Well the 2014 Vikings season to me was a disappointment. I expected the Vikes to go 10-6, win the division and make the playoffs and that didn’t happen. That’s probably what happens though when the best RB in the NFL has to sit out the season because the Commissioner is an idiot. If we have AP I do think we make the playoffs, but what can ya do. My expectations every year are to win the division and make the playoffs and that is never going to change. Although the season was a disappointment there were some positives. The big one is that it looks like we have a coach and a QB to lead us for years to come in Mike Zimmer and Teddy Bridgewater. Here’s how I feel about the rest of the team/season:
How I felt about this year:
Well the Offense was subpar basically all season. I think a lot of it was due to the fact that we didn’t have AP and that Teddy was learning on the job most of the year, although Cassel didn’t look great when he did play. Our line was brutal and our receivers/running backs were very average. I thought our Tight Ends did look good at times. For QB play Cassel was you avg. vet and looked like it when he played. I’m glad Teddy stepped in early and got his growing pains out this year instead of next. I was a little skeptical about Teddy after the Lions game and a few games after that. He was missing open receivers and couldn’t really hit the deep ball. But what I did like is that since the Lions game he seemed to improve a little each week and never really look liked he regressed which you love to see from a rookie QB. The final few weeks of the season things finally looked like they clicked for Teddy. He started hitting deep balls, making crazy accurate throws, and making the clutch plays when they were needed. All in all I was very excited about what I saw from Teddy. Our best lineman were Sullivan and Loadholt before he got hurt. Everybody else (Kalil, Johnson, Berger, Ducasse, Harris) was usually average when they were playing their best, akthough Kalil stepped things up the last few weeks. Not having Fusco might have made a little difference too, but I don’t know how much. Fusco has never really impressed me. Above avg. run blocker, below avg. pass blocker. For Tight Ends I liked what I saw from Chase Ford and I think he’ll be a good backup for a couple years to Rudolph and Ellison. Rudolph needs to stay healthy though. Whenever he does he will be a weapon assuming we use him properly. I think our WR corp has some decent potential, but we are sill missing that one guy who can go up and win the 50/50 ball. Jennings was pretty good all year and was himself. Found openings and caught the balls he was supposed to. Very good slot receiver. Jarius Wright also looked pretty good and did what you expect him to do, although I don’t think he ever be anything more than a good 3rd or 4th receiver. Same goes for Adam Thielen. The two interesting guys to me are Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson. Cordarrelle started off great and then just disappeared and Johnson came on strong once he was signed off the practice squad. I do think Patterson has the talent to be the best of the bunch, but I’ll get to that later and how I think we did not use him correctly at all. Johnson looks to me like a decent 3rd WR to maybe an average 2nd receiver. He runs strong routes and can get behind the defense some. He’s kind of like a taller stronger version of Jarius Wright. Both catch the balls they should, but usually don’t make any great catches or win any 50/50 balls. At RB it was a carousel all season. AP was AP when he played the 1 game. McKinnon was probably the best of the backups. Showed good vision and cutting ability and had some explosiveness. A little undersized, but I think at some point in a couple years he could carry the load if given the opportunity. Asiata looked like a fullback which he use to be. Good at short yardage and protecting the QB, but very limited in almost every other aspect. In my mind he shouldn’t have been playing as much as he did. I’m not a big fan. I did like what I saw from Banyard. Saw the field well and made some people miss in the few opportunities he got. Could be a very decent backup in the future. McKinnon and Banyard have the most talent and I think should have been the only RB’s getting the majority of the reps when Peterson went down. The thinking I’m sure though was Asiata is a Vet and will protect Teddy the best so it makes sense why he played. Felton was also good when he was in at FB.
