Minnesota Vikings Midseason Awards

Minnesota Vikings Midseason Awards

Vikings Barroom Assistant Editor Drew Mahowald presents a few midseason awards to several members of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have officially played half of their games in the 2016 season. They have won five of those games and own sole possession of the NFC North division lead.

It doesn’t seem so bad when I say it like that.

Since we’ve made it to the midway point, it feels like a time to celebrate, or something. So why not hand out some awards?

Offensive MVP

QB Sam Bradford

Bradford wins by default here — as most quarterbacks do for an award like this. And, really, if you get traded for a first- and fourth-round pick, you better be the offensive MVP.

Despite being thrown into the fire just a week before the regular season, Bradford is on pace for arguably his best season as a pro. In seven games, he has managed to complete 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,715 yards and nine touchdowns to just one interception while averaging 7.1 yards per attempt.

Extrapolated to a 16-game sample, those numbers equate to 3,920 yards (would be a new career high), 20.6 touchdowns (21 is his current career high) and 2.3 interceptions (would be a new career low).

The former first overall selection is setting career bests despite playing behind the worst pass protection unit in the league. We’re learning each week how tough Sammy Sleeves is when he takes hit after hit and continues to pick himself up off the turf like a 90-year-old man trying to get off the couch.

And now with interim offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur running an offense that’s better suited not only for Bradford’s game but also the porous offensive line, it’s reasonable to expect Bradford’s performance to only improve moving forward.

Runner-up: Stefon Diggs

Defensive MVP

NT Linval Joseph

For the most part, Minnesota’s defense has been absolutely dominant this season. While each player has experienced his share of ups and downs, there is one exception to this.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph has been the most consistently productive member of the “Zim Reapers” in 2016 — and it’s not close. There is a reason why the Vikings have allowed little-to-no yards on runs up the middle this year.

Overall, the Vikings rank eighth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and fourth in Pro Football Reference’s Expected Points Contributed by Rushing Defense metric. Joseph certainly receives help in making it all happen, but he is the fuel that makes the engine run.

Joseph’s work has never lit up the box score — and frankly, that’s not expected of a nose tackle in Zimmer’s defense. Joseph’s massive frame allows him to take up more than one blocker while getting a strong push at the point of attack. Meanwhile, other supreme athletes such as Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith can shoot the gaps and come off the edge to make stops.

However, Joseph has still tallied three sacks despite rarely seeing action in passing situations. As long as Linval stays hungry, he’ll continue to be a monster for the Vikings.

linvalhungry

Runner-up: Harrison Smith

Pleasant Surprise

WR Cordarrelle Patterson

I was wrong to doubt this man. Throughout the offseason, I made a reputation as a Patterson “hater.” And to be fair, I had good reason. A season ago, Flash caught exactly two (TWO) passes and had shown virtually no traits needed to be a successful receiver, other than gamebreaking ability with the ball in his hands.

Patterson started his emergence by playing a role that nobody would have ever expected him to play — but yet, it makes so much sense in hindsight. As a gunner on punt team, Patterson’s freakish athleticism and size have allowed him to make a number of key plays, including forcing a fumble in Minnesota’s win over the Giants.

Offensively, Patterson has rounded out the fundamentals of his game to become a legitimate route-runner, which is a first in his career. He has hauled in 27 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns, which is on pace to eclipse his career high in receptions and yards and match his career high in receiving touchdowns.

Flash has surfaced as a reliable WR3 in Minnesota’s offense, something I never would have predicted before the season. And he’s not producing just on gadget plays, either. He’s a real wide receiver.

Props to you, Mr. Patterson.

Runner-up: Jeff Locke

Biggest Disappointment

K Blair Walsh

Yeah, I’ll admit it: I had faith in Blair Walsh.

I defended him hard this offseason, which was admittedly difficult because of how deeply Vikings fans were scarred after his shank in the Wild Card playoff game back in January.

Hey, here’s a fun fact — Walsh led the NFL in field goals made last year and finished 11th in the field goal percentage.

And about the Wild Card game — sure, Walsh missed the game-winner. But before that, he was a perfect 3-for-3 before that in subzero temperatures while the offense couldn’t get in the end zone. As far as I’m concerned, he still played well given the circumstances.

But I can no longer defend him. Seven total misses in eight games? Including two crucial misses that were ultimately a factor in the final outcome of a loss? Sorry, Blair, but I can’t do it.

I just want the rookie, Pro Bowl version of Walsh back.

Runner-up: Anthony Barr

Rapid Fire

Vikings Rookie of the Year (so far): N/A

Worst Injury: G/T Mike Harris

Best Play: CB Trae Waynes’ interception to seal the Week 2 win over Green Bay.

Needs More Snaps Award: WR Laquon Treadwell

Needs Less Snaps Award: WR Charles Johnson

Milk Carton Award: LB Anthony Barr

Fountain of Youth Award: CB Terence Newman

Mannequin Challenge Award: The entire offensive line

And because we all need a little pick-me-up right now, I’ll end on a positive note.

Best Celebration: Mike Zimmer

 

Be sure to check out the About The Labor Podcast for a pair of episodes EVERY week discussing and breaking down anything and everything pertaining to the Vikings.

Drew Mahowald

Drew Mahowald

Drew Mahowald is a student at Saint John's University (MN) pursuing a degree in media communications and a career in sports media. In addition to serving as an assistant editor at the Barroom, Drew also writes about the Minnesota Timberwolves for OnTheProwlMN.com. You can follow Jim Kleinsasser's #1 fan on Twitter at @DrewMahowald.



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