August 2011 update: Vikings sign McNabb! First part of my predictions has come true. The rest are sure to follow!
In 1961, a twenty-one-year-old Fran Tarkenton took the field for the Minnesota Vikings as their starting QB. He immediately started scrambling around the backfield, thrilling Vikings fans…until 1966. After that season, due to conflicts with Coach Norm Van Brocklin, Tarkenton was traded to the New York Giants, beginning a 45 year quest to try and figure out how to replace him. [Inexplicably, Tarkenton was traded after Van Brocklin was fired and replaced by Bud Grant. Huh?]
Initially, things went well. Joe Kapp took over for the 1967 season and performed quite admirably, culminating with a Super Bowl appearance after the 1969 season. After the losing effort in the Super Bowl, the Vikings decided that hey didn’t want Kapp back,. Over the next two seasons, they turned to Gary Cuozzo, who played adequately in leading the Vikings to two playoff appearances.
Knowing that the team had one of the all-time great defenses, team management knew they needed to get a QB that could lead them deeper into the playoffs and hopefully to the Super Bowl on a consistent basis. This is where the Vikings apparently developed the "Let’s Replace Fran With a Proven, Veteran, Experienced (Read Aging) QB" strategy that they would follow, for the most part, into the twenty-first century. In their first effort to replace Tark with a proven, yet aging QB, they traded for…Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton led the team exceptionally well for the next seven seasons, getting to the NFC Championship Game four times, and the Super Bowl three times (and it would have been 5 and 4 if the refs had called Drew Pearson’s push-off!). During that span, Tarkenton went from age 32 to age 38.
Upon Tark’s retirement after the 1978 season, the Vikings tried again to replace him with a younger QB. Rather than realizing that their strategy to replace the QB who held almost every NFL passing record with a proven, aging, veteran signal-caller, the Vikings went back to the fool’s quest of trying to find a young, up-and-coming QB. For the next fourteen years, the Viks experienced a franchise low in wins in 1984 (3 wins and the S-word (Steckel)), and lost a conference final (1987 – Darin Nelson drops a pass at the goal line in Washington). For the most part, they were, mediocre.
In 1993, Head Coach Dennis Green must have been reading his team history, when he decided to go back to the strategy that had worked so well in the early 1970’s. Enter Super Bowl winner and 34-year-old Jim McMahon. The resumption of the "Let’s Replace Fran With a Proven, Veteran, Experienced (Read Aging) QB" strategy was back in place and has pretty much remained in place since that point (excluding the six year Daunte Culpepper reign and the Tarvaris Jackson experiment). Here’s a list of the "older" Vikings QB’s since 1993 with ages at the start of the season:
1993 – Jim McMahon – 34
1994 – Warren Moon – 37
1995 – Warren Moon – 38
1996 - Warren Moon – 39
1997 – Randall Cunningham – 34
1998 – Randall Cunningham – 35
1999 – Randall Cunningham – 36
2005 – Brad Johnson – 37
2006 – Brad Johnson – 38
2007 – Kelly Holcomb – 34
2008 – Gus Frerotte – 37
2009 - Brett Favre – 40
2010 – Brett Favre – 41
There’s been a lot of Donovan McNabb chatter associated with the Vikings the last few days, so I offer up the first of my predictions. Based on past behavior, and the inability of the Vikings to find a competent, sustainable, young option at QB, I predict that the Vikings QB for the next two seasons will be…
2011 – Donovan McNabb – 34
2012 – Donovan McNabb – 35
And now, I give to you the starting QB’s for the rest of the 20-teens and into the (toothless?) roaring 2020’s:
2013 & 2014
Kerry Colins (ages 41 & 42) – If the older the better is the strategy, let’s go all out! Jeff George wore out his welcome in the 90’s, and George Blanda and Steve DeBerg are doing activities in the rest home, so why not Kerry Collins? Assuming he won’t still be starting in Tennessee.
2015 & 2016
Michael Vick (ages 35 & 36…which now seems pretty young)
Former mobile Eagle QB’s seem to be a preference (Cunningham & presumably McNabb), so Vick will wear the horns in 2015 & 2016.
Peyton Manning (age 41)
Once again, the holder of every NFL passing record will retire a Minnesota Viking (previously Fran Tarkenton and Brett Favre). This is a direct shot at Packer fans as that’s about the only shot I can take at them. That is, until you realize that the aged QB strategy finally works and Collins, Vick and McNabb lead the Vikings to 5 consecutive Super Bowl wins (wake me up when this is over!).
Tom Brady (age 41)
If Peyton can do it at 41, why not Brady?
Jay Cutler (age 36)
Cutler not only brings a refreshing, youthful approach to the Vikings, but brings us back to "fond" memories of the Darth Vader-esque, noodle-armed, former-Bear Jim McMahon slinging passes ten or maybe even fifteen yards downfield.
Matt Ryan (age 35)
Another former Falcon gives it a shot under center for the Viks! Former Falcon? Brett Favre, silly! Favre came in a Falcon, went out a Viking. The rest is a blur.
Mark Sanchez (age 35)
Another former Jet gives it a shot under center for the Viks! Former Jet? Brett Favre, silly! Favre came in a Falcon, had a cup of coffee in New York, and went out a Viking. The rest is a blur.
Drew Brees (age 44)
When Archie Manning played QB for Minnesota in 1983, he was only 34. But he seemed like he was 55, so former-Saint Brees at 44 makes sense here.
2023 & 2024
Aaron Rodgers (ages 40 & 41)
Who else would I end this with? Favre at 40 & 41? Rodgers at 40 & 41? Duh!
There you have it. The bonafide list of signal callers for the Vikings until 2024! It has to work at some point. Doesn’t it?