The View From The Barstool: Back To Work

The View From The Barstool:  Back To Work

Welcome back to the Barroom!  As you’ve noticed, we took a little break the past three weeks and what a difference 22 days make.  The staff is smiling, the songs in the TouchTunes have been updated, and everything that was once old and dull now has a new, vibrant shine to it.  Like the Barroom, the Minnesota Vikings are getting back to work this week as well.  By the time we talk again next week, the team will already be three days into training camp and we’ll already know everything we need to know about the 2016-17 roster…and least we think we will.  So order yourself a drink from a new clean glass, pick a song now from the 21st century from the music box, and grab yourself a seat and let’s talk about what’s gonna happen at training camp in Mankato.

It’s good to be back.

Let me get that out of the way right in the beginning.  It’s been a nice long sabbatical since we last spoke and I’m chomping at the bit to talk to you dear readers once again.  Don’t get me wrong, breaks are good. Breaks are often needed. It’s a chance to sit back and relax a bit.  It’s an opportunity to reintroduce myself to the wife and kids. But most of all, it’s a time to recharge the battery.  Let’s not kid ourselves — it’s a long offseason, especially when you want to provide quality content.

During that time we’ve had some big moments:  The lead-up and analysis of the NFL Draft, the start of Free Agency, and summer organized team activities and minicamps have kept us busy at times. But let’s face it — from “Wide Left” in January to the official start of the 2016 season  when training camp opens on July 28th, there’s 201 days to fill for everyone involved.  That includes a lot of days when, let’s be honest, there wasn’t much to talk about. Our staff here at both the Vikings Barroom and the NFC North Barroom as a whole have done a fantastic job filling those days with interesting analysis, bold projections, and quality talking points.  But a break was needed. But now we’re back with bright eyes, a fresh thesaurus, and ready to get started again.

Now that I’ve covered that, let’s get to talking about training camp.  Like we mentioned above, by the time we talk next week, the Vikings will be three days into camp every single one of our opinions about every player will have changed twice.  That being said, I’m going to go and make some bold predictions about what’s going to happen.  Full disclaimer:  These are all based on no injuries occurring (which never happens) and I have little to no idea what’s going to actually happen.

Make sure you remind me of these often throughout the next six weeks.

Quarterback

It’s Teddy’s show, of course…but the real competition will be for the backup role.  Hey, I get why Shaun Hill was brought in to be the backup last year.  With a 2nd year quarterback as the starter, you needed the experience and the mentoring that Hill brought to the field.  But it was obvious in spot duty last season that Hill brought nothing to the field when he had to play.  But now that Bridgewater is in his third year in the league and more importantly third year in the same system.  The need for Hill’s veteran presence is no longer a priority.  Watch for third-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke to outplay Hill and earn the backup quarterback role.

Taylor Heinicke could take over the reigns at backup quarterback.

Taylor Heinicke could take over the reigns at backup quarterback.

The Barstool’s prediction:

  1. Teddy Bridgewater
  2. Taylor Heinicke
  3. Shaun Hill

Running Back

What, like you were expecting someone else?

What, like you were expecting someone else?

This group is about as set as you can have a group.  Adrian Peterson will get the lion’s share of the carries with Jerick McKinnon getting some change of pace action when Peterson needs a break and will do so well that fans will be clamoring for him to get the ball more.  Matt Asiata and Zach Line will torment fantasy football players everywhere by vulturing a short yardage touchdown occasionally. The biggest story in training camp regarding this group will be that Peterson will actually participate in preseason games and hope to God he doesn’t get injured.

The Barstool’s prediction:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. Jerick McKinnon
  3. Matt Asiata
  4. Zach Line

Tight End

Here’s the issue with this group:  You have four guys who have legitimate designs on playing time and only two spots to plug them in.  Kyle Rudolph and Mycole Pruitt are the front-runners for the starting roles, but watch for rookie David Morgan to make a big splash with his limited playing time.  It will definitely put the pressure on Rhett Ellison who is on a one year contract with the team.

