Over the last couple year or so, I have noticed something when it comes to MN sports. The teams that have a defined leader/leadership team/leading locker-room presence play well, those who don't, don't. I am not as much of a NHL fan, so I am going to be leaving the Wild out of this analysis. I will however talk about the Wolves, Lynx, Twins, and, yes, our Minnesota Vikings. In other words, this is a bit of an analysis on MN sports in general.
While I will eventually get to the Vikings, I thought I would start with a different team. A team in Minnesota that has had recent success is the Minnesota Lynx, and I feel that they are a great example of this philosophy. They have established veterans who have had success who do a good job of giving the rookies success to look up to. These include Janel McCarville, Whalen, Augustus, and Brunson. They also have talented rookies and younger players who have gotten plenty of playing time while giving the Lynx three consecutive trips to the Championship round. These include Monica Wright, Maya Moore, and Devereaux Peters. What the Lynx have here is what many would see as a consistent base for a dynasty. Hell, they are already on the cusp of one, and if they win next year's title, they should be considered one.
Now the Wolves. With their consistent lack of success over the last few years, I have stopped paying as much attention to them as I used to. However, I would say that they have a solid foundation for a good team in Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. While they don't have the playoff appearances to show it, I believe that if they can keep their team healthy (this being the key point) and growing together, there should be a playoff appearance or two within the next four to five years.
Here's where I am going to make more of my point. The Minnesota Twins have, for most of the 21st century, been one of the consistent playoff contenders in baseball. They made the playoffs in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010. A large percentage of these teams were built around of group of scrappy players known by Ozzie Guillen (and myself) as "The Little Piranhas." In other words, they would just keep nibbling away at you and would always find a way to win. These teams prided themselves on good defense, excellent pitching (both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation), and "clutch" hitting, what was often referred to as "The Twins Way." In those seasons, there was usually a talented rookie that came onto the scene and kept the team fresh and going strong. In the last three (and even longer, really) seasons, the Twins have built themselves around veterans hoping that they would be enough to pass the time until the well-publicized rookies like Buxton and Sano start entering the majors. This had led in a large part to the disappearance of the well-known "Twins Way." There has been a lot less emphasis on defense, the Twins can't seem to buy a hit when they need it, and their starting pitching is worse than my High School's. In my heart, I feel like this issue comes down to not having a defined clubhouse leader, and this is much the same in the Vikings.
It has been said several times that the Twins clubhouse isn't one where there are a particular few players who get the rest fired up anymore. Notable examples of this in past Twins clubhouses are guys like Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Luis Rivas, Christian Guzman, Eddie Guardado, and Carlos Gomez. This has led to (a fairly correct assumption in my mind) that the clubhouse has become too "Minnesota Nice" and could use a few characters to get the clubhouse going again. Joe Mauer certainly isn't going to do it, Dozier isn't going to do it, and if one of the starting pitchers did it, I wouldn't take them seriously.
All this about the Twins' situation without a clubhouse leaders leads me to the current situation with the Minnesota Vikings. After listening/watching the last few games, I can honestly say that much the same situation that applies to the Twins right now also applies to the Vikings. Last year, they had a rallying point: Adrian Peterson coming back from his knee surgery. This year, they have been as flat as a model's stomach. Such flat play is especially unacceptable with the momentum that the Vikings had appeared to be entering this year with.
The sad part about the Vikings play so far is, besides the fact that they are 1-5, that they have some really talented parts to work with. I would say that all of these players could start on just about any team in the NFL: Greg Jennings, Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Jerome Felton, John Sullivan, Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Kevin Williams, Chris Cook, Harrison Smith, and Chad Greenway. Those eleven players make up, as far as I can tell, most of the longest-tendered Vikings players (with a few exceptions). Right now, I can't see and I haven't heard of a single player stepping up like Antoine Winfield did last year and telling these players to get their heads out of the clouds and shape up. There is way too much talent on this team to be this effing bad.
This also applies to the Vikings coaches. While I am sure everyone knows that Priefer is a bit of a screamer, it doesn't help much when your special teams coach is the only one. And with the average performance of the special teams this year, it seems like he isn't helping as much this year as he did last year. I don't think I have ever seen Frazier raise his voice, and over time, a team can start to tune a guy who is as soft-spoken as him out. Whatever Alan Williams and Bill Musgrave are like, they don't seem to be having much of an impact on the players as they have.
Going off of that, both Williams and Musgrave really should be accounting for the s%$t going on with their respective charges. There should be several players on both teams going up to those coaches, going, "Coach, what exactly was the f%$$%g point of that gameplan? The Giants are giving up more points than any other team in this league, and we don't even manage an offensive touchdown? Really? Coach, we have decided that YOU need to turn in your playbook. Don't try and mess with our offense/defense again."
Hopefully Frazier/Speilman/Wilf sees some of what is going on and can find it in their hearts to cut these embarrassments to Vikings football and sign up some real coordinators.