We are basically two months into the 2017 fiscal year for the National Football League. It’s safe to say we have seen plenty of player movement via free agency and trades. And in late April, a total of 253 players were selected in the NFL draft. So as teams get ready for mini-camps and OTAs, we figured it was a good time to have some fun looking (and learning) at the significant numbers – both in regards to the past and the present – for each of the 32 franchises. You can play catch-up by clicking here. Now it’s time to check out the Minnesota Vikings.
In 2015, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson (now with the New Orleans Saints) rebounded from off-the-field issues (which limited him to 1 game in ’14) to lead the NFL with 1,485 yards on the ground. Mike Zimmer’s club finished fourth in the league in rushing yards per game, amassed an 11-5 record and won the NFC North for the first time since 2009. One year later, the Purple Gang saw the franchise’s all-time leading rusher limited due to injuries. All told, the Vikings ran for 1,205 yards as a team – the lowest total in the NFL. But that hopes to change this upcoming fall thanks to the free-agent addition of running back Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders) and the second-round selection of Florida State’s Dalvin Cook.
With quarterback Teddy Bridgewater missing the season with a knee injury, the team swung a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles and got quarterback Sam Bradford. The first overall pick with the then-St. Louis Rams led the NFL by completing 71.6 percent of his passes, threw for 20 scores and committed 10 turnovers (5 interceptions, 5 lost fumbles). Still, the Vikings’ offense totaled only 29 touchdowns in 16 games.
Fortunately, the defense and special teams came up with seven TDs of their own. There was kickoff return artist Cordarrelle Patterson (1) and punt returner Marcus Sherels (2). Both cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Eric Kendricks ran back interceptions for scores. And defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen scooped up fumbles and ran them back for touchdowns.
Only two teams in the NFL allowed fewer total yards per game than the Minnesota Vikings this past season. And only a pair of clubs permitted fewer yards through the air. But don’t be totally fooled by the final numbers because Zimmer’s defensive unit did have it issues when it came to stopping opponent’s ground attacks. The Vikings finished a disappointing 20th in the league vs. the run, surrendering 106.9 yards per contest. But a closer look shows that this club allowed a whopping 120.2 yards per game rushing in its final 11 outings. This after giving up only 77.8 rushing yards per contest during Minnesota’s 5-0 start.