The Barstool’s prediction:

  1. Kyle Rudolph
  2. Mycole Pruitt
  3. David Morgan
  4. Rhett Ellison

Wide Receiver

This will be a fun competition to watch as the talent of this group is deeper than it’s been in a long, long while.  Stefon Diggs is the big name, but unlike last season where he dazzled in training camp and the preseason, he will most likely play sparingly.  Jarius Wright will also spend much of his time in guarded fashion. From there, the competition really begins. All eyes will be on rookie Laquon Treadwell, who will be figured into the game plan almost immediately.  Adam Thielen is perpetually on the bubble and will need to again prove himself worthy of a roster spot.  Charles Johnson needs to bounce back to show the staff that he is over his injury issues that plagued him last year. What will happen with Cordarrelle Patterson?  Was all the talk during the offseason about his work ethic improving for real or just talk?  And of course the best story of the camp will be Moritz Böhringer, the workout wonder from Germany.  Is he for real?  Is he a sideshow?  We’ll know a lot more about him by the time we talk next time.

The pressure will be on Charles Johnson early to show he's past his injury issues from 2015.

The pressure will be on Charles Johnson early to show he’s past his injury issues from 2015.

The Barstool’s prediction:

  1. Stefon Diggs
  2. Laquon Treadwell
  3. Jarius Wright
  4. Charles Johnson
  5. Adam Thielen
  6. Cordarrelle Patterson
  7. Mortiz Böhringer (Practice Squad)

Offensive Line

For as much as a lot of people are intrigued by the wide receiver competition, the offensive line is where the true cage match will be at.  The Vikings have 8 to 10 players who are going into 2016 expecting playing time and only 5 positions.  Making the waters even murkier, there are two coming off major injuries, two coming in from free agency, and a mid-round draft pick who will be fighting for time on the field.  You know what?  Fans can expect to see an untold number of line combinations from position coach Tony Sparano. Let’s just get to the rankings because I could be here all day talking about this training camp position battle. Just know that it’s not going to be pretty, it’s not going to be flashy, but this competition is going to be a meat grinder. (Late edit: It was announced early Monday morning that RT Phil Loadholt is retiring upon meeting with team.)

The Barstool’s prediction:

The offensive line will almost assuredly look different than 2015.

The offensive line will almost assuredly look different than 2015.

Tackles:

  1. Matt Kalil
  2. Andre Smith
  3. Phil Loadholt
  4. TJ Clemmings
  5. Willie Beavers
  6. Austin Shephard

Guards:

  1. Alex Boone
  2. Mike Harris
  3. Brandon Fusco
  4. Joe Berger
  5. Beavers/Clemmings

Center:

  1. John Sullivan (if healthy)
  2. Nick Easton
  3. Joe Berger

 

Here is a short little break in the action for me to remind everyone about the last time we saw punter Jeff Locke:

hold11116

In response to that, may I just say:

download

And finally, my reaction to the Vikings apparently not bringing in ANY competition to challenge Locke for the punter position:

hold-on-wait-what-thumb

(This meme-filled break was brought to you by Google…for all your image search needs, it’s Google!)

Okay, back to my dime-store predictions…

Defensive Line

Again, this is a solid group.  Everson Griffin and Linval Joseph are the stars, and Sharrif Floyd is firmly set at the other defensive tackle position.  You’ll see one change from last year, however, and that will be defensive end Danielle Hunter taking over the starting role over Brian Robison, who will still see a ton of playing time thanks to head coach Mike Zimmer’s rotational substitutions.  Rookie Stephen Weatherly will turn some heads during preseason games’ second half action.

The Barstool’s prediction:

Defensive Ends:

Brian Robison will get everything he can handle with Danielle Hunter this training camp.

Brian Robison will get everything he can handle with Danielle Hunter this training camp.

