Sunday, October 23, 2016

xavier rhodes

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Another week and another win for the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday as they defeated the rival Green Bay Packers 17-14 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings did indeed get the victory, but it certainly came at a cost.

Minnesota will now be without their starting left tackle Matt Kalil and starting running back Adrian Peterson for a majority of of the games left in the 2016 season. Kalil will miss the remainder of year while Peterson has a small chance to return to the field toward the end of the season.

But injuries happen to every team, every year and they are just part of the adversity that each franchise has to deal with during the course of a season. This is no different for the Vikings, who are not going to let a few road blocks get in the way of their journey to a Super Bowl win at the end of 2016.

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Five(ish) thoughts on Sunday night's win over the Packers

Bradford is the best passer
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1. Sam Bradford is a better passer than Teddy Bridgewater.

I KNOW. I know it reads like a reactionary take, and there’s more to playing quarterback than prowess as a pure passer. I’m not trying to pick on a player who is unavailable due to injury, nor am I trying to throw out a splashy take based on one game. But I really don’t think this take is even hot; it was obvious in Bradford’s first start with the Vikings, he is a superior passer to Bridgewater at this point in their respective careers. This was an idea many astute observers floated before Bradford first took the field for Minnesota, and it was supported Sunday night. Sam Bradford is a natural passer—his arm strength is upper-echelon and his throws against Green Bay were extremely accurate. He had two beautifully placed touchdown passes, and he was decisive and poised against nearly constant pressure. And he’s been with the team for two weeks. You can see how he could be a good fit for a Norv Turner, vertical passing offense, and understand why Spielman targeted him via trade. That first round pick seems fully justified today.

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Thanks to an announcement earlier this week, Minnesota Vikings fans were able to prepare themselves to watch a defense minus Xavier Rhodes (again) and Shariff Floyd against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.

Both players are dealing with a knee injury and neither practiced all week. Rhodes sat out the Vikings’ game last week against the Tennessee Titans while Floyd only managed to play 25 of the defense’s 67 snaps in Tennessee.

Below are the additional players that Minnesota will be without tonight.

In addition to Rhodes and Floyd, the Vikings will be without the services of tight end MyCole Pruitt for the second straight week. Pruitt is still recovering from a minor knee injury he suffered back in the preseason against the San Diego Chargers.

Wide receiver Jarius Wright is a healthy scratch for Minnesota for the second straight week. Still unsure why his status on the team is basically non existent these days.

On the other side of the ball the Packers will be without the following players tonight.

– Joe Callahan, QB

– Josh Hawkins, CB

– Chris Banjo, S

– Sam Shields, CB

– Kyle Murphy, T

– Jayrone Elliot, LB

The absence of their top cornerback in Sam Shields could lead to a big night for Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Sure would be nice if new Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford could light up the Green Bay secondary in front of the home crowd during the team’s opening game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Vikings' Bumpy Win over Titans
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It wasn’t easy, but the Minnesota Vikings came away with a Week 1 win over the Tennessee Titans. The road to victory had its share of bumps, with the Vikings falling behind 10-0 in the first half. Tennessee’s formation shifts and personnel changes kept Mike Zimmer’s defense off balance, and combined with Blair Walsh’s spotty kicking, made yesterday’s first two quarters a frustrating affair.

But Zimmer and the coaching staff adjusted at halftime, finishing the game on a 25-6 run that sealed Minnesota’s victory. Outside of a strong defensive showing — two return touchdowns — the Vikings also left Tennessee with few bruises or injuries. At this early point of the week, Xavier Rhodes’s knee is the only major concern; an encouraging development as the team prepares to host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night.

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1. Halftime Adjustments

The difference in the game was halftime adjustments. After a wholly deflating first two quarters in which we saw Blair Walsh miss two field goals left, Shaun Hill overthrow an open Stefon Diggs in the end zone, and the Vikings’ vaunted defensive front get neutralized and misdirected by a nifty Titans offensive gameplan, things looked…bleak. Tennessee went into the half with a 10-0 lead, and it was difficult to imagine how Minnesota would muster enough offense to even close that small margin. It felt a lot like the debacle in San Francisco to open last season. My one source of optimism was that the Vikings’ staff has done quite well with halftime adjustments under Mike Zimmer, and perhaps they could find a way to turn things around.

They did, in a big way, and the team looked completely different in the second half en route to a 25-16 win. I firmly believe what separates an average coach from a good one is the ability to successfully adjust within games, and it’s good to see that continue under the Zimmer regime.

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