Monday, January 22, 2018

Pat Elflein

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Vikings O.C. Pat Shurmur wins PFWA NFL Assistant Coach of the Year award.

Pat Shurmur, Offensive Coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, was named 2017 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America Thursday.

Shurmur took over as Vikings offensive coordinator in 2017 after serving on an interim basis in 2016. He was recognized for orchestrating a Vikings offense that produced plenty of big plays throughout the season. His efforts helped lead the team to a 13-3 record and a No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The Vikings offense ranked 11th in the NFL in total yards during the regular season. According to PFWA the Vikings had 68 plays of 20-plus yards (7th in the league), and 12 scoring drives of 80-plus yards, eight more than in 2016. The offense ranked 10th in scoring, averaging 23.9 points per game.

Shurmur’s guidance helped the Vikings offense overcome significant obstacles during the season. The Vikings lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford for all but two quarters after Week 1. The team then lost starting running back Dalvin Cook to a season-ending ACL injury in Week 4. Still, Shurmur found a way to get consistent production out of his players.

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The Vikings ended a disappointing 2016 season by finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Just one year later, the team is eyeing their first Super Bowl appearance since 1976.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was named the 2017 NFL Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly. An 18-person panel selected the 55 year-old as the recipient of the honor.

“Slick Rick,” or “Trader Rick” as he’s commonly referred to, has built a reputation of accumulating draft picks, selecting impact players throughout all seven rounds and engineering multiple draft day trades. More recently, however, it’s Spielman’s ability to transform a roster that has him receiving recognition.

The 2017 offseason may have been some of Spielman’s best work as the Vikings general manager. Let’s take a closer look at how he used due diligence and refined offseason strategies to revamp the Vikings roster and put Minnesota back on the map.

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One Minnesota Viking was named to the Professional Football Writer’s All-Rookie Team.

Taken with the 70th overall pick in the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Vikings center Pat Elfein made an immediate impact as a rookie out of Ohio State. The athletic 23 year-old was a big part of Minnesota’s offensive turnaround; one that saw the Vikings improve from 28th in total offense last season to 11th in 2017.

Elflein was named to the Pro Football Writers of America 2017 All-Rookie Team Tuesday.

Making a large impact in both the screen pass game and rushing attack, Elflein quickly became the anchor of the Vikings’ revamped offensive line.

Behind Elflein and the “new” o-line, Minnesota improved drastically on the ground. In 2017 the Vikings ranked seventh in the NFL in rushing, averaging 122.3 yards per game. Last year the team averaged 75.3 yards per game (32nd in the NFL).

The former wrestler also helped protect quarterback Case Keenum, who like Elflein started 14 games for the Vikings this season (Elflein missed two games with a shoulder injury.) The Vikings improved from 23rd in sacks allowed in 2016 (38) to seventh this season (27).

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2017 Minnesota Vikings Pro Football Focus grades.

Before we get started I would like to make some things clear about PFF grades.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) has been grading NFL players since 2004. The football analytics site evaluates individual performances on a play-by-play basis. On every play of every game, a PFF analyst will grade each player on a scale of -2 to +2 according to what he did on the play.

From the Pro Football Focus website:

pff player grades

The grading method was designed to build a clearer picture of how players performed, rather than simply judging performances based on box-score stats. Stats can be misleading.

While most statistical analysis is quantitative in nature, PFF uses qualitative measures and opinion-based grading as the basis of their rankings, so like baseball umpires, their calls could be construed by critics as “biased.” However, the grading process is overseen by at least three individuals per contest, so while the numbers may not always be perfect, the process itself is rather reliable.

What’s also unique about PFF is that season-level grades also account for the duration of good and bad play, resulting in “compounded” grades (both positive and negative) if the player’s performance continues for long periods of time. Basically, the grades factor in “streaky” play. Kinda cool, right?

Anyways…I hope that helped. It’s better to know these things beforehand because some grades may surprise you.

So without further adieu, here are the 2017 season grades for each qualified Viking. The players are arranged by grade within their position group. Notable position rankings are listed in parentheses.

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Drew Mahowald presents the 20th edition of the Skol Scale following the Minnesota Vikings’ 23-10 win over the Chicago Bears to wrap up the regular season at 13-3.

The Minnesota Vikings aren’t just playoff bound.

They’re already divisional round bound. At home.

Minnesota wrapped up the regular season by winning 11 of its final 12 games to enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Mike Zimmer’s team has exceeded any and all expectations set forth before the season by even the biggest of homers.