  1. Everson Griffin
  2. Danielle Hunter
  3. Brian Robison
  4. Justin Trattou
  5. Steven Weatherly

Defensive Tackles:

  1. Linval Jospeh
  2. Sherrif Floyd
  3. Tom Johnson
  4. Shamar Stephen

Linebacker

As leaders of this outstanding position group, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks will rarely see the field this preseason.  This is going to be Chad Greenway’s swan song, so watch for him to also play sparingly in the preseason.  The real story will be his replacement, Emmanuel Lamur.  Lamur, who played under Zimmer in Cincinnati, wasn’t signed to be a backup. The transition won’t happen right away, but expect Lamur to be the opening week starter at outside linebacker and not Greenway. Rookie Kendrell Brothers will make some noise with his run support, but will be a situational player only at first.

  1.  Anthony Barr
  2. Eric Kendricks
  3. Emmanuel Lamur
  4. Chad Greenway
  5. Kendrell Brothers
  6. Audie Cole
  7. Brandon Watts

Cornerbacks

This will be an interesting competition just for the mouths attached to some of the participants.  Xavier Rhodes will see limited action having established himself as one of the premier cover corners in the division.  On the opposite end, rookie upstart Mackensie Alexander will bring the attitude and cocksure temperament to challenge Trae Waynes and Terrence Newman for the starting role.  While fans won’t see much of Newman, expect Waynes, Alexander, and Captain Munnerlyn to mix it up daily vying for their depth chart spots.  Much to the chagrin of much of the Barroom staff, Marcus Sherels will once again somehow make the roster as a CB/PR.

The Barstool’s prediction:

  1. Xavier Rhodes
  2. Trae Waynes
  3. Mackensie Alexander
  4. Captain Munnerlyn
  5. Terrance Newman
  6. Marcus Sherels

Safety

I left the best competition for last.  Obviously in Harrison Smith the Vikings have one of the finest safeties in the league.  What they don’t have, however, is a counterpart that can play beside him.  To be honest, I have no idea how this will play out.  At the end of last year, Andrew Sendejo was starting and signed an extravagant extension in the offseason so the smart money would be for him to begin training camp as the starter.  That being said, 2nd year player Anthony Harris showed flashes of play last season that will earn him a look this preseason.  Antone Exum Jr. spent much of the 2015 season in Zimmer’s doghouse, so the pressure will be on him to produce right away.  The Vikings signed veteran free safety Michael Griffin during the offseason, and drafted Jayron Kearse in the 7th round.

Stay tuned on this rumble, folks…the answer could change by the day.

Can Andrew Sendejo prove to be worthy of the starting safety position opposite Harrison Smith?

Can Andrew Sendejo prove to be worthy of the starting safety position opposite Harrison Smith?

 

The Barstool’s prediction:

  1. Harrison Smith
  2. Michael Griffin
  3. Andrew Sendejo
  4. Anthony Harris
  5. Antone Exum Jr.

 

 

Kicker

We’re stuck with Blair Walsh, folks….better get used to that idea.

 

Okay, so there are the uninformed and probably wildly inaccurate training camp predictions.  I look forward to you all throwing them back in my face in a month.

One more quick word about Dennis Green

I shared most of my thoughts about the passing of former head coach Denny Green this past weekend, but I wanted to add one more thought that escaped me that still astounds me to this day…

In his first 9 seasons, Green had 7 different starting quarterbacks….and never had a losing season during that timeframe.  That statistic to me is one of the most amazing things you could ever say about the kind of head coach Dennis Green was.  He won no matter who was under center.  In today’s game where head coaches are too egotistical or too stubborn to even veer slightly off their precious systems, Green never used who was throwing the ball as an excuse to not find a way to win.

Amazing.  Again, RIP Coach Green.

Poll of the Week

Last week’s poll:

The Poll of the Week also took an extended vacation so no poll from last week.

This week’s poll:

Tweet of the Week

It’s great to be back, everybody….looking forward to a great 2016 season with you!

Until next time, keep your drinks cold and always remember to use a coaster.

#####

Farewell, Sheriff – Dennis Green Dies at Age 67

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