Under first-year head coach Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings showed potential and promise for the future. The Vikings young roster improved from their 5-10-1 season in 2013 to win 7 games in 2014 despite a myriad of circumstances. The Vikings owned a 5-3 record in year 1 of 2 at their temporary home, TCF Bank Stadium.
Both 2014 first-round selections, LB Anthony Barr and QB Teddy Bridgewater, flashed potential during their initial campaigns. Barr, who was the No. 9 overall pick last May, finished the season with 99 tackles, the fifth most among Vikings rookies all time. Bridgewater, who was the final pick in the first round, had the best season for a rookie QB in franchise history.
Bridgewater put together an impressive rookie season after being thrust into the lineup in Week 3 following Matt Cassell's season-ending foot injury. Appearing in 13 games and making 12 starts (6-6), Bridgewater finished with an 85.2 passer rating, one of many franchise rookie records broken by the 22-year-old. Bridgewater hit his stride late and built momentum to carry over into his second season.
From Week 13 through Week 17, Bridgewater ranked tied for first in completion percentage (72.1), second in passer rating (103.0), second in yards per attempt (8.79) and third in touchdown percentage (5.7) among all NFL passers. Bridgewater was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team, becoming the first QB in team history to earn the honor. Bridgewater is the 10th Viking to be named to the all-rookie team since 2007.
The Vikings defense showed immense improvement from 2013 to 2014 under the tutelage of Zimmer. The defense allowed 113 less points in 2014, the biggest improvement in the NFL from 2013. The defense, which ranked 31st in 2013, jumped to 14th in the NFL behind the play of S Harrison Smith and CB Xavier Rhodes. Smith, who led the team with five interceptions, showed his versatility becoming the only player in the NFL to record at least 3.0 sacks and 3 interceptions in 2014. Rhodes led the Vikings in passes defensed for the second consecutive season and ranked tied for fourth in the NFL with 18 passes defensed.
In his first season as a full time starter, DE Everson Griffen proved his worth by collecting a career high and team-leading 12.0 sacks and earning Pro Bowl alternate honors.
The Vikings currently hold the 11th pick the 2015 NFL draft and a total of 7 picks.
• S Harrison Smith became the 4th DB in Vikings history to record at least 3 sacks (3.0) and 3 INTs (5) and the only player in the NFL in 2014 to do so. Smith also led the Vikings in tackles for the 1st time in his career with 120.
• DE Everson Griffen started all 16 games for the 1st time in his career and set career highs in tackles (75), sacks (12.0) and TFLs (21). Griffen's 12.0 sacks led the team and ranked 2nd in the NFC and 4th in the NFL among all DEs.
• QB Teddy Bridgewater's 85.2 passer rating was the 7th best in NFL history among rookie QBs. Bridgewater's 64.4 completion percentage also ranks 3rd all-time for a rookie QB.
• Since 2011, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer's first year in Minnesota, the Vikings are tied with the Ravens and the Eagles for the most special teams TDs with 8 (4 kickoff returns, 2 punt returns, 2 blocked punt returns).
• RB Matt Asiata rushed for 9 TDs, tying him for 3rd in the NFL. Asiata scored 10 total TDs in 2014.
• WR Greg Jennings led the team with 742 receiving yards and 6 receiving TDs, 4 of which came in the final 6 games. Jennings moved into the top 100 on the all-time receptions list in 2014, finishing at 91st with 552 career receptions.
• In 2014, the Vikings defense allowed 113 less offensive points than in 2013, the biggest improvement in the NFL. The Vikings offensive points per game allowed in 2014 (20.3) ranked 13th in the NFL, improving from 32nd in 2013 (27.4).
• In the the month of December, Bridgewater ranked 1st in yards per attempt (9.18), 2nd in completion percentage (72.3%), 4th in passer rating (99.8) and 6th in passing yards (1,092) among all NFL passers.
• CB Xavier Rhodes finished with 18 passes defensed, tied for 4th in the NFL.
2014 MINNESOTA VIKINGS HONOR ROLL
All-Rookie, Pro Football Writers Association
NFL Pepsi Rookie of the Week (Week 4 vs. ATL & Week 13 vs. CAR)
NFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 8 at TB)
NFC Defensive Player of the Month (September)
USA Football All-Fundamentals Team
NFC Special Teams Player of the Week (Week 13 vs. CAR)
2015 IMPORTANT DATES
Super Bowl XLIX – University of Phoenix Stadium, Arizona
First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players
NFL Scouting Combine – Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players by 4:00 p.m. ET
2014 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m. ET
Annual Meeting – Phoenix
Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs
Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets
April 30-May 2
2014 NFL Draft – Chicago
NFL Spring League Meeting – San Francisco
Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp
September 10, 12-13
Kickoff Weekend 2015