Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - Minnesota Vikings

MINNESOTA VIKINGS                                          

2014 Record: 7-9-0 (3rd in NFC North)

HEAD COACH:  Mike Zimmer

New Players in 2015 - WR Mike Wallace; QB Shaun Hill; LB Casey Matthews; DB Taylor Mays; DB Terrance Newman.

OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 27th in NFL (315.5 ypg)

DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 14th in NFL (344.7 ypg)

Offense:  After an early season merry-go-round of quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater won the starting job and finished the season with 2,919 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and twelve interceptions. He also rushed for 209 yards (4.4 ypc average) and had one running touchdown. Shaun Hill looks like he will be the backup QB this year.
Adrian Peterson returns after missing all but one game last year due to league disciplinary matters. In 2013, his last full season, Peterson went for 1,266 yards (4.5 ypc) and scored ten touchdowns. He just inked a new deal with the Vikings and is said to be excited and ready to go in the new season. Jerrick McKinnon (538 rush yards, 4.8 ypc) and Matt Asiata (570, 3.5 ypc and nine TD) will be ready when needed.
Mike Wallace (67 receptions for 862 yards and ten touchdowns) comes over from Miami and will start along with Charles Johnson, who made 31 receptions for 475 yards and two scores last year. The tight end is Kyle Rudolph, who was limited to nine games last season and had 24 receptions for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
Other receivers and tight ends in the mix include Jarius Wright (42, 588, two TD), Cordarrelle Patterson (33, 384, one TD) and (tight end) Rhett Ellison, who had 19 receptions for 208 yards and one score.
The O-Line has center John Sullivan and guards Joe Berger and Brandon Fusco. Starting tackle Phil Loadholt was lost for the season with an injury in training camp, so either rookie T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) or Mike Harris will start along with left tackle Matt Kalil.

Defense:  Playing in the 4-3 set, Minnesota has ends Brian Robison (4 1/2 QB sacks) and Everson Griffen (12 sacks) along with tackles Sharrif Floyd (4 1/2 sacks) and Linval Joseph (three sacks). Tom Johnson is another tackle who registered 6 1/2 sacks last season.
The outside linebackers are Anthony Barr (four sacks) and Chad Greenway and either Casey Matthews or rookie Eric Kendricks (UCLA) will man the middle. Others at linebacker include Brandon Watts, Gerald Hodges and Audie Cole.
The secondary has safeties Robert Blanton and Harrison Smith (five interceptions, including one for a touchdown) along with corners Xavier Rhodes and (rookie) Trae Waynes (Michigan State). Josh Robinson (three picks), Captain Munnerlyn (two INT), Andrew Sendejo, Terrence Newman and Antoine Exum will rotate in as well.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 -  With running back Adrian Peterson back in the mix on offense, the Vikings could have the balance they sorely lacked a year ago when Teddy Bridgewater began to emerge as a decent rookie quarterback as the season went along.
The Vikings should be better offensively as they have some potential for big plays with Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson and new WR Mike Wallace on the field. The offensive line must do a better job in pass protection as they allowed 51 QB sacks last year.
On defense, Minnesota accumulated 41 sacks and 13 interceptions while ranking 11th in scoring defense. Building on that, the Vikings used their first three draft choices on defensive players, with two of them likely to be starters.
Head Coach Mike Zimmer is of the defensive mind set and would like to see the team continue to improve in that area while the offense does the same with Bridgewater under center and Peterson in the backfield.
The Green Bay Packers are the team to beat in the NFC North, but the Vikings should be able to stay close with Detroit for second place. A wild card berth may be a bit too much to ask this season, but an 8-8 record is reasonable and possibly better if everything comes together.
One thing for sure, the Vikings will not be doormats for the opposition in the 2015 season.
Stay tuned.

Week 1 - at San Francisco 49ers
Week 2 - vs. Detroit Lions
Week 3 - vs. San Diego Chargers
Week 4 - at Denver Broncos
Week 5 - BYE WEEK
Week 6 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 7 - at Detroit Lions
Week 8 - at Chicago Bears
Week 9 - vs. St. Louis Rams
Week 10 - at Oakland Raiders
Week 11 - vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 12 - at Atlanta Falcons
Week 13 - vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 14 - at Arizona Cardinals
Week 15 - vs. Chicago Bears
Week 16 - vs. New York Giants
Week 17 - at Green Bay Packers

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