As an avid Vikings fan since 1980, I spend most offseasons suffering silently about the past year and looking forward to the coming year with a kind of nervous hope. But this year, for the first time, I am going to get it all off of my chest in hopes of avoiding a future filled with the heavy combination of anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs. Three key mistakes were made this offseason that I believe will derail the Vikings season before it starts. I mean, I want to feel excited about the young players that were picked up this year to replace some departing veterans, but I just can't seem to do it.
The first mistake that the team made was not resigning E.J. Henderson. I know that everyone is saying that E.J. lost a step after the broken femur, but I just don't see anyone on the roster that can do a better job than he could and he is still out there as a free agent. The absense of a good middle linebacker will be a major handicap going into the season and will make the defense look much worse than it is. In addition, he would be another great veteran leader for a young defense looking to improve.
The second major mistake that the team made was to let Cedric Griffin get away. Again, everyone says that he lost a step or two since the knee surgeries but I point out that recovery from knee surgery often takes more than one year, especially when that year is without a full offseason due to the strike. I believe that Cedric still has it and everyone will see that when he plays for the Redskins this season. If he gets his legs back this year, we could have had 2 very solid corners instead of one aging veteran who hasn't played a whole season in quite some time and a couple of young rookies who may or may not do any better than Benny Sapp was last year to surround Chris Cook. Let's be honest with ourselves, our current roster lacks some depth at DB. I know everyone is excited about the young draftees, but I just don't see them making much of an impact this year. (See the Detriot Lions).
The final mistake that the team made was failing to improve sufficiently at the WR position. Say what you will, but I don't see a decent starting receiver on this team outside of Percy Harvin. Everyone is high on Jerome Simpson, but nothing guaranteed there. Stephen Burton, I believe could make an impact this year as well. Other than that, nothing special here. This is where I would like to see Joe Webb. The worst thing the Vikings can do is to keep him burried behind Christian Ponder at QB. The guy is electrifying as a football player whereever he plays. On top of his skill set, he has a confidence about him that gets the whole team rallying around him. NFL analysts always talk about intangibles, this guy has that. I cannot understand why you would keep a guy like that at backup quarterback. Sage Rosenfels can handle that position just fine.
Reading the predictions about the upcoming season, I agree that the Vikings will not have a great year this coming year, but it is not because they lack talent or the ability to win. I do like the move to get younger and I believe that is something the team has always lacked. If you look at the great teams around the league that have been good for years, they have a great system of balancing the young players, veterans, and aging superstars (insert the New England Patriots here); while the Vikings have always tried to put the best team on the field they could, even if that meant having too many veterans around. So overall, I do like what they are doing, I just think they are underestimating the value of having the young players learn behind veterans instead of just throwning them out to the wolves.
To me these are the glaring weaknesses on our beloved Vikings team and I just don't see how the front office missed improving these areas. If anyone has any other observations or better ideas I would like to hear them.