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2015 NFL Season Preview- Minnesota Vikings
A new year in a new regime started with a surprising off the field setback.
On September 12, running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges, and subsequently deactivated for Minnesota's week two game against the Patriots. Amid child abuse allegations, on September 15, the Vikings reinstated Peterson and he was scheduled to play against the Saints but was placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which requires that Peterson "remain away from all team activities" for the remainder of the season.
In Peterson's absence, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon split time at running back. The pair played well, but nowhere the production of Peterson. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has phenomenal hands and catch radius but hasn't been able to stay healthy. Wide receiver Greg Jennings was the team's best route runner, Charles Johnson came out of nowhere to become a starter, and Cordarrelle Patterson was inconsistent and lost his starting job midway through the year. Left tackle Matt Kalil had his worst season as he dealt with a knee injury that never healed properly from an offseason surgery.
Defensive end Everson Griffen justified the Vikings letting go of Jared Allen by leading the team with 12 sacks. Cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes flourished under the new system and the more aggressive philosophy. Safety Harrison Smith continues to be a playmaker in the secondary and a force near the line of scrimmage.
The top tier of the rookie class performed better than expected. Linebacker Anthony Barr was a three down playmaker who was on his way to All-Pro status before a knee injury ended his season after 12 games. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater proved to be the franchise caliber quarterback Minnesota can build the team around as he went 6-6 as a starter and showed he has the poise, pocket presence, intelligence, vision, and accuracy needed for the position.
Vikings 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 28th
NFL Rank- 14th
NFL Rank- 7th
NFL Rank- 25th
NFL Rank- 27th
NFL Rank- 14th
With a record of 7-9, first year head coach Mike Zimmer got this team two more victories than they had in 2013. He helped the defense by using creative schemes and aggressive defensive calls which were a hit with all players young and old. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner molded Teddy Bridgewater into a promising quarterback.
On February 26, running back Adrian Peterson was reinstated to the league after U.S. District Court Judge David Doty ruled in the NFL Players Association's lawsuit against the NFL on Peterson's behalf.
On July 24, cornerback Jabari Price was suspended for two for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Notable Additions- QB Shaun Hill, WR Mike Wallace, LB Casey Matthews, CB Terrance Newman, S Taylor Mays
Notable Departures- QB Matt Cassel, QB Christian Ponder, FB Jerome Felton, WR Greg Jennings
Teddy Bridgewater Rookie Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, Minnesota held the 11th overall pick and had many positions that needed to be addressed. Primarily at wide receiver, guard, and safety.
Greg Jennings is gone and Cordarrelle Patterson took a big step backwards in his second season. The team needs more reliable receivers with polished route running skills.
Charlie Johnson won't be resigned and David Yankey never saw the field. The Vikings needs a big, strong monster at left guard to make a difference in the run game.
Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo are nothing more than backups and special teams players. Free safety Harrison Smith needs someone alongside him that's just as an elite playmaker as he is.
Minnesota ended up selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes with the 11th overall pick. Waynes had the best read and react skills of any cornerback in the draft but his thin build could make him susceptible to being pushed around by bigger receivers.
The Vikings also notably selected UCLA middle linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round, LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter in the third, and Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings in the fourth. Kendricks was viewed as the top middle linebacker in pass defense but his small, compact frame limits his length and strength. Hunter was praised for his combination of length, balance, awareness, and agility but was criticized for often being the last player off the ball. Clemmings was the best run blocking offensive tackle in the draft but fell to the fourth round due to a nagging foot injury.
Trae Waynes Highlights
What to Expect
This team was playoff ready last year. Imagine what it would have been like if Adrian Peterson actually played.
If Teddy Bridgewater can continue to grow as a quarterback and if Peterson can return to All-Pro form, this offense can be next to unstoppable. Mike Wallace and Cordarrelle Patterson have to have productive seasons or their time in Minnesota will be cut short. Adding T.J. Clemmings to the offensive line give the offense a versatile lineman to plug an play anywhere along the line.
The defense should continue to grow under Mike Zimmer's aggressive system. Adding Eric Kendricks to the linebacker corps gives the Vikings three pro bowl caliber players who can do everything well.
If the team can stay healthy and stick to their offensive and defensive philosophies, Minnesota can take second place in the NFC North away from Detroit and possibly a wildcard spot.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7