As the Vikings get ready to kick off training camp in Mankato in less than three weeks, here's a look at two positives and two areas to improve offensively during the 2017 season.
2 positives from 2016
- After joining the Vikings via trade less than two weeks before his first start, Sam Bradford executed the transition almost seamlessly and played at a high level in 15 starts for Minnesota. Bradford was 395-of-552 passing for a career-high 3,877 yards. He had 20 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. He also finished the season with a career-high quarterback rating (99.3), and his completion percentage (71.6) broke the previous NFL record of 71.2, set by Drew Brees in 2011.
This year's Vikings Training Camp is the final phase of Bradford's first offseason in Minnesota.
- The Vikings receiving game was a group effort in 2016.
Stefon Diggs had a solid performance in his second NFL season, Adam Thielen further established himself as a key offensive contributor, and Kyle Rudolph built on his strong Vikings career.
All three finished the season with more than 800 yards receiving. Thielen and Diggs came in under 100 yards shy of 1,000-yard seasons. The trio combined for 15 touchdowns and accounted for 2,710 of Minnesota's 4,119 yards through the air.
2 Areas to Improve in 2017
- After the Vikings finished the 2016 season with 1,205 rushing yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry, Head Coach Mike Zimmer said that improving the rushing game would be an offseason focus.
Jerick McKinnon is the only running back returning with the Vikings this season. In 2016, he led the team with 539 rushing yards, averaging 3.4 yards per carry, and added a pair of touchdowns. Latavius Murray, who totaled 2,278 rushing yards over three seasons for the Raiders, joined the Vikings through free agency. Minnesota also moved up in the draft from 48th to 41st to select Florida State running back Dalvin Cook.
In addition to new faces in the running backs room, the Vikings have a new-look offensive line in another effort to improve the run. Minnesota added tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, both free agents, to anchor the ends of the line.
- Another area of focus for Minnesota is increasing production in the red zone.
Bradford and the Vikings were often able to steadily move down the field but struggled to capitalize with a touchdown once getting inside the 20. Minnesota ranked 29th in the league in red zone scoring percentage, getting into the end zone only 46 percent of the time.
Zimmer heavily implemented situation drills during Organized Team Activity practices and mandatory minicamp this spring, especially emphasizing red zone and third-down scenarios.