Question Of The Week

An Eye on the Future of the Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer still can’t see out of his right eye, but an offseason surgery should fix his ailing vision. Despite the impairment, Zimmer missed just one game during the regular season and coached the Vikings to an 8-8 record.

While he recovers from the impending surgery, general manager Rick Spielman will have his hands full with another arduous task; mending a depleted offensive line and restocking a talented, if underperforming 2016 roster.

Difficult as it may be, Spielman has the salary cap flexibility to make wholesale changes in free agency and the proven craftiness to recoup draft picks lost in the Sam Bradford trade. How he does that, though, remains to be seen. And how he implements those changes in 2017 is a question no one can answer until at least August.

To attempt an answer, I’ve asked some of the writers at Vikings Territory to keep an eye (or two) on the future of the Vikings and share which changes they’d like to see from the organization next season.

What’s one change you’d like to see the Vikings make next season?

Adam Warwas

Implement a full-throttle offense

I would like to see the Vikings feature a full-throttle offense. I know the offensive line is clearly a key component here, and I don’t have intentions of getting into *how* they can make this happen, but rather the *why*.

Over the last decade, only 2009 produced an offense that was fun to watch. Every other year I held my breath when the below-average quarterback was tasked with actually throwing, or the line was a constant liability, or the receivers were only proficient at run blocking.

I’m jonesing for the total package offense to be a thing in Minnesota once again. I want to see comparisons to 1998 during pregame commentaries. I want to see an offense capable of matching the intensity the Vikings possess on defense.

I honestly believe they are close to making that a reality, perhaps just some decent blocking and improved play calling away, and that’s what I want to see — an offense that can suck the life out of their opponents in mere seconds.

Sam Neumann

Retain Matt Kalil

Not sure if this is a “change,” per se, because Kalil was on the roster last season, but the fanbase seems split on retaining him. I think his struggles are overblown; sure, he’s inconsistent, but the Kalil bashing is more a product of high expectations and groupthink than his actual play on the field. Has he lived up to his draft status? No, but Kalil is – at the least – a solid player on the offensive line, where the Vikings need all the help they can get.

They’ll have to overpay, but they would have to overpay for any above average offensive lineman in free agency. And beyond that, no other solution could reasonably be expected to solve the situation at left tackle. Letting Kalil walk would be a step backward, not forward.

BJ Reidell

Block defensive players 

It’s the middle of January, the 2016 NFL season hasn’t even officially concluded, and we’re busy looking toward the 2017 campaign already. Well, given that I can’t be too sure what the offensive direction will look like next season with probably around 50 percent of Pat Shurmur’s offense yet to be installed and Adrian Peterson in the midst of walking the plank, I’ll just keep this very, very simple.

The one change – and this can be the only one, honestly – I’d like to see the Minnesota Vikings make next season is to block defensive players. I have spent far too much time reviewing the 2016 season, and I feel very confident in stating this Vikings team was the absolute worst in franchise history at blocking.

I’m not only talking about the offensive line either. Jerick McKinnon was atrocious in blitz pick-up, Adrian Peterson probably went the entire year without attempting a block, and Matt Asiata was exposed athletically on occasion. Even the wide receivers were average at very best at blocking downfield, and Laquon Treadwell couldn’t run routes well enough consistently to give the unit a lift.

Honestly, if not for Rashod Hill’s sent-from-the-Heavens effort against the Chicago Bears during Week 17, the best blocking snaps of the season would likely be attributed to two unexpected units or players. Mike Priefer’s special teams groups were consistently reliable, opening huge lanes for Cordarrelle Patterson throughout the year. And possibly, Linval Joseph should receive the honor for striking an offensive lineman hard enough during Chad Greenway’s interception return in Week 9 to open up a running lane (which the veteran linebacker decided to pass on for some good old fashion contact).

I don’t think I’m too harsh; the Vikings were not capable of blocking a pop-up window this past season. I do not care how the Vikings address this issue – drafting exclusively offensive linemen, spending $90 million during free agency on bookends, trading a future first-round pick for Joe Thomas (and Joel Bitonio because Ricky knows how to swindle Cleveland), etc. – but this complete incompetence absolutely needs immediate and dramatic improvement. Fix it; that’s all I want. Period.

Austin Belisle

Part ways with Adrian Peterson

In the midst of playing Madden with Brett last night, he reminded me of a simple fact — the Atlanta Falcons’ top-two running backs combined for $1.67 million against the salary cap in 2016. Adrian Peterson, who appeared in just three games, cost the Vikings $18 million. The time has come to move on from Peterson, a once-invaluable piece to the puzzle who’s holding the Vikings back from reaching their true potential.

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. Sam, you are wrong. Kalil is not a “solid player” and there ARE other options that could “reasonably be expected to solve the situation at left tackle,” especially if we do part with Peterson or radically re-structure his contract.

    1. Sign Andrew Whitworth to the King’s Ransom he’ll demand while still drafting a potential successor in the first (he ain’t called Trader Rick for nothing) or second round.

    2. Sign Riley Reiff. Yes, he’ll be more expensive than Kalil and yes, it’ll be a multi-year deal, but we could still draft a tackle who could eventually push Reiff over to RT. And he would still be better at LT than Kalil.

    3. Trade for either Joe Staley or Joe Thomas. A package of 2016 and 2017 draft picks should do the trick and probably wouldn’t have to include either our 2016 2nd rounder or our 2017 1st rounder. Both guys should have three to four years in them, at least.

