If there’s one thing Minnesota Vikings fans can agree on, it’s that the 2015 season didn’t end as well as we all hoped (or thought) it would. At 11-5 and atop the NFC North, Mike Zimmer’s team surprised the NFL world, knocking off the Green Bay Packers to storm into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. But Blair Walsh’s missed last-second field goal ended what had been a promising campaign in Minnesota.
Fortunately, it was a season to remember, and a season to build upon in the coming years. With one of the league’s best coaches at the helm and a young roster built to last, the Vikings should stay competitive in 2016 and beyond. Before we jump too far into the offseason though, now presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on a memorable 2015.
We saw rookies outperform their draft positions and 30 year-old running backs lead the league in rushing. We saw a second-year quarterback shine, and often struggle behind a leaky offensive line. More importantly, we saw a team realize it’s potential and exceed expectations. To celebrate the successful season, we’re asking you to hand out awards to the most deserving Vikings. From the Most Valuable Player to the Rookie of the Year, the power to choose is in your hands. Without further ado, here are your VT post-season awards nominees:
Adrian Peterson‘s 2015 performance powered Minnesota to the postseason, but he wasn’t the only bright spot on Norv Turner’s offense. Teddy Bridgewater did everything he was asked to do this season and flashed the promise of becoming a franchise quarterback for the Vikings. On the other side of the football, a few players were truly the “most valuable.” Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, and Linval Joseph give the Vikings elite defenders at every level, while Everson Griffen continues to prove he’s a top-tier defensive end.
The offense may not have been as explosive as Zimmer would’ve liked, but the Vikings have the pieces to become a dangerous unit. Aside from Bridgewater and Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph round out a core of young talent. McKinnon was an asset late in the year, while Diggs and Rudolph proved to be Teddy’s favorite targets. And without Joe Berger anchoring a shaky offensive line, things could’ve been worse for Bridgewater and Co. in 2015.
A Mike Zimmer-led team is always going to be built around defense, and that was definitely the case for the Vikings in 2015. Take your pick; you’re sure to make a good choice no matter who you select. Each player, from Joseph in the middle to Smith in the secondary, is deserving of this award.
Rookie of the Year
Rick Spielman continues to draft extremely well. His latest class is one to remember, with contributors in all three phases. Diggs has the potential to become Minnesota’s No. 1 receiver, while MyCole Pruitt showed a natural ability to catch the ball in Turner’s scheme. Though he struggled, T.J. Clemmings survived the duty of replacing a Pro Bowl right tackle. And on defense, Eric Kendricks rose to the top, finishing the season as the team’s leading tackler. Danielle Hunter eclipsed his athleticism with a strong rookie showing, while Trae Waynes came on late in the season for a banged-up secondary.
Special Teams Player of the Year
Despite his unfortunate miss last Sunday, Walsh was the league’s leading kicker this season. The addition of long snapper Kevin McDermott may have played a factor in his general consistency. Unfortunately, Jeff Locke wasn’t as successful; we just needed a sixth nominee for this category. In the return game, both Marcus Sherels and Cordarrelle Patterson made significant contributions that directly contributed to Vikings wins. Adam Thielen, everyone’s favorite training camp star, is one of the team’s most important special teams players. His fake punt helped the Vikings score first against the Green Bay Packers in Week 17.