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  1. #1

    Default 2019 Minnesota Vikings In-Season Thread

    Training camp is upon us, let the 2019 season begin!

    Skol Vikes!!


  2. #2

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    STrib: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer evaluates team entering training camp

    For the first time since 2013, the Vikings are neither playing in a temporary stadium nor moving into a new one, not preparing to host the Super Bowl nor opening a massive practice facility. The identity of the starting quarterback, for the first time since training camp 2016, is the same as it was the previous season.

    Yet to assume things will be business as usual, as the Vikings kick off their second training camp in Eagan this week, might not be quite right.

    The Vikings spent much of the spring experimenting with different looks on defense — partly to modify a unit that will again be tested by a series of road games against prolific QBs, and partly to provide scout-team looks for an offense that sputtered in big games last season. After losing four of their last seven and missing the playoffs in 2018, the Vikings have little interest in leaving things to chance.

    To preview the team’s 2019 training camp, the Star Tribune sat down with coach Mike Zimmer for a Q&A on what he expects in the lead-up to the Vikings’ Sept. 8 season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

    Q: You guys have spent a fair amount of the spring trying different things on defense. As you get into camp, what’s the process of trying to figure out how much of that stuff to keep working on, and what to pare down?

    A: That’s a good question. It’s more about what we can handle — kind of evaluating where we were this spring, and what we can do — and where we can head. Some of the things, guys might be learning a little different technique than what they were in some situations. It’s kind of like, when you put in a new blitz that week, they’ve got to learn to pick it up.

    Q: What’s the key to finding the balance as a coach between doing new things on defense and sticking with the core principles that have worked for you over the past five years?

    A: It’s difficult. Like, all the stuff we’re doing [in minicamp], we probably wouldn’t do in one game. We’d probably pare it down; ‘All right, this week, fellas, we’re going to major a little bit more in this. The next week, we might major in something else.’ The one thing we do, we have smart players on defense, and they’re experienced, so that does help.

    Q: With the changes to pass interference [reviewable for the first time in 2019], how do you go about preparing for that as a coach?

    A: I think part of it is, in the preseason, trying to figure out exactly how it’s going to go. The other thing you have to be aware of is, each game has a different number of cameras. So I have to be a little more aware of, if it’s a Thursday game or a Sunday night game, there’s going to be 32 cameras. So they’re going to catch a lot more stuff than if you’ve got one of the down-the-line [broadcast] crews on Sunday at 1 o’clock [Eastern time]. It’s 15 cameras [on Sunday afternoons] up to 32 [for prime-time games]. So that’s another variation you’ve got to work.

    Q: Is that something you can drill at all in training camp practices, with some of the end-of-game scenarios you work on?

    A: Yeah; we’re going to do that quite a bit — the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, different scenarios like that.

    Q: How would you describe the fit with the new offensive coaches so far?

    A: They’re doing a good job. I think it fits our offensive line better, the scheme that we’re running now — and we still have to find out when we get in pads, and we’re blocking people for real. It may not look great against the defense [in camp], because we’re not cutting people. We’re going to try to get some guys on the ground when we’re playing somebody else. As far as the offensive coaches coming together, it’s been great. They’re very communicative. They do a really good job of talking about things that work in the past, and combinations with what we’ve done here — and again, I think [they’re] trying to use our players in better positions, using them more to their skill set.

    Q: How do you look at the running back workload going into the season? Do you see Alexander Mattison having a big role?

    A: I think he’s got a chance. A young back, the [pass] protection is always the hardest thing. [Dalvin] Cook’s going to get a decent amount, because he’s a really good player. But being able to spell him — it might be C.J. Ham a little bit more on some of the protection things, or some of the things we do on third down, because he’s smart and good at those things. It might be using the tight end in the backfield a little more.

    http://www.startribune.com/vikings-c...amp/513018442/

    Skol Vikes!!

  3. #3

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    Chip: Forget the betting odds, 2019 season is still pivotal for Vikings

    The Vikings open training camp this week without the Super Bowl-or-bust hype train that steamed into town last season.

