Ever since Brett Favre said goodbye to the purple and gold by retiring from the game he loved the most, the Minnesota Vikings’ offense can be summed up simply: Adrian Peterson.
Yet 2014 is a new year and a new regime has found its home in the land of ten-thousand lakes. Norv Turner was hired by head coach Mike Zimmer to transform the Vikings’ offense from laughing stock to powerhouse. The term offensive guru could be used to describe Turner, but that would be selling him short. An innovator by trade and a director of the passing game by employment, Turner has led his passing offense to a top 10-finish 10 times in 23 seasons, and the top 15 in 17 of 23 attempts.
Most known for his tenures in Washington and in San Diego, Turner more recently tried his hand at offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2013. With Brandon Weedon and Brian Hoyer amongst others at the quarterback position, Turner took a group of unknowns to the 11th ranked passing team in football. As the Vikings rushing offense, or shall we call him AP, has no need for a tweak, Turner will be fully focused on transforming the passing game.
Be it Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, the Vikings’ passing offense has much promise. From veteran Greg Jennings to up and comer Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota’s offense is fraught with talent. The man who took Josh Gordon to the top of the receiving ladder with nothing at quarterback is the perfect choice to help Jennings return to relevancy and kick-start Kyle Rudolph’s ascension up the ranks of the tight ends.
Cordarelle Patterson has been on the field for 51 of the Vikings 53 snaps by starters this preseason. #DraftHim
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) August 20, 2014
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 16, 2014
— 4for4 Football (@4for4football) August 17, 2014
On a related note, Kyle Rudolph will go early in my fantasy drafts.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 17, 2014
Rudolph, Patterson and Jennings is a passing trio to pine over. Place this trifecta with a Drew Brees or Tom Brady and you have a recipe for instantaneous success. So which Vikings’ passer is the man for the job, and will either Cassel or Bridgewater create fantasy relevance from his receiving corps? After a recent game-winning drive against the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason, the choice is not so simple anymore.
Cordarelle Patterson: "I told Teddy, I think that drive made him the man of the city… he just came and took over all my shine that I had."
— Doug Farrar (@BR_DougFarrar) August 17, 2014
Still, Bridgewater appears to be more of a work in progress at this stage. While fans still see him as the savior of the quarterback position for the Purple People Eaters, 2014 is too early to expect much from the former Louisville Cardinal. Despite Bridgewater’s likelihood to spend at least the start of the season riding the pine, expectations are high for other weapons in Turner’s arsenal.
Six years removed from his breakout campaign while replacing the injured Tom Brady on the Patriots, Cassel has just one 3,000-plus yard season in his time with Kansas City and Minnesota. By far the best season of his career, Turner hopes Cassel can regain his stride and again boast a 63.4 percent completion rate with 3,693 yards and 21 scores with just 11 interceptions. Cassel has the tools to succeed around him, including a stalwart offensive line, but does he still have the talent?
This dilemma at quarterback is the only thing stopping the Vikings from becoming instant contenders, and offensive juggernauts under Turner. Should either Patterson, Jennings or Rudolph find fantasy relevancy, a combination of sound quarterback play and acceptance of Turner’s offensive philosophies must be in play.
Turner will improve this unit in 2014. And be it by the arm of Bridgewater or Cassel, the Vikings receiving corps will be viable for the first time since 2010. At last, Adrian Peterson is not the only Viking worthy of your big board come draft day.