Each Minnesota Vikings season, whether it produces a championship game or a measly three wins, provides us fans with some memorable moments. Looking back on 2011, these are the things I will remember...
-At first, not wanting Donovan McNabb (I favored Matt Hasselbeck). Once we decided on McNabb, however, I was excited that at least we had a veteran behind center. That excitement lasted about two games, and disgust crept in after three or four. A complete lack of mobility and accurate passing (all those balls "in the dirt"...good grief!) proved why the Eagles and Redskins let the former superstar walk. As I write this, it strikes me as hard to believe it was even this season that he was slinging it for us.
-Those early-season losses just killed me, where we would look like a legitimate threat in the first half and then completely implode in the second. This happened for four straight games, I believe. As the old joke goes: "Why is a dollar bill more valuable than the MN Vikings? Because at least you can get four quarters out of it." Ouch.
-The Christian Ponder era begins. Especially, of course, that first GB game where he connected long on the first play of the game. Although suffering from a bit of shell-shock towards the end of the season, I'm still confident that CP7 is our future.
-The enigma that is Joe Webb. After his cameo last season, I wasn't convinced of his team-leading skills. In relieving Ponder on a few different occasions this year, though, he showed enough athletic talent to be valuable to this team. I still don't see him leading us to a SuperBowl or anything like that, but perhaps he can be turned into a Kordell Stewart or Antwan Randle-El type of player.
-Would we have won a game in '11 without Percy Harvin? He is the guy to build our offense around in the coming seasons. An incredible combination of strength, athleticism, speed, and a knack for just getting the job done. All we would need is one guy to complement him and all of a sudden we might be on to something that can score more points.
Finally, and I know this is a sore spot for all of us, but I think I may remember 2011 the most (in a metaphorical way) for finally getting over this...
To paraphrase Rick Pitino's old rant...
"Brett Favre isn't walking through that door..."
"Sidney Rice isn't walking through that door..."
After ghost-walking through a 2010 season trying to recapture the '09 spark that was clear had been snuffed out, 2011 saw us get back on track towards building towards a competitive future. Major questions still remain, for sure, but at least 2011 saw us close Pitino's "door" and start walking away from it towards the future.