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Vikings Stock Market: Quarterly Report

The Vikings finish the first quarter of the season at 2-2 with the bye week looming. Let's see who's up, who's down, and everything else in between.

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At 2-2, the Vikings have given us three pretty good games and one stink bomb. Like Mike Zimmer said in his weekly press conference, we won't celebrate moral victories here, but there were plenty of silver linings to take away from that loss. When you add in convincing home wins against the Chargers and Lions, that 49ers bag of garbage that was the opener looks more and more like an anomaly, and that's a good thing.

When I look across the Vikings landscape, there's a lot to like. There is quality, young talent at key positions, a coaching staff that knows, at least for the most part, how to utilize that talent, and a schedule that really gives the Vikings an opportunity to vault into the middle of the NFC playoff talk coming out of the bye.

It feels like this team is gearing up for a pretty good run, much like the ancestors of their namesake:

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore.

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
How soft your fields so green, can whisper tales of gore,
Of how we calmed the tides of war. We are your overlords.

On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore.

So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing.

Your Vikings Quarterly Report Follows.

Blue Chip Stocks:

Adrian Peterson, RB: All Peterson has done since his return to the playing field is lead the league in rushing, with 372 yards. After a slow start against the 49ers, Peterson has torn it up since, going for over 100 yards in two of the last three games, and had a 48 yard TD run against Denver that tied the game.

Harrison Smith, S: Smith is blossoming into one of the the best safeties in the NFL, if not the best. He might be having the best all around season for anyone else on the defense, as he is almost assured to bring you a highlight hit (on Colin Kaepernick in week one) or an interception (against Peyton Manning last week) every game. When teams throw deep, it's away from Smith, which might be the biggest compliment of all.

Linval Joseph, DT: Aside from week one (and really, we could use that statement for everyone on the team), Joseph has been a force on the inside. Teams simply cannot run between the tackles consistently or successfully, and that's due, in large part, to the disruptive presence of Joseph. He might be the first true nose tackle the Vikings have had since Pat Williams retired, and it shows.

Jeff Locke, P: Locke is quietly putting together a great season. There is only a 0.2 yard difference in average and net average, which means his hang time is good, and he isn't outkicking his coverage. Of his 16 punts this year, nine of them have been inside the 20, and only five have been returned. Bottom line is that Locke is doing a great job of flipping field position, which is a welcome change from previous seasons.

Solid Investments:

Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Now that Teddy has 16 starts under his belt, people like to do comparison stories--as in, how his stats look after 16 games to other QB's after 16 games. And the one a lot of people are focusing on is Christian Ponder, who had more TD passes than Bridgewater has at this point. I think it's patently absurd, because what we saw from Ponder in 2012 was the top end of his performance potential. With Bridgewater, we're seeing the floor, or if not the floor, certainly not the ceiling. He's not an all time great, but he's leaps and bounds better than Ponder and any number of other quarterbacks starting in the NFL.

Mike Wallace, WR: Wallace has been the only consistent receiving threat in 2014, making his presence felt in every game so far. Either by design or circumstance, Wallace hasn't connected with Bridgewater on a deep route yet, but that's just a matter of time. The Vikings opened up the passing game against Denver, and I would expect them to stretch it more as the season wears on, in part to save wear and tear on Adrian Peterson.

Anthony Barr, LB: Barr has become the best linebacker on the team, and is playing at a high level. An early injury in pre-season looked like it could hamper Barr as the regular season began, but it hasn't bothered him at all. He's a solid tackler, and solid in coverage.

Eric Kendricks, LB: The emergence of Kendricks as an athletic playmaker made Gerald Hodges expendable, and Kendricks will now see the field full time. We've seen flashes of his ability the last three games, including a scak of Peyton Manning straight through the A gap. Like Barr, he's an ideal linebacker for this defense, and we're starting to see why.

