i know we're all bummed about the 3-13 season, and there wasn't much good about it. But the darkest time always comes before dawn, and i really think we have a good thing starting. It may be longer than we want, but as the best teams in the league constantly prove time and time again, quick fixes will only get you so far, but the truly great teams have long term answers and took the time to build them. Hell even the Lions were 0-16 3 short years ago. then 2-14, then 6-10 and then made the playoffs. it can be done my friends, it can be done.
Before we get into too much debate through the columns, I want to point out one thing in this list. I'm grading these as of the moment they happened, NOT hindsight. There will be things on this list that didn't work out, and i will specify, but I'm going by how i was feeling when i saw them. Also the time-frame I'm using is from the end of the season 2010 to the end of the season 2011. (I'll also bold my list in case you don't want to read the comments, it's awful long)
10. Hiring of Leslie Frasier - no real surprise here, he's a respected member of the locker room, and even though he made some poor decisions, we can chalk them up as growing pains. Even the great Bill Belichick didn't start out perfect.
9. Frasier setting the tone in the locker room by cutting McKinney - Professional football players not directly involved in the legal battle that was the law suit had one thing to do all off season. STAY IN SHAPE. Sure it didn't work out for us, because the revolving door that was Charlie Johnson didn't pan out, but I think Frasier sent a message to *most of* the locker room that said this will not be tolerated. I think that will pay HUGE dividends in the future.
8. Giving Berrian and McNabb one more chance - I liked both of these moves initially. I thought Berrian might be able to bounce back after two invisible years with the grey fox (we'll get to that in a bit). I thought bringing McNabb in was also a good move, he had connections with the team and the offense, and could provide some veteran leadership. I also thought that both players would want to try to prove something, and have bounce back years trying to lock down bigger deals... which leads me to number 7
7. Cutting Berrian and McNabb - this goes back to number 9, Frasier gave both players a chance, and they didn't take advantage, so he cut them. Some will say it was too little too late, but i really think Frasier is still setting a tone for how his locker room doesn't care. Neither player was cut for their performance - they were cut because they didn't care about their performance. Frasier has now proved a precedent that apathy won't be tolerated.
6. Drafting Christian Ponder - I honestly can say i was one of the few (many) people disappointed that MN took ponder instead of some of the other BPA on draft day. I think that was mainly because I didn't know much about him. I really did want MN to draft him. I just didn't think 12 was where we could have gone. But the more i looked into it the more it made sense, Ponder would have been much higher up the board had he not gotten hurt his Sr. year. He was the MVP of the Senior bowl, and had he had some of the benefits of Andy Dalton or Cam Newton (o-line, receivers), i really think he would have done a lot better
5. Young guys stepping up - it was really great to see how some of our younger guys performed when given the opportunity. I was really nervous when AP went down, but watching Toby run (even though he's about as slow as Jimmy the great) you can see how effective he can be. I hope MN utilizes him next year. Same with Joe Webb. I know people are clamoring for him to be able to start, but in reality, he is very raw as a QB, and the main reason he looked so good, was because teams didn't plan for him. I really wish we would have won the Detroit game, because it was a pretty epic finish, but as the Chicago game showed us, once you figure him out, he's not nearly as effective. But i really think we need to utilize him more, he can be another game changer on an offense with several others. Same way i feel about Kyle Rudolph. Some of the catches he made this year were absolutely ridiculous (it is a shame he wasn't used more)
4. The hiring of Rick Speilman as GM - The triangle of authority was a huge bust, whether it was Speilman, Frasier, or Wilf that the blame should fall, we will never know. but come this year, we should find out really quickly. Now MN has one person in charge, with final say, and there will no longer be any backroom deals with no accountability for poor choices. If it succeeds, Speilman is a hero, if it fails, we can go right to the source.
3. Veterans still having pride - It was a shame Jared Allen didn't get DPOY or the sack title. both were deserved. It was a shame Chicago decided to triple cover him in the 3rd and 4th quarter to not let him near the QB. I'm glad the coaches did everything they could to try to open up people, by blitzing, added pressures, and other packages. He was pretty Amped up, and it's sad that it didn't happen, but he is the blueprint of how veteran players should play, 110% every down no matter what the score record season looks like. AP is the same way, he worked his ass off to come back from a nasty tackle against Oakland, and is already working his ass off to come back from the nasty injury in Washington. I have no doubt that he will come back and start week one (in our annual opening day away game, since we never open the season at home). Also Percy, who's a younger vet, showing everyone that he's scary good and will be for a long time. I hope he's on the field more this year. And i'm going to take this spot to say good bye to Jimmy the Great, it has been a fun ride, you were one of the most under appreciated guys in the league, and hopefully someone will finally recognize you for it. I can't remember how many times i watched with awe and horror when you actually got to catch a pass and run down the field, and also jumping for joy when you'd lay out a linebacker for AP to take one to the house, you will be sorely missed, and never replaced
2. NO BRETT FAVRE DRAMA - i almost put this one number 1. i was very close. I appreciate everything the silver fox did for our team. the 09 season was nothing short of magical. I do not blame Mr. Favre for that ugly interception, there is plenty of blame to go around in that game. Had he not been running on a broken ankle, he may have run out of bounds for Longwell to win it for us (but w/ MN's luck, Longwell would have still missed and we would have had a repeat of the Anderson miss) but alas. The circus has passed, we didn't need the added press, we didn't need the will he won't he come back speech, it is time to move on. GB no longer appreciates the Silver Fox, but i think our purple family will appreciate you. But i think everyone knew it was time, and everyone did the right thing.
Which now leads us to number 1.
drum roll please.......
CHRIS KLUWE - if you don't have twitter, i suggest you get it just for Chris Kluwe. He has been talked about time and time again on this board, with a love/hate relationship from some people. But he's a voice of reason in an all too politically correct world. He will call out anyone who he feels is wrong, whether it be a douchepickle, a fuckwad, a whiteboard or many of the other countless things he's done. He is always precise, and backs up any of his comments with a carefully thought out argument. And he brings light to things that otherwise aren't talked about. Football players have interests outside of football. He enjoys his band, playing video games, and his family (some of the funnier tweets are about his daughter). He's a polarizing figure in the locker room, but for the most part, he's accurate. I also get the feeling he actually appreciates his fans and followers - i've sent him several tweets and have always gotten replies from him. you don't see that often.
There you have it, my 10 favorite things about this horrible season, agree, disagree, do whatever you do in the comments, baseball season started today, and free agency starts in a little more than 3 weeks. until then, we didn't have much to be proud of last year, but we can still be proud of our team ...