How I feel about the future:
Teddy Bridgewater looks the part and in my mind and will be a future pro bowler. So QB is set hopefully for the next decade (knock on wood). The rest of the offense is kind of up in the air. For next year if we get AP back, which we should, we’ll be set at RB, with hopefully McKinnon and Banyard or a rookie we take in the later rds backing him up. I didn’t mention Asiata because Asiata is just not that great of a back IMO. Doesn’t have much potential and won’t be worth paying although the Vikes might think differently. At Fullback it looks like it’s gonna be Zach Line which it should be. That’s got to be the only reason we kept him on the active roster all year, so he could replace Felton who is decent, but not worth paying all that money when the FB doesn’t play as much in Norv’s offense. Tight End should be set for the next couple years although being a gopher fan I would love to see Maxx Williams in Purple even though it won’t happen. At WR we need to get a guy who can win that 50/50 ball. Patterson might have the potential to be that guy someday, but I would love to do it in the draft as in DeVante Parker, even though he might not be my favorite WR in the draft. If Dorial Green-Beckham enters the draft that is the guy we need to get whether it be in the 1st, late 1st or 2nd rd, or wherever. 6′ 5″ WR’s with that type of talent don’t come around very often (see Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss). The one thing that is concerning with DGB is that he does have many off field issues. Was suspended by Missouri last year and had to sit out this year due to transferring. But I would roll the dice on him. Has the most talent and potential of any WR in the draft and could do some special things in the NFL as in he is one of those players who doesn’t come around very often in my mind. In terms of our receivers actually on the team. Jennings will again be a decent slot guy next year, and Wright/Johnson will compete for that #2/3/4 WR. Patterson I will get to later since in my mind he’s special, but I’d peg him as the #2 WR. Thielen will be a good #4/5 who plays special teams. O-Line is another position where I think we should use a high draft pick on as in the firs 3 rds. I think the left side of the line is set in Sullivan, Fusco, and Loadholt. I also think Kalil will start the year at LT, although somebody we draft could take over midway through the season. At LG I think we’ll have a legit competiton between probably Yankey, a rookie, and somebody we sign in free agency. We could also draft somebody high who could start at LG then move over to LT if Kalil struggles. Berger is a good backup since he can play multiple positions and I think Tiny Richardson could definitely compete for the backup LT/RT spot. Besides that there will probably be some competition as usual for backup lineman.
I have my own section for Cordarrelle Patterson since I think 1. He is the Vikings most athletically gifted player not named Adrian Peterson and 2. I think Norv used him terribly this year. CP has shown that he can be a game changer as we all saw last year and the first game this year. I’ve been trying to figure out why we did not use him more, so I’ll talk about that first. CP does not run the best routes and is far from a polished WR as he only played 1 yr in D1 football and has only played 2 yrs now in the NFL. On top of that he is also in his third offense in 3 years so he has never really been in the same offense in his life for more than a year. I also think that CP does have a little laziness to him, but I don’t think he is trying to be lazy. That sounds weird, but from what I have seen in interviews and on the field it does look like he wants to put in the work to be a top NFL WR, but I don’t think he knows what that looks like since he has never had to work really hard since he is so athletically gifted. So I think Zimmer/Norv started not playing him at all because he wasn’t running precise enough routes and wasn’t putting in the work in practice. When this happened I think CP slowly started to see that he is going to have to work really hard during the season and in the offseason to be a true WR. So we’ll see if Zimmer and Norv’s strategy of benching Patterson works. Here is what I would have done instead though and would do in the future. At the current moment Patterson is a very avg WR, but as a playmaker he is near the elite category. He is a guy you need to manufacture about 5-10 touches a game for while he learns the WR position. He doesn’t need to play every snap, but I think he should at least be in 50% of the time. In those 5-10 touches you can run bubble screens, jet sweeps, tosses or just give him the ball on a normal handoff. When he touched the ball on those kind plays this he would usually get at least get 5 yards. So you just treat it like a normal first down play. So after that play you’ll probably at least have 2nd and 5 with the potential of a 60 yard TD. When you do this it also makes the fakes to him more effective which opens up things for the running game which we definitely needed help with this year. I don’t get why Norv wouldn’t do something like this while he learns the WR position. You could also put him in for Asiata or a RB when you do those empty sets on offense. If you motion Patterson into the backfield and run the ball he’s gonna get as many yards as Asiata and probably more. You fit the system to the players, not the players to the system. Oh and you got to play to learn some of the stuff in my mind which is why not playing him at all doesn’t make any sense. In the end though I hope Zimmer and Norv’s plan works and CP has an amazing year next year. I think he will.