Eric Thompson of The Daily Norseman was nice enough to answer some questions about his team leading up to the opener:
1. Who is going to start at quarterback on Sunday? Let's say by some miracle Sam Bradford stays healthy and plays well this season. Is there a quarterback controversy next year in training camp? (**Obviously this was answered before the Rapoport tweet yesterday)
We won't know for sure until a couple hours before the game, because Mike Zimmer is being very tight-lipped about it. He says he already knows who's going to start but isn't sharing that with the world until he has to. I'd personally be surprised if it wasn't Bradford. He has familiarity with Norv Turner's style of offense and is used to getting a new playbook thrown at him--he has plenty of experience with it in his career. Unless he's still struggling with the terminology and the playbook--which is totally reasonable when you've been on the team for only a week--I think he'll get the nod. Like Mularkey said, I don't think they gave up a 1 and a 4 to have him sit.
And as for your QB controversy scenario, as far-fetched as it probably is, Teddy Bridgewater is the starting quarterback in 2017 if he's healthy. End of story. Of course that's still a pretty big "if" at the moment, which is why Bradford is signed for two years. But as soon as Teddy's knee is back to normal, the reins goes back to him.
Unless Bradford goes into full 1999 Kurt Warner Mode. Then we might have a controversy.2. How much does Adrian Peterson have left in the tank? Is he still the top-flight running back he has always been? Any reason to think that he doesn't carry the ball 300+ times again this year?I keep waiting for Father Time to catch up to Adrian Peterson. It hasn't happened yet. But he might actually be part cyborg so maybe he doesn't have to follow the laws we mere mortals must adhere to. It didn't look like he has slowed down a bit when I was covering the team in camp. He's still one of the best pure runners of the football in the NFL. Of course we'd all like him to contribute to the passing game a little more and fumble a little less, but he's still going to get a ton of touches this season. The Vikings were still going to be a run-first team before Bridgewater went down; now they might use Peterson like the Falcons used Jamal Anderson in 1998.3. Laquon Treadwell is a guy that a lot of Titans fans were excited about leading up to the 2016 draft. How has he looked so far? What are your projections for him this year?I think Laquon has shown a lot of promise in his first professional preseason but he's still definitely a work in progress. Treadwell has been fairly inconsistent so far, including a couple bad drops. Most of his reps have been on the second team and he probably won't start on Sunday, even if Charles Johnson (currently questionable...which could mean anything since the NFL dropped probable) can't go.4. Speaking of former SEC receivers, what in the world has happened with Cordarrelle Patterson? He is a guy that I thought was going to be a star in the league.
But being on the second team isn't necessarily a knock on Treadwell as much as it is a testament to the depth the Vikings have at wide receiver. Stefon Diggs emerged as the clear #1 receiver as a rookie last year and looks even better in 2016. Adam Thielen has earned his way from the practice squad to special teams ace to legitimate threat at wideout. Even Jarius Wright, a reliable slot receiver that was given a pretty decent contract last year, is struggling to find snaps this year.
I wouldn't expect Treadwell to put up huge numbers this season but he'll definitely see the field and likely be a factor in some red zone packages. He had a great two-point conversion catch in the third preseason game against the Chargers. The Vikings love his potential; he just has to be more consistent.I wish I could tell you. All Vikings fans wish we could tell you. After such a promising rookie season where he scored in just about every way you can, his potential has fallen off a cliff the past couple seasons. He has basically been relegated to a kick return specialist.5. How happy are y'all with Mike Zimmer? I really wanted the Titans to hire him 2 years ago when they hired stupid Ken Whisenhunt.
Patterson was always labeled as "raw" coming out of Tennessee and unfortunately his skills as a wide receiver have remained that way. His route running and ability to separate from defenders just aren't good enough to warrant a lot of snaps on the offense. There was a lot of positive buzz about Patterson coming out from minicamp this year, but then he got hurt for a good chunk of Training Camp. The Vikings have tried to get him going in the preseason games with a few quick screens and end arounds to little success. Sadly, until he proves otherwise, I don't think Patterson offers much outside of special teams and the random gadget play.He could run for governor of Minnesota tomorrow and win in a landslide. Seriously, the guy has as close to a 100% approval rating among Vikings fans as you can possibly have. If you created a football coach for a movie from Central Casting, you'd come up with someone like Zimmer. Fans adore his gruff, no-nonsense approach and the players appear to love him even more. The feeling is mutual too--Zimmer's press conference after Bridgewater went down was hard to watch because you could tell how much the coach cared on a personal level for his player. Zimmer has taken a bottom of the barrel defense and transformed it into one of the better units in the league in just over two years. The phrase "In Zim We Trust" gets thrown around a lot at Daily Norseman, and with good reason. We love the guy.6. Give us a player to watch on defense that we have never heard of.If you're not familiar with Linval Joseph or Danielle Hunter, you probably will be by 4:30 local time on Sunday. Joseph is quietly one of the best defensive tackles in football and is an absolute terror in the middle. He can singlehandedly shift a play whether it's a pass or run. Hunter, the second-year defensive end that is still technically Brian Robison's backup at defensive end, burst onto the scene with a very impressive rookie season. His size and speed around the edge are just incredible--I think he'll win the starting job sooner rather than later. Expect him to make some noise on passing downs this week.7. Write the headline in Sunday's Tennessean.I love this question! I'll go with "RUN DOWN: PETERSON, DEFENSE GRIND OUT CLOSE VIKINGS WIN OVER TITANS." (I'll say 22-17 Vikings)A huge thanks to Eric for doing this. You can see his question with my answers here.