The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Minnesota Vikings Season

With the post season well under way and those of us unlucky enough to be cheering on our teams on, it is time for reflection on how our respective team did. Today it is the turn of the Minnesota Vikings, who thought a level of adversity approaching the farcical managed to get to 7-9 in Coach Mike Zimmer’s first season at the helm.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Minnesota Vikings Season

The Good

Teddy Bridgewater:

It’s hard to argue that Bridgewater hasn’t been stellar all things considered, winning 6 of his 12 starts, throwing for 2919 yards, the most for a Vikings rookie and indeed the most by a Vikings quarterback since Brett Favre. He also had a completion percentage of 64.4% and this improved to 72% in the last 5 weeks of the season. This on top of a very injured offensive line, the lack of production from Cordarrelle Patterson and suspended Adrian Peterson (more on these later), bodes well for the future. Many scoffed at the prospect of Bridgewater being an NFL star but he has to be considered the best rookie QB in the 2014 class having more wins than the rest of the rookie class combined.

The Defence:

While the run defense may be a bit of a worry, 25th in the league the improvement in the secondary is astounding going from dead last in 2013 to 7th this year. Xavier Rhodes has become a shut down corner going from playing only one side of the field to shadowing the best receivers on the opposition towards the end of the season. Harrison Smith is amongst the elite safeties in the league having 5 interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and 3 sacks, he was a snub from both the all pro team and Pro Bowl. Up front, Sharif Floyd and Everson Griffen are fast becoming a concern for Offensive lines around the league while injury limited Floyd’s availability during the latter part of the season expect another off season under Mike Zimmer’s defensive coaching to make this a top 10 unit next year.

The Bad

Offensive Line:

Where to start with this unit, lauded as potentially one of the best at the start of the season (I had it listed as the best in the NFC North) injuries to Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt early in the year and the downright atrocious play of Matt Kalil left this unit struggling to keep it’s quarterback protected. Giving up a total of 41 sacks, the Vikings used three different Quarterbacks in as many weeks, losing Matt Cassel to a broken foot, and then Teddy Bridgewater to a sprained ankle before Christian Ponder played his last snaps in purple against Green Bay in week 5. While it was pretty grim to watch, improvements towards the end of the season and the ever stalwart John Sullivan means that the unit isn’t an entire train wreck, but it is close.

Special Teams:

Boy how the mighty have fallen, once considered one of the best in the league, Cordarrelle Patterson was so scary in the return game he was unplayable on kickoffs, averaging only 25 yards a return this year and no touchdowns it was a markedly different season in comparison to his 32 yards a return and 2 TDs in 2013. Blair Walsh lost his automatic title and became a concern for the team for several weeks, making only 26 of 35 attempted field goals this year, improvements towards the end of the season should not have the team worrying going into next year. Jeff Locke on the other hand is a worry, ranked 23rd in the league at one point he was dead last and Pro Football Focus has him as one of the worst punters in the league. Locke has been inconsistent, regularly miskicking punts when a long punt is needed. I would expect competition to be brought in at this position come training camp.

The Ugly

Adrian Peterson:

Where to start with this fiasco? Peterson, for many was the face of the NFL; he was a shoe in for the hall of fame and one of the greatest Running Backs to play the game. It is well documented on this site what caused him to miss all but one game this season, his proceedings against the league are still ongoing and it is debatable if he will ever play for Minnesota again. I am not going to argue the moral implications of disciplining your child; it is a very divisive subject and has been debated heavily. Peterson’s actions did however irrepressible damage the team, playing only in the season opener, he has been a source of distraction throughout the year, with questions being raised about his future on a weekly basis and will continue to be a topic for discussion for all the wrong reasons for the foreseeable future.

While this season has been tough and at points incredibly frustrating, the future is bright, for the first time in a decade the Vikings have a franchise quarterback. They have a defense to be proud of and given the history of this team and its legendary defenses that is no easy feat. The Vikings also have a coach that both fans and players seem to respect, his no nonsense approach to both players and media has been a breath of fresh air after years of stoic Les Frazier and confrontational Brad Childress. Zimmer treats players like adults and expects them to respond in kind, giving it all on the sidelines and at times wearing his heart on his sleeve.

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