Brian Robison, DE: Between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Brian Robison went from the new guy to the seasoned veteran, almost overnight. Last season, and early this year it looked like he might be done, but Robison has turned it up a notch. He's solid in every aspect of the game, and playing at his highest level in about three years or so.

Junk Bonds:

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR: The last of three 2013 first round picks for the Vikings faded faster than Caitlyn Jenner's new show. The guy we call 'Flash is on pace to catch...wait for it...eight passes for 40 yards. Not in the next game, but all season. For a guy that has shown so much potential to be this much of a non-factor makes him ripe for trade rumors. Which he is, actually.

Blair Walsh, K: Walsh went from record setting All Pro rookie to a guy that had a bit of a sophomore slump to a guy that makes you chew your finger nails every time he attempts a field goal. Everyone, from Walsh, to special teams coach Mike Priefer, to head coach Mike Zimmer, say this is all a mental thing at this point. So...let's un-mental this, shall we?


Buy: Chad Greenway's 91 yard pick six. It was one of the better moments in recent team history. The grizzled old vet making a game clinching play on the day his grandfather saw him play live for the first time. It was a great story for a team that hasn't had a lot of those in recent years.

Sell: Chad Greenway has been an asset to the defense. But that was a single moment in a season where Greenway has struggled to make plays, if he's even in the game at all. His amount of playing time has dropped dramatically, and when he is out there, well...I can see why the team isn't playing him a lot. It sucks writing that, because Greenway is a hell of a person, and he's been a hell of a player for this franchise. It will be nice to see him retire as a Viking.

Buy: The Gerald Hodges trade. From a pure personnel perspective (alliteration unintentional), this trade makes sense. The Vikings have a sudden glut of talent at linebacker, especially with the emergence of Kendricks being able to play in the Mike spot, and due to injury they are deathly short of depth on the offensive line. Nick Easton gives the Vikings depth, and he shows promise as a possible center of the future.

Sell: Offensive line depth, even after the acquisition of C Nick Easton. That said, depth is still an issue, and this trade screams to me that the health of John Sullivan is a lot more of a concern than the team has led us to believe. They called Sullivan's injury 'back spasms' for over two weeks before placing him on the IR eligible to return list for a lumbar microdiscectomy right procedure before the season started. And right now, I am skeptical that when Sullivan is eligible to play he'll be on the field. This just seems worse than we're being told, and C will be high on the list of needs entering next year's draft.

Buy: Stefon Diggs and Trae Waynes. Both of these rookies have flashed serious promise early in the season, and right now look to be long term additions to the team. Diggs broke out in a big way against the Broncos, and Waynes played very well when Xavier Rhodes went out with an injury against the Chargers. Granted, it's a small sample size, but it looks like both of these guys can play in the NFL at a high level.

Sell: Charles Johnson and the safety opposite Smith.The emergence of Diggs really muddies the WR depth chart, or at least I think it will. Both Diggs and Adam Thielen had impressive games against the Broncos, and they both over shadowed the previous three games from both Johnson and Jarius Wright. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings rank order their wide receivers coming out of the bye, because it feels like Diggs and Thielen will start seeing the field a lot more, because they have earned it. And Smith's stellar play in the back end of the secondary only highlights how bad the second safety position has been so far this year. It doesn't matter if it's been Andrew Sandejo or Robert Blanton, FS is the Achilles Heel of the defense right now, and I don't see any solid short term fix for it.

Don Glover Quote Of The...uh...Quarter:

Dad: Who do the Vikings play on Sunday?

Me: It's a bye week, Dad.

Dad: Bye week? Already?

Me: Yeah.

Dad: Well I'm not going to come over then.

Me: Okay. Why not?

Dad: Because I can watch bad football here at my place just as easily as I can watch it at your house. And it's supposed to rain. I don't want to go out in the rain and cold.

/pulls up weather on my phone, shows it's supposed to be80 and sunny

Me: No it's not. It's supposed to be nice.

Dad: It's October. It's going to rain. Might even snow. I'm staying in.

Enjoy the bye week, kids. And stay dry.