — a pair of teams that are certainly capable of bringing peace and harmony back to Vikings Territory in one fell swoop this weekend.

There is not a single Vikings fan in the world who is happy to see the offseason arrive so soon, but there are a few benefits to this heartbreaking situation:

  1. Vikings have extra time to prepare for a critical NFL Draft and Free Agency period
  2. Vikings won’t control your happiness on Sundays for roughly 9 months
  3. Excellent offseason content from your favorite source, Vikings Territory

With a dark cloud currently hovering over Mike Zimmer’s kingdom, the best place to start the Vikings Territory offseason content cycle may very well be through a series of articles highlighting the most thrilling and critical moments and performances that we shared together throughout this rollercoaster ride of a 2016 season:

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Five thoughts from the Vikings' win at Jacksonville.

five thoughts
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

1. One down.

As the saying goes, you can’t win the last four if you don’t win the first one of the last four. Or something like that.

I gave my call to arms on last week’s Bump & Run, and while I delivered it in a wholly ridiculous manner (as I’m wont to do with these things), I fully believe everything that was said. The Vikings have an agreeable schedule the last quarter of the season, they’ve shown they can put together a winning streak, and if they do finish 10-6, they have a good shot to make the playoffs. Now, part one of that four-part plan is accomplished (yeah, it was probably the easiest part, too, but you can only play who they put in front of you). Up next is part two against the Colts at home, another very doable task. The season isn’t over.

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