It’s the strangest time of the year and for my money it’s the most painful time of the year to get through. Sure the Twins are doing well through the All Star Break and sure the Timberwolves have been balling in Free Agency, but in all reality there’s not much to chat about throughout the sports world which means it’s time to start turning our attention to football once again.
I mean,Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings is only 13 days away. The beginning of the NFL regular season is only 59 days away. And for all intents and purposes your Fantasy Football mock drafts have already begun. It’s almost time to turn our attention to football and while we wait for the final countdown and enjoy the calm before the regular season storm, let me throw out 5 Big Questions for us all to ponder as we grease the wheel for what should be a fun NFL season…
Is Sam Bradford on the cusp of something big with Sam Bradford?
A few weeks back I broke this down in length, but the table is set for the Vikings and for Sam Bradford to do something special this season. I wasn’t the only one to think this, but in the few weeks since that article was penned, the idea seems to be catching on even more. Most recently it was NFL.com saying that Bradford is one of nine players set for a late breakout this season. Here’s a little bit of what they had to say…
He’s not here for setting the all-time completion percentage record in a dink-and-dunk offense designed to cover up leaky linemen. He’s here because he quietly excelled last season in areas he was once mocked for. ProFootball Focus’ numbers showed Bradford was the most accurate passer under pressure and most accurate on throws over 20 yards downfield.
Put that a little further into Layman’s Terms and Bradford should have an improved offensive line (it can’t be worse), and improvement in the backfield and a little added depth and experience at the wide receiver position. All of that should set the stage for an expanded offensive scheme opening the door for Bradford to throw the ball short, medium and deep.
Who starts in the backfield on Monday, September 11th?
Remember back when everybody was all excited about the Vikings inking a deal with Latavius Murray? He was going to bring a new breath of fresh air to the Vikings backfield with his willingness to block and skill set of catching the ball out of the backfield. That was quickly overlooked as the Florida State running back Dalvin Cook dropped to the second round and we started watching his highlight reels on YouTube. Then OTAs and Mini-Camp happened and the hype only grew surrounding our rookie running back. Now we’re left with a legitimate question to ponder who will be the starter in the backfield on Monday Night Football to open the season.
Are they really going to start a rookie at center?
Throughout the process of rebuilding the offensive line after the disaster that was 2016, the Minnesota Vikings are presented quite the predicament. They’re obviously looking for ways to improve their talent all across the board up front so they bring in a couple tackles, sit and wait for their high priced left guard to take a step forward and slide their veteran swing lineman to right guard but that left a gaping hole at what could be the most integral part of that line right smack dab in the middle. And the two options heading into Training Camp are a second year guy with 5 starts under his belt and a rookie out of the Ohio State University. At this point, with nothing to really go off of outside of unpadded mini-camp sessions, I think most people are expecting the rookie Pat Elflein to win out. Is that truly the better option? It may very well be.
Will the defense bounce back to their pre-bye-week form from 2016?
Remember before the Bye Week last year when the Vikings started off 5-0? Every single publication in town was legitimately comparing the Vikings stellar defense up against some of the best defenses of all time. It was The Steel Curtain, The Purple People Eaters, The Monsters of the Midway and The Zimm Reapers. That really wasn’t a joke. They were holding opponents to under 15 points per game, turning over the opponent and they were scoring touchdowns on a regular basis. Then they got burnt out. They were on the field ALL THE TIME as the offense couldn’t move the ball. The turnovers dropped, the scoring stopped and the mistakes piled up allowing the opposition to score more often and pushing the Vikings to lose 8 of their final 11 games. If that scale gets tipped to be a little more balanced this season will the defense return to that stellar level of play?
Are we still infatuated with Mike Zimmer as Head Coach?
Mike Zimmer enters his fourth season as head coach of the Vikings this year and for most of the first two and a half years we were already drafting the induction speech for his enshrinement in the Vikings Ring of Honor. But then Norv Turner resigned, fat cats got slaughtered and weird schisms seemed to pop up in a locker room where everybody was once “on board” with what the coach was selling. Has that changed? Is he starting to show weaknesses in his plan? These are all questions that you have to start asking heading into year number four.