The Vikings 2013 offense will be better without being much different than it was last year. The obvious needs were for wide receivers and a backup QB. With Jennings & CP84 newly added, Wright improved, Simpson healthy, and Joe Webb moved to WR and red zone specialist, WRs were addressed. Add Childs and Rodney Smith in development and that cupboard is definitely not bare. At QB they signed Cassel and kept MBT. Not quite Steve Young, but better than last year. The line, TEs, and 28 remain the same, and Felton will be back for the London game.
Ponder will be better this year for several reasons. Experience, an improved receiving corps, and his own admission that his arm feels stronger than it has since his college years' surgery. And he doesn't have to improve much to make a positive impact. Look - if all Ponder does is eliminate the chamber of horrors type outings from his repertoire, most defenses (GB, Detroit, maybe an aging and depleted Bears' unit, and for sure the NFC East defenses) are going to have all they can handle even with the Purple's run-first throw short conservative attack. But enough about the offense.
Last year in the tough road losses late and close, at Indy, DC, Seattle, and GB, the defense could not stop the ball or take it away or keep the opposition from scoring to win, like at Indy, or to put the game out of reach in the other three contests. At GB the Pack held the ball in the 4th quarter for 11 (ELEVEN!) minutes w a 6 point lead before they bumped it up to 9 to close it out. In short, while it can be argued with facts and stats and eyeball gouging visions of inadequacy (at DC and GB particularly) that better QB play would have made a substantial difference in all of those outcomes, the defense failed in those games, too.
Now, here comes the good part. With the two first-round picks the Vikings went into the draft with they took the two best defensive-side players on the board. In fact, by adding Floyd and Rhodes and the Desmond Bishop FA signing, and let's add the Mauti flyer because I think he's going to make a positive contribution before this season gets too far along, no team in the NFL improved their defense at all three levels - line, linebackers, and secondary - as much as the Vikings. And that multi- level improvement will reveal itself with takeaways and stops in games late and close at home and especially on the road against quality opponents.