Minnesota Vikings gave plenty to be thankful for in 2015
The Minnesota Vikings gave fans plenty of things to be thankful for during the 2015 NFL season, giving hope that an exciting and successful 2016 can happen.
I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around it, but 2015 is almost over. It seems like just a couple of years ago that everyone I knew was worrying about Y2K, and now here we are, entering 2016! One thing I have realized as I’ve gotten older is that the years go by faster and faster, so before any of us realize, it’ll be the holiday season all over again.
Before you start to worry, I assure you this post will connect to the Vikings. That’s why you’re here, to read about the Vikings, right? So put your mind at ease, because there is plenty of Vikings related content! But I do want to take a quick second and wish all of my friends, family, and you (yes, you!) a happy new year. I never would’ve had the courage to quit my regular job and pursue my dream of writing about the Vikings if it hadn’t been for those along the way who have supported me, so again, I just want to give thanks.
Now on to the Vikings stuff I promised you!
As of right now, the Vikings have clinched a playoff spot. While we aren’t sure if it will be as the three seed or a wildcard, one thing we do know is that the Vikings will at least be invited to the dance. This season has been one with plenty of ups and downs, but it certainly gave us a lot to be thankful for.
The first thing I am thankful for is Mike Zimmer and the rest of the coaching staff.
Jul 27, 2015; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Geroge Edwards watch as the team runs drills at training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
I am 29 years old, and have been a fan of the Vikings since I was four years old, but the first coach I can actually remember is Dennis Green. Green was a pretty good coach and was well-respected around the league, and he has the second highest winning percentage in Vikings history with .610 (second only to the great Bud Grant’s .635). However, while Denny Green was a great offensive mind, his defense was never anything that put fear into opposing offensive coordinators.
After Green left, the Minnesota Vikings went through many years of ineptitude, starting with Mike Tice and going through the Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier “eras”. Mike Tice was a good player, and as a coach the players liked him, but he was in over his head as the Head Coach. Brad Childress was the worst of them all. Even though Childress had a better winning percentage than both Tice and Frazier, there is no doubt in my mind that he was the most inept, and there were many games (especially when Favre was here) that the team seemed to win in spite of Childress, not because of him. And finally, Leslie Frazier was probably the nicest man you’ll ever meet, and he had the respect of all the players in the locker room (which is no easy feat). But Frazier, just like Tice, was in over his head as the Head Coach.
I say all that so I can say this: I am thankful for Mike Zimmer and his staff. Zimmer brings with him a style of play that is almost old school in its approach, a style that preaches fundamentals, hard hitting and requires the team to work together to achieve more. Zimmer has made this team (and specifically the defense) into one that is generally feared around the league, and this is something I have never experienced before.
The second thing I am thankful for is Adrian Peterson.
Nov 29, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Vikings defeated the Falcons 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Adrian Peterson is number 17 on the list of all-time leading rushers in the NFL, and if he only plays three more seasons and averages only 1,000 yards per season, he will go down as the fourth best rusher of all time (in terms of yardage) behind only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders. As far as rushing touchdowns go, Peterson is already in the top 10, and is only 14 touchdowns behind Walter Payton who is in fourth place.
Every time I watch Adrian Peterson, it’s easy to see that he is a once in a generation talent. Sure, there are games where he will make a bone headed fumble, and the whole debacle that happened last year, but for the most part Adrian mesmerizes and amazes. He is already one of the best running backs of all time, and I sure am thankful he is on the Vikings!
The last thing I am thankful for is Teddy Bridgewater
The Minnesota Vikings finally have a competent quarterback under center, and this time said competent quarterback isn’t over the age of 35. For as long as I’ve been a fan, the Vikings have had a hard time finding a quarterback who can be a franchise guy. It wasn’t too long ago the Vikings thought they had such a guy in Dante Culpepper, and for the first few years they were right. After being drafted by the Vikings in 1999, Culpepper put up great stats and was even in the running for MVP following the 2004 season. Unfortunately for everyone, Culpepper shredded his knee against the Carolina Panthers during the 2005 season, and he was never the same.
After Culpepper, the list of Viking’s quarterbacks looks like this: Todd Bouman, Spergon Wynn, Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris “jump pass” Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman.
Dec 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) drops back to pass in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Does that list scare anyone? I don’t think so. Just glancing at the list, there are some names that jump out, like Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb. There is no doubt Favre had one of, if not the best statistical season of his career in 2009 for the Vikings. However, he was fast approaching 40 by the time he wore purple and gold and that euphoria quickly evaporated. McNabb was a great quarterback when he was in Philadelphia. However, just like Favre, McNabb was on the wrong end of his career when he joined the Vikings. But unlike Favre, McNabb was unable to put together a competent season and was soon released.
That is why I am thankful for Teddy Bridgewater. Teddy two-gloves is the first quarterback the Vikings have had since Culpepper that is young and capable of taking over games. While he might not be on the same level as Brady or Rodgers right now, there is no doubt in my mind that the Minnesota Vikings will be in great hands (or gloves) for the next decade plus. After looking back at all the quarterbacks that have started games for the Minnesota Vikings, having Teddy under center should be reason enough for us all to be thankful.