Access Vikings

Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


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Access Vikings morning walkthrough: Offense needs upgrades, Bridgewater is accurate and more

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 17th at 7:05am 286073811

Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— The Vikings should focus on improving their offense in the offseason.

— The Vikings have waived backup OT J’Marcus Webb.

— Teddy Bridgewater has been one of the league’s most accurate quarterbacks.

— OLB Chad Greenway is the team’s Community Man of the Year.

— The Vikings would have the 11th pick if the season ended today.

TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

— The Dolphins seem to be going in the wrong direction under coach Joe Philbin.

— Important lessons were learned about the Dolphins in their lackluster season.

— The Dolphins have long odds of making the playoffs, but it’s possible.

TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE

The Vikings are back at Winter Park today to get ready for this weekend’s trip to Miami. Practice is at 12:50 p.m. Beforehand, Bridgewater and coach Mike Zimmer will chat with reporters.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

As my colleague Michael Rand wrote yesterday, the Vikings reportedly had interest in trading for QB Jay Cutler back in 2009, but Cutler ultimately wound up with the Bears. Who knows how serious the Vikings were about Cutler, but it is fun to think about how differently history would have played out had the Vikings made a move for Cutler instead of luring Brett Favre out of retirement.

Vikings waive J'Marcus Webb

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated December 16th at 2:24pm 285993661

The Vikings put offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb on waivers Tuesday.

The five-year veteran was signed on Nov. 25 when the team put Phil Loadholt on season-ending injured reserve.

Earlier Tuesday, Webb tweeted that he was thankful for being on the team.

Webb missed a key block on Sunday that enabled Detroit’s Jason Jones to block Blair Walsh’s 26-yard field goal attempt in the Vikings 16-14 loss to the Lions.

Five Vikings stats that stand out for Week 16

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 16th at 1:17pm 285978781

Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.

339.9 — yards allowed per game by the Vikings in Mike Zimmer’s first season.

Considering how the Vikings fared defensively a year ago and all the new faces that forced them to bring in, it seemed unlikely that Zimmer, their first-year coach, would be able to take the Vikings from 31st in the NFL in total defense to a top-10 unit. But with a strong finish these final two games, he might just do it. The Vikings enter Week 16 tied for 11th in the league in total defense, allowing 339.9 yards per game (last season the Vikings allowed 397.6 yards per game). They are just 43 total yards behind the Chargers, who rank ninth. So that top-10 ranking is very much in reach.

17 — pass break-ups for cornerback Xavier Rhodes, tied for fourth in the NFL.

Rhodes played well against the Lions, particularly star wide-out Calvin Johnson, but for the first time in a while, the second-year corner didn’t get his hands on the ball. It was his first game without a pass break-up since October, snapping a streak of five straight games with at least one. Still, he has broken up at least one pass in nine of his last 11 games, giving him 17 total pass break-ups this season. That ranks fourth in the NFL behind Bradley Fletcher of the Eagles, Vontae Davis of the Colts and Buster Skrine of the Browns. And it’s more than double the next Vikings player on the list.

75.6 — quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s accuracy percentage in his first season.

Accuracy was considered to be one of Bridgewater’s biggest assets coming out of college, and so far in the NFL, he has usually been on target, too. The rookie ranks seventh in accuracy percentage, a stat from Pro Football Focus that accounts for things such as dropped passes and throwaways, unlike raw completion percentage. They say Bridgewater has been accurate on 75.6 percent of his throws, just ahead of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. And since Week 9, only Drew Brees and Joe Flacco have been more accurate.

seven — total sacks allowed by Vikings offensive linemen in the past five weeks.

Since the Week 10 bye week, the Vikings offensive line has allowed 52 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, which is tied for 18th in the NFL. That’s actually a significant improvement for that banged-up group. In the first 10 weeks of the season, they surrendered 118 total pressures, third most in the league. The difference is about three fewer pressures per game. Not all pressures are created equally, of course. In those first nine games, offensive linemen were responsible for 24 sacks, according to PFF. Over the past five, the linemen were at fault for only seven sacks.

minus-59 — the Vikings’ point differential in their five divisional games in 2014.

I wrote in today’s paper about the Vikings falling to 0-5 against their NFC North rivals. They kept things close in rematches against the Packers and Lions, but overall, they have been outscored, 120-61, in their five divisional games this season. That’s a point differential of minus-59 in the division. The Vikings, meanwhile, are 6-3 against teams not in their division, outscoring those teams by a combined 39 points. They play their final NFC North game in the season finale. Considering how the dysfunctional Bears are playing, the Vikings probably shouldn’t be 0-fer for much longer.

