Friday, October 9, 2015

Norv Turner

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After an abysmal start to the season against San Francisco Week 1, the Vikings will play their home opener Sunday against the division rival Detroit Lions. In 2014, Minnesota’s offense ranked No. 20 and Detroit’s defense ranked No. 3 in the NFL.

According to, Minnesota is 38-14-1 (.726) at home all-time against the Lions, which is the best home winning percentage against any NFC North team.

Both teams suffered a loss in Week 1 and will be hungry to notch that first game for the “W” column; let’s take a look at how they will match up this weekend.

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Even with the game's late start time

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The Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers are franchises heading in different directions. For one, the needle is pointing up after adding significant, young talent on both sides of the ball, from second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks. The other, a perennial playoff favorite, watched former All-Pro players like Frank Gore and Patrick Willis  sign with other teams or retire from football completely.

Optimism heading into Week One is at an all-time high, but to expect an easy win would be discounting a San Francisco 49ers team with a chance to pull of the surprise upset next Monday. I’m of the mindset that the Vikings will win the game, but not without a few challenges.

Where could the Vikings falter, and what will they need to do to ensure a win to start the season?

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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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When Teddy Bridgewater needed a third down conversion on Saturday night, he looked to Charles Johnson. When the pocket collapsed and Bridgewater needed to get rid of the football, he looked to Charles Johnson. And when the Vikings needed a touchdown in the red zone, who did Bridgewater throw the ball to?

Charles Johnson

If reports out of training camp and comments from Norv Turner weren’t enough to convince you this offseason, the Vikings’ third preseason game was the icing on the “Charles Johnson is the team’s No. 1 receiver” cake.  After the game, Bridgewater spoke to the strong chemistry he has developed with Johnson:

“Charles, he came up big for us tonight. You talk about that touchdown catch he had today with the defensive back all over his shoulders. Charles, he’s a big, physical guy. He helps out in the run game with his blocking for the running backs and it showed tonight in the passing game in just the first half – not even the entire first half, but the first quarter. He showed that he’s going to be big for us this year.”

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Veteran writer Brian Hall (@MNBrianHall) recently joined the Vikings Terriory team, so now is the perfect time to get him on the podcast. Brian stops in to talk about his backstory and the #HireBrian movement as well as the recent happenings with the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings.

How will the Loadholt injury affect things on the offensive line, how Christian Ponder will be greeted upon his return to Minnesota Saturday, will Adrian buck the trend of 30-year running backs hitting the wall, why Vikings fans should pump the brakes on Trae Waynes, and “How’s Teddy Look?”.

All that and other “I’m as crazy as Everson” fun on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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