Okay, the debate in the comments section of yesterday's game wrap-up has gotten to the point where I think I need to make a stronger case.
This coming April, the Minnesota Vikings will have the highest draft choice that they have had in a quarter of a century. It is guaranteed to be a top-six choice in the draft, and the Vikings haven't drafted higher than seventh since taking Chris Doleman at #4 in 1985. Apparently the distraction of bright, shiny objects like Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, and Robert Griffin III have people under the impression that all the Minnesota Vikings have to do in order to be great again is to dump Christian Ponder and draft one of those three quarterbacks.
I don't understand it. And believe me, I've tried to understand it. . .I just don't.
Yes, Ponder looked bad against the Saints yesterday. The thing is, the Saints really didn't do anything special. They had two specific tenets to their game plan:
-Rush five guys on pretty much every play, because the Minnesota Vikings can't block it, and
-Take away Percy Harvin, because the Minnesota Vikings don't have one other receiver capable of beating an NFL-caliber cornerback one-on-one on even a semi-regular basis.
That's what New Orleans did. That's all New Orleans needed to do. That's all any team needs to do against this team right now.
Quarterback should be so ridiculously far down the list of priorities for this team right now that it shouldn't even be a consideration. After the jump, I'll break this down further.Offensive Line
One of the things I heard Paul Allen and Pete Bercich say a lot during the broadcast yesterday is that Ponder appeared to have happy feet. Well, you know something? Of course he does. Behind this offensive line, wouldn't you? Christian Ponder dropped back to pass 35 times on Sunday (31 pass attempts and four sacks). Go back and re-watch the game. Count how many times Ponder had the opportunity to actually set his feet and survey the field. You won't need all of your fingers on one hand to accomplish it.
This offensive line is terrible, folks, and it's readily apparent to anybody that wants to pay attention. In today's National Football League, the left tackle position is every bit as important as the quarterback position. The Vikings' starting left tackle is Charlie Johnson.
Pop quiz. . .of the other 31 National Football League teams, please list one that Charlie Johnson would be the starting left tackle for. Not ten, not five, not even three. . .just one. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Okay, time's up, and the odds are pretty good that you have a blank piece of paper in front of you, because Charlie Johnson, quite simply, would not be the starting left tackle for any other team in the National Football League. Not a one. Any quarterback is going to get blasted behind this offensive line, and the offensive line most certainly needs to be addressed before wasting a second straight first-round pick on a quarterback.
Pop quiz question number two. . .outside of Percy Harvin (and maybe Michael Jenkins, who is currently on IR), name one receiver on the Minnesota Vikings' roster that would even see the field for any other team in the NFL. Not start. . .see the field. Again, I'll wait.
Again, your piece of paper should be blank, unless you're really of the impression that Devin Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo, and Emmanuel Arceneaux are these super duper mega talents that Christian Ponder simply isn't utilizing. Given these deficiencies, the fact that Christian Ponder's TD-to-INT ratio is at the break-even mark is freaking remarkable. But I haven't even gotten to the worst part of this team.
Yesterday, Drew Brees completed 32-of-40 passes for 412 yards and five touchdowns. He became just the sixth player in NFL history to throw for four hundred yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions in a game.
And didn't play the last twelve minutes of the fourth quarter.
If Sean Payton had wanted Brees to throw for six hundred yards and seven touchdowns, he could have, and there wouldn't have been a damn thing that the Vikings could have done about it. Because this might be the worst secondary in Vikings' history. Worse than the Willie Teal years. . .worse than the Wasswa Serwanga/Robert Tate years. . .worse than any collection of secondary players in the 51 seasons that the Minnesota Vikings have been playing football.
Of all the current defensive backs on the Vikings roster, I can't think of a single one that should feel confident that they're even going to be on the team next season, let alone playing a significant role. That may sound like hyperbole, but I'm really not sure that it is. I mean, I don't count Antoine Winfield in that, because he's done for the year, but really. . .and nobody's a bigger Winfield fan than I am. . .the guy turns 36 before camp next season. How long can you rely on him?
Chris Cook? The odds are just as good that he'll be in prison in Week One of the 2012 NFL season than they are that he'll be in the NFL. Husain Abdullah? Possibly, but now he's fighting a concussion, and you can never really gauge how well a guy is going to come back from that. Outside of that, there is not one guy in this secondary that should be under the impression that their job is secure. Hell, right now our best defensive back. . .by a significant margin. . .is Benny Sapp, a guy that was watching games at home on his couch three weeks ago.
Not surprisingly, there is a great prospect at each of those positions in the 2012 NFL Draft. There's an amazing wide receiver talent in Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, an outstanding cornerback prospect in LSU's Morris Claiborne, and a great offensive line talent in USC's Matt Kalil. That's where Minnesota's attention should be focused.
Let me put it this way. . .if you looked at the 2012 Draft for the Minnesota Vikings like it was a car, Matt Kalil would be the seat belts. Morris Claiborne would be the brakes. Justin Blackmon would be the accelerator. You know. . .things that you need.
A quarterback would be the super-sweet subwoofer that goes in the trunk. Sure, it might be nice and impress all the folks at the mall and everything, but you sure as hell don't need it.
Quite frankly, at this point, I sincerely hope that Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley and Robert Griffin III all make the decision to go back to college. Why? So that the Minnesota Vikings don't waste a top-six (and, likely, top-three) overall selection on something that they simply don't need. There are too many other holes, too many other problems, and too many other issues to worry about to dump a rookie quarterback after he's made eight starts on a terrible team because you're under the impression that the new flavor of the week is the next big thing.