Eric Thompson of our sister site, Daily Norseman, was kind enough to take some time out of his day to drop knowledge on his beloved Vikings for us. We talked about everything from the Bridgewater-Bradford conundrum, to Minnesota’s unreal accumulation of defensive talent, to even the unlikely upgrade from Adrian Peterson to Jerrick McKinnon. Take a look for yourself below and see what Eric had to say about all that and more.
1. The Vikings’ season went from promising, to disastrous, and then straight back to "Super Bowl or bust" mode over the course of about a month. How is your mental and emotional state right now?
Even for a team that's known for roller coaster seasons, the past month-plus has been the biggest roller coaster of them all. The emotions went from "this is definitely the best team since '09" to "oh no, it's over before it even started" to "I can't believe how much we gave up for HIM" to "well, this is a decent start OH MY GOD EVERYONE IS GETTING HURT" to "holy crap, this defense is good" to "maybe the trade wasn't so bad after all" to "how did my expectations end up this high again?" all over the span of six weeks.
It has been crazy, but the whole of Vikings Nation is pleasantly surprised by the great (if incredibly unorthodox) start to the season. We'll always have our guard up--the other shoe always eventually drops on the Vikings--but the rumblings of "maybe this season is different" have already started. To quote the great American philosophers Drake and Future, what a time to be alive.
2. In your opinion, was Adrian Peterson holding back this offense before he got hurt? Is Jerrick McKinnon "the guy" going forward because of his more diverse skillset?
The notion that AP was holding the team back has definitely got some legs over the past couple weeks, but the offensive line has to take the lion's share of the blame here. You could have had Tecmo Super Bowl Bo Jackson driving his Kia in the backfield and he would still struggle behind this line. Four of the five offensive linemen that are likely to start on Sunday are different than the projected starters the team had about six weeks ago. With all the promise the Vikings have right now, the offensive line could still prove to be the Achilles heel that prevents them from achieving their goals. There have been some signs of improvement, but there is still a very long way to go.
That said, the subtraction of Peterson does add some versatility. Sam Bradford (like Teddy Bridgewater) is much more comfortable out of the shotgun, which definitely isn't AP's favorite thing to do. Norv Turner has been forced to get a little more creative with the tempo and play calling in Peterson's absence, which has helped keep opposing defenses a little off balance. McKinnon looked good against the Giants last week, too. So while I'm not going to say that the Vikings are better off without Peterson, the impact felt by his injury hasn't been as great as some might have anticipated.
3. Speaking of “the guy,” if Bradford takes Minnesota all the way to the Super Bowl and plays like a franchise quarterback along the way, what happens to Teddy? Even if he stays hurt for most of next year and Bradford proves himself in back to back seasons, is Bridgewater out the door?
Can you please guarantee that we'll have to address this problem? Please?! We're still a loooong way from a Bradford versus Bridgewater crossroads for a variety of reasons. As soon as Bridgewater is deemed 100% healthy--whenever that may be--I think the Vikings will give him every shot to regain his starting role. But if Bradford continues this high level of play throughout the season and leads the team deep into the playoffs? Sure, I guess you'd have to entertain the thought of the team dealing Teddy. Either way, this would be a dream scenario for Vikings fans, because it would afford Rick Spielman the luxury of being able to recoup a lot of the draft currency he gave up to get Bradford in the first place.
4. Here's an impossible question: who is the best player on the Vikings’ defense?
This is impossible--it's like choosing your favorite child. But if I had to choose one...sorry, I'm still to have to pick two: Harrison Smith and Linval Joseph. Smith got paid like one of the best safeties in the league with a contract extension before the season, and he's worth every penny. He does everything you could ask of a safety at a very high level. Joseph is an absolute grenade in the middle of the line. He disrupts just about everything opposing offenses try to do. When you throw in Mike Zimmer's schemes with this kind of talent, it's so much fun to watch.
5. What is your prediction for this weekend's game?
By the time this publishes, my preview article will already be posted, so I'll stick to what I said there: Vikings 24, Texans 13. I think the Texans could find a big play or two, but the Vikings’ defense will force Brock Osweiler into a couple key mistakes and give a Vikings’ offense that has been surprisingly more efficient lately some short fields. I think you'll see the game unfold pretty closely to what we saw against the Giants on Monday night.
(Of course, I'm still a Vikings fan, so I wouldn't be totally shocked if Minnesota threw up a clunker either. After all, they're "due.")
Indeed the Vikings are “due” for a surprise loss, but perhaps Mr. Thompson here has underestimated Houston sports teams’ capacity for disappointment. Trust me, we’re really good at it.
Thank you to Eric for stopping by. The Vikings fans that have made their presence felt here all week have been a genuine pleasure to host, and we hope y’all come by again when we meet in the Super Bowl this February (right….RIGHT?!?!).