Are the Vikings sitting on something big for the 2017 season?!?
It’s a common thread in many if not most of the articles that you’ll read during the NFL offseason. People following the team sifting through the limited availability of the offseason start to offer up some really optimistic and in some cases fantastical theories and scenarios to excite the fanbase. Meanwhile, said fanbase is sitting on the edge of their seats doing their best to convince those around them that ‘this is the year their team turns it around’ and ‘who cares what Vegas oddsmakers say, a Super Bowl run is possible’. We’ve all done it and who cares, it’s fun.
Well this is that article.
That being said, I do think that there is a feasible argument to be made that would back up these comments. But first, the comments.
I want to discuss the overall potential that this Minnesota Vikings 2017 might be sitting on. There are more questions surrounding the offense since we basically know what we have on the defensive side of the ball with most of the starters returning and continuing Mike Zimmer’s dominant scheme. But if a few things go right on the offensive side of the ball, there’s a legit argument to be had that the Minnesota Vikings are sitting on something really special this season.
Here’s what I mean…
Look back at the Vikings 5-0 start with me real quick. Remember that? The good old days when fans around the team and players inside the locker room alike were starting to discuss what it would be like to make a Super Bowl run in 2016? It was rather improbable with a quarterback who had joined the squad not much more than a month earlier and an offense that was slow to go out of the shoots to boot. But the dominating defense led that Minnesota team to victories over what would go on to become FOUR playoff teams (GB/NYG/HOU/TEN) and two division winners (GB/HOU). That’s nothing to scoff at. I would be remiss not to note that there were some pretty hefty contributions made by the defense and special teams over that run, but for the most part the Vikings have those pieces returning this year as well.
Rather, where the wheels fell off and the cause of the premature death of that Super Bowl hope popped up was on the offensive side of the ball. Injuries abounded causing the team to find a new option at quarterback, find about a dozen new options on the offensive line and move away from their original plan at running back with future hall of famer Adrian Peterson.
There have been some pretty polarizingly mixed reviews based on what this team did or didn’t do this offseason to improve on the offensive side of the ball. The additions of Riley Rieff, Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook all look pretty good on paper, but the doubters will push back until it’s proven on the field, and rightfully so. We wouldn’t want to get our hopes up too high this early.
But here’s where the argument starts. Given what the Vikings had already brought to the table in 2016, the “fat” that they’ve trimmed from the roster this offseason and then some of the new pieces that they acquired, a little bit of improvement could go a long way for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017.
Let’s stop for a second and assume that the offensive line will improve in the upcoming season. That’s not too far of a stretch as it would be tough for them to be worse. But let’s say that they are able to give Bradford a fraction more time to pass the ball and open just a few more holes for the running backs. What happens then? Bradford gets to take his record high accuracy numbers from a year ago and spread the field a little bit. Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Adam Thielen keep doing what they have to do and benefit. Then the defense has to play a little more straight up, emptying the box a little bit and giving the likes of Murray, Cook and McKinnon a chance to shake and a chance to bake. All in all, the Vikings are able to better sustain drives, moving the football and wearing down the opposition.
The long drives would hypothetically lead to more points but more importantly it keeps the football out of the hands of guys like Aaron Rodgers. If he doesn’t have the football, he can’t hurt you, it’s your team’s best defense for guys like that. So you add more opportunities for you and take opportunities away from the opposition, that’s simple math in my book.
Now imagine with me taking a more balanced offense, a more dynamic offense and pinning it up on the board to go along with a defense that is often lauded as one of the best in the league. Sounds good to me, how about you?
And I’m telling you, it’s not that far outside the realm of possibilities!
So here comes the rain on your parade. This is all in theory, it’s all assumed so on paper, the reality may paint a much different, more bleak picture by the end of the year. But ask any good painter and the most important things that you need is the right tools to do the job and the right vision to put it into action.
I know you’re not asking me but I like that vision!
[Writer then removes his purple shaded sunglasses]