Quarterly Report

Sorry about not getting to the weekly Stock Market Report this week  Honestly, it's getting pretty tough to write the same things week in and week out:  Adrian Peterson is awesome, Donovan McNabb isn't, Bernard Berrian is invisible, Percy Harvin isn't, Michael Jenkins is pretty reliable.  First half is freakishly good save the Kansas City game, second half is freakishly bad, no exceptions.

So where are we one quarter of the way into the season?  Oh, I know that at 0-4, for all intents and purposes there's no chance the Vikings are going to the playoffs, so I thought it might be a good idea to do a long term prospectus on the state of the franchise and see who to keep and who to let go as we use the remainder of this year to set up for future years.  So let's break down the franchise, position by position, and see where we stand.

After the jump.

Quarterback:  The easiest decision to make four games in.  Cut Donovan McNabb, insert Ponder, and don't look back.  Cut McNabb?  Yes, cut him. Look, at the end of the day, football is a business, and I get that we're dealing with human beings.  But McNabb expects to be the starter, and if he isn't, he has a reputation, unfounded or not, that his attitude is less than professional when he's not the starter.  The McNabbsigning was worth a shot.  It didn't work, so it's time to move on and look to the future.

Running Back:  Probably the strongest performer so far in the first quarter.  If there's a beef I have, it's not integrating Gerhart more into the game plan.  Gerhart's strength is getting the ball in the flat on a swing pass, and they've maybe done that three or four times all year.  When they do insert him, it never feels like it's the right time.  Kind of a vague criticism, I know, but are you picking up what I'm throwing down?  I mean, it seems they bring in Gerhart right when AP seems to be getting into a rhythm.  I've got nothing concrete in terms of 'facts' or 'evidence' to back me up; it's just my own personal eye test.

Receivers:  I'm putting out a strong 'buy' for Kyle Rudolph. He's getting better and better with each passing game, and he has soft hands to go with surprising speed.  As much as I like Visanthe Shiancoe, I think Rudolph will replace him next year, and I'm okay with that.  I'm giving a solid 'buy' to MIchael Jenkins and Percy Harvin.  Jenkins has been a very good pickup for the Vikings, and Harvin is, well, Harvin.  And it's long past time to sell Bernard Berrian.  The Vikings passing attack, as pedestrian as it is, actually gets worse when the Vikings target Berrian to catch a pass.  And when Devin Aromoshadu makes more plays in one half of one game than you've made all year, it's not a sale, it should be a fire sale.

Offensive Line:  Let's look at some overall rankings from the guys at Pro Football Focus:

PLAYER

Overall

Run Block

Pass Block

Phil Loadholt, RT

50 (Out of 70)

3/70

69/70

Charlie Johnson, LT

64/70

40/70

60/70

Steve Hutchinson, LG

26/67

39/67

23/67

Anthony Herrera, RG

54/67

50/67

63/67

John Sullivan, C

7/34

5/34

22/34

Keep Hutch and Sully, ditch everyone else.  The line has been an issue for three years now, and nothing has been done to seriously try to upgrade it since Steve Hutchinson was signed in 2006.  I was willing to give the line the benefit of the doubt due to the myriad of injuries last year, but I think four full games is a large enough sample size to see that Phil Loadholt, Anthony Herrera, and Charlie Johnson need to go.  Steve Hutchinson only has one or two years left, but he looks solid after battling back injuries last year.  At this point, does it hurt to put in DeMarcus Love at RT to see what he can do?

Defensive Line:  Back to the charts and some PFF numbers!

Player

Overall

Rush

Run

Jared Allen, DE

8/64

13/64

21/64

Brian Robison, DE

3/64

9/64

13/64

Kevin Williams, DT

13/77

41/77

4/77

Letroy Guion, DT

18/77

18/77

18/77

Remi Ayodele, DT

66/77

48/77

68/77

Couple of surprising things here, namely Brian Robison and Letroy Guion.  Robison has done very well so far as a   starter...the guy he replaced, Ray Edwards, is 61st overall.  Four games in, that has turned out to be a good move in letting him go.  So I was wr-wr-...wro-wro-...wrong about keeping Edwards.  Jared Allen has been the defensive equivalent of Adrian Peterson so far this season, so the end position will be solid for the next few years. 

As far as the tackle position is concerned, Guion has been impressive so far, but Ayodele has been a disappointment.  Christian Ballard is hovering at Ayodele-like numbers, but I like him long term.

Linebacker:  Erin Henderson has been a good replacement over Ben Leber, coming in ranked 6th overall.   Chad Greenway, who just signed a long term extension, is 39th overall.  Out of 44.  And Greenway is last at pass coverage, dead last...but 13th at defending the run.  I like Greenway, but the Vikings need to find a way to limit his exposure as a pass defender.  EJ Henderson is starting to slip a little, and the Vikings will need to find his replacement in the next year or two.

Defensive Backs:  Antoine WInfield is the best CB in the NFL, and Cedric Griffin is better than league average, coming in at 34th out of 95.  The Vikings have a solid CB tandem, and although Chris Cook is 60th, he's better this season than he was last year, and is noticeably better.  At safety, Husain Abdullah is doing okay, but the other position is a black hole. 

Overall, the VIkings are doing a good job, for the most part, in finding guys on defense to replace guys that leave via free agency or retirement.  Brian Robison has been a good replacement for Edwards, Erin Henderson has stepped up in place of Ben Leber, and Letroy Guion has done a good job at taking over for Pat Williams.

It's on offense, though, that the big problem lies, especially on the offensive line.  But we already knew that.  John Sullivan, although better this year, is a downgrade from Matt Birk, and Bryant McKinnie's weight issues aside, Charlie Johnson is not an upgrade. Steve Hutchinson only has a couple years left, and with Herrera and Loadholt two of the worst players in the league at their respective positions, they'll need almost a complete overhaul on the line, save for Sullivan.

0-4 isn't the ideal place to be, but the Vikings aren't as far off from being a good team than we might think. They're going to need to revamp the offensive line, which has gone neglected for too long, and Christian Ponder can't be another Tarvaris Jackson, but they're close.

Just not this year, I'm afraid.

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