Witnessing what is being built in Minnesota this offseason so far appears nothing short of special. Add in a new stadium on the horizon and Minnesota recently being awarded a Super Bowl and things are certianly looking up. After the abysmal 2013 season, this offseason could not get here soon enough and has been more entertaining in many regards. This offseason is clearly different though even with a couple of solid previous ones leading up to this offseason. This year a large amount of Vikings' fans have been actually getting what they wanted. How often does that actually happen in an offseason for fans? Well for Minnesota fans, not very.
In Minnesota we waved good bye to a historically bad coaching staff, and welcomed what looks on the surface to potentially be the best since Bud Grant with a couple holdovers(Priefer, Davidson, Stewart) that appeared to be the only ones on the previous staff that were actually qualified to be on an NFL sideline. Then in free agency Minnesota acquired Linval Joseph and Captain Munnerlyn to give us new versions of previous great Vikings Pat Williams and Antone Winfield. Corey Wooten was also a solid under the radar signing that does not get much credit the will bring solid depth to the the defensive end position. Jared Allen and Kevin Williams moved on to make room for Everson Griffen and Sharif Floyd to have their opportunities potentially starting. And also reeled Matt Cassel back in as an insurance policy going into the draft.
In the 2014 draft Spielman and company may have topped a 2013 draft that topped a very impressive 2012 draft. Adding Anthony Barr, Scott Critchon and Antone Exum to the defense is an impressive, much needed shot of talent. While David Yankee was late round steal that should final remove our offensive line's achillis Charlie Johnson. Johnson will still serve as very good depth, as should an udfa acquisition by the name of "Tiny" Richardson, who once was an early round prospect . Only, I think Richardson will eventually develop into a solid starter. Another gem acquire undrafted was TE AC Leonard; a talented undersized playmaker that should stick around in Minnesota for a while. Between Sugarman and Zimmer; they should help alleviate any attitude problem or knee concerns. Jerrick McKinnon is an interesting wildcard that just might pay off, and he should have every opportunity to win the back up running back job. The competition the rookies will bring should help to push overlooked, yet talented players with a lot of barely tapped potential like Ford, Line, Prater and others.
And of course the prize of the 2014 draft Teddy Bridgewater, the once number one consensus pick for a very long time. Interestingly enough; he fell all the way to the bottom of the first round which made it possible for Minnesota to draft him with their second pick. And more interestingly was how terrible it was waiting the extra two weeks for the draft, yet if it were not for the prolonged waiting period; it is highly unlikely Bridgewater's stock would have had enough time to fall that far. Leading up to the draft there was a lot of talk from many saying they thought Minnesota had to trade up to get Bridgewater(or Manziel) and if they fell to 5 or 6-definitely trade up to secure their quarterback. It is funny how things work out though, after Teddy's pro day Norv Turner was the only coach that I read of that said he thought Bridgewater did fine on his pro day and was not discouraged with his performance. I do not believe in destiny or anything like that, but it sure took a lot of different things to happen for Bridgewater to end up in Minnesota, the destination he felt he would go all along. And it certainly does seem that this quarterback we have now is unlike any other we have had in a very long time.
Many are still not convinced about Teddy or Minnesota. Of course most of the outsiders are more concerned with their favorite teams. Many Vikings fans are so used to being let down they do not expect much from Bridgewater or the team as a whole. But Bridgewater is a winner, and if he is indeed our franchise quarterback he should beat out Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder for the starting job in training camp and be our starting quarterback week one against the Rams. If he does not; I will not give up on him, but will be disappointed, as Cassel and Ponder are both good back ups, but not starters and just about every other team in the league's QB would start over either of them. Bridgewater must beat out what competition is in place, and hopefully by a significant margin to convince his team, as well as the league that he has what it takes to be an elite signal caller in the NFL.
Minnesota has made a lot of very positive moves this offseason, more steps forward by far in one offseason than I have ever seen. This team already had many very talented players that appeared as if they were not being utilized effectively at all the past few years and should flourish under Zimmer, Turner and others, while having the edge as the underdog. Most Vikings fans will be satisfied with a .500 record, but I, like a few others am expecting about a 10 win season that ends in the playoffs, and a competitive team year in and year out. As unrealistic as that may sound to many; I encourage them to look more closely at what is being built in Minnesota.