    The folks who set online betting odds have mostly put the Vikings outside the top 10 teams favored to reach the Super Bowl. Mike Zimmer must be in hog heaven. This is how he likes it — under the radar, overlooked, whatever cliché you prefer.

    Not buying it. Expectations shouldn’t be lowered. The Vikings’ roster construction still screams “win now.” Their core group that has grown, matured and signed mega-contracts together won’t be together forever.

    So if not now, then when?

    Maybe national prognostications aren’t touting the Vikings as obvious contenders, but an underlying sense of urgency is evident within the organization. That feeling comes from optics.

    Look at the roster, especially the veteran core that has been the focal point of a blueprint conceived by Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman.

    Kirk Cousins turns 31 in August and enters a contract year after this season. Everson Griffen accepted a pay cut in order to stay with the team. Kyle Rudolph renegotiated his contract to extend his tenure at least one more season.

    Linval Joseph turns 31 in October, Riley Reiff turns 31 in December. Harrison Smith is 30.

    Financially, can the Vikings afford both starting cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes after this season? Can salary-cap magician Rob Brzezinski continue to pull rabbits out of his hat to keep the high-priced core together?

    Both Zimmer and Spielman had options picked up on their respective contracts this offseason, extending them through the 2020 season, but that doesn’t guarantee ironclad job security.

    This feels like a pivotal season in many regards.

    http://www.startribune.com/forget-th...ngs/512997442/

    Skol Vikes!!

  4. #4

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    Shama: Vikes GM Downplays Pressure on Him, Zim

    Perhaps longevity creates confidence and calm in the high expectations world of the National Football League. That was the impression Rick Spielman gave when asked about pressure on himself and Mike Zimmer for the 2019 season.

    Spielman, the Vikings general manager, has been making personnel decisions for the Minnesota NFL franchise since 2007. Zimmer, the team’s coach since 2014, is now the longest tenured head coach in the NFC North Division. Spielman and Zimmer reportedly have contracts that extend only through 2020 so ownership appears to be scrutinizing its leaders.

    Spielman was asked by Sports Headliners if there is more pressure going into this season on him and Zimmer than in the past? “Every year is pressure,” he said. “There is no difference than any other year.”

    The Vikings open training camp this week coming off an 8-7-1 record last season and missing the playoffs. The record fit a pattern of the Zimmer era with alternate years of success including off and on participation in the postseason. Zimmer’s 2014 team finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. His next team was 11-5 and lost its first postseason game. In 2016 the Vikings were 8-8 and again a playoff no-show. They had a memorable 2017 season at 13-3 and advanced to the NFC Championship game before losing to the Eagles.

    The results of 2018 left the Vikings collectively and individually disappointed and angry, starting with their all business head coach. The attitude in spring practices was evident to Spielman and most everyone else. “Usually our team and coach Zim responds when there is a chip on his shoulder,” Spielman said.

    Perhaps the Vikings can regain the NFC North Division title they lost last season but there is no consensus among pro football authorities they will do so. The prevailing thought is the Vikings, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are bunched so close the NFC North eventual winner will not be a surprise unless it’s the Detroit Lions.

    http://shamasportsheadliners.com/

    Skol Vikes!!

  5. #5

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    Reusse: Vikings' 2018 failure doesn't leave these fans disenchanted with Mike Zimmer

    Zimmer is entering his sixth season — the Vikings’ longest tenure since Dennis Green’s decade concluded with one game left in the 2001 season. Mike Tice was 1-1 in playoff games in four seasons, Brad Childress was 1-2 in 4½, Leslie Frazier was 0-1 in 3½ and Zimmer is 1-2 in five.

    Zimmer had one playoff loss on Blair Walsh’s field-goal gag. His lone playoff victory required a miracle.

    He has also had the Vikings end two straight seasons by no-showing: at Philadelphia in the NFC title game after 2017, and a home loss to Chicago that knocked them out of the playoffs in 2018.

