Okay. . .so this team is 2-7, would be drafting fifth overall if the season were to end today (thank you, rest of the NFC North, for hosing us on the whole "strength of schedule" thing), and after last night, we're all a little depressed/angry/whatever.
This begs the question. . .what, exactly, does this team have to build on?
I'm going to attempt to spin this in as positive a manner as I can because, quite frankly, we aren't set at a whole hell of a lot of positions. Let's do it one at a time.
Quarterback - I still firmly believe in Christian Ponder. Why? Because a) at this point, he still appears to have the goods, and b) at this point, really, what choice is there? If you don't believe in the guy, then we're infinitely more hosed than we might already, realistically, be. I'm still fine with them cutting Donovan McNabb right now if they want to. Joe Webb? Nice backup, developmental type guy, but I'm kind of beginning to fear that's about it.
Running back - By God, if there's any position on the field that we're set at, this is it. Adrian Peterson is the best in the world at what he does, Toby Gerhart is a pretty good second option, Lorenzo Booker is your change of pace guy. Even Caleb King on the practice squad could potentially be solid. No issues here.
Wide receiver - I love me some Percy Harvin. Really, I do. He's dynamic, he's a playmaker. . .he's not a #1 wide receiver in the National Football League. Maybe I'm wrong, but with the potential injury concerns and everything else, I don't know if he can be the top guy in a successful offense. Michael Jenkins is a solid possession guy and would be an outstanding #3 guy, but in this offense he's pretty much the de facto #1, which is bad. Aromashodu has some potential, and I've heard that Greg Camarillo is a really nice person. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Tight end - I might be wrong on this, but I'm pretty sure Visanthe Shiancoe is a free agent after this year, and if that's the case I wouldn't expect him to be back next season. I love me some Kyle Rudolph, and it would be interesting if the Vikings could get another athletic tight end to create match-up problems the way the New England Patriots do with Ron Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Maybe that's what Bill Musgrave is going for, I don't know. And there's always Jim Kleinsasser, the people's champion, who can stay a Viking for as long as he damn well pleases, as far as I'm concerned.
Offensive line - For an offensive tackle, Charlie Johnson is a pretty good guard. No way should that guy be starting at left tackle in the National Football League, but I think he has a place. Steve Hutchinson is a warrior, to be sure, but he's getting up in age and is having back issues. John Sullivan might be starting to get it, which would be helpful. For all of Anthony Herrera's Rick Ross-ness, I think the two knee injuries are really taking a toll on him. Phil Loadholt is maddeningly inconsistent. . .I thought he'd really be ready to take a step forward after fighting injuries last year, and he has as far as run blocking is concerned, but he still has no shot against most speed rushers. The youngsters here (Brandon Fusco and DeMarcus Love) could add a little something, and I would like to see both of them get extended action over the last seven games.
Defensive line - Another spot we don't have that many issues at. Kevin Williams showed last night that he's still a very good defensive tackle, and if Jared Allen isn't the NFL's best pass rusher, you'll find his name somewhere in the top two. Brian Robison has fallen off a bit after a quick start, but has still been good for the most part. Christian Ballard is showing some promise, and Everson Griffen is lining up all over the place. . .granted, it might not always look like he knows what he's doing, but he could be a real asset going forward. (Seriously, who uses a guy that size as a gunner on punt returns?) Remi Ayodele will be gone after the season (if not sooner), as will Fred Evans, in all likelihood. Letroy Guion could still develop into something, but he might be running out of chances as well.
Linebacker - I want Chad Greenway to be great. . .partially because he's played really hard for the Vikings over the time he's been here, and partially because. . .well, the Vikings damn sure paid him like he's great. But so far. . .I don't know. He's just not. Doesn't seem that way, anyway. We love E.J. Henderson around here, too, but he might be at the end of the line. His knee keeps giving him issues, and his snaps just continue to decrease. Erin Henderson is seeing more snaps every game, and while he gives top effort all the time (as far as I can tell), he might just be too physically limited. There aren't a whole lot of other guys that really see snaps at LB for the Vikings. . .Henderson/Henderson/Greenway are the starters, Erin and Greenway play in the nickel, and Greenway is the dime guy. Maybe that's part of the issue, I don't know.
Cornerback - Hoo boy, let's take a look, shall we?
Antoine Winfield - Done for the season, and possibly his career, but almost certainly done with the Minnesota Vikings
Chris Cook - If you have to ask, you haven't been paying attention.
Cedric Griffin - Playing on two reconstructed knees is heroic. . .unfortunately, there aren't hero points in the NFL.
Marcus Sherels (good catch, folks) - Looks promising, but hasn't been tested in anything more than a nickel/dime situation.
Asher Allen - See Chris Cook, but for different reasons
Brandon Burton - Rookie, hasn't played much
U-G-L-Y, team ain't got no alibi, it's ugly. In a division with the sort of quarterbacks that this team is in, this is pretty much the cyanide in the purple Kool-Aid. They say you need three corners to be an effective defense in the NFL. . .if we could slap all of our cornerbacks together Voltron-style, I'm not sure we'd come up with one.
Safety - Tyrell Johnson still continues to get paid, inexplicably, Jamarca Sanford has been up and down, for the most part, Husain Abdullah can't seem to keep his oblongata injury-free, and Mistral Raymond is a rookie with potential, from all accounts. Sadly, you'd be hard-pressed to find a worse safety situation in the NFL than this one, potential or not.
Special Teams - I have no problem with Chris Kluwe, and Cullen Loeffler is still pretty awesome (if you can measure long snappers in degrees of awesome, I guess). Ryan Longwell, though, I'm not sure about. If he's kicking indoors, fine. But he won't always be kicking indoors.
So there you have it. It ain't pretty.
Basically, with the high pick we're going to have in this year's draft. . .and, with all due respect to the Indianapolis Colts, I don't think we're catching them for #1 overall. . .we could basically draft any position but running back or quarterback and not make a mistake. Well, until five years later or so when someone yells OMG YOU TOTALLY PASSED ON (insert guy that we had absolutely, positively no need for at the time here)!
I won't lie to you, people. . .this sucks. And, yet, we shall persevere. Why? Because that's what we do, that's why. And hey, if we somehow finagle a stadium out of this, maybe that can be the thing that starts getting things turned the right way.
It ain't much to hold on to at the moment. . .but, damn it all, it's better than nothing.