Vikings News NFL: Minnesota Vikings are in talks to extend their best cornerback Xavier Rhodes.



Minnesota Vikings 2017 Season Preview




Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Posted on 7/24/2017.


Minnesota Vikings Free Agency Recap


Replacing Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt with Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers are two downgrades at offensive tackle. Kalil started all 16 games with the Vikings every year up until 2016 and now he's gone. Reiff struggled at left tackle in Detroit, but thrived once moving to the right tackle position. Remmers is just a depth guy. Minnesota also replaced Adrian Peterson with a younger version of Peterson in Latavius Murray who may not even be Minnesota's long-term starter at running back.



Minnesota Vikings Draft Recap


The Minnesota Vikings took Dalvin Cook, a first round prospect and our second best running back behind Leonard Fournette in the second round even after trading their first round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford. Cook is a better pass catcher and blocker than Murray so he may start down the road. Ohio State center Pat Elflein was the top center in the entire 2017 NFL Draft, so he's a guy the Vikings will develop this year while he gets stronger, but he should be ready by 2018. Rodney Adams is a wide receiver from South Florida that has moved up four spots on Minnesota's depth chart and is expected to be their returner on special teams. You also got Bucky Hodges as a backup tight end to Kyle Rudolph. Minnesota did pretty good despite not having a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.




Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Summary: Minnesota has three quarterbacks with starting experience entering contract years in Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, and Case Keenum. I like Bridgewater the best of those three. Both Norv Turner and his son Scott Turner who excelled in developing quaterbacks are gone. If all three of those quarterbacks leave, then quarterback could be an option in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.


Pat Schurmer isn't going to get the most out of this offense as Minnesota's offensive coordinator because he's terrible at calling plays even if he can develop quarterbacks and tight ends effectively. Former running backs coach Kevin Stefanski will now work with the quarterbacks as Minnesota's new quarterbacks coach after previously being an assistant quarterbacks coach. Stefanski is the longest-tenured member on Minnesota's staff entering year twelve. Stefanski has worked with tight ends, running backs, and quarterbacks during his time in Minnesota.


I'm not saying Stefanski would make a good head coach. I do think he deserves a shot as offensive coordinator, if Minnesota's offense does worse this year with all their offseason moves. Someone who can develop players at nearly every position on the offensive side of the ball outside of the wide receiver and offensive line positions deserves a shot to be an offensive coordinator at some point so teams can measure if they have a future head coach on their hands.


At the same time, Minnesota was dead last in rushing yards under Stefanski before they made him a quarterback coach, so this could be a bad hire as well. I'm willing to look past it though due to the experience that Stefanski has.


Minnesota Vikings Running Back Summary: Minnesota cleaned house at running back. They got Latavius Murray who was my top Free Agent at running back along with Dalvin Cook who was my second best running back in the 2017 NFL Draft. Jerick McKinnon is still on this roster as a third string running back being the only running back to keep his roster spot from last year. Minnesota's strength on the offensive side of the ball has to be at running back. Murray is ahead of Cook on the depth chart, but at the same time Cook is getting all the reps with Murray on the PUP list.


Kennedy Polamalu is the new running backs coach for Minnesota. He was Jacksonville's running backs coach when the Jaguars had Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew entering his rookie season. He enters almost an exactly similar situation on the Minnesota Vikings which is why I like this hire. Minnesota's strength on offense is going to be at running back this season.


Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Summary: Stefon Diggs remains Minnesota's #1 target despite having the size of a slot receiver. Adam Thielen is the secondary wide receiver due to his work ethic. Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota's first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is set to move to slot receiver.


Treadwell could be worth a late round flyer in Fantasy leagues this year when you consider he's lining up in the slot with most people locking in on Diggs and Thielen. Jarius Wright goes to a depth role as the #4 receiver where he belongs. One more target to keep an eye on is 2017 fifth round pick Rodney Adams from South Florida. He began Vikings' minicamp ninth on their depth chart. His hard work has allowed him to become the #5 receiver on that roster, and while he's not starting, his work ethic hasn't gone unnoticed.


Minnesota had two coaches that knew how to develop wide receivers with Norv Turner and George Stewart. They brought in Darrell Hazell the head coach of Purdue's football team to work with the wide receivers, after Purdue parted ways with him last year. That's another downgrade as far as coaching hires in the passing game.


Minnesota Vikings Tight End Summary: Kyle Rudolph is one of the leagues best starting tight ends when healthy. Minnesota moved on from MyCole Pruitt and Rhett Ellison. Now, Bucky Hodges, a sixth round pick out of Virginia Tech that we had as a top 3 tight end at one point, is now Rudolph's backup. Clancy Barone is a downgrade at tight end coach from Pat Schurmer. Schurmer should be coaching tight ends rather than being an offensive coordinator.


Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line Summary: Minnesota was stacked on the offensive line last year. They downgraded from having quality depth at offensive tackle to having two mediocre starters in Riley Reiff, who can be a great right tackle, but an average left tackle. You also got Mike Remmers who is a career backup at right tackle.


Alex Boone is starting at left guard. You also have Nick Easton at center and Joe Berger at right guard. Vikings' fans will say this offensive line isn't so bad. I disagree this is one of the worst pass blocking units in the NFL, even though Minnesota should be able to run the football effectively if their offensive line stays completely healthy in 2017.


Pat Elflein should be starting. I think he could contribute to this offensive line right now. I also like Minnesota's decision to try T.J. Clemmings inside as a guard for depth before giving up on him after he struggled at offensive tackle in his first two seasons.


Getting a left tackle in the 2018 NFL Draft and moving Riley Reiff to right tackle would help since I see Remmers as a backup. Then you could start Elflein at center, and then some of the big holes in this offensive line would go away. Minnesota is better off letting Murray ride it out this year and then starting Dalvin Cook once you make some upgrades on the offensive line.


Tony Sparano enters year two as Minnesota's offensive line coach. Sparano is awesome at developing pass blocking, run blocking, and zone blocking schemes. The Vikings dealt with a ton of injuries on the offensive line last year. The only reason their guys were productive as they were is due to Sparano being the offensive line coach. Sparano was an excellent offensive line coach in Miami before being promoted to head coach without any experience as an offensive coordinator so having Sparano around makes this offensive line more disciplined.


The Vikings were 23rd in points per game, 28th in total yards, 18th in passing yards, and 32nd in rushing yards in 2016. Minnesota's offense regressed mainly due to injuries.


Losing Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, and their top 3 offensive tackles crippled this team despite the promise and emergence of Sam Bradford at quarterback. Bradford played well when the offensive line was healthy under Norv Turner, but injuries caught up to Minnesota eventually plus the play-calling wasn't as good when Pat Schurmer took over. It only gets worse. After Minnesota, did this poorly due to injuries, Minnesota basically moved on from all their good coaches on offense outside of Kevin Stefanski and Tony Sparano, plus they downgraded at offensive tackle which may give their quarterbacks less time in the pocket this upcoming season.



Minnesota Vikings Defensive Line Summary: Minnesota is loaded with 4-3 defensive ends. They have Everson Griffen as a starting 4-3 right end with Danielle Hunter complimenting him as a starting 4-3 left end where he thrived at LSU. Datone Jones is now in a backup 4-3 right end role with Brian Robison being in a backup 4-3 left end role.


Minnesota can save $8.5-million in 2018, if Griffen declines because he had 10 sacks two years ago and only 8 sacks in 2016. Griffen turns 30-years-old soon on top of that. Drafting a defensive end is a possibility in the 2018 NFL Draft depending on how they approach the offseason next year.


Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd are awesome starting defensive tackles when healthy. The 6-3 288 lb Tom Johnson had 5.5 sacks as a backup defensive tackle when filling in for Joseph and Floyd as both Joseph and Floyd combined for only 3 sacks despite being terrific run stuffers.


Andre Patterson was the Vikings defensive line coach in 1998-1999 when the Vikings went 15-1 before rejoining the team. Patterson is a great defensive line coach which is one reason why the Vikings usually get pressure on the opposing quarterback. Mike Zimmer specializes in developing defensive linemen as well.


Minnesota Vikings Linebacker Summary: Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and Emmanuel Lamur form an great linebacking core. Minnesota has three players that consistently produce at linebacker. Kendricks is a middle linebacker while both Lamur and Barr are versatile to play either outside linebacker role. Ben Gedeon out of Michigan is expected to be a backup outside linebacker after being a middle linebacker at Michigan. You also got Missouri middle linebacker Kentrell Brothers for depth behind Kendricks.


Minnesota has great depth. Ben Gedeon a rookie out of Michigan will be the backup 4-3 right outside linebacker after being a 3-4 middle linebacker at Michigan. You also got Kentrell Brothers out of Missouri for depth at middle linebacker. Edmond Robinson is the Vikings backup 4-3 left outside linebacker as the 2015 draft pick showed some promise out of Newberry. Edmond Robinson is gaining invaluable experience as a backup in a depth role. Expect Minnesota to remain deep at linebacker for another two years.


