The Vikings finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs in 2016, but those around the league believe the future is bright in Minnesota.
A recent article on ESPN.com ranked the Vikings as possible Super Bowl contenders for next season, even if a few questions remain.
ESPN's Ben Goessling wrote the Vikings still have improvements to make this offseason, listing the offensive line and boosting the rush attack as areas to place focus.
On the "Super Bowl barometer," Goessling rated the Vikings as "Should contend, but there are question marks."
One area where the Vikings are in good shape, Goessling wrote, is at the quarterback position, where Sam Bradford is coming off his first season in Purple.
Bradford joined the Vikings via a trade on Sept. 3, just days after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee.
Bradford posted the best numbers of his career in 2016, throwing for a career-high 3,877 yards while setting an NFL single-season record for completion percentage. He'll return as the incumbent in 2017, with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur back to work closely with him. Bradford would benefit from an improved offensive line; he was one of the NFL's more accurate passers when he did have occasion to throw downfield, but he didn't do it very often. It should be noted that Bradford's average target was the shortest in the NFL in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information. If he has better protection in front of him, he should be able to be more effective.
Rudolph praises Zimmer's leadership in 2016
It was a wild and wacky 2016 season for the Vikings.
John Holler of Viking Update wrote about the ups and downs of the year through the eyes of tight end Kyle Rudolph, who chatted with Adam Schein of Mad Dog Sports Radio on Sirius XM earlier this week.
*Rudolph summed up the feeling of players who have been involved in the game since Pop Warner days (and those who have been around the NFL game even longer) in his assessment of the 2016 Vikings year. *
"Unlike any other I've been a part of," Rudolph said.
Through it all, Rudolph praised Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer for his leadership through a tumultuous season.
*Rudolph got the last word on the feeling the players have for the Zimmer administration – or at least his personal reflection on the collapse of the 2016 season. *
*It seemed to sum up the feeling of many players – that, if Zimmer was willing to risk potential blindness for them in search of a football goal, they should give him the same professional courtesy. *
"You hear the phrase that you would run through a wall for a guy," Rudolph said. "Coach Zim' throughout the course of our three years together – of course I would run through a wall for him – but I wouldn't run through a wall for him just because of the respect I have for him and how he motivates me as a player. I'd run through a wall for him because I feel like there would be something on the other side. Everything he does is for a reason."