Hey all! I normally don't do many articles, other than the open thread, but I think we're in the middle of something spectacular here in Vikings land & felt compelled to tell you why. I honestly haven't been this excited for a season in my Vikings-fandom life, and I've been watching religiously since around 1980 or so.
I know that every year starts with high expectations (well, except for maybe 2011 & some other outlier years when you just KNOW it's going to be brutal), but this year is different. There are several reasons I believe this, and I'll lay them out for you.
The talent level of the players is higher than it's been. I wasn't around for the Purple People Eaters, unfortunately, so we may or may not have that level of talent, I wouldn't know, but I can say that we have more talent on this team than I can remember us having on any other team since I've been watching. Our division is weaker this year, and J-Dog does an excellent job of analyzing the division in this article. We also have one of the best in the business coaching our beloved Vikings.
I'll start with the defense, since that's what the nucleus of this team is. Everson Griffen is a beast and should be feared by every quarterback and tackle who has to face our team. Danielle Hunter is another athletic freak that is just starting to blossom, and he could reach the level of Griffen, or even higher, in the years to come. Joseph, Floyd, Stephen, and Johnson is a very talented rotation to field at the DT positions. Barr and Kendricks are a dynamic duo who dominate when they're on the field, and they're still getting better. Rhodes is an excellent corner, and Waynes is starting to become the cornerback we'd hoped he'd become. Add in our depth with Newman and Alexander, and I really like the personnel we field at cornerback. Now, I'll get to my favorite player, Harrison Smith. This guy is like having a young, brilliant general out on the battlefield, who fights right next to his soldiers. I think Smith is one of the best, if not the best, safeties in the NFL. He can hit like a Mack truck, and is also phenomenol in coverage. Our weakest spot is probably the guy playing next to Smith, but if that's our biggest weakness, we're sitting pretty.
A few highlights for you to watch:
Everson Griffen is a beast:
Anthony Barr: Two blockers? No problem.
He can run, too:
Harrison Smith, no words necessary
Offensively, we have some weapons as well. I'm very glad we made a move to pick up Bradford. I know some disagree, but hear me out. I was heartbroken when Teddy went down, as I think he was going to have a breakout year. I knew Hill wasn't the answer to lead the team through an entire season, and honestly didn't think he'd last 16 games, so I knew we'd go after someone. I thought we'd look at Sanchez or someone like that to come in and guide the ship, so to speak. But, Rick and company surprised me and a lot of others when they moved the chips to the middle of the table and made a trade for Bradford. Why? I think they, like me, know they're sitting on something special, and they knew a solid QB could get us all the way. Bradford, in his first start, showed why he was a top pick when he came into the NFL, and I'm thankful that he's on our team (I'm sure he is as well). Stefon Diggs is an electric receiver, and is lethal when he has the ball in his hands. Want some proof that he's a friggin' beast? Read this breakdown by Nick Olson at NFL Breakdowns. I can't find a gif of the moves he put on the two Packers from Sunday to get a first down, but I think you can remember that one. Oh, and watch this catch.
In addition to Diggs, we also have Rudolph at tight end, who is a huge target and has excellent hands. Add in weapons like Patterson and Charles Johnson, and we have a decent supporting cast for Diggs. We also have our first round selection, Laquon Treadwell, waiting in the wings. I'm higher on Treadwell than others, but I'm an Ole Miss fan & watched the kid play quite a bit. I think he's going to be a very good receiver in the years to come. I know, it's not all bright and cheery. Our biggest weakness on the team is our O line, and the coaching staff will have to find a way to mask that weakness as much as possible. I also am hopeful that the new coach and addition of Boone and Smith will start to have a more pronounced positive effect on our O line play.
I'm saving the best for last, our coach. I think Mike Zimmer is the best coach in the league not named Bilichick. I really do. I love his style and attitude, and the players love him, too, so he gets more out of his players than most coaches are able to. I think he's made Rick Speilman a much better GM since coming here, and has been instrumental in turning a 3-13 team into a Super Bowl contender in just over 2 seasons. Make no mistake about it, we are Super Bowl contenders right now. You look at the rest of the coaching staff, and there is a lot of experience there. Three of our coaches have been head coaches in the past, and bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. I know there is some discontent with Norv among the fan base, but let's see how he does this year with our improved (only slightly improved so far) O line. If he doesn't get the offense rolling, I could definitely see Shurmur moving into that OC position at some point. So, I guess you could say we have depth at the coaching position, so to speak.
So kids, sit back and enjoy this ride. Try not to bitch about the little things that could be better, because this is a magical time to be a Vikings fan. Enjoy this, savor it, and burn it into memory, because most football fans never get to take a ride like this. Houston, we'll see you in February.