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Editor’s note: Over the course of the summer, Next Impulse Sports will be releasing NFL team previews every Tuesday and Thursday. Check back on Tuesday for the Cincinnati Bengals Edition and access the Detroit Lions Edition here. All the season previews released so far can be read here.

Today: The Minnesota Vikings

Last Year: 5-10-1 (Last-place in NFC North)

sad vikings

What a mess. Since losing the NFC Championship game in 2010, the Vikings have accumulated a 24-39-1 record. This past season saw Minnesota finish the season with just five wins, the team’s lowest win total since 2001.

From the very first kick off, the Vikings were clearly an NFC North weakling. An 0-3 start compounded into a 2-8 record through the first 10 games. Minnesota did manage to eke out three wins and a tie in its last six games, but ultimately ended up finishing with one of the worst records in the league.

The quarterback position was a disaster, as Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, and Josh Freeman combined to throw just 18 touchdown passes and the team ended the season ranked 23rd in total passing yards. Adrian Peterson couldn’t replicate his godlike performance the previous season. And the defense struggled immensely against opposing quarterbacks.

Following the season, Leslie Frazier — like his counterpart in Detroit — was fired and Mike Zimmer was brought on board to try to restore some stability in Minnesota.

Last Year’s Stud: Adrian Peterson

AP dallas

It’s hard to write about the Vikings without at least mentioning Adrian Peterson. He’s the best running back in the league by far, and he happens to play for one of the league’s worst teams, making him that much more valuable to his team. In 2012, Peterson single-handedly carried the Vikings to the postseason and nearly set an all-time rushing record in the process.

But, because the Vikings have zero-semblance of a passing attack, teams are simply able to stack eight in the box. And while Peterson didn’t come close to matching his 2,097-yard campaign, he still managed over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013.

Runner-up: Jared Allen

Last Year’s Surprise: Josh Freeman


Josh Freeman wasn’t the surprise the Vikings wanted. Originally a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the onset of the season, Freeman played so poorly that the Bucs cut ties with the former first-round pick. Once on the market, Freeman was scooped up the Vikings, who were going through their fair share of quarterback issues (more on that later) and hoped Freeman could salvage their season.

But Freeman offered no such relief. Instead, in his one-game played, the former-Buc completed just 20 of his 53 pass attempts and one interception.

Today, Freeman finds himself in New York, as Eli Manning’s potential backup quarterback. Now there’s an example of a contract year gone wrong.

Runner-up: Matt Cassell

Last Year’s Disappointment: Christian Ponder


2013 was Ponder’s third season with the team that drafted in the first-round. And, after his nine games started this past season, it appears Ponder will never live up to the expectations that come with being first-round draft pick. To put it bluntly, Ponder was dreadful last season — only seven touchdown passes, nine interceptions, and four fumbles. And with Minnesota’s selection of Teddy Bridgewater in the first-round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Ponder is likely done starting in Minnesota.

Runner-up: Greg Jennings

Draft Class

The Vikings have to feel pretty good after landing a quarterback that was going No. 1 overall in many mock drafts a few months ago. And the best part: they didn’t even use their No. 8 overall pick on him. Instead, after a subpar pro day, Bridgewater’s stock rapidly sunk and the Vikings were able to snag the former-Louisville star with the last pick of the first-round thanks to a trade with Seattle.

Meanwhile, in the first round, the Vikings were able to land some much needed support for a defense that ranked 31st against the pass. Using the eighth pick on Anthony Barr out of the UCLA, the Vikings are hoping that Barr’s raw athleticism will be enough in his first season to replace Jared Allen and help put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks. But, Barr is still raw and needs time to develop into an all-around defensive player. Will he get to the quarterback? Sure. But will he struggle against defending the run? Probably.

Still, I like the pick. If your team’s defense faces the Packers, Bears, and Lions six times, you need to bolster your defense. The Vikings did that.

Other notable pick: Scott Crichton

This Year’s Stud: Adrian Peterson

For all the reasons listed earlier. And, these:



Runner-up: Cordarrelle Patterson

Because stuff like this is also cool:


This Year’s Surprise: Teddy Bridgewater

I think Bridgewater is going to be a surprise for both those who think he doesn’t have the arm strength or overall size to succeed, and those who think he should’ve been the first overall pick in the draft.

I like Bridgewater and, let’s be real, sliding in the draft because of a bad pro day is absurd. Especially when you have throws like this on your resume:


But adjusting to the NFL is hard for any quarterback and I’m willing to bet Bridgewater will have his difficulties. He also happens to play for the Vikings and, outside of Adrian Peterson, they don’t have much on offense.

Bridgewater will surprise those who think he’ll falter and he’ll be an upgrade over the three-headed approach of Cassel, Ponder, and Freeman last season. But he won’t be winning rookie of the year or taking the Vikings to the postseason.

Runner-up: Scott Crichton

This Year’s Disappointment: Anthony Barr

He’s freakishly athletic and should get to the quarterback, but he’s still very much a raw talent. While he certainly has time to develop into more than just a pass-rusher, I’m not sold that will happen immediately. It may take a full season for the Vikings to justify using the eighth pick on Barr, but, right now, this pick screams Bruce Irvin.

Runner-up: Greg Jennings

Fantasy outlook:

Draft early: Adrian Peterson

Good value in the middle rounds: Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson

Don’t Draft: Defense/Special teams

What Vegas is saying (LVH sports book): 6 wins

What We’re Saying: 5-11 (Last-place in NFC North)

They drafted well and are on their way to becoming competitive again, but the Vikings are still the worst team in the NFC North. They were ranked 31st in passing defense last year and have to play six games against the Bears, Packers, and Lions. Even if Teddy Bridgewater turns into the quarterback that nearly every NFL draft expert thought he was going to be prior to his pro day, Anthony Barr isn’t going to turn the defense into a top unit — he’ll bolster the pass rush this year, and that’s about it.

But hey, if this whole Bridgewater thing doesn’t work out, I hear Brett Favre might be available.


[genericon icon=twitter]Follow Sean Wagner-McGough on Twitter @seanjwagner


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