Finally, we are days away from the kick off the the 2013 regular season, and I for one am very excited, as well as hopeful even with still arguably nearly as many questions now as there where throughout the better part of the off season. It seems everyone again has their own set of predictions again this year and no matter how far they were off last year. (And of course, we the fans should just accept their projections even though all of these guys were way off last year and have no intention whatsoever of putting out there how accurate or inaccurate they were last year, let alone years before that-so why should we even listen to these self proclaimed "experts)." Well, in spite of there still being clearly questions about this 2013 version of the Minnesota Vikings, I believe they will have a very solid year. Now, before I begin; I had my own 'biased' prediction of the Vikings and Adrian Peterson. Now, I felt before the 2012 regular season began that Minnesota would win double digit games and Adrian Peterson would have the best year of his professional career as a Vikings up to last season's point and his second best overall of his entire career when all is said and done, as I thought then and still do now; that this year-2013-will be AD's best year of his career. On top of that I still do think we will see Peterson more and more involved in the passing game, with this season as well being his best statistical performance up to this point and 2014 and 2015; being his best years as far as putting up receiving yards. Time will tell, maybe I will be wrong, or maybe I will be right again.
Now, for this year, as far as the overall team; I believe Minnesota will finish the regular season at 11-5, win at least one play off game and if the the second play off game is played at home in the Metrodome; it will be at least two games. And if it does indeed play out like at-wow-look out, because this will be a dangerous team that could turn the NFC post season upside down. We all will see soon enough though.
So, how could one be so optimistic again about the Vikes? How could everyone else not? There are still two major questions about this team, and they are the quarterback and the offensive coordinator. That does bother me, as it should most Vikings' fans, but in my humble opinion; this team is so loaded from top to bottom; they can compensate as we have all seen them do last year in more than a few games last season. Now, I am expecting improvement from Christian Ponder this year as there was improvement from him last year. The question is how much? And I have heard so much pessimism from so many, but just look at the numbers; Ponder has already proven himself to be at least a # 2-back up quarterback in the NFL and yeah it's not as good as an obvious #1, but that is still nothing to turn your head up to. He has had a lot of help from his team in many situations, he has also been harmed in his growth by poor receivers, poor offensive line play and terrible play calls at vital times without being given the authority or trust to audible out of numerous and obvious bad play calls his entire tenure as the starting Minnesota Vikings' quarterback except once that I have seen. (And by the way, I hope I am wrong about him not being allowed to audible more than once, but don't think so). We also have a big question mark over the head of our offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Now, to his credit, as many of his supporters will point out; he has designed some very good plays. That is true and I agree he has at least had his hand in some great ideas, as far as play designs, but the timing of when a lot of these plays are called with the overall amount of predictability and lack of even slight in game adjustments are unacceptable. This season Musgrave must show as much improvement as most are looking from in Ponder, if not more-much more. Though, history will tell us that we are more likely to see more of the same from what we all saw in 2012, with very slight improvement. Though, I do expect to see a little more than that, and not just based on time going by, bringing forth more continuity, chemistry and trust; it's the obvious fact of having more viable options at the wide receiver positions this year that will help out every other position on the offense and in turn helping out the defense as a whole as well. With the addition of Patterson, Jennings, the maturation of Wright and the position change of Webb to a more natural fit and hopefully a better performance by a healthier Simpson as well. Throw that in with a strong tight end group that was solid last year and should be better this year with an also healthier Carlson and additions of hybrid personnel that also adds to the blocking schemes in Line with the maturation of Ellison. This team has the ability to mask a lot of the deficiencies in the passing game and the obvious number one factor is Adrian Peterson, but there are elite players spread all over this team and this team is built and being built for the long term.
So, what needs to happen? Well, this year, we've already jumped in with both feet and even with all the question marks of if Ponder falters, and yes if he is benched, it will not be for more than the rest of a game; Cassle is not a viable option at #2. But this team will be fine with the current line up that is in place. It is my opinion that the Vikings will start off slow, but steady and really turn it on by mid season and down the stretch as these players are building trust and chemistry with each other. And that is one of the main reasons(the other being Adrian Peterson), why this team will be a dangerous one to meet at the end of the season and in the play offs.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; it's a great me to be a Minnesota Vikings' fan. We all can say this and say that, but we will have to sit back and watch as anything can happen any given Sunday, as we as Vikings' fans know more than virtually any other fan. What's most interesting about this team to me is the identity it will find for itself along the way as this team evolves, and I believe by season's end, even if it were to end in a long shot Super Bowl, which I do not think is as far fetched as everyone else, there will be major changes to this team for the better that will have the biggest influence we have seen in years. I believe Ponder will do moderately better, but in spite of whether he does or not; Rick Spielman will surprise everyone as he is good at and draft a quarterback with an early draft pick and quite possibly a first round pick. I think Ponder will still remain on the team and be asked to battle it out with the newcomer and as the inevitable happens, whether in 2014 or 2015; Christian Ponder will become our back up quarterback and arguably the best #2 in the league. I also do not believe that will be the end of his career as a starter, as some take longer to bloom, but this team must protect it's short and long term future as a consistent contender, not anymore of this once or twice every decade contender. Matt Cassle will be released along with Bill Musgrave. Now, whether Musgrave stay on as a consultant/play designer Idk, but might be a good idea. I do not believe the offense needs to be completely overhauled, but it needs some serious "tweeking" to say the least.
When the Vikings finish the 2013 season as a play off team again, then pick up a few more solid pieces such as a legitimate nose tackle, a linebacker to study under Chad Greenway for a couple years, another pass rushing defensive end, a hands down legitimate offensive guard and an apparent, capable and talented quarterback; all in the football world will take notice and be forced to acknowledge the building of this powerhouse is to say the least 'for real.'