Even with as bad as the 2016 ended, the 2016-7 season showed everyone that the Vikings are the class of the NFC north for now and the near future. “The Packers won the north last year”, blah, blah, blah. No they didn’t, at least not the way I see things. We GAVE the division to them.
Lets look at what it took for the Vikings to lose the NFC north last year, and just a heads up I’m not going to include Adrian Peterson’s injury in this because I firmly believe that our offense functions better and less predictably with Sam under center (And not with the 50 year old #28 in the back field).
First off, we lost our starting quarterback in the preseason, which actually turned into a blessing do to the fact that I believe we have now upgraded and solidified our quarterback position for the next 5-8 years in Sam Bradford.
The most games any single Vikings lineman started was 14, and by week five the Vikings were down to only two opening day starters on the offensive line that we all cursed and screamed at (While Sam ran/dumped the ball off for his life). The amount of combinations used on the line was mind boggling and thus the Vikings ended up with people playing positions that god never intended. I’m pretty sure I can speak for everyone when I say that no one ever wants to see TJ Clemmings impression of a left tackle again! So, with that, we had at least four linemen injured pretty much the whole year!
On top of that uncertainty and change at offensive line, the Vikings also ended up switching offensive coordinators in the middle of the season. I don’t think any of us regular people will ever really know what exactly happened there, but I feel that somehow the Vikings/Bradford are better off without Norv. Don’t get me wrong I love him and give him the utmost respect for his career, but something was very wrong and the offense seemed forced. Either way, wit Pat Shumur at the helm, Sam does seem more comfortable now. So while that does seem like a long-term net positive, switching offensive coordinators in the middle of a season is never a good thing for any team.
During the five game that punt returner extraordinaire Marcus Sherels missed five games the Vikings record was 2 and 3. I truly believe that if Adam didn’t muff that punt against the Cowboys the Vikings win that game and the division (Now I am not an idiot and do realize that even if we had made the playoffs we had so many injuries by that point that it would have been pointless). For an example of how important I think Marcus is to the team; in the first game against the Bears minus Sherels, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen averaged five yards per return (On three punt returns). The Final meeting with Chicago Sherels averaged 22.5 yards on two returns. Don’t get me wrong I love Thielen and Diggs but returning kicks is not and should not be their job.
I do realize that every team must face some adversity to make it through an entire season but come on we had well more than our share in 2016. The Packers did nothing to change my opinion that they are an aging team that is extremely beatable on a weekly basis. We don’t really need to talk about the Lions or Bears do we because lets face it they both have a lot of rebuilding to do!