    This was Year 2 since the Vikings abandoned Mankato and moved training camp to Eagan. The parking lot in the distance was filling up by noon, an hour before the first actual camp practice.

    The stadium floor was devoted to games for kids, and most of the fans seemed to be parents. There were small gaggles of adult males that were familiar in the Mankato days: a practice, some beers on the hill, maybe a couple more downtown.

    I’ve been wondering why Zimmer has seemed to be bullet-proof with even these hard-cores, considering it was “Super Bowl or bust” with the new $84 million quarterback exactly one year ago, and what followed was an 8-7-1, non-playoff bust.

    I approached a trio of gents who looked the part of serious fans and asked: Does Zim still have your confidence as the Vikings coach?

    Jason Brisbin, Andover: “I think he does. I don’t think he’s had a normal season here. There have been seasons with key injuries. There was the death of Tony Sparano right before camp last year.

    “They did make the wrong call on the young offensive coordinator in DeFilippo. I guess you can blame Zim for being in on that, but I like the fact that he did make the change when it wasn’t going to work.”

    Jason Kapanke, West St. Paul: “I like Zim. He’s a defensive guy and has made us excellent there. And, I think having a veteran coach with a track record like Gary Kubiak is going to be a big help to the offense.”

    Reporter: “Zim had one of those in Norv Turner and ran him off?”

    Kapanke: “True, but with the offensive talent here now, I’m optimistic, as long as No. 20 [Dalvin Cook] does his part and stays healthy.”

    Nathan Wolf, Prior Lake: “I think head coaches are like players. They learn. I think he’s getting better.”

    Reporter: “This is Year 6. His impatience reached new heights last season. Remember, way before he fired DeFilippo, he ran off the rookie kicker, Daniel Carlson.”

    Wolfe: “Carlson was really bad, though.”

    Reporter: “Zim gave him two games. Then, Carlson wound up in Oakland for the last 10 games, and he made 16 of 17 field goals.”

    Wolfe: “I still think Zim’s the right coach for us.”

    There it was: Zim in a 3-0 landslide.

    http://www.startribune.com/vikings-2...mer/513270532/

    Skol Vikes!!

  6. #6

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    Usually I have some semblance of hope for an upcoming Vikings season. I don't know if having no hope at all is a bad thing or a good thing - at least they won't let me down this time.

  7. #7
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    I have hope because of Kubiak. Whatever Kirk Cousins best is, he will get it out of him. Is that good enough? I don't know.

  8. #8

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    Sid: Kirk Cousins knows he's on the spot as Vikings training camp opens

    The preparation for the Vikings season began in earnest Friday, with the full roster at training camp and their starters getting back out on the field.

    It had been a long wait for quarterback Kirk Cousins, who told me at the end of OTAs that this offseason is all about getting ready for a 2019 season that he hopes will remove some of the bad feelings the club had at the end of 2018, when the Vikings lost their final game to the Bears and missed the playoffs.

    “I am really looking forward to the chance to move on from last year, get the bad taste out of our mouths and start to play winning football and to do that week after week,” Cousins said. “When last season ended, we have had to wait a long time to get back out there, and still waiting. But I’m excited for that opportunity when it comes.”

    No doubt Cousins is on the spot, and he is expected to be able to operate an offense put in place by a new staff, including assistant head coach Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak.

    A lot more is expected from the offense and Cousins, including the production of receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, whose numbers both dipped in the latter half of last season.

    http://www.startribune.com/kirk-cous...ens/513294692/

    Skol Vikes!!

  9. #9
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    It's not just about Cousins. It's about Cousins, the offensive line, and the running game.

    If the Vikes can run the ball more consistently, that helps set up play-action, which is Cousins' strong suit. And, if the Vikes can run the ball more consistently, that means fewer pass attempts - especially the 3rd-and-long situations that exposes the weak links on the O-Line.

    They will also reportedly have Cousins under center a lot more, as opposed to throwing from the shotgun.

    I guess we'll see.

