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Access Vikings

Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Blowing 5-0 start to Super Bowl a year later? Vikings can follow Atlanta's lead

As you probably already know and are also probably sick of hearing over and over and over again, the Vikings in 2016 became the sixth team since 1990 to miss the playoffs after starting a season with five straight wins.

The fifth team to do it will be in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks.

The Falcons started 5-0 last season before losing eight of their final 11 games, including one to the Vikings, to finish at .500. Sound familiar?

After their collapse in 2015, the Falcons didn’t make sweeping changes.

They did add in free agency Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, who stabilized their offensive line, and wide receiver Mohammed Sanu, who caught five passes and scored a touchdown in Sunday’s beatdown of the Packers.

And they got immediate impact from the defenders they drafted, starting with safety Keanu Neal in the first round followed by Deion Jones in the second and fellow linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, the former Gopher, in the fourth. Rookie tight end Austin Hooper has helped, too.

Those offseason moves have paid off, but the biggest difference for the Falcons is that their defenders are now in their second year in Dan Quinn’s scheme and quarterback Matt Ryan is expected to be named league MVP in his second year with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

So the Vikings, after their stunning collapse this past season, don’t need to completely overhaul their roster to get back in the Super Bowl picture. But it is worth noting the Falcons were the only team from this infamous group to bounce back the following season and make the playoffs.

The first team since the NFL expanded the playoff field to 12 teams in 1990 to collapse after starting 5-0 was the 1993 Saints, who had former Vikings quarterback Wade Wilson under center. Wilson was replaced by Jim Everett in 1994 and the Saints went 7-9 that following season.

You probably don’t need a history lesson on the 2004 Vikings, who like their predecessors squandered a hot start and missed the playoffs.

The Giants in 2010 signed free-agent safety Antrel Rolle, let linebacker Antonio Pierce go and drafted defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and nose tackle Linval Joseph, now a Pro Bowler for the Vikings, with their first two picks. They ended up going 10-6 that year and still missed the playoffs.

After starting the 2009 season 6-0 before missing the playoffs, the Broncos in 2010 ushered in Tim Tebow Time, drafting the Heisman winner in the first round along with wideout Demaryius Thomas. They went 4-12 that season, with coach Josh McDaniels getting canned midseason.

This is obviously a small sample size, one with a wide range of outcomes, so there is no trend here. But given the talent the Vikings will return in 2017, if they can find a way to fix their offensive line, they are more likely to be back in the playoff hunt than the hunt for the No. 1 overall pick.

Vikings officially confirm Shurmur's return, reveal new offensive staff

The Vikings officially confirmed Friday that Pat Shurmur, who took over as the offensive play-caller on an interim basis midway through the 2016 season, will be the team's full-time offensive coordinator in 2017.

The Vikings also revealed the reshuffled offensive coaching staff that will support Shurmur and will hopefully give the Vikings a potent offense for the first time in Mike Zimmer's tenure. They ranked in the bottom six in the league in total yards in each of his three years as head coach.

Kevin Stefanski will coach the quarterbacks after Scott Turner, who had played a significant role in the development of Teddy Bridgewater, was let go after three years here. Stefanski was the assistant quarterbacks coach for the Vikings from 2009 to 2013 before serving as tight ends coach in 2014 and 2015. Last season, Stefanski coached their running backs.

With Stefanski again shifting roles, the Vikings hired Kennedy Polamalu, the former UCLA offensive coordinator, as their new running backs coach. Polamalu, who played fullback collegiately at USC, was the offensive coordinator at UCLA for only the 2016 season and was not retained. He coached at the NFL level from 2004 to 2009, overseeing the running backs in Cleveland in 2004 then coaching the same position in Jacksonville.

Another new addition to the offensive staff is Clancy Barone, who worked for the Broncos from 2009 to 2016, alternating stints as either the tight ends coach or offensive line coach. Barone was in charge of their line when the Broncos won last year's Super Bowl. He'll coach tight ends here.

Tony Sparano will return as offensive line coach. But FOX Sports reported Saturday morning that his assistant, Hank Fraley, will be leaving Minnesota to join UCLA’s staff as their headoffensive line coach.

Meanwhile, Zimmer's entire defensive staff will remain intact for 2017.

Final, 2/7 1 2 3 4 F
Carolina 0 7 0 3 10
Denver 10 3 3 8 24

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