By Scott Taylor
MANKATO, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings are just one week away from opening the 2015 NFL pre-season schedule against the Pittsburgh Steelers. We here at Shymer Tours and Exclusive Bus are as giddy as school girls. The Steelers and Vikings will play Sunday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. CDT at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
However, there is more to the opening of the Vikings pre-season schedule than next weekend’s Hall of Fame Game.
Seems a fellow named K.C. Joyner, known as “The Football Scientist,” wrote a piece at ESPN selecting three teams he calls “Super Bowl Sleepers” for this season. His choices? The New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings.
He provides three reasons for selecting the Vikings: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the return of Adrian Peterson and the arrival of Mike Wallace.
Now, let me say that because all of reasons involve the Vikings offence, I’ll just shrug. Teams win the Super Bowl with defense and if the Vikings don’t stop their opponents from scoring, they’ll be in deep doo-doo. However, let’s play along with “The Football Scientist.”
“Bridgewater had the type of rookie campaign that, in previous years, would have led to an offensive rookie of the year award,” wrote Mr. Joyner. “From Weeks 13-17, Bridgewater was tied for the league lead in completion percentage (72.1 percent) and his 16.5 vertical yards per attempt (11 yards or more) ranked first overall. He also ranked 11th in Total QBR and set a record for the highest completion percentage by a rookie attempting 40 or more passes in a single game. Throw in his 0.5 percent bad decision rate (BDR, which measures how often a passer makes a mental error that leads to a turnover opportunity for the opposing team), tied for third-lowest, and it means Bridgewater could be on his way to competing with the top young quarterbacks in the NFL.”
The 2015 Depth Chart:
Fair enough. I think A.P.’s return is obvious, but it certainly can’t be overlooked whenever you discuss this year’s Vikings.
“Minnesota would have the makings of a powerful rushing attack even without Peterson,” Joyner wrote. “The Vikings finished tied for eighth in my good blocking productivity (GBP) metric, and Jerick McKinnon ranked fifth in good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA), which measures a ball carrier’s productivity when the defense isn’t able to disrupt a rushing attempt. The potential benefit of this for Peterson is that the Vikings don’t need him to rack up 2,500 rushing yards on his own; they just need him to move an already-strong ground game into elite status.”
Perhaps the most anticipated addition is that of former Steelers and Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace. He should have an effect on Bridgewater’s success.
“Wallace didn’t impact Miami’s vertical passing game as much as expected, but one thing he did do well was score touchdowns,” Joyner noted. “Over the last two seasons, only 10 wide receivers tallied more receiving scores than Wallace’s 15. Last year, the Vikings ranked tied for 19th in passing touchdowns to wide receivers (13). Wallace’s arrival makes a top-10 finish in that category a legitimate possibility, especially if he’s able to again become a difference-maker deep.”
Here at Shymer’s, where your best Vikings trips are ALL of our Vikings trips, we’re thrilled that somebody from ESPN (who usually only like the Giants and Jets), likes our team. Maybe that purple bandwagon is starting to fill up.