Imagine this scenario for a moment:
You have Adrian Peterson, one of the most prolific rushers of all time who commonly draws 7 to 8 defenders into the box, as your running back.
At your side you have Kyle Rudolph, a tight end who has shown potential to be a red zone monster and a threat to explode up the seams.
Spread wide, you have Mike Wallace, who has made a career out of catching 80-90 yard bombs, and has 10 touchdown seasons with two different quarterbacks on two different teams.
Across from him is Steffon Diggs, a rookie who is already considered one of the most potentially dynamic deep threats in the league.
In the slot is Jarius Wright, who has already shown the ability to be an every down deep threat.
On the sidelines, Cordarelle Patterson and Charles Johnson, who are both incredibly athletic speedsters are waiting to get into the game.
You, are Teddy Bridgewater, and you are under center on the opponents twenty yard line wondering, Why?” With all that open real estate between the safeties and the end zone, and all of these receivers who can get there in a flash, the Vikings front office thought it was a good idea to draft you to lead this team.
Bridgewater had a long pass last year of just 52 yards, a per completion average of 7.2, and with all these weapons at his disposal still only threw 14 TDs. Even the average fan knows he is not a long ball threat. Yet he is the starting quarterback of an offense that’s built to hit a home run on every play.
So what do the Vikings do during the 1st round of the 2016 NFL draft when they are being stared directly in the face by a quarterback with the height, mobility, and arm to make all the passes that could turn their offense into the killing machine they’ve been trying to build?
They draft another receiver!?!
It’s just another one in a line of very poor decisions this team’s front office and coaches make on a regular basis.
Now Mike Wallace has moved on to greener pastures stating, “I just wanted to be with a good quarterback.” It’s difficult to blame him, and don’t be surprised if the rest of the Vikings talented receiving corps follow in quick succession if this team’s leadership doesn’t get their head screwed on straight very soon.
The Vikings have been famous for loading their roster with talent for years now, but it’s the failure to make common sense decisions like this one, that has left the team with an empty trophy case, in spite of having some of the best players to ever play the game, come through their organization.
Its not enough to have great players, you also need to know how to use them and to have the courage to admit when you’ve made mistakes. It appears that the Vikings have lived with a tradition of mediocrity and futility for so long, that fans and staff now get extremely excited over a team that is barely above average.
Imagine the pressure on the opponents defensive front if the Vikings front office had drafted a guy with an arm, and the freedom that Peterson would have to rumble, if the linebackers and safeties actually had to worry about covering any one, much less all of those dynamic playmakers.
I’m well aware that the Vikings almost beat the Broncos, almost beat the Cardinals, and should have beaten the Seahawks in the playoffs, but unfortunately they don’t hand out trophies for, “What might have been.”
If you look back through the Vikings past you will see a history of almosts, and from what I see this team isn’t any different.
On the other side of the ball the Vikings “boast” a dangerous defensive line, but if you check the stats you will see it’s all smoke and mirrors.
Minnesota’s defense was 13th in total yards, 12th against the pass, and 17th against the run.
Their fans will try to remind you that the Vikings defense was 5th in points allowed…
However, the team’s that beat Minnesota know that it doesn’t take a ton of points to beat the Vikings, as they only averaged 12 points in the games they lost. The key is to get the lead early and then just play keep away from AP.
The Vikings have refused to evolve with the “pass happy” style of offenses, and “bend but don’t break” style of defense that now litter the NFL landscape. They are still stuck in the Black and Blue era of football, while the rest of the NFC North has broken into a full aerial assault. So this leaves teams with a very simple formula to beat the “Men in Purple.”
Shut down AP, and make Teddy try to beat you with his arm. In the five games the Vikings lost, Peterson was held to 49 yards and Bridgewater only managed 3 passing TDs.
In the games the Vikings won, opponents let Peterson rumble for 113 yards per game, and Bridgewater threw for 11 TDs. In other words, make the Vikings offense one dimensional and they fold.
On offense, run right at the heart of their vaunted defensive line. The teams that beat the Vikings ran the ball 34 times, the team’s that lost, only averaged 22 carries. Then it just becomes a matter of letting the Vikings beat themselves.
That is exactly what they did in their first playoff game since 2012. They had everything going in their favor, home field advantage, freezing temps, a ground and pound matchup, a 9-0 lead going into the 4th quarter, a game winning field goal attempt… and the rest is history.
So yes, this will allow Minnesota to pull off a few upsets while the other teams are still adjusting to the fact that the Vikings haven’t adjusted to the “new look” NFL, but it leaves them with little hope for the future.
What this shows is that if opposing coaches and coordinators spend even a minimal amount of time watching film on these guys, the Vikings could struggle to win even a handful of games in 2016.