Ted Glover is a really nice guy. Proud grandfather, great twitterer (@purplebuckeye). Also, if you've ever seen him on Twitter, his pops really hates Jay Cutler. Like a lot.
So even though he's nice, he has this drawback of liking the Vikings. However, that makes him the perfect person to sit down and answer these questions for. These VIkings aren't like the Vikings we're used to. They're kinda good.
You can find my answers to his questions right over here.
Big thanks to Ted for taking the time out. Happy and healthy, that's how we want to escape this one.
1. So the Vikings are 4-2, and second in the division. Is that a product of schedule? What would you credit the current success to?
Yeah, it's partly the schedule, but this team is better than previous editions. The credit for the current run of success starts at the top with head coach Mike Zimmer. He's a no-nonsense, old school guy, and he's the rare breath of fresh air in coaching circles that speaks his mind and doesn't really dance behind sound bites and cliches. Admittedly, the Vikings haven't beaten a team with a winning record, but with the exception of the opening night disaster in San Francisco, they have beaten the teams they should have beaten, and they took Denver to the wire on the road. In recent years past, this Vikings team would probably be sitting at 3-3 or 2-4, so there is definite progress being made.
2. What would you say is the biggest strength on each side of the ball?
On offense, Adrian Peterson seems like the obvious answer, but if you take away his two biggest runs of the year (48 yard TD at Denver and 75 yard run at Detroit), he's only averaging 3 yards a carry, and he leads the NFL in runs for negative yards. I'm going to go with Teddy Bridgewater and Stefon Diggs. The Vikings passing attack was pretty anemic through the first three games, but since Diggs was inserted into the lineup, things have really gelled. Bridgewater an Diggs have a really good chemistry, and because teams are so intent on stopping Peterson and the running game, the Vikings are making a lot of money through the air.
3. How are Vikings rookies doing this season? What about second-year guys?
2015 might go down as the best draft class in team history, if guys keep playing like they are. First rounder Trae Waynes is being brought along slowly, but when pressed into action due to in-game injuries, he's been a solid CB. Second round pick Eric Kendricks, a linebacker from UCLA, is making a solid case to be the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year. He won his second weekly rookie of the week award, and was just named the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for October. His development into a starter made Gerald Hodges expendable, and he was traded to San Francisco about a month ago. DE Danielle (pronouncec Da-NELL) Hunter has worked into the line rotation, and played very well when pressed to start for Everson Griffen on short notice against Kansas City. RT T.J. Clemmings was forced into a starter's role when Phil Loadholt tore his Achilles during the pre-season and was lost for the year. Clemmings has had his ups and downs, but for a rookie who was essentially thrown to the wolves, the Vikings could be doing a lot worse.
Finally, WR Stefon Diggs, a 5th round pick, just might be the best WR in this draft class, and he's turning into the steal of the entire draft. His route running is crisp, he gets separation, has soft hands, and top end breakaway speed. As to the 2014 class, the results haven't been as good in the back end of the draft, but the two big names at the top of the draft, Bridgewater and LB Anthony Barr, have played well. Bridgewater is developing into the long term answer (dare I say franchise QB) the Vikings have been looking for since Daunte Culpepper had his knee shredded in 2005, and Barr is part of a linebacker unit that is probably the best the VIkings have fielded since 2009.
4. What's the dynamic between the front office and coaching staff. Harmonious?
It's rainbows and unicorns. The dysfunction in the Vikings front office and coaching staff has been almost a constant for a good part of my life, at least since Bud Grant and GM Jim Finks (who also had a heck of a run with the Bears) left. Between Mike Lynn trading everything for Herschel Walker, Rodger Headrick, Denny Green threatening to sue the former group of 10 owners, former owner Red McCombs stripping the franchise bare to sell it or move it, Mike Tice scalping Super Bowl tickets, the Triangle of Authority...man, you get the idea. Since given full GM responsibilities in 2012, the Vikings have had solid and aggressive drafts, and him and Mike Zimmer are on the same sheet of music with everything. From the assistants he hired, to the players they have signed in free agency, to the players they've drafted, Spielman and Zimmer think with a unity of effort, and there hasn't been one player Spielman has 'forced' on to Zimmer, like what arguably happened with Josh Freeman. And it's had tangible results on the field. Zimmer identifies the players he wants or needs, Spielman gives them the full court press if they're a free agent, or makes an aggressive move in the draft to get them. And the Vikings are winning, with an aggressive defense and an offense that's getting better each week. If Zimmer's approval rating among fans is under 90%, I'd be stunned.
5. Scout the Bears for us real quick: The Vikings have lost their last seven games at Soldier Field. What key factor do you think will help the Vikings stop that trend?
Win the turnover battle and pressure on Jay Cutler. Man, Soldier Field is a House of Horrors for the Vikings, one that even Zombie Brett Favre in 2009 couldn't get out alive from. The Vikings have played error-prone football in the Windy City, and if they can eliminate those mistakes, they have a grreat chance to break this streak that's almost become a curse. Conversely, they need to force Cutler into making bad throws, which is something he doesn't do against the Vikings at home. He's played well, but if they can pressure and harass him, Cutler will eventually make a bad throw or two, and the Vikings need to take advantage of that. Finally, when the offense needs to get into the red zone, they can't settle for field goals. Last week against Detroit, Minnesota had three drives stall inside the Lions five, and Blair Walsh kicked five field goals. Do that against the bears, and it's going to be one of those weird games that the bears will pull out in the end. And I will punish my liver severely if that happens.
Bonus 5a.: How excited is the Vikings community to get that new stadium opened up and stop playing at TCF?
Very excited. And I'll be honest with you, TCF is a nice stadium. It's the Metrodome that people came to hate. It was just a terrible facility, and US Bank Stadium looks to be one of the premier sports facilities in the country when it opens next year. Minnesota has already been awarded Super Bowl LII, a Final Four, and it was announced that they're now a finalist for the College Football Playoff Championship game in 202, I believe. It's going to be a great place to watch football; I can't wait.
Bonus 5b: How much do you think Texans coach Bill O'Brien looks like Bill Dauterive from King of the Hill?
Minus the chin canyon, the resemblance is uncanny.
BIg thanks to Ted for taking some time out. Let's hope that losing streak continues!