Heading into the NFL regular season in just over a week, there are a few players who feel the hot seat more than others. If these players don’t produce on a consistent level, they may become afterthoughts to the Minnesota Vikings organization.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Christian Ponder, and Blair Walsh are a few names that faced similar pressure over the past few years. Patterson was able to rebound enough to become a special teams Pro Bowler. His performance secured him a solid free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders.
Both Ponder and Walsh were immensely underwhelming, spelling the end of their tenures with Minnesota. Ponder, a former first-round pick, has not taken a regular season snap for another NFL team since his departure from the Vikings.
Walsh, who was cut mid-season by Minnesota, is now in Seattle for a shot at redemption. He became infamous for his game-ending missed field goal against Seattle in the 2015-2016 NFL Playoffs. Walsh was an All-Pro 1st Team player following his rookie season. This type of production early in his career is likely what is buying him his second chance in the NFL.
Three Minnesota Vikings On The Hot Seat This Season
Treadwell is still as much of a question mark on the roster as anyone. He has all of the potential to be an All-Pro receiver. His hot seat is relatively cool compared to the others. Yet, to this point, he has not produced on the field at all. Head coach Mike Zimmer has shown a lot of patience with rookies in the past, and that may be why Treadwell didn’t see the field much last season.
As a player taken in the first round of the 2016 Draft, he has high expectations. He is a second-year player who should look to make an impact for the Vikings offense. He needs to show something this season or else his third year in the league will be reminiscent of Patterson‘s third season with the Vikings. It became do-or-die for Patterson, who would occasionally show flashes of elite talent. We have yet to even see those flashes from Treadwell, so the clock is definitely ticking.
Sam Bradford’s situation is very unique. Behind an injury-decimated offensive line last season, Bradford was still able to be a model of consistency. That being said, he only landed with the Vikings due to an injury to Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is progressing well ahead of schedule, meaning that the pressure is on Bradford this season to produce if he wants to keep the competition strong at the position. Bridgewater was well on his way to becoming the face of the franchise in Minnesota.
With his story being one of tragedy and (hopefully) triumph, fans will be clamoring to see Teddy Bridgewater retake the field. He is putting pressure on the starting quarterback job while injured, so when he is back to full health, Bradford may have his hands full. This is the season that could ultimately decide Bradford’s future with the organization.
Trae Waynes had a roller-coaster of a season in 2016. The Vikings game against the Packers in week two showcased all of the faults and all of the potential of Waynes. He was hit with major penalties throughout the game, but came up with the game-sealing interception on Aaron Rodgers late in the fourth quarter. At times throughout the season, he flashed elite skill. At other times, he showed that he struggled under pressure.
2016 saw the emergence of Xavier Rhodes as elite. Many are hoping for the same type of season out of Waynes. While he will be splitting reps with Terence Newman, he will be seeing the field plenty enough to make an impact. Waynes is an immensely aggressive corner, which is both a great advantage and setback. If he can maintain his aggressive play style while lowering his penalties, 2017 could be the year he breaks out. If he doesn’t make the leap this season, the hot seat may get warmer with other young talent on the team, such as Mackensie Alexander.
The season is rapidly approaching, and the hype for the season opener against the Saints is only continuing to grow. Fans will see how all of these players will progress (or regress) before we know it. Kickoff can’t come soon enough. Skol Vikes!
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