Sunday, February 7, 2016

mike wallace

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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?

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[This Michael Thomas scouting report, with a Vikings slant, has been provided to Vikings Territory by Draft Season. Be sure to check back for more and also be sure to visit Draft Season to quench your NFL Draft thirst.]

Michael Thomas | Wide Receiver, Ohio St.

Measurements

Height – 6’3
Weight – 212 Lbs.
Age – 21

At First Glance

2015 All-Big Ten 3rd Team, Nephew of former #1 choice Keyshawn Johnson

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Vikings Bold Predictions
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings haven’t even finished their 2015 campaign, but we’re already excited for the draft, free agency, and the rest of what should be an exciting offseason for Mike Zimmer’s up-and-coming team. Maybe we’re used to thinking about the Vikings’ future in January — we haven’t had postseason football in Minnesota since 2009!

With that in mind — and with the help of Adam — I decided to ask the team to give me their Vikings bold predictions. Not for the Vikings’ upcoming playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, but for the 2016 season. Will Teddy Bridgewater take the next step and join the NFL’s elite? Will Adrian Peterson win his second-straight rushing title? Can the Vikings hold off the Green Bay Packers and retain their title as “Kings of the North?”

What’s your bold prediction for the 2016 season?

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Bridgewater hitting his stride in year two

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

What makes a “good” quarterback? Is the idea of being “good” measured by the number of touchdowns a quarterback throws? Is it measured by his passing yards? His completion percentage? Ask any fan, analyst, or sports journalist who the league’s best quarterbacks are, and you’ll get similar answers. Year after year, it’s Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, and so on and so forth. The list remains relatively the same each year, with a select few alternating at the top of the rankings season-to-season. But how do we determine what qualifies them to be considered the NFL’s best?

For some, it’s film study and hours spent breaking down game tape. For others, it’s the statistics and the deeper analytics. And for a select few, it’s the blind faith in one’s quarterback, the unwavering opinion that he is, of course, a “good” quarterback. We can all agree that the tried-and-true quarterbacks deserve to operate in a class of their own. Some have won multiple Super Bowls, some throw for 4,000-plus yards each year, and some win double-digit games each season. It’s easy to see when a quarterback just “gets it;” he intimately understands an offensive scheme, from where to throw the football pre-snap to how to adjust protections at the line of scrimmage.

Fans of teams with young signal callers, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and our very own Minnesota Vikings, would tell you that their respective quarterbacks are the “best of the class.” At times, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, and Teddy Bridgewater display some of the same characteristics that make players like Brady and Brees so consistently effective. But for the most part, they make the mistakes you’d expect from young, inexperienced players, like missing the simple throws, forcing passes into coverage, or taking unnecessary sacks. The growing pains aren’t unexpected, but definitely frustrating in today’s world of instant gratification. As football fans, we expect immediate success from quarterbacks, when honestly, that’s rarely the case.

Peterson's catch was made possible by McKinnon

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Adrian Peterson lines up eight yards behind Teddy Bridgewater, eyes up, feet planted, ready to explode into the wall of defensive linemen waiting for him. It’s a position he’s comfortable in, and one he’s been successful in his entire career. Of his 2,362 career rushing attempts, 98 percent (2,241) have come when the quarterback is under center. On those carries, he’s rushed for 11,143 yards — five yards per carry — and scored 94 of his 96 career rushing touchdowns.

That trend’s continued this year, his first full season back since missing nearly every game in 2014. Through 15 games in 2015, he’s rushed the ball 272 times with Bridgewater (and Shaun Hill) under center. Those carries have helped propel him to the top of the league’s rushing standings, with 1,362 of his 1,418 yards coming in such situations. It’s a formula that’s pushed the Vikings’ offense near the top of the rushing yardage standings, but one that’s proven frustrating at times.

Before his 104-yard performance against the New York Giants last Sunday, Peterson had failed to eclipse the 100-yard mark in the three previous games. The Vikings lost two of those contests by forcing the ball to Peterson on first and second down, putting Bridgewater in third-and-long situations far too often. That’s been the case in each of the Vikings’ five losses this season; rely too heavily on Peterson despite a failure to produce early, and the offense will flounder. Play-action passes are successful when a defense commits to stopping the run. If Peterson isn’t producing on early downs, linebackers and safeties won’t bite when Bridgewater fakes the handoff to his running back. Simply lined up behind Bridgewater, Peterson is a threat, but that threat can only become a reality if the defense isn’t completely honed in on No. 28.

Fortunately, offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s discovered a new weapon — one that can distract defenses from Peterson — in his loaded arsenal; second-year running back Jerick McKinnon.

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