Monday, January 22, 2018

sam bradford

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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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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

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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Calm Amidst the Chaos
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

You hear the word ‘Saints,’ and suddenly it hits you. The image of a battered-and-bruised Brett Favre, writhing in pain as he scrapes himself off the turf. The sound of Pete Morelli announcing Brad Childress’s blunder, that Minnesota had broken the huddle with 12 men. The audible gasp of a collective fan base, watching Tracy Porter step effortlessly in front of Favre’s cross-body pass.

None of that matters.

It’s Week 1 of the 2017 regular season, and Sam Bradford is trying to silence his critics; those who questioned his ability to create explosive plays and lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl. On the opposite side of the field, Adrian Peterson is back at U.S. Stadium, fired up and ready to stick it to the team that kicked him to the curb for a younger, cheaper workhorse in Dalvin Cook.

None of that matters.

Not the film, the stats, or the end result. There is no revenge to be had, no score to be settled. On Sunday afternoon, when the New Orleans Saints return to U.S. Bank to face the Minnesota Vikings, they’ll do so as a familiar, if very much evolved and worthy foe in the 2017 NFC playoffs.

But don’t let the noise — the media narratives and painful memories — distract you. Sunday’s game is nothing new for these Minnesota Vikings.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

NFL.com unveils its year-end quarterback rankings, with a couple interesting selections.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com posted his year-end quarterback rankings Thursday. In a bit of a head-scratching move, Rosenthal ranked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ahead of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum. Rodgers was rated as the No. 11 quarterback and Keenum was slotted in at No. 14.

The 11-13 selections were labeled as the “Brilliant and Breif” category. The trio included Rodgers, Jimmy Garappolo, and Deshaun Watson, in that order. All were rated higher than Keenum, who helped lead the Vikings to a NFC North Championship, a No. 2 seed in the NFC, and a 13-3 regular season record.

Keenum had an 11-3 record as a starter and threw 22 touchdowns and only seven interception in 15 games played. According to Seth Walder of ESPN Keenum had the second-highest QBR among all NFL quarterbacks in 2017 (69.8). Only Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles had a higher rating (75.8). Keenum even surpassed Tom Brady of the Patriots, who was third with a QBR of 67.4.

The regular season stats of the signal callers are in Rosenthal’s QB Index. He wrote the following for each selection:

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Brett Anderson (@brettAnderson87), Drew Mahowald (@DrewMahowald), Sam Neumann (@NeumSamN) and Sean Borman (@SeanBoarMan) return from mini-hiatus to talk Vikings playoffs. They give out awards for season MVP and most improved players, discuss their ideal playoff scenarios, and talk a little about the future of the quarterback situation.

Check out the episode above and subscribe to the Vikings Territory YouTube channel to ensure that you never miss a VT Roundtable discussion, the latest installment of Bump & Run or and a variety of other #content.