I sit here with three different NFL pre-season preview magazines in front of me. Inside of these magazines, the following predictions were made for the Beloved Purple:
Lindy's Pro Football - 4th place, NFC North (no record specified)
Athlon Sports - 4th place, NFC North (no record specified)
Pro Football Weekly - 5-11, 4th place, NFC North
I also have some pre-season power rankings from a few different sites to show exactly what people thought of the Vikings before the season started:
ESPN.com - 25th
SI.com's Peter King - 31st
Pro Football Talk - 30th
There are others floating around out there, too, but you get the general idea. After looking at a lot of these "expert" magazines, you'd think that the Minnesota Vikings had far exceeded everybody's expectations. . .and they have.
With one notable exception.
I also have sitting in front of me the gigantic, 515-page tome known as Pro Football Prospectus 2007, written by the cast of folks at Football Outsiders. The section on the Vikings was written by a man by the name of Ned Macey, who you'll recall the Daily Norseman interviewed during the off-season. The folks over at Football Outsiders had the Vikings projected to win 7.5 games this season. . .well, hey, we've already exceeded that! And if you go back and read my interview with Mr. Macey, you'll see that he pretty much nailed the Vikings' season right on the head.
I don't think the 2007 season qualifies as a "lost season" for the Vikings or anything. The expectations for this team really weren't all that high. . .even Football Outsiders' expectations of a .500 record is hardly pie in the sky. But we do have some questions going into next season, to be sure. And, as sad as it makes me to say it. . .our biggest question mark is still at quarterback. There's part of me that still thinks that Jackson is the answer on some level, but that part is getting smaller and smaller. At the very least, as Pacifist Viking suggests, we need to get a QUALITY veteran backup in here, because the two backup options we have both suck out loud.
The problem with getting a quality veteran backup in here is that any quality veteran that we bring in here is going to assume that they're better than the starter. Seriously, do you think a Chad Pennington or someone like that is going to sign a contract to come in here and "compete" with Tarvaris Jackson for a starting job? Not bloody likely. I don't think there's any chance of that happening.
Also, thanks to the 5-game winning streak, the Vikings have played just well enough to take them out of the race for a "franchise quarterback" in the 2008 draft. There are three highly regarded quarterbacks in this year's draft class. . .Louisville's Brian Brohm, Andre Woodson of Kentucky, and Boston College's Matt Ryan. All three of those players will likely be gone in the first 12-14 picks of the draft. Going into last night, according to the latest projection from Great Blue North, we were sitting in the 21st slot in the draft. Last year, teams that finished 8-8 were selecting in the 16-18 range. But that might not necessarily be the answer either.
The only thing I know about what's best for the Vikings right now is that I have absolutely no idea about what's best for the Vikings right now. That's what I've got at the moment.
Possibly more later today, folks. If there isn't, have a great Christmas, and we'll see you back here soon.