1. Kyle Rudolph was worth every penny of his sizable salary this season. In 2014, the Vikings signed the big tight end to a five-year extension worth $36.5 million and expected him to become one of the NFL’s top tight ends under their offensive coordinator at the time, Norv Turner. But his 2014 season was marred by injuries and he put up pedestrian numbers a year later, in part because he was asked to do a lot of run blocking. Some fans grumbled that the Vikings should move on from Rudolph, who had a $7.3 million cap number this season. They wisely stuck by him and he gave them the best season of his career while thriving under new play-caller Pat Shurmur. With 11 catches Sunday in the 38-10 win over the Chicago Bears, Rudolph set a franchise record for his position with 83 this season. And his 840 receiving yards were a career high. He didn’t make the Pro Bowl, but he was a top tight end.
2. Defensive tackle is a need the Vikings are going to have to address this offseason. Heading into 2016, they looked to have a pair of strong starters in nose tackle Linval Joseph and three-technique tackle Sharrif Floyd, with veteran Tom Johnson coming off the bench to help get after the quarterback. But Floyd played in only one game and could be let go during the offseason. Johnson is 32 and a one-dimensional player (though that one dimension is definitely useful). Fellow backup Shamar Stephen is a solid run stuffer, but that’s it. The Vikings need to give Mike Zimmer a penetrating every-situation difference-maker, the guy they hoped Floyd would become, to pair with Joseph. As good as their pass rush was at times, it could have been great with a consistent pocket-pusher.
3. If this is it for Chad Greenway, the linebacker had one heck of a career. The Vikings drafted the South Dakota native with their first-round pick in 2006. After a torn ACL in the preseason cost him his entire rookie year, Greenway established himself as a cornerstone of the Vikings defense and a pillar in the community. In a decade in purple, Greenway totaled 1,101 tackles, 18 sacks, 11 interceptions and a pair of Pro Bowl nods. Sunday, after he recorded two tackles against the Bears, Greenway got a loud applause from Vikings fans when he was shown on the video boards. “I wanted that moment,” Greenway later said. “I was happy I got that moment. Again, if I don’t get another moment on U.S. Bank Stadium field, I got that moment.” Greenway is expected to retire, and if he does, it is great to see him go out on his own terms.