Adam Thielen produced one of the top seasons for a wide receiver in Vikings history when he hauled in 91 catches for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns in 2017.
But weekly success on the field hasn't changed the Minnesota native off of it, as the Vikings wide receiver was recently profiled by NFL.com writer Jeff Chadiha.
Chadiha wrote that even though Thielen has enjoyed back-to-back strong seasons, he's still shows up at Winter Park with the work ethic he had when he first arrived on a rookie tryout.
The Vikings are quick to point out that Thielen's success hasn't changed him one bit. After he enjoyed a breakout season in 2016 — a year that saw him amass 69 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns — Thielen took all of three days off before he started training again. Thielen also can still be surprised by the hysteria building around Minneapolis, especially because the Vikings have a chance to be the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. When he attended a fan event in December, after the Vikings had improved their record to 10-2, he was startled by the sheer exhilaration brimming in every guest he met, especially since the Vikings still had so much work to do during the regular season.
Thielen explained that he was so locked into the moment — his mind was still pondering what he could've done better at the practice he attended before driving to the event — that he was merely thinking about the next game instead of the possibility of the Vikings producing a historic season. That single-mindedness is a major factor in why he's reached such great heights.
"It goes back to having a competitive nature," Thielen said. "[Right now,] I'm still thinking about practice and a few passes that I missed because that's how I'm wired. I love to compete and I hate failing. ... If I get a target, I want the ball in my hands. I just want to make sure that I'm competing every day and giving my best effort, because everything else just falls into place."
The basis for that sense of urgency in Thielen isn't difficult to understand. It comes from a real place of being ignored and overlooked, asked to constantly prove himself and then still having to face more skeptics after that.
Chadiha's full NFL.com story on Thielen can be found here.
Spielman named 'Executive of the Year' by Pro Football Weekly
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman was named *Pro Football Weekly's *Executive of the Year on Wednesday.
PFW writer Eric Edholm, who chatted with Spielman, noted that Spielman did his best work this past offseason when he injected fresh talent into the roster after a disappointing finish to the 2016 season.
Spielman and the Vikings front office signed free agents such as quarterback Case Keenum, running back Latavius Murray and offensive linemen Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, while bringing in impact rookies such as running back Dalvin Cook and center Pat Elflein in the draft.
Although Spielman — Pro Football Weekly's selection for 2017 Executive of the Year, as voted on by an 18-person panel — has been building this Vikings team over the course of several years, one piece at a time, some of his best work was done this past offseason.**
The Vikings lost eight of their final 11 games following a 5-0 start in 2016, but Spielman said he felt good about the foundation of the team when he spoke with his coaches and the scouting staff. This past offseason was less about overhaul and more about stabilizing the core with smart player additions.
"We had suffered a ton of injuries, and we lost Coach [Mike] Zimmer along the way," Spielman told PFW on Wednesday in reference to Zimmer suffering a detached retina last season that was diagnosed in November and required eight procedures through May of this year.
Added Spielman: "We learned that through all that adversity, if we ever faced those kinds of situations again, we just needed to be sure we were prepared for the worst case in every case. That's how we approached it because we knew we had good talent."
Spielman also locked up three defensive stalwarts — defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Jospeh and cornerback Xavier Rhodes — with contract extensions this past summer.
The Vikings went 13-3 in the regular season, the second-best record in franchise history. Minnesota will host New Orleans at 3:40 p.m. Sunday in the Divisional round of the playoffs.