2017 NFL Season Preview- Minnesota Vikings
After starting the year 5-0, Minnesota fell off the earth to finish at .500 and miss the playoffs.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater missed the entire season after dislocating his knee and tearing multiple ligaments 12 days before the opener. The team traded for Sam Bradford who set an NFL record for season completion percentage at 71.6% in a short yardage passing game. Running back Adrian Peterson missed 13 games because a torn meniscus and was ineffective for the other three. Tight end Kyle Rudolph had his best season with 83 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. The entire wide receiver corps was a big disappointment. Stefon Diggs has to potential to be electric, but struggled to stay healthy late in the year. Adam Thielen has the potential to be the number two receiver for awhile after joining the team on a rookie tryout three years ago. The offensive line was a legendary failure. The Vikings used seven different offensive line combinations, including five left tackles. As it stands, left guard Alex Boone is the only safe player on the line.
For the first time since 1977, Minnesota started the same four defensive linemen in every game. Backup defensive end Danielle Hunter lead the team with 12.5 sacks and could replace an aging Brian Robison. Outside linebacker Chad Greenway played his final season after 11 years and two Pro Bowl appearances. Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are young, three down linebackers who make a great pair in nickel situations. The secondary was solid for most of the year but players at key spots are getting older.
Kicker Kai Forbath restored a sense on confidence in the special teams after the team was forced to cut Blair Walsh. Return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson lead the league in kick return average for an NFL record third time.
The team produced six Pro Bowlers in defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, outside linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, safety Harrison Smith, and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson. Griffen made his second straight Pro Bowl after registering eight sacks. Joseph made his first Pro Bowl and has developed into one of the more versatile defensive tackles in the game. Barr was criticized for coasting late in the year but still made his second straight trip. Rhodes had five picks on the year and proved he was good enough to cover number one receivers. "Hitman Harry" remains a top flight safety and proved he can do it all.
The rookie class was a big disappointment in 2016. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was hampered by foot injuries and only made one catch on the year. Cornerback Mackensie Alexander regressed from the preseason while learning the NFL was tougher than he thought. Linebacker Kentrell Brothers played primarily special teams and could replace Greenway next season. German wide receiver Moritz Bohringer spent all year on the practice squad and proved that he should not have been drafted.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- Last
NFL Rank- 3rd
NFL Rank- 20th
NFL Rank- 28th
NFL Rank- 3rd
Going 8-8 and missing the playoffs was just half the trouble for head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer underwent emergency eye surgery on November 30, forcing him to miss the Vikings' Thursday Night game against the Cowboys. Special teams coach Mike Priefer served as interim coach for the game. Over the offseason, Zimmer was reported to have a total of eight surgeries to repair a detached retina in his right eye.
On July 14, 2017, newly signed receiver Michael Floyd was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
Notable Additions- QB Case Keenum, RB Latavius Murray, RB Bishop Sankey, WR Michael Floyd, T Riley Reiff, T Reid Fragel, DE Datone Jones, DT Will Sutton,
Notable Departures- QB Shaun Hill, RB Adrian Peterson, RB Matt Asiata, WR Charles Johnson, WR/RS Cordarrelle Patterson, TE Rhett Ellison, T Matt Khalil, T Andre Smith, LB Chad Greenway, CB Captain Munnerlyn
Vikings 2016 Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
Minnesota did not have a pick until the second round as they traded this year's first round pick to Philadelphia to acquire Sam Bradford. With no first round selection, the Vikings have to be smart to fill key holes at running back, offensive tackle, and guard.
Adrian Peterson is now in New Orleans and its probably for the best. The team needs to get younger legs with versatility as their back of the future.
The Vikings used a total of eight linemen between the two tackles spots. They need talent, depth, and durability on both ends of the line.
Alex Boone isn't spectacular but he is serviceable. Brandon Fusco had another bad year and also suffered two concussions.
On day two of the draft, Minnesota drafted Florida State running back Dalvin Cook with their second round pick. Cook was praised for his ability to break tackles, but has an issue with ball security.
The Vikings also notably drafted Ohio State center Pat Elflein in the third round and Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges in the sixth. Elflein was the quickest center prospect in the draft and has all the abilities to play center or guard, but tends to get lazy with his fundamentals. Hodges has a rare combination of size, strength, and athleticism team's dream of in tight ends, but was rarely asked to block in Virginia Tech's offense.
Dalvin Cook Highlights
What to Expect
With the additions to the offensive line made in the offseason, Minnesota should return to their 2015 form.
Sam Bradford is more than capable of leading the offense with Teddy Bridgewater's season still in doubt. Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook have the potential to be a dynamic running back duo. Murray is the classic between the tackles runner and Cook has the ability to get outside and be a receiver out of the backfield. With Michael Floyd suspended the first four games, Laquon Treadwell has to step up and prove he was worthy of being a first round pick. Kyle Rudolph should continue to grow as he has developed a nice connection with Bradford. Signing Riley Reiff and Reid Fragel gives the team some stability at tackle bad Pat Elflein can play guard or take over at center for an aging Joe Berger.
Barring any major injuries, the defense should remain one of the best in the league. Will Sutton should replace an often injured Sharrif Floyd and Brian Robison may lose his starting job to the younger Danielle Hunter. With Chad Greenway retired, Kentrell Brothers looks to take the reigns and along with Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, could form one of the top young linebacker corps in the league. The team hopes Trae Waynes can replace a soon to be 39 year old Terrance Newman at right cornerback and that Mackensie Alexander can take over for Captain Munnerlyn at nickel corner.
Between the depth on defense and overall talent level of the team, Minnesota looks to have enough bodies to reclaim the NFC North throne.
Best record they can hope for: 11-5