Vikings - GZL Training Camp Article
|Previous Season Recap (505 words)
The Minnesota Vikings hadn’t won more than 4 games the previous 4 seasons, so winning 7 game last year was a step in the right direction. Though there was a decent start to the season at 3-2 and a strong finish to the season at 4-2… the 5 game losing streak mid-year killed any hope of a playoff appearance.
One can only wonder what might have been… had the starting job been given to QB Cam Newton. Statistically, it was one Newton’s most efficiently rated season of his career [QB rtg of 92.2] and he had a winning record for the games he played the lion share of snaps.
It’s promising to see a young player grow each season… WR Tyler Boyd in his 3rd season had career bests in receptions  and TD’s .
There were HIGH hopes for HB Latavius Murray when he was acquired from the Miami Dolphins… but in his 3rd season as a pro, his production regressed. With only 2 games where he rushed over 100 yards and only 2 TD’s on the ground there might be concerns whether he can be the bell cow the Vikings had envisioned.
Complete disappointment defines the feeling of what LE Leonard Williams delivered last season… his 5 sacks is a FAR cry from what was expected.
Though there appears to be no easy answer to the sophomore SLUMP QB Carson Wentz experienced, the team remains dedicated to him [only because they are obligated via the HUGE bonus]. There no hiding from the sub 50% completion rate, 11 to 16 TD/INT comparison and a QB rtg of 59.8… the only positive, there’s nowhere to go but up from this past season for Wentz.
The team attempted to avoid a QB controversy from the start when they acquired QB Cam Newton… but when QB Carson Wentz went down week 1 of the regular season all bets were off. Whether you were in the front office, coaching staff or in the locker-room… there were divided camps on who should be the starting QB. In the end, the playing time was nearly split down the middle and QB Cam Newton came out the winner.
The Vikings can look to their sweep of the Chicago Bears as a HIGHLIGHT, two closely fought games. But, being swept by the Lions & Packers was definitely a LOWLIGHT – the Ying and Yang of the season one could say. The concerning aspect of the losses the team saw this past season has to be the fact that 7 of 9 defeats were by 10 or more points… pretty decisive beat downs. On the other hand, of the 7 victories, the Vikings only beat a team by double digits once. The other aspect of the competition the Vikings faced last season that must be taken into account… only 4 of their opponents had a winning record. In all, the team took steps in the right direction, but still a losing season leaving everyone wanting/expecting more!
Off-Season Recap (1053 words)
The Minnesota Viking entered the Off-Season one of four teams over the cap (-$12.640M)… which drove GM Darryl Breckheimer to post his initial “Trade Block”:
QB Cam Newton = Make an offer
Played roughly half the season (behind Carson Wentz)… had a KILLER season! NUMBERS DON’T LIE: Comp % = 56% / TD’s = 12 / INT’s = 2 / QB rtg = 91
LE Leonard Williams = 1st round pick (current or future)
Former 3rd overall selection… still has a lot of career in front of him!
SPD = 77 / STR = 93 / AGI = 75 / ACC = 86
LG Trent Williams = Make an offer
He’s definitely in the twilight of his career… surprisingly, his attributes make him still a worthy starter (respectable #’s last season: 69 pancakes / 1 sack allowed).
DT Shariff Floyd = Make an offer
Lost his starting job to younger players… prior to that he was getting tackles and 3-4 sacks a season.
FB Manning Owens = Make an offer
BLOCKING MACHINE… can you say PANCAKES!!!
RG Carter Pietarila = Make an offer
Lost his starting job… quick 1st step and respectable blocking attributes (cheap back-up).
Everyone placed on the Trade Block would clear $45.210M and only create a cap hit of $6.170M… the only player that was looking to capture a legit offer was LE Leonard Williams.
The GM decided to NOT exercise tenders on the 4 players that were RFA’s… TE Tyler Mertens, QB Desmond Wade, LT Luke Nguyen & HB Troy Meyer.
• The phone rang immediately… the team received an offer, from the Seahawks, for QB Cam Newton… a 5th round pick (which is all the Vikings could expect to get since he came via Amnesty). The Vikings accepted the offer and were thrilled to see Newton on his way back home (Newton played 10 seasons in Seattle).
