With The NFL season a little over 100 days away, I’ve been getting pumped for week one to come. Now, I’m probably jumping the gun, like I usually do. But I am having the same exact feelings I had back in 2009, when Brett favre came to town and led the Vikings to the NFC Championship, where they were one play away from going to the superbowl against the cheating Sinners. ha, see what I did there, Saints………Sinners………. ha, get it………….? Boooooooooo!!!!!! Matt you suck!!!!!! what a corny joke!!! Get over it Matt, the Vikings lost, the past is the past. Move on already!!!! aw man, tough crowd here, well, there goes my attempt to bringing a little comedy here………. Now where were we? Oh yeah, why do I have this feeling? well sit back folks and lets take a little drive.
Now, unlike now, back in 2009. The Vikings roster was amazing on paper. they were an older, wiser, and had a tremendously talented roster. Leading the way with Brett favre and AP on offense, along with the talented tightend duo of Visanthe Shiancoe and Jimmy Kleinsasser; A receiving core of Sidney rice, Percy Harvin, and Benard Berrian, (who I hated after this season, but hey, berrian was efficient in 2009) and a great offensive line, that would have been greater if Matt Birk didn’t leave to go play for the Ravens, (In my opinion, he was the missing piece that, if on the Viking roster. Would have won them their first Superbowl.) Then a destructive defense that featured the Williams wall, Rodeo Jared Allen and Ray Edwards. an elite Linebacking core of Ben Leber, E.J. Henderson, and Chad Greenway, and a secondary that was fairly decent featuring Cedric Griffin, Antoine Winfield, and Chris Cook. Now let us take a look at the roster going into this year.
The Vikings aren’t more experienced or exactly as talented as they were that year, but this roster has a few things that the 09 roster didn’t have. That would be Youth, more speed, endurance, strength, and agility. This roster is just more athletic that that roster. They need experience for sure, but the high potential of this roster gives me a warm an fuzzy feeling, that will not only have the Vikings competitive this year, but going forward for years to come. With Christian Ponder at QB, this will be his 3rd year in the league and 2nd year as true starter. The Vikings last year had basically no weapons at receiver, once harvin was out and Ponder was dealt a bad hand. Now, that’s not to say that he himself isn’t without blame, since his play wasn’t anything to brag about either. He has a lot to prove his critics wrong this year. He now has, unlike last year, a better receiving core to work with, so no more excuses for Mr. Ponder. it’s time for Ponder to put up, or shut up This year and if he doesn’t improvement, then it would be best to cut him loose and try finding a franchise QB again.
Then we have the the league MVP Adrian Peterson, who believe it or not, is coming back at 100% going into this season. (remember, it is within the 2nd year, after an ACL injury, that a athlete usually comes back at full strength) If last year you were amazed. I have the feeling that Peterson hasn’t shown us anything yet, if he did everything that he did last year at around 85-90%. NFL teams better be wary and afraid Because the human Cyborg is coming back even better then he was last year.
Now the offensive line is quite different from the 2009 team and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unlike the 2009 offensive line, that had mostly vets. This offensive line is much younger. This offensive line is much more athletic. Now sadly, for the athletic advantage that this line has. they have a glaring weakness in size, strength, and mental breakdowns. these weaknesses are greatly shown at both guard positions, (though more at the left side, then the right) Now, thanks to the fact that they have a mobile QB, these weaknesses aren’t so bad, since Ponder can escape pressure and make positive gains either through the air, or with his feet, but hey, This team is a run first team and because this line is so athletic. it also is and was the main reason peterson was able to run his way to within 8 yards of the rushing title. Hopefully this lines pass blocking and strength improve, and I anticipate it will. since this line has been with each other for over a year. The Gelling process for an offensive line is Key for success.Now on to the Tightend position.
Now this is a position of strength, though not like it was in 2009. The Vikings have great receiving tightends, but the blocking part of this Tightend core certainly needs work. Kyle Rudolph is a great receiver and an improving blocker, while his counterpart has been plagued by injury. However, when he was with the Seahawks, he showed that he was a reliable receiving tightend with good hands and route running ability. Hopefully he can show that this year and stay healthy, so that Ponder will have another option in the passing game. Now onto the receivers.
It’s amazing to see how much this core has improved from last years nightmare of receivers. It was hard to watch, when Harvin went down. When you’re receiving options are Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Stephan Burton, Jerome Simpson, and Jarius Wright. With this core of receiver, I don’t even think the greats like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or even Aaron Rodgers could make anything happen. (though Jarius Wright was arguably the best receiver our of this group and Jerome Simpson was hurt most of the time.) Because this core was nothing short of terrible. Not being able to get separation and dropping some of the easiest passes. Now this year however, the Vikings look to be much stronger. with the addition of Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, (who when we drafted him. I was not a big fan, but hope he turns out and plays to his high potential) the return of Jerome Simpson (hopefully he can stay healthy) Jarius wright, Greg Childs, Rodney Smith, and Chris Summers. During training camp, with the great amount of competition. it will be fun to watch and see who makes the team. With this receiving core. Ponder has no excuses like I said earlier. He has the weapons, but will he be able to get the ball to these weapons? Only time will tell. Now for the defense.
The defense as a whole is what has me truly excited for this season. This defense is young, and talented for the most part, with very high potential to be something special. Now, as much as it pained me to see Antoine Winfield get cut. This team is still in a good place in the secondary with: Harrison smith and Jamarcus Stanford/Mistral Raymond at the safety positions, then at corner they have a strong and fairly deep depth with the addition of Corner back Xavier Rhodes in the 1st round of this years draft, Chris Cook, Josh Robinson in the Nickel, then A.J. Jefferson working in the dime package. This secondary should be quite dangerous going into next year, with two big, physical and fast corners on the outsides, then with the young speed demon Josh Robinson, who showed promise last year in his rookie season. Will be exciting to watch this much improved secondary play. Now for the Linebacker position.
The Linebacker position isn’t as strong as I would like it to be and is the biggest question mark on this Defense. How will Erin Henderson adapt to switching from the will linebacker position to playing the Middle linebacker position? who will be the Will side linebacker? The only strong player in this core as of right now,(training camp will give a better picture of the strength and depth of this core) has got to be Chad Greenway. He will have really have to lead his fellow Linebackers and get them up to speed, with the coaching staff. With so many questions marks. This is the biggest worry for me, but I suppose no team is without weak spots. Hopefully I’ll have been worrying for nothing and this core turns out to be gold. Now last but not least. Lets take a look at the defensive line.
The defensive line is looking to be pretty strong, from a pass rush perspective, but in terms of being able to stop the run. I have my doubts. The defensive line consists of Jared Allen, Letroy Guion, Kevin Williams, Brian Robinson, Sharrif Floyd, Christian Ballard, Everett Dawkins and Fred Evans. Now, when I look at the Vikings defensive ends and defensive tackles, I see a defensive end group that should be great attacking the passer and should be fine against the Run. However, for the defensive tackle position. I see this core being also great in pass rushing, however, I also see a group that will be susceptible to the running game (especially up the middle) since they don’t really have a guy that can plug up the middle and play the nose effectively. Hopefully, if the Vikings decide to play Sharrif Floyd and Kevin Williams together, Since it should amend this deficiency somewhat, but at this point, (Since training camp will show us a clearer picture of what these players can do) runs up the middle could be the Kryptonite for this defense.
Now, with a rundown of each position. The Youth, intensity, speed, strength, agility, endurance, and overall talent of this years team has me very excited. Now I don’t think they will put up similar numbers offensively as to when Favre was here in 2009, (unless Ponder plays at an elite level) but this team could be a dangerous force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. The Vikings aren’t going to be a team that will beat you by scoring 30+ points a game. That’s not how they do things. But thanks to the revamped receiving core and a 100% Adrian Peterson, this team should be able to score enough points to win games and a defense that should drive offensive coordinators crazy and keep opposing offenses from scoring points, (excluding the question marks at the nose position, How will Erin Henderson adapt to switching to the Middle? and who will be the new Will side Linebacker? Training camp will give us a better answer) The Vikings future for the 2013 season looks very promising. I cant wait!!!! Football season cant get here fast enough.