Vikings NFL Draft Order: Week 16

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 16th at 7:05pm 285971211

Every Tuesday, we’ll analyze the Vikings draft chances for the 2015 NFL Draft

The Vikings minuscule playoff chances vanished before they even took the field last week. The Rams lost to the Cardinals last Thursday, wiping away the Vikings’ only (long shot) scenario of stealing the sixth seed.

Now that we can officially stop mentioning playoffs in this blog, the Vikings sit at 6-8 after losing 16-14 to the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday. Here’s how it impacted their draft spot if the season ended today with record, strength of schedule tiebreaker (if necessary) and upcoming opponent listed in parentheses:

  1. Tampa Bay (2-12) (.467) (vs. Green Bay on Sunday)
  2. Tennessee (2-12) (.503) (at Jacksonville on Sunday)
  3. Jacksonville (2-12) (.538) (vs. Tennessee on Sunday)
  4. Oakland (2-12) (.571) (vs. Buffalo on Sunday)
  5. Washington (3-11) (.469) (vs. Philadelphia on Saturday)
  6. New York Jets (3-11) (.536) (vs. New England on Sunday)
  7. Atlanta (5-9) (.495) (at New Orleans on Sunday)
  8. New York Giants (5-9) (.505) (at St. Louis on Sunday)
  9. Chicago (5-9) (.519) (vs. Detroit on Sunday)
  10. Carolina (5-8-1) (vs. Cleveland on Sunday)
  11. Minnesota (6-8) (.482) (at Miami on Sunday)
  12. St. Louis (6-8) (.536) (vs. New York Giants on Sunday)

The Vikings still hold the 11th overall pick if the season ended despite the loss. They’re guaranteed a top 20 draft at this point, but they can’t pick no higher than seventh with two games remaining.

What will favor the Vikings at the end of the season will be their strength of schedule, the first tiebreaker to determine the draft order. They currently have the fifth lowest strength of schedule percentage among teams currently holding a top 20 pick. It’s not expected to change much given that the Vikings have played four teams with winning records — the Lions, Packers, Patriots and Bills. Their next two opponents, the Dolphins and Bears, sit at 7-7 and 5-9.

So here are your draft scenarios if the Vikings win or lose in Miami:

If the Vikings lose: They’d pick no worse than 16th heading into the season finale next week against the Bears. That could drop even lower depending on how Week 16 plays out.

If the Vikings win: It gets a little tricky. With one game separating the Falcons, who hold the No. 7 right now, and the Rams, who have the 12th pick, it’s difficult to predict what would be the Vikings’ best pick scenario. What is certain though is if the Vikings win and the Falcons, Giants, Bears and Panthers all lose (which is certainly possible), the Vikings will not have a shot at a top 10 pick.

So you might want to keep an eye on those four teams over the weekend if you’re hoping for a Vikings top 10 pick in 2015.

Greenway named Vikings' Community Man of Year

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 16th at 10:59am 285968341

Chad Greenway has been selected as the Vikings’ Community Man of the Year for 2014.

Since joining the Vikings in 2006, the outside linebacker has volunteered with several local organizations, including Memorial Blood Centers, Sanford Health, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, Fuel Up To Play 60, The Salvation Army, Taste of the NFL, United Way and Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota.

In 2009, Greenway and his wife, Jenni, started the Lead The Way Foundation to provide seriously ill and physically challenged children throughout the Twin Cities “with daily support and life-changing experiences.” Since its inception, Greenway’s foundation has raised more than $1.3 million.

Greenway is one of 32 NFL team representatives vying for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The winner will be named at the Super Bowl.

This is the second time Greenway has been selected as the Vikings’ Community Man of the Year. He also won the award in 2011.

Yesterday, Greenway was named as a finalist for the inaugural NFL Sportsmanship Award.

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Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 83 4th Qtr 2:44
San Antonio 85
Milwaukee 31 2nd Qtr 7:44
Portland 24
Houston 6 1st Qtr 9:05
Denver 2
Indiana 7 1st Qtr 9:44
LA Clippers 5
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 0 1st Prd 2:23
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 44 2nd Half 11:08
Auburn 53
New Mexico St 42 2nd Half 5:23
Baylor 52
San Diego St 43 2nd Half 7:28
Cincinnati 38
Eastern Mich 37 2nd Half 8:00
Michigan State 55
Loyola Marymount 50 2nd Half 3:27
Stanford 58
Incarnate Word 67 2nd Half 5:40
Grand Canyon 72
Northeastern 31 2nd Half
Cal Poly 17
Central Arkansas 28 1st Half 2:51
New Mexico 32
Howard 19 1st Half 3:56
Pepperdine 21
Portland 9 1st Half 15:45
UNLV 3
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Oregon
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Washington
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 5 1st Half 3:39
San Francisco 23

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