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2014 NFL Season Preview- Minnesota Vikings
2013 marked the final season the Minnesota Vikings would play in the Metrodome. In the previous season, running back Adrian Peterson ran for over 2,000 yards after coming back from severe knee injury the year before. Peterson was named MVP, the team finished 10-6, and won the NFC north. The team planed to improve on their 2012 campaign by posting more points and cause more turnovers with a new players attained through free agency and the draft like wide receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
The team began the 2013 season losing seven of their first eight games. The quarterback play caused inconsistent play in the offense. Starter Christian Ponder showed no poise in the pocket and his stats showed that, Matt Cassel proved to be better than Ponder but came in too late to really accomplish anything, and the team traded for Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman who only played in one game.
The 2013 record of 5-10-1 could have easily been 10-6. The team lost five games in the last minute of the game. This was mostly due to inadequate front four and a young secondary.
Adrian Peterson had over 1,200 rushing and 10 touchdowns on the season. Rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was the big surprise for this team. He made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner and also brought excitement to the offense as a receiver and running back.
The seasons bad start, lead the Viking's front office to make a change. After the season concluded, head coach Leslie Frasier was fired.
Vikings 2013 Rankings
Opponents Passing Yards
Opponents Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 23rd
NFL Rank- 8th
NFL Rank- 31st
NFL Rank- 16th
NFL Rank- 13th
NFL Rank- 31st
The Viking began their search for a head coach to stabilize a defense that ranked next to last in passing yards allowed and total defense. Their search brought them to defensive specialist Mike Zimmer.
Zimmer has been a defensive coach in the league since the mid- 90's. He has been a defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and most recently the Cincinnati Bengals. The team also brought in former San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner to be the new offensive coordinator. Turner will develop a offense centered on Adrian Peterson. It will be Turner's responsibility to develop a quarterback who can get the ball to playmakers like Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Notable additions- G Vladimir Ducasse, CB Captain Munnerlyn, FS Kurt Coleman
Notable departures- RB Toby Gerhart, DE Jared Allen, DT Kevin Williams
Cordarrelle Patterson Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
The team was able to fill some of its holes through free agency. By adding cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to the secondary of Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, the team's pass defense will be much improved from 2013. The team still had needs at quarterback and linebacker that needed to be addressed in the draft.
The team's quarterback situation was a mess in 2013. Christian Ponder proved he wasn't the long term answer and while Matt Cassel showed promise, he has had issues in the past as the fulltime starter. The Vikings had the eighth overall pick in the draft, and had their eyes set on the top tier quarterbacks in the draft. Reports showed the team showed interest in Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama's A.J. McCarron. Bridgewater was seen as the most accurate quarterback in the class but fell on draft boards after a poor pro day performance. McCarron possessed all intangibles to be a good quarterback, but concerns about his durability were brought into question because of rarely playing in the second half of most games.
Minnesota also needed to address the issue at linebacker. Aside from Chad Greenway, the linebacker corps was very unproductive. The team looked at top outside linebackers like Buffalo's Khalil Mack and UCLA's Anthony Barr. Mack was seen as the most versatile linebacker in the draft, but played in the MAC against weaker competition. Barr was considered the best pass rushing linebacker, but struggled in college as a run defender.
With Mack being selected by the Raiders at pick five, the Vikings traded back one spot to select Barr with the ninth overall pick. The team then traded back into the first round with the Seahawks to select a falling Bridgewater with the 32nd and final pick of the first round.
Teddy Bridgewater Highlights
What to Expect
The Vikings offense will be much more balanced than it was in 2013. Norv Turner will be sure that the quarterback will be someone who is accurate when they have to be, and rely heavily on the run. I have a feeling Matt Cassel will go into training camp as the starter, but Teddy Bridgewater has the best opportunity to be the teams opening day quarterback.
Expect the defense to struggle initially. Until Sharrif Floyd develops into a prominent defense tackle, the lack of defensive line pass rush will pit a lot of pressure on the linebackers and secondary. If Anthony Barr is put at linebacker, he will have to improve in run support and also dropping back in coverage.
The bottom line, Mike Zimmer will whip this team into shape. He has produced top 10 defenses his last three years as the Bengals defensive coordinator and he wont rest until his defense this year is at the same caliber. With team focusing mostly on Adrian Peterson, either Cassel or Bridgewater will have open targets from pro bowl receivers and tight ends.
Best record they can hope for- 7-9