• Didn’t take long to find a new home for DE Leonard Williams… the Vikings were seeking 1st value and were able to get pick 1.24 from the San Francisco 49ers.
• Dialog with the Pittsburg Steelers (Tom Collins) began on whether HB Latavius Murray was available… I shared I was looking for 1.26 value , where he was drafted 3 season ago.
• Brought in to sure up the right side of the offensive line was RT Sepulveda Wright in exchange for a 1st and 3rd round picks… the Vikings like his key attributes [SPD = 65 / STR = 93 / AGI = 68 / ACC = 80] and the fact he’s VERY young [23 years old]. Knowing Wright was a former 1st rounder [19th pick overall] and has 3 years left on his deal are significant plus factors.
• Vikings acquired WR Will Fuller from the San Francisco 49ers… sending a 2nd & 3rd.
• The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a constant trade partner this offseason… 4 different trades had numerous picks moving back -n- forth between the teams and these players finding new residency: The Vikings received… MLB Mo Jackson, LE Zeus Bryant & HB Woodrow Carr. The Buccaneers received… HB Latavius Murray, RG Carter Pietarila & WR Will Fuller.
• The Vikings said goodbye to FB manning Owens, though he is arguably one of the best FB’s in the game his contract became hard to justify.
• The Vikings secured the services of LE Cornelius Washington from the Oakland Raiders… hoping for double digit sack contribution the next 2 seasons.
• BIG move… Vikings were looking to bring in a LEGIT target for QB Carson Wentz, and after considering a # of possibilities came to terms on a deal that brought WR Donald Lake.
• The final piece the Vikings were hoping to address… a serious upgrade from Murray, and in short time it was determined Carr wasn’t going to fill what they had hoped to put in place. The Vikings sent HB Woodrow Carr and two 3rd round picks for Carlos Hyde.
• The Vikings trim’d salary with the release of LG Trent Williams & DT Shariff Floyd… Williams cap # was ridiculous and Floyd had fallen out of favor last season and rarely saw the field. Neither player has caught on with another team.
• Similar to last season… the Vikings have brought in a veteran presence @ QB, future Hall of Fame player Josh Freeman signed a 1-year deal ($9M).
• The Vikings LOCKED up RG Zack Martin… 7 years, salary of $38.1 & bonus of $15.19M.
• A difficult move… cutting RE Alejandro Franks, simply a cap casualty. The Vikings were VERY pleased with his production last season… with 42 tackles [13 for a loss] and 4 sacks it was by far Franks best season as a pro.
• To fill out roster requirements… HB Ernie Gillespie, DT Leo Campbell & TE Dion Demetri were sign via Free Agency.
3.29 FS Lucas Bravado – The Vikings have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in place, so there’s little chance Lucas Bravado sees much playing time (unless there’s an injury). But, this was a HUGE pick-up in the LATE 3rd round… Bravado has quick feet [SPD = 91 / ACC = 91] and fluid hips [AGI = 92]. Maybe not as tall as you’d like @ 5’11”… but he’s not a liability.
3.32 LT Julius Jimenz – Depth… NO CHANCE of starting. Nice size @ 6’5” & 348 lbs… and respectable attributes [SPD = 60 / STR = 90 / AGI = 65 / ACC = 66].
7.11 FB Gil Graham – The Vikings parted ways with last year’s starting FB… so Gil Graham gets the nod and currently has NO completion for the starting role @ FB. Known as an excellent pass & run blocker [PBK = 60 / RBK = 61] Graham also has respectable power [STR = 75 / BTK = 74] and moves well [SPD = 79 / AGI = 76 / ACC = 72].
7.28 LE Buford Hamlin – NOT SIGNED
7.29 SS Ruben Hale-Doyle – NOT SIGNED
There isn’t much else to expect from the Minnesota Vikings this offseason… the cap is TIGHT and with so much movement the focus will be building team chemistry. The Vikings avoided trading away too many future picks (only moved a 3rd while picking up a 6th) and kept the cap hit somewhat minimal [-$6.17M]… which should set the team up well for next years offseason.
(by D_Breckheimer on 10/12/2017)
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