Minnesota Vikings: 5 Offseason Narratives that were Wrong

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Especially for the Minnesota Vikings, some offseason stories have proven to be more fiction than fact.

The offseason is too long. As a result, journalists eventually go delirious, missing the play of the Minnesota Vikings. To no fault, they write stories based off assumption and roster moves rather than focusing on the tape–a dangerous move. Without further ado, here are the five offseason assumptions that never panned out.

1. A much-improved offensive line

After an injury-plagued year at offensive line, the Vikings spent the offseason re-tooling the struggling group. Among the changes were: the addition of offensive line coach Tony Sporano, the free agent acquisitions of Andre Smith and Alex Boone, and the return of starters Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan.

Sounds promising, right? To make it even more encouraging, depth players like Joe Berger and T.J. Clemmings got a year of meaningful experience–with Berger as PFF’s number one rated center in 2015.

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Well, it didn’t work out. Rather than creating a wealth of competition and depth, John Sullivan was cut and Phil Loadholt retired. That left Joe Berger to be confined to center (when he played noticeably well at guard) and the ever-complacent Andre Smith without the competitive fire under his chair.

The line has been leaky in practically every spot, and injuries to Matt Kalil and Alex Boone only make matters worse. Tony Sporano and Norv Turner will have to collaborate on some creative protection concepts to keep this offense afloat.

2. Cordarrelle Patterson’s progression

Sang from the mountain tops were the praises of Cordarrelle Patterson and his apparent offseason leap into a real wide receiver. It seemed to be all talk after Patterson barely saw the field as a wide out in the preseason, and saw it even less through the first three season games.

In those moments, he didn’t look terrible. In fact, he ran better routes than ever. Yet, he still double-caught balls, and didn’t show starter-level awareness when plays broke down.

Perhaps the talk’s purpose was to increase his trade value, but it is still disappointing to see Patterson’s role reduced to “special teams ace.”

3. Stefon Diggs is a number two receiver

The public outcry during the 2016 NFL draft was for the Minnesota Vikings to either draft a wide big-bodied wide receiver or UCLA linebacker, Myles Jack. The number one rated wide receiver in the draft, Laquon Treadwell slipped past a few receiver-needy teams into the lap of the Vikings.

The understanding was that Stefon Diggs was a complimentary weapon, and the Vikings needed a true number one receiver on the other side.

While I agree that the Vikings needed a big-bodied receiver, like Treadwell, opposite of Diggs, the narrative of him being “complimentary” couldn’t be further from the truth.

Through three games, Diggs is second in the league in receiving yards–doing so with two quarterbacks, one of whom has only known the playbook for less than a month. The offseason story should have been on the absolutely absurd leap in Diggs’ awareness and explosiveness. He might not only be a number receiver–he may be a top five receiver in the entire NFL.

4. Trae Waynes is a bust

As if critics and analysts had never seen a Mike Zimmer defense, they assumed former first round pick, Trae Waynes, was a bust. Zimmer has never been one to rush out rookies before they are prepared to play. Fellow 2015 rookies, Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks, saw lots of snaps which led to even more criticism on Waynes.

Even after Waynes had a timely interception in the playoff game against the Seahawks, people speculated his status. Since Waynes’ action in the 2015 playoffs, he has intercepted Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton. While to some he still seems shaky, the tape shows his increased awareness, his ability to stick hips with receivers and his elite make up speed.

5. Competition at strong safety

After seeing a wide rotation of players at the strong safety spot in 2015, popular thought called for important competition at the position. It was deserved. Andrew Sendejo, who saw the majority of the snaps, has a tendency to chase rather than anticipate.

The Vikings brought in veteran Michael Griffen, drafted Jayron Kearse and hoped for improvement from Anthony Harris and Andrew Sendejo. Michael Griffen is now a free agent, and Andrew Sendejo remains the starter. Sendejo looks improved, yet he continues to struggle with play recognition and tackling.

Next: Vikings vs. Giants: Eli Manning Should be Worried

For redemption’s sake, one offseason narrative that rang true is that the Minnesota Vikings are a true contender. Even after the tragic injury to Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings are undefeated and look stellar in all three phases of the game.