    1. CKA2ND… We don’t have a 1st rounder Einstein.. our 1st round draft picks name is…… Wait for it…… SAM BRADFORD!!!

      1. Which is why I added in parentheses “(he ain’t called Trader Rick for nothing),” as in, “we don’t have a first round pick at the moment, but we all know that Rick Spielman is more than capable of getting one if he is so inclined.”

        1. Agreed. People are very quick to assume the Vikings are completely out of the first round when history (and the fact that we have multiple seconds and thirds) suggests otherwise.

  2. gotta go with Zach Line here Austin

    The facts are indisputable. When Line scores, the Vikings win.
    Zach had zero touchdowns in 2016 – the Vikings finish third in the NFL North. Shameful

    In the 2015 season, Zach had three touchdowns. Every time Line scores, the Vikings win. Period.
    Sept 20, 2015 vs the Lions. Line scores on a one yard run. Vikings win!
    Sept 27, 2015 vs the Chargers. Lines scores on a one yard run. The Vikings are on a winning streak!
    Oct 4, 2015 vs the Broncos. Line has zero rushes and zero receptions. Vikings lose 20-23
    By now, it should be oblivious to everyone, When Zach scores, the Vikings win.
    Dec 20, 2015 vs the Bears. Line scores on a 4 yard reception. Vikes win big 38-17

    Whatever altered perception of reality Viking fans may be grasping onto, the case is as clear as a margarita on the rocks with salt. The Vikings need this semi sculpture of manhood, Zach Line, to win.

    Resign Line!

  3. We all know that our offense has been a weak point for quite some time. What frustrates me is that Coach Zimmer is so great with being aggressive on defense but our offense are the “limp noodles” of the NFL. I want to see our offense have the same fire in their belly that the defense has.

    When you read some of the points above you see that our special teams and defense blocked better and was more aggressive then was our offense. Zimm needs to take control of the offense. I don’t necessarily mean creating or calling plays, although some of his creativity in creating blitz schemes could be put to good use in creating plays that answer opponents blitz’s etc.., But he needs to teach our offense discipline and how to get a “controlled anger” that will not allow them to stop until they are over the goal line.

    In short we are marshmallows on offense not bulls. We need our offense to be aggressive and strong. Theilen is are best example of this. The guy does not stop and has not stopped since walking on to the team. I would rather have the whole offense be made up of under talented Theilen’s who work hard and never quit than the group of premaddonas who think they are owed what they have rather then having to work for it.

  4. I agree with everything BJ Reidell said…. And disagree with everything that Sam Neumann said, there are much better options than Kalil and it has nothing to do with “group think” or whatever term Sam used, I don’t need a bunch of others to tell me Kalil is soft, I can see it with my own eyes.

  5. Zimmer is kinda like Odin, which is appropriate. Sacrifice an eye to see the future from the Norns, or Erda or somebody. He should just where an eye patch from here on out.

  6. 1. Trade for Seantrel Henderson. With multiple needs across the offensive line, the Vikings need to get a little luck and tossing a late round conditional draft pick to a new staff in Buffalo for a guy they are probably willing to part with is a low-risk, high-reward move that could pay off tremendously. Henderson is a known entity in Minnesota from his high school days as the consensus #1 recruit in the country, he also is a guy who has had multiple issues with pot and a couple suspensions to his name in his three years in the league. Here’s the kicker though, the guy has been battling Crohn’s disease and stated after the last 10 game suspension that pain management was a big piece of that puzzle. There is a decent chance if they get him here where he’ll have the Mayo Clinic in his backyard to offer any needed treatment options that he could get his career back on track. He’ll likely miss a portion of this upcoming season because of the last suspension, but they should be all over trying to get this guy back in Minnesota. They were rumored to have talked to Buffalo about him at the trade deadline last year so hopefully Rick will contact the new folks in charge over there. I would much rather they send the Bills say a conditional 6th round pick in 2018 than a high pick this year for a guy who is much older. If things work out one of your tackle spots has been resolved long-term, if they don’t you can cut the guy without any real damage done. They’ll still need to sign another tackle or two in free agency of course, but this is something they should be checking into.
    2. Don’t pick up 5th year options for Barr or Bridgewater. The Vikings are once again faced with a tougher than it’s given credit for decision of picking up a 5th year option on two players. Barr, coming off a puzzling poor season, and Bridgewater due to injury. Before you give me flack here, my understanding of the 5th year option is that though the money is not guaranteed until the start of the league year, it’s still a binding contract for purposes of the compensation pick formula. So yeah, you can cut the guy as long as he can pass a physical and be off the hook for the salary, but your throwing away a potential 3rd round pick in the next years draft if you play your cards right. This is the main reason I think it’s laughable that folks think Floyd will be released. The Vikes are in the same situation they were last year with Kalil, they won’t want to pay him $5 million, but cutting him is a far worse option. If they pick up the options on these two players, they will once again be staring at a cut them or pay them likely more than they are worth scenario for the 3rd straight off-season. By not picking up the options they will force Barr into a prove it contract year (which Floyd will also be in, not a bad thing for the defense) so they should get maximum effort, and if they don’t then it’s probably best to move on anyway. As for Teddy, it pains me to put his name here, but I don’t see how they can justify locking him into an $11 million cap # when he likely won’t have taken a snap in two years. I think they could probably work out a much fairer deal with him to secure his rights and potentially make that back and more if they choose. The big problem here is that if both guys play in 2017 and have monster years, you only have one franchise tag to use, but if you lose one your going to be eligible for a nice draft pick if your smart about the rest of the off-season.
    It’s far more likely they pick up the option for both, but I would have some reservations if it were up to me.

    1. Austin and I are going to be doing our offseason plan for the Vikings soon. I’ll have to add Seantrel Henderson to the list of players to look at.