  10. #10
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    The word nationally is the vikings have a top 10 team talent wise, but most have little confidence the vikings can put it all together.

  11. #11

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    I think the secondary is in big trouble at the moment and if one more guy gets hurt, it's going to be a disaster.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Breakin' The Plane View Post
    I think the secondary is in big trouble at the moment and if one more guy gets hurt, it's going to be a disaster.
    At least we have the iron man, Xavier Rhodes.

  13. #13

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    per Sid:

    PFF not high on O-line

    Pro Football Focus spent a lot of time this month ranking offensive and defensive units in the NFC North, and some of their predictions were surprising.

    You have to wonder how much PFF really knows when it comes to rating offensive line players, but their rankings put the Vikings at 25th in the NFL. The Packers rank ninth overall.

    The Packers are expected to start David Bakhtiari at left tackle, Lane Taylor at left guard, Corey Linsley at center, Billy Turner at right guard and Bryan Bulaga at right tackle. That group has a combined 327 career starts.

    The Vikings’ expected starters of Riley Reiff at left tackle, Pat Elflein at left guard, Garrett Bradbury at center, Josh Kline at right guard and Brian O’Neill at right tackle have a combined 199 starts.

    The Packers were so solid last year that the only player they added to the group was Turner, who received a four-year, $28 million contract. Turner, who was a third-round pick out of North Dakota State by the Dolphins in 2014, was one of the best available free agents in 2019 and the Packers had an immediate opening for him.

    The Vikings, on the other hand, could only make minor changes through free agency because of their salary cap and brought in Kline on a three-year, $15.5 million deal. That’s why the Vikings thought it was so important to draft North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury with their first-round pick (No. 18 overall), and that’s why he will be starting at center.

    The simple fact is this: the Vikings’ entire offensive line has been rebuilt in the past three seasons. They added Reiff and Elflein in 2017, O’Neill in 2018 and Bradbury and Kline this season.

    They could still succeed, but they are going to be a brand-new unit, compared to a more veteran Packers line.

    http://www.startribune.com/twins-max...ope/513467382/

    Skol Vikes!!

  14. #14
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    Vikings brought back a nice to have player in LB Barr, when everyone knows that money could have been better used to get better offensive linemen.

  15. #15

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    Sid: Zygi Wilf wants return on Vikings investments. 'I expect to be in the playoffs'

    As the Vikings started training camp, with their first preseason game at New Orleans coming next Friday, owner Zygi Wilf was asked what he expects this season out of quarterback Kirk Cousins. Wilf didn’t point to touchdown totals or passing yardage marks.

    “I expect to be in the playoffs this year,” Wilf said. “And, as every year, reach for that championship.”

    The Wilf family bought the Vikings in 2005. Since that time, they have been the best ownership group in town when it comes to spending money and trying to win a title.

    This season they have $204.2 million in active contracts — according to Spotrac.com, that number ranks fourth in the NFL behind the Browns ($212.4 million), Colts ($211.6 million) and 49ers ($208.8 million) — as the front office and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski have done everything they can to keep the players they need to contend for a championship.

    And while Cousins might be the focal point of the 2019 season, the Wilfs also had to sign off on several big coaching changes that cost the team a lot of money.

    The first name on that list is surely assistant head coach Gary Kubiak, who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Broncos to conclude the 2015 season. He couldn’t have come cheap.

    So far, Wilf likes what he sees from the coaching additions.

    “They are great, they’re really helping with our players and we are ready to go,” he said. “Every time you have people with the intelligence, the football intelligence, as these guys have, it rubs off on everybody and everybody understands what to do. There is more supervision and more teaching and everybody can get better.”

    When it comes to their offseason with player personnel, Wilf thought the team made the best moves they could.

    “We got better in every area of our game,” he said, “and I think we’re up for this year to be a good year.”

    So how do the Vikings improve on their 8-7-1 record last season?

    “Win the close games,” Wilf said.

    http://www.startribune.com/vikings-o...ins/513527722/

    Skol Vikes!!

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