Monday, January 22, 2018

Rick Spielman

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

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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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

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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Episode 132

Graphic designed by Brett Anderson

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald discuss the Minnesota Vikings naming Case Keenum the starting quarterback against the Los Angeles Rams and Rick Spielman’s gripe with Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and Fox Sports before finishing off with a coverage chart update and some Twitter takes.

Episode 132 is proudly sponsored by SoCom Creative.

PRIMARY TALKING POINTS

  1. Into: The Agenda (0:00)
  2. Sponsor Note: SoCom Creative (1:15)
  3. Case Closed: Rapid Reaction to Case Keenum Being Named the Starter (1:54)
  4. 3rd-Leg Greg: Rick Spielman Rattled About by Greg Olsen in the Booth this Weekend (13:58)
  5. Coverage Chart: Mackensie Alexander and Andrew Sendejo Shine (22:20)
  6. Twitter Takes: Taylor Heinicke’s Ghost Continues to Haunt BJ (30:00)
  7. Sign-Out: Subscribe and Review on iTunes and/or Stitcher! (47:15)

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At 7-2, the Vikings are among the NFC's elite, and major credit should go to Rick Spielman.

Spielman
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Sunday’s game felt especially meaningful for the Vikings; coming off a bye, with the first half of the season in the rearview mirror, Minnesota had a successful squad that hadn’t yet been greatly tested. It looked like an improved and well-rounded team, but there was no way to know if the success was due mostly to their own competence or their relatively soft, home-heavy schedule to that point.

The Redskins game looked to be a good test of this — a solid team, on the road, in a difficult environment. Many, including me, saw this as a stage for a possible letdown. A loss to Washington would have put a dent in the notion that the Vikings are legitimate NFC contenders, and probably bring on a tidal wave of concerns about another second half collapse. It was an important game, for morale as much as the standings.

With their 38-30 win at Washington, the Vikings answered a lot of questions, and solidified themselves as one of the elite teams in the NFC. And this is in large part because of the way their roster is constructed; deep, balanced, and talented. Rick Spielman has had an up and down tenure as the Vikings’ general manager, and opinions on him range widely. I’ve always been of the belief his personnel decisions have been more positive than negative, but no matter your personal feelings, it’s hard to argue that the 2017 Vikings aren’t his finest work yet.

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image courtesy of Vikings.com

Drew Mahowald presents the 12th edition of the Skol Scale following the Minnesota Vikings’ Week 8 win over the Cleveland Browns and their ensuing bye week.

When arriving at a crossroads, the options presented generally have different pros and cons. There are temptations, hints and emotional appeal that suggest which path is the better choice.

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback circus has placed the team at another crossroads as the second half of the season commences. Backup Case Keenum has filled in for an injured Sam Bradford in admirable fashion, tallying a record of 4-2 and leading the Vikings to a 6-2 record and a two-game lead in the NFC North. Keenum is playing arguably the best football of his career and it’s a big reason the Vikings are having little problems winning.

Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater’s reactivation onto the 53-man roster was announced on Wednesday. According to head coach Mike Zimmer, Bridgewater is ready to play now — which is truly remarkable considering his state 14 months ago. The 2014 first-round pick was drafted to be Minnesota’s franchise quarterback and, while that has been placed on hold the past season and a half, that opportunity os once again there for Bridgewater.