Lunchbreak: Page, Peterson Included in NFL.com’s Top 20 MVP Seasons

The NFL has named 52 MVPs in the Super Bowl era, recognizing players for their outstanding performance over the course of the season.

In anticipation of the 2018 MVP announcement, NFL.com’s Adam Rank put together power rankings of every MVP campaign between 1966 and 2017 (the Associated Press has presented an NFL MVP since 1957). Of the three times a Viking has been named the league’s most valuable player, two of them were in Rank’s top 20.

Coming in at No. 18 on the list was Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page, who received the award in 1971. Rank wrote the following, including a bit of sarcasm:

Page became the first defensive player to win MVP since the award’s inception. But he was just the first of many! (Or not.) The ’71 Vikings allowed a mere 139 points in a 14-game season (that’s less than 10 points per game).

Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor (1986) is the only other defensive player to win the award.

Just two spots ahead of Page at No. 16 was running back Adrian Peterson’s 2012 campaign, during which he returned after suffering a torn ACL in December of the previous season. Rank pointed out that Peterson nearly broke the NFL’s single-season rushing-yards record when he racked up an impressive 2,097.

Minnesota’s third MVP in franchise history was Fran Tarkenton in 1975, listed 30th on Rank’s list.

Tarkenton is the guy all of your grandfathers will try to tell you was better than Patrick Mahomes. And this was probably his greatest season, when he led the Vikings to a 12-2 record.

Rank’s top five MVP campaigns in NFL history – all belonging to quarterbacks – were as follows (from 1-5): Kurt Warner (Rams) in 1999, Dan Marino (Dolphins) in 1984, Tom Brady (Patriots) in 2007, Joe Montana (49ers) in 1989 and Steve Young (49ers) in 1994.

View the best exclusive images shot by team photographers of Vikings wide receivers during the 2018 season.

Krammer: O’Neill was ‘silver lining’ for Vikings offensive line in 2018

The Vikings offensive line was hit with adversity from the get-go.

Offensive line coach Tony Sparano passed away unexpectedly just before training camp. Minnesota lost guard Nick Easton and tackle Aviante Collins to the Injured Reserve list early in the season.

Brian O’Neill, whom the Vikings drafted in the second round, was never expected to start as early as he did. But when the rookie tackle was called upon, he delivered.

Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune looked at Minnesota’s offensive line as an installment of position group grades, and he called O’Neill the “silver lining,” giving him a 3 out of 5. Krammer wrote:

Allowed 31 QB pressures (no sacks), becoming only one of two offensive tackles this season — with Dallas’ Tyron Smith — to play at least 500 pass pro snaps and not surrender a sack. Penalized four times, including three false starts. Struggled most as a run blocker, where he didn’t move many defenders.

Made his first start in Week 6 against the Cardinals and did not give up the right tackle job the rest of the season. O’Neill, a former Delaware basketball standout and Pittsburgh tight end, could be the latest success story of an athletic basketball center or tight end moving to offensive tackle.

Krammer also graded left tackle Riley Reiff with a 3.0, and he gave a 2.5 to center Pat Elflein, who rehabbed injuries during the offseason before returning to his starting role Week 4.

As a whole, the interior line had issues against twists and stunts. Players noted communication breakdowns that did not improve much over time. Ended on a down note in the season-finale loss to Chicago, when Elflein surrendered a season-worst six pressures. Penalized five times (one declined), including three holds. Fingers are crossed in Eagan hoping Elflein will have a healthy summer to build toward a rebound in 2019. An actual offseason with Cousins and possibly two new guards could benefit him greatly.

Krammer handed out grades of 2.0 to guards Mike Remmers and Tom Compton and a 1.5 to tackle Rashod Hill, guard Danny Isidora and Brett Jones, who started at center before Elflein’s return.

Look at the numbers

The 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl is underway, and the event causes plenty of buzz around players’ physical measurements.

Sam Monson of analytics site Pro Football Focus used Stefon Diggs as an example to argue that wide receivers don’t necessarily have to be tall to be successful. According to Monson, Diggs topped the league in contested catch rate in 2017 and was No. 3 in 2018. Over the past two seasons, he’s caught 64 percent of contested balls.

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