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Bleacher Report – Vikings

5 takeaways from Rick Spielman’s midseason media session

By Matthew Coller

Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman met with the media to discuss the team’s 6-2 start and the immediate future of the quarterback situation. Here are five things that stood out from his half-hour talk…

Teddy Bridgewater’s status is TBD

Rick Spielman:

“The decision on the quarterback will come down to what coach Zimmer and the staff feel gives us the best chance to win. I know Teddy, since he’s started practicing over the last couple of weeks, you’ve seen him continue to progress as we watch him out in practice. I know we have to make a determination about his status next week. When we sit down with the doctors – we’re never going to put any player out there that can’t go out there and perform and play the game of football. I know Teddy has worked extremely hard to get himself back as quickly as he can.”

What it means:

The Vikings have until November 8 to decide whether to lift Bridgewater from the Physically Unable to Perform list. Unless there is a setback, it seems like a foregone conclusion that they will do so. If they left him on the PUP list, Bridgewater wouldn’t be eligible to play for the rest of the year. The big question is when he’s actually going to be ready to play and whether the Vikings would turn to Bridgewater even if Case Keenum continued to win. Spielman noted that doctors have been evaluating Bridgewater’s ability to move on a daily basis. Naturally his movement and how he reacts to the pocket moving and collapsing will be the most difficult to simulate in practice.

Spielman said:

“When he’s out there practicing, he’s out there dropping back, you see him out there throw a pass on the move or you see him scramble…we’re not having live scrimmages out there. That’s the thing we probably can’t replicate.”

“I think we’re all looking at his mobility, his mechanics throwing the ball, everything is just like a normal evaluation be,” Spielman said.

The Vikings’ GM was not willing to discuss 2018, saying the team has a long time before needing to make decisions. He also would not talk about the potential of Bridgewater’s contract tolling to next season.

Nothing new on the Sam Bradford front


“We’re hoping that he’s healthy enough to play again this season. I know he’s done beyond what’s expected to get back as quickly as he can. We’re hopeful we have all three of these guys healthy.”

What it means:

The Vikings’ starting QB hasn’t seen the field in practice or a game since the first half of Week 5 against the Chicago Bears. There have been reports of Bradford undergoing treatments, but NFL Network reported that there hasn’t been much progress toward a return. As each week goes on without him practicing, it appears less and less likely that he will return this year.

The Vikings valued athleticism on the offensive line

Rick Spielman:

“When we went into this, talking to [offensive coordinator] Pat Shurmur and [O-line coach] Tony Sparano and Zim, what are the traits for your scheme, because they’re different than they were in the past. Are they going to have to do some outside zone blocking, are they going to have to be more athletic in space are we going to have to be more effective as a screen team because you have better athletes getting out.”

What it means:

Nobody has confirmed that the Vikings cut Alex Boone because he didn’t fit the scheme, but it appears that was the main reason. At 6-foot-8, he had trouble getting outside quickly and blocking on the move. Nick Easton has been a better fit at left guard for the scheme. Both tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and mobile and center Pat Elflein has been a huge difference maker on screen passes. The vision for the offensive line has been one of the main reasons that Case Keenum has been able to have success. Jerick McKinnon, the main receiver on screen passes, averages 8.1 yards per reception. Keenum has thrown 45 passes behind the line of scrimmage this season and has a 94.0 quarterback rating on those throws.

Spielman also raved about Pat Shurmur – though he did not answer whether he thought Shurmur could be a head coaching candidate next season.

“From where our offense was rated to where it’s at right now, the running game has improved, pass game is improved, he does a great job of changing up pass protections up from, him and Tony [Sparano].”

“His playcalling ability on Sundays and the gameplan going into the games, coming up with specific ways to beat other teams, he tries to create matchup issues for the defense with some of our offensive personnel.”

Laquon Treadwell is making progress


“I think he’s gotten better. I think you’ve seen flashes. I don’t know if we – when you look at the stat sheet at the end of a game and you see whether it’s Case or with Bradford, there’s eight, nine, sometimes 10 different guys that have caught balls. I think within Pat’s scheme, it’s not designated to go to just one guy. The emergence of Adam Thielen and Diggs and then Laquon is slowly coming in and he’s light years of where he was a year ago at this time and you’ve seen flashes of it. But it’s how many times is he getting targeted. But it’s pretty unique, I think, when you look at the stat sheet and you see the playcalling and you see how, OK, two running backs, a fullback, two tight ends and four receivers caught passes. So the targets are pretty evenly distributed throughout the game.”

What it means:

The vast majority of targets have gone to the Vikings’ solid set of weapons in Diggs, Thielen, Rudolph or McKinnon’s direction. If Treadwell was a more reliable player, he’d be getting more throws in his direction, especially when Diggs was out for two weeks. Getting around 60% of total snaps, it’s clear that the Vikings are giving Treadwell every opportunity to make an impact, but when Diggs was out, opponents left him largely 1-on-1 and he did not excel. While it’s true that the Vikings’ 2016 top pick is having a better year, the bar was as low as it could possibly be.

Spielman did note that opposing teams called the Vikings about young players at the trade deadline. It would seem likely that Treadwell’s name came up and the Vikings did not bite.

The Vikings saw the right skill set in Case Keenum


“We did a lot of film on him. Our first goal was to take care of that offensive line right when the free agency period began. We actually started talking with him and his representatives down at the owners’ meetings, maybe the third week in March where things started to get heated up with him. We wanted to make sure that we had enough quality at that position just because we’ve had some tough times there with injuries. Case was healthy, he fit all the physical traits and the characteristics that Pat thought he could excel and do some positive things in his type of system and we were fortunate enough to get him.”

The Vikings could have gone cheap with the backup quarterback position or drafted a rookie, but they elected to spend to get Keenum largely based on fear over previous quarterback injuries. It’s paid off. While Keenum hasn’t been Joe Montana, he’s done enough to win games the Vikings needed to win and may be asked to lead the team to the playoffs if Bridgewater isn’t ready to return. It’s a rarity to get that much out of a backup.

The post 5 takeaways from Rick Spielman’s midseason media session appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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