“Walsh’s kick is up and it’s…no good. He missed it. Are you kidding me? The season can’t end like that,” said Paul Allen during the Vikings’ playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Many people would use the words “heartbreak”, “disappointment” and “unbelievable” to describe the Vikings’ season.
Words like “excitement”, “hope”, “bright” are not used to describe this past season but they should be, as the Minnesota Vikings made huge improvements throughout the 2015-16 season. The Vikings finished the season with an 11-5 record which was a four game improvement from the year before where they finished 7-9 according to ESPN.
The Vikings won the NFC North Division for the first time since 2009, according to ESPN and were the number three seed in the playoffs on the NFC side.
The Vikings are a young team that showed a lot of heart and growing up this season. Just in his second year at the helm, Head Coach Mike Zimmer has turned the Vikings into playoff contenders.
However, the Vikings offense was an inconsistent bunch this season. In some games, the offense looked strong but in other games, they appeared scattered. The offense was highlighted by Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph. These four were the main contributors for the Vikings offense this season.
Teddy Bridgewater started his first full season as the Vikings quarterback, during his second year with the team. It was an up and down season for Bridgewater as he finished with 14 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions, according to ESPN.
Bridgewater had moments where he showed he could be an excellent quarterback and at other moments, he looked like he was cracking under pressure. Overall, it was an okay second season for Bridgewater. Next season is going to be an important one for him and will determine if he is ready to take the next steps towards elite quarterback status.
Adrian Peterson came back in 2015 after serving a one year suspension last season. The year off didn’t seem to slow the all-star running back down. He had 11 rushing touchdowns and 1485 rushing yards, according to ESPN. With 1485 rushing yards this season, Peterson led the NFL in rushing this year.
It was great to see 28 on the field and see him run again this season. It was a solid year for Peterson who looks to continue to dominate in the NFL next season. It was a tough ending to the season for Peterson who had a costly fumble in the Wild Card game. For all the great things Peterson has done in his career, he is haunted by the fumbles he has had in the big games. If the Vikings want to contend for the Super Bowl next year, Peterson needs to hang on to the football.
Stefon Diggs was a rookie this season who finished with 720 yards receiving and four touchdowns receiving according to ESPN. Diggs didn’t play in a game until week four against the Broncos. He showed a lot of good things and has potential to be the Vikings number one receiver next season.
Diggs has speed, good hands and good route running ability that makes him a threat on the field. For the Vikings to be Super Bowl contenders next year, they are going to need to be a lot more successful throwing the ball. Diggs is the guy who could make the Vikings passing game better next season.
Kyle Rudolph, the tight end for the Vikings, entered his fifth season where he finished with 495 yards receiving and five touchdowns according to ESPN. Rudolph is a great weapon for the Vikings to have because of his size and speed. He is also one of Bridgewater’s favorite targets in the red zone.
The one problem with Rudolph was staying healthy. For the Vikings offense to improve and be more potent next season, they need to have a healthy Rudolph.
The Minnesota Vikings were led by a very strong defense all season which was one of the better defenses in the NFL this year. The defensive group was highlighted by Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, Erik Hendriks and Harrison Smith.
Linval Joseph was a free agent pick up for the Vikings in the off-season and it was a great move. Joseph was a force in the middle for the Vikings, causing problems for the opponents’ offenses. He finished with 56 tackles according to ESPN.
Anthony Barr entered his second season in the NFL with high hopes after a strong rookie season. Barr had a good second season and showed that he can be one of best linebackers in the NFL. His speed and size created problems for offensive coordinators. Barr went on to finish the season with 68 tackles, three force fumbles and one interception according to ESPN. He looks to improve and to make himself a strong leader on the Vikings defense next season.
Erik Hendriks was a rookie this season and he quickly proved that he will be a force in the NFL. He finished the year with 92 tackles according to ESPN, which led the Vikings in tackles. Hendriks showed speed and physical play that should make the Vikings very excited for the future with him as linebacker.
Harrison Smith had entered his fourth season in the NFL. Smith had another solid season proving that he is one of the top safeties in the league. He finished with 66 tackles, one force fumble and two interceptions. Smith is a strong leader on defense for the Vikings and is looking to stay healthy next season. Smith dealt with injuries and missed a couple of games because of them, but when Smith is on the field, the Vikings are a better defensive team.
Four of the five losses came from quality opponents who all made the playoffs. These include the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. The Vikings could not get over the hump and defeat the elite teams this season.
The 2015-16 season for the Vikings overall was a great year and huge step moving forward. Coach Zimmer is building one of the stronger defenses in the league and hoping that Bridgewater can make the step toward elite status next season. Although the season may have ended to the left, the Vikings future is moving straight.