To say 2010 was a disappointment would be akin to calling Charlie Sheen a role model. I mean, in some perverted way he is, but only if you're a hedonistic, unabashed party animal. Okay, deep down, maybe it's everyone's dream to have a mansion full of hookers and blow right next door to your mansion, but just let me use this anaology. It works, unlike the Vikings offensive line this past season...HA!
Anyhoo, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Vikes as the combine approaches, and I thought it might be interesting to see what are the ten most pressing might be. If you think there should be something else in the top 10, by all means, let's hear ‘em--it's not like we don't have a lot of time to kill between now and training camp.
Also, if I get enough participation from you fine folks that make up our little corner of the Internet, I want to try and start answering some email you might have. We have a lot of members that like to lurk and not post, and that's great. We also have some people that are long time contributors as well. Regardless of what category you fall under, if there's something Vikings related you would like answered, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll put the best ones up. Just include your screen name or real name, and your hometown or current city you reside in along with your question, and we'll answer as many as we can. If I don't get enough, I'll just make stuff up and attribute random board members anyway.*
Oh, and I promise, for the rest of this article I won't use the suffix "...if there is a 2011 season", I promise. Wait, I just did. Sorry. Only time, pinky promise. I'm going to assume there will be a 2011 season. Because if I assumed there WASN'T going to be one, there really wouldn't be a point in writing this article, right?
Top 10, in no particular order, after the jump.
10. Where will the Vikings play?
A lot of back and forth right now as to whether or not the Metrodome will be ready for the 2011 season. As you know, the entire roof needs to be replaced, and when you add that cost into the nostalgic effect of watching the Vikings play outdoors last December during a snowstorm, I think there's a decent chance that the Vikes might spend 2011 in TCF Bank Stadium. That snowstorm was a bit of good firtune for the Vikes, as it kept the crowd down and "Olly Olly Oxenfree" seating plan didn't turn into the Cincinnati The Who concert. They'll need to figure out temporary seating (I hear Jerry Jones has a good setup) and there might be a revolt if no beer is sold, but yeah, it could work. Anything beats the Metrodome, no?
9. Will Bryant McKinnie ever be good?
I'm beginning to think that McKinnie is what he is-an immensely talented athlete who will get by on his natural talent and not work to make himself a beast he could be. Yeah, it's been ten years, so foul on me for not coming around sooner. He had Hall of Fame talent coming out of Miami, and at this point will never be anything more than just okay. And that's not okay.
8. New stadium, anyone?
There has been a very interesting development on the new stadium front. The Vikings have expressed interest in an old