Head coach Mike Zimmer can develop defensive linemen or linebackers in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Defensive coordinator George Edwards specializes in developing linebackers, but he's learned a lot about developing defensive linemen as well as Mike Zimmer's understudy. Edwards may be a future head coach candidate in the waiting. Linebackers coach Adam Zimmer is Mike Zimmer's son so the Vikings have three coaches that specialize in developing linebackers as well as defensive linemen. Mike Zimmer handles play calling with the linebackers, Edwards handles run stuffing and blitz schemes, and Adam Zimmer focuses on having the linebackers drop back into coverage. Each coach plays a critical role in how the Vikings linebackers develop.


Minnesota Vikings Defensive Backs Summary: Xavier Rhodes is the Vikings #1 field cornerback. It's time for him to get extended after four consecutive seasons with 10 deflections or more. Rhodes also had 5 interceptions in 2016. Buffalo didn't lock up Stephon Gilmore at this point last year, and that decision bit them in the rear end now that Gilmore is on the Patriots.


Terrence Newman will compliment Rhodes as a #2 boundary cornerback once again. Trae Waynes is going to be the nickel corner, but the third year corner is pushing Newman for that #2 spot. Mackensie Alexander got promoted from quarter cornerback to dime cornerback.


Strong safety Andrew Sendejo is starting. Jayron Kearse Alexander's teammate at Clemson is the backup strong safety after developing as a rookie in his first season.


Minnesota has Harrison Smith as the teams starting free safety. Antone Exum like Smith, Griffin, and Sendejo has the versatility to play free safety or strong safety. You could say the same thing about third stringer Anthony Harris, a 2015 draft pick from Virginia.


Minnesota is loaded on the secondary. Jerry Gray is a great defensive backs coach, but a horrible defensive coordinator.


The Vikings were a top 20 defense in all 5 defensive categories and a top 6 defense in four of those five categories. Minnesota was 5th in sacks, 6th in points allowed, 3rd in total yards allowed, 3rd in pass defense, and 20th in run defense. Minnesota did as well as they did being the NFL's last team to lose a game mainly due to their defense.



Minnesota Vikings Special Teams Summary: Minnesota has Kai Forbath at kicker. Taylor Symmank is a former punter at Texas Tech, who I feel is expendable. Rodney Adams will probably be a kick returner and punt returner for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017.




Minnesota Vikings Worst Case Scenario: Minnesota goes 5-11 due to not having good coaches on the offensive side of the football. This results in a third place finish in the NFC North Division.


Minnesota Vikings Best Case Scenario: Minnesota goes 11-5. They manage to beat out the Green Bay Packers for the second time in three years to win the NFC North Division. Minnesota is capable of going 5-0 in October with their schedule. If Minnesota can start 3-0 like last year, they have a chance to head into November at 8-0 heading into their bye week. Minnesota barely beats Washington coming off a bye week to start 9-0. They might struggle down the stretch, but should still manage to pull out home wins versus Cincinnati and Chicago which would make them 11-5 if they started 9-0. Starting that well would get the Vikings a wild card at the very worst and that may be good enough to win the NFC North.


Minnesota Vikings 2017 NFL Schedule


Week
Date
Opponent
Time
Cable Network
Result
Week 1
September 11
VS
7:10 PM EST
ESPN
L
Week 2
September 17
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 3
September 24
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 4
October 1
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 5
October 9
AT
8:30 PM EST
ESPN
L
Week 6
October 15
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 7
October 22
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 8
October 29
AT
9:30 AM EST
FOX
W
Week 9
Bye Week
Week 10
November 12
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 11
November 19
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 12
November 23
AT
12:30 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 13
December 3
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 14
December 10
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 15
December 17
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 16
December 23
AT
8:30 PM EST
NBC
L
Week 17
December 31
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
W


Minnesota Vikings 2017 Projected Record (7-9): Last year, I thought Minnesota would begin 8-0 heading into week 10 before the Teddy Bridgewater injury occurred. Minnesota started 6-0 even with Sam Bradford. Their October schedule is easier than last year to the point where they could go 5-0 in October, but they have a rough September schedule as well.


I dislike the fact that Minnesota downgraded a lot of coaches at key positions on their staff. You also got 3 quarterbacks in contract years along with a Bradford VS Bridgewater controversy as well as issues at offensive tackle with Reiff being a right tackle, and Remmers being a backup.


Minnesota is a team that I see picking with a top 10 pick this year due to some terrible moves by the front office. Hopefully the Vikings remain patient and do not fire Mike Zimmer. I could be wrong about Minnesota though since they have a bye week heading into Washington and may win a few more games in the first two months of the NFL season.









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