In 2015, the Minnesota Vikings surprised a lot of people, finishing 3rd in the NFC with a record of 11-5. In the process, they upended archrival Green Bay for the NFC North title. Coming into the 2016 season, they were given a reasonable chance of making the playoffs, though no one was really predicting a repeat conference win over the Packers.
The teams chances of making another run for the playoffs took a serious hit early in the pre-season when starting QB Teddy Bridgewater went down with a season-ending injury. This was already an offense that struggle last season, finishing 4th worst in the league with 321 YPG. The fact is receiver corps was young and inexperienced coming into the season didn’t figure to help matters much.
The one person the Vikings knew they could count on was All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson, who led the league in rushing in 2015 with 1,485 yards and 11 TDs. The ability to count on him lasted exactly five quarters as he too would go down with a season ending injury.
With two big blows to its playoff hopes for the season, Head Coach Mike Zimmer was called upon to begin doing damage control. The first thing the team did was go out and trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for veteran QB Sam Bradford. Often injured, Bradford was at least able to bring some starting expense to the table, something the Vikings couldn’t find internally.
Next up was to simplify the offense and try to limits mistakes. The thought was the defense was certainly good enough to keep games close, which could result in a few wins if the offense didn’t shoot itself in the foot. While this notion and winning with Bradford at QB seemed a long shot at best, a 5-0 record speaks volumes about never underestimating good defense in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry →