The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Minnesota Vikings
Music to listen to: Controversy by Prince
I could have chosen Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, Lets Go Crazy, 1999, Diamonds and Pearls, Get Off, 7 and countless others but I’m sticking with one of his earlier hits.
Current State: If you’re reading this, you obviously know who Brett Farve is and have a polarizing opinion of him.
His media coverage annoys me but you can’t deny the fact that he was one of the five best players in the NFL and led his team to the NFC Championship Game.
Farve is back for another season but has several things working against him. First, he’s a year older and you have to expect him to slow down at some point. His struggles with his ankle is the first sign of this.
An even bigger issue is him losing two of his three best offensive weapons. Wide receiver Sidney Rice just had hip surgery and is expected to miss at least half of the season and running back/receiver Percy Harvin has a migraine condition that can affect him for his entire career.
The good news is that running back Adrian Peterson is back along with one of the best offensive and defensive lines in football.
The bad news is that New Orleans is still better and Green Bay is coming to catch the Vikings in a major way.
Plus Brad Childress is still the head coach. I’ll get to him later.
Biggest Offseason Change: The coaching staff is in tact and nearly every one of the top players from last year is back accept for Chester Taylor taking more money and going to Chicago.
Taylor’s departure actually highlights a significant potential chink in Minnesota’s armor. Second-round draft pick Toby Gerhart may not be the complete running back that Peterson, and honestly, who really is, but he will play a major role as the backup to the All-Pro, especially in the goal line because of Peterson’s fumbling issues.
An offseason change that didn’t happen was an upgrade to the offensive line, which outside of left guard Steve Hutchinson and left tackle Bryant McKinnie struggled at points last year.
Uniform Grade: People tend to be hit or miss with the purple but I like it. The modern version of the home jersey was an excellent upgrade over the older versions of the uniform Grade: B
Best Player: Peterson is the most talented running back in football, even more than Tennessee’s Chris Johnson. However, Johnson has taken the mantle of best running back in football for several reasons.
First, Peterson seems slower than when he first entered the league. He’s still fast but that aspect of his game isn’t elite anymore.
Peterson still runs with power but the fumbling issues have cost the Vikings on many occasions and that is something to be aware of.
Most Important Player: We know that the Vikings are going to score points but if they want to win a Super Bowl, the defense has to play at a high level.
That’s why I’m going to say that the most important player is right defensive end Jared Allen, along with the rest of the defensive line, tackles Kevin Williams, Pat Williams and left end Ray Edwards.
The reason that the line is so important for the defense is that the linebackers are average and the secondary has a lot of questions to answers. To compensate for these issues, the defensive line must get pressure on the quarterback and it doesn’t hurt the Viking to have the best end in the NFL.
The Williams crew also helps the linebackers out with its run stopping ability.
Best Case: Everything that happened last year accept a victory in the NFC title game to reach the Super Bowl.
Worst Case: The Saints prove that they are still superior to the Vikings. Green Bay catches up to them and wins the NFC North. Farve regresses. The defensive line isn’t able to cover up the issues of the rest of the defense. The receiving unit can’t stay healthy. Minnesota barely reaches the playoffs.
Coaching: While I’m not as critical of Childress as it seems many Vikings fans are, I can see the issues that they have with him.
His coddling of Farve may ultimately have a negative effect on the overall morale of the team. The head coach’s clock management skills could use major improvement and the offensive play calling has been uninspiring at times.
However, he has improved his win total each of his four seasons in Minnesota and did take the team to the NFC title game last season.
First memory of team: I really didn’t follow the Vikings as a kid but did like John Randle because he wore his eye black in a cool way and Randy Moss was a monster when he first entered the league. You really had to be there when he first came into the league in 1998 to truly appreciate what you were seeing.
Schedule: The Vikings will have to deal with Chicago, Green Bay and Detroit in the division.
The home games are against Miami, Dallas, Arizona, Buffalo and the New York Giants. The away games are at New Orleans, New York Giants, New England, Washington and Philadelphia.
City Nicknames: City of Lakes, Mill City and Twin Cities are the options.
Fantasy Focus: Peterson is a lock to be a top-five overall fantasy pick. Rice would have been a nice pick if he didn’t get hurt.
Overall Outlook: The Vikings haven’t gotten worse but its competition has certainly gotten better. They still may win the NFC North but a trip to the Super Bowl isn’t likely.
Final Record: 10-6
Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews:
New England Patriots
New York Jets
San Diego Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs
New York Giants
Green Bay Packers