Thursday, September 21, 2017

Offensive Line

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saints
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

1. Yes, Sam Bradford can throw deep, and he’s pretty good at it.

Full disclosure: I started jotting down bullet points after the first two offensive drives, and the original headline for this point was, “Sam Bradford: still not letting ‘er rip.” Because up until then, he wasn’t; the Vikings offense moved the ball, but we saw Bradford dink and dunk down the field and ignore open receivers running longer routes in favor of checkdowns. This, of course, became all too common last season, and tainted the all-time completion percentage record Bradford set in 2016 in the eyes of many.

But then something changed. Sam Bradford started looking downfield, and finding open receivers, and the Vikings got two quick touchdowns to end the first half (and another in the second), almost all because of Bradford’s arm. Maybe he was feeling the game out, or maybe he just got comfortable with the Vikings new-look offensive line (more on that later), but suddenly Sam Bradford was uncorking beautiful intermediate and deep shots, one after another, and the Minnesota Vikings looked like a completely different team.

And when I say beautiful, I mean flat-out, drop-dead gorgeous. Sure, it was against the Saints defense, but Bradford was putting the ball exactly where it needed to be just about every time. This particular throw was my favorite:

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predictions
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Okay, so we’re feeling a little down about the squad lately. The preseason has been largely underwhelming for the Vikings’ starters and key players, and we’ve seen some of the issues responsible for last year’s second-half collapse linger into the exhibition games. Sunday’s game against the 49ers — despite the late heroics of Heinicke & Co. — sucked. Vikings fans are prone to worrying, and worry we will, at least until we see consistent pass blocking and defensive backs minding their assignments, among other things.

So perhaps this doesn’t come at the best time, but we here at VT are still insanely excited for the season. We’re less than two weeks away from real, meaningful football, and along with the disgruntling elements on which we love to dwell come some real signs for optimism. As it stands, the offensive line is, at the very least, improved. Dalvin Cook has the look of a feature back. And the defense has the talent to rank not only as the league’s best, but among the best units in team history.

So with the regular season right around the corner, I polled the Vikings Territory team on their record predictions for 2017:

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Ham.

Isidora
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The team at Vikings Territory has been busy working to get to know each of our newest Vikings draft selections and this week we will give you a chance to learn everything we know about these players through our reintroduction of the “Welcome to the Big Show” series.

Next Up: G Danny Isidora

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Danny Isidora
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

HAM!

Breathe deeply, Vikings fans; Rick Spielman is finally investing in the offensive line in the draft. After grabbing versatile guard/center Pat Elflein in the third round, Minnesota again went to the trenches and selected Miami guard Danny Isidora in the fifth.

Zimmer has said Elflein will start out as a center, so between he, Joe Berger, and now Isidora, the interior of the Vikings offensive line looks drastically better than it did last season. Jeremiah Sirles also figures to be in the mix.

Here’s what folks around the web are saying about the Vikings’ (second) fifth round pick:

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Hello, friends. I’m back. I’ve reclaimed my guest bedroom studio just in time for draft week, and am excited to bring you this draft preview edition of Bump & Run.

In this episode, I explain why we can and should still get excited about the draft, despite the Vikings not having a first round pick. I also discuss why drafting for need is not the enemy, and how every NFL team does in fact consider need when drafting. Plus, I give my top three draft needs for the Vikings, which are:

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