As the Vikings (3-2) turn their focus from Chicago to another division rival in Green Bay this week, the City of Minneapolis is looking ahead to Super Bowl LII.
NFL Super Bowl executives traveled to the Twin Cities recently to begin working out logistics for the championship game that will be hosted by Minneapolis on Sunday, Feb. 4. Rochelle Olson of the *Star Tribune *wrote about the planning sessions:
The weather, the tight urban setting and the compact footprint of U.S. Bank Stadium make the 2018 Super Bowl the most complicated event in NFL history, the league's Senior Vice President for Events Peter O'Reilly said Tuesday.
According to Olson, this year's Super Bowl will be only the sixth in NFL history to be held in a cold-weather city.
While the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee oversees logistics for more than 100 venues during the week, the Super Bowl and everything that goes along with it is ultimately an NFL extravaganza. So O'Reilly and his extensive crew were on the ground to confirm locations, review logistics and consider contingencies for everything up to and including a snowstorm that throws down 36 inches.
Olson explained that other factors league executives will consider include security, parking and traffic management. While the past two Super Bowls in San Francisco and Houston had an abundance of surface parking available, the downtown location of U.S. Bank Stadium requires a different setup.
O'Reilly is also planning for the week of festivities and events leading up to the big game.
*While Minnesota in the deep winter isn't a popular tourist destination, O'Reilly said he's confident the hospitality and events here will impress visitors. He noted the record number of volunteer applicants — 30,000 — the host committee secured. *
"That has felt like a statewide embrace of the game," O'Reilly said. "All of us can't wait to get here in January and feel that hospitality."
Keenum shows Vikings offense can adapt
Case Keenum now has four games in Purple under his belt after relieving Sam Bradford, who aggravated a knee injury, just before halftime at Chicago.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com wrote about Keenum's past performances in the league and what he brings to Minnesota's huddle.
During his time with the Houston Texans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Keenum was generally more successful throwing deep passes than dump offs and screens. Between 2014 and 2016, Keenum averaged just 5.6 yards on throws classified by NFL play-by-play as "short."
On deep passes, Keenum didn't rank toward the top of the league, but did post a 37.6 completion percentage on downfield passes, which was similar to Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill and Cam Newton. Matt Ryan was the league's best at 51.7 [percent].
This season, Keenum's completion percentage on deep throws has increased to 50 percent (15 of 30).
Coller said that the Vikings offense may be able to help Keenum "succeed more on short throws" than in previous seasons.
The mobility of the Minnesota offensive line has already paid dividends for Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon in the passing game. Between the two, they've gained 181 yards on 25 receptions (7.2 yards per catch).
The bottom line is that the Vikings showed against the Bears that they can adapt on offense more than you might expect with a backup quarterback. That gives them a chance to succeed while they wait for either Bradford or Bridgewater. And while the odds will be lower, Keenum still gives the Vikings some shot to make the postseason if neither comes back.