Next in the 2015 grade series, we can take a look at the NFC North Champion Minnesota Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North with an 11-5 record due to a strong running game and good defense. The Vikings were 16th in PPG scoring 22.8 per game. The Vikings were 4th in YPC rushing with 4.7 YPC led by Adrian Peterson and Jerrick McKinnon. The Vikings struggled to pass the ball due to poor protection and lack of weapons.
Teddy Bridgewater was a game manager for the second year in a row for the Vikings. Bridgewater had 292 completions in 447 attempts (65.3%) with 7.2 YPA on the year. Bridgewater only had 14 TDs on the season (plus 3 rushing) and 9 interceptions despite low attempts. Bridgewater notched an 88.7 QB rating (22nd).
Bridgewater was the most pressured QB at 46.9% in the league but was the most accurate passer per PFF (79.3 % accuracy percentage). Bridgewater had great run support and scrambled well (4.4 YPC on 44 attempts). However, Bridgewater couldn’t lead the Vikings offense when needed and the Vikings only scored 9 points (plus a 27 yard Walsh miss) in their playoff game against Seattle. Bridgewater was solid in an 11 win season but can do much more for Minnesota. Bridgewater may continue to be a game manager if Peterson remains and the Vikings defense continues to play well (top 5 defense).
Running Backs: A-
Adrian Peterson won the rushing title in 2015 after missing most of 2014 due to his off field incident (child abuse). Peterson had 4.7 YPC on a whopping 327 attempts with 11 TDs. McKinnon chipped in 5.2 YPC on 54 attempts and 173 receiving yards. The only problem is the pass blocking of the RBs and the predictability of the scheme with Peterson in the game. However, Peterson had 1,485 yards and is a big reason the Vikings improved by 4 wins in 2015 to win the North title.
Rookie Stefon Diggs had a good rookie year as a 5th round pick. Diggs had 720 yards, 13.8 YPC and 4 TDs. Diggs can be a good second or slot WR. Jarius Wright had 442 yards but 0 TDs in the slot. Mike Wallace had a disappointing first season after the Vikings traded for him this past offseason. Wallace had 473 yards and only 2 TDs and was not worth his high cap hit.
Part of the problem for the Vikings is Bridgewater has deep ball issues. Another problem is the Vikings offensive line doesn’t give enough time for Wallace to go deep. We will see if the Vikings keep Wallace or save 11 million this offseason. Charles Johnson only had 13 targets after a solid 2014 season. Cordarelle Patterson is a first round bust at WR despite being the best kick returner in the league. The Vikings need a WR or two this offseason and to make a decision on Wallace.
Tight Ends: C-
Kyle Rudolph stayed healthy in 2015 and had an average year. Rudolph added 495 yards and 5 TDs to the offense. The 1st round pick could do more for the Vikings though especially considering the low targets for WRs.
Rhett Ellison was a below average run blocker but solid pass blocker as the blocking tight end. Rudolph struggled in both pass and run blocking. Mycole Pruitt had 89 yards as the 3rd tight end and some blocking issues. The Vikings could upgrade their tight end blocking in 2016.
Offensive Line: D+
The Vikings gave up the most pressure percentage in the NFL. The Vikings were good at run blocking though for Peterson and McKinnon. Joe Berger, Michael Harris, Brandon Fusco and Matt Kalil all had good run blocking grades (+25.2, +4.2+2.7 and +3.3). Joe Berger was exceptional at center replacing John Sullivan and was the top ranked center in the entire league.
The Vikings had big issues at right tackle with rookie 4th round pick TJ Clemmings replacing Phil Loadholdt (injury) all year. Brandon Fusco, TJ Clemmings and Matt Kalil were terrible pass blockers in 2015 (-20.9, -13.3 and -10.3). The Vikings will be glad to get Loadholdt and Sullivan back in 2016. Michael Harris and Berger did well in pass blocking but Harris is a free agent. Minnesota may want to move Fusco back to right guard after his struggles in 2015.
The Vikings were a good running team but struggled with low pass attempts and not enough big passing plays. The Vikings were 16th in PPG scored and must upgrade their offensive line and WR personnel in 2016. Minnesota and Peterson did enough to win the division and it is hard to complain about an average offense yet unbalanced offense when you win 11 games. Next up we’ll check out the Vikings top 5 defense.