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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Season ends with offensive performance Vikings needed all along

By Matthew Coller

The ending to the Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 season was both ironic and appropriate.

The irony came in the form of an offensive explosion that was about 11 weeks too late. And appropriately, the Vikings operated under some bizarre circumstances.

As quarterback Sam Bradford marched up and down on the beleaguered Bears like it was a meaningless college bowl game, two protesters hung from a gigantic truss with a #NoDAPL sign.

The protesters apparently made their way up the beam with their huge sign and climbing gear so they could dangle down and draw attention. And dangle they did for about three quarters of the game.

This comes in a season that saw some of the strangest events you could imagine, from Teddy Bridgewater’s non-contact injury, to Mike Zimmer’s detached retina to the team’s plane sliding off the runway in Wisconsin.

Stadium operators did not see the protesters as a threat and allowed the game to keep going, though they did clear out the section below.

So the Vikings played on, just as they have through wacky stuff all year long. Of course, they were the only team on the field actually playing.

From the opening drive, it was pretty obvious the Vikings were going to clobber the Bears. They cruised 40 yards on four plays for a Jerick McKinnon touchdown on a 10-yard screen pass.

Chicago worked down the field themselves until third-string QB Matt Barkley tossed an ugly interception. After that, not only was it all Vikings, it was the offense that fans could only dream of all season.

Bradford was aggressive, working the ball down the field. The offensive line protected its quarterback well – which may have been helped by the fact that Rashod Hill played left tackle instead of TJ Clemmings – and the Vikings ran the ball with a fair amount of success.

So, more or less the opposite of what we’ve seen in 2016. The offense entered the game ranking 30th in yards per play and dead last in rushing yards per carry.

It was enough to make you think: What if the Vikings offense had exploded like this just once or twice along the way?

Two times against the Detroit Lions, the league’s worst defense against the pass in terms of QB rating, the Vikings failed to score 20 points. Their defense held the mighty Dallas Cowboys in check on Thursday night football, but Minnesota only managed 15 points.

When the pathetic Indianapolis Colts defense came to town, Bradford’s crew kicked two field goals and lost by 28. Had they been able to respond offensively, maybe it could have turned into a shootout. Instead, the Vikings were demolished.

But there’s a reason this type of offensive performance didn’t happen earlier: Their opponents cared. Week after week, the Vikings played teams who were also battling for playoff spots, like on Christmas Eve, when Clay Matthews reminded us that he isn’t in all those commercials just because of his hair.

The only other time the Vikings’ offense looked competent past Week 5 was against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who fired their coach the next week.

So you might hear that a win at the end of the season gives them some momentum or good feeling going into next year. It shouldn’t. It shouldn’t give anybody false notions about this offense: It was one of the worst in the NFL and there are all sorts of changes needed, starting with the offensive line, but also with Bradford’s approach when the Vikings face 3rd-and-long and when they are trailing in games.

The Vikings should burn the tape instead of looking to it for answers.

Whoever the next offensive coordinator is – whether it’s Pat Shurmur or some other guy – must figure out how to run the ball without Adrian Peterson, assuming he isn’t back. He must figure out how to get Bradford to look beyond his first read and how to score in the red zone.

And they should take a deep breath because this season is been rough, frustrating, weird, bizarre, wacky and whatever other words can come up with.

The post Season ends with offensive performance Vikings needed all along appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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