by Mario Granata
Since taking the helm in 2014, Mike Zimmer completely changed the face of the Vikings franchise. He went 7-9 in his rookie campaign, then 11-5 in his second seasons before storming to a 5-0 start in 2016, and all this AFTER losing his starting quarterback. Quarterback Sam Bradford had a solid season considering that his starting running back got hurt, and his leading receiver was a 5th round draft pick. What will Zimmer have up his sleeve as the Vikings head into 2017?
Head Coach: Mike Zimmer
Career Record: 26-22
Offensive Coordinator (Rank): Norv Turner/Pat Schurmur
28th YPG, 18th Pass, 32nd Run
Defensive Coordinator (Rank): George Edwards
3rd YPG, 3rd Pass, 20th Rush
The Vikings finished 8-8 after starting 5-0 and much of that was due to an unlikely coordinator change on the offensive side of the ball. Pat Shurmur did what he could with a makeshift offense, but fell short, despite having Sam Bradford at the controls, a quarterback who has been accustomed to change. After spending a year in college (playing in a Chip Kelly offense) he then had to readjust to playing a NFL offense, and had some struggles. The defense still had a stellar year, and that will serve to be the backbone of the Vikings heading into 2017.
The Vikings find themselves about 16 million under the cap after spending the off-season locking up some much-needed pieces. They have locked up tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers for 5-years apiece for close to 89 million dollars, in the hopes that they will improve on their 32nd ranked run offense. They have elected to let Adrian Peterson walk and signed Latavius Murray for 3-years as well as Adam Thielen for 3-years as well. Zimmer has done a stellar job in finding talent through the draft for his defense which ranks near the top of the league. If their offense can come together, they might make some noise in the NFL North.
Aside from the aforementioned players that the Vikings have signed, among those not mentioned is Terence Newman, who will be receiving his AARP card right around the time that the season starts. It seems, at least at this point, that the Vikings could be following suit with aging corners and moving them to safety which could mark the end of Andrew Sendejo’s time in Minnesota. The Vikings stand to save 3 million in cap money by releasing him, which only makes sense with the resigning of Newman.
Not having a first round pick for the first time in his tenure as Vikings head coach, Mike Zimmer might be comfortable with that. The Vikings could trade back into the first round at some point, but their last two first round picks, Trae Waynes and Laquon Treadwell haven’t faired well in their first two seasons. Aside from the Anthony Barr/Teddy Bridgewater pairing from 2014 (Zimmer’s first year) he is more comfortable finding gems in the later rounds. Eric Kendricks (2nd), TJ Clemmings (4th) and Stefon Diggs (5th) are late round steals that have served the Vikings well.
As seen above, the Vikings have signed Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers which will probably mean Clemmings will move down to the guard spot (another popular move for players who struggle at the tackle position) which will be a plus for Minnesota.
A Quick Guide to the Rookie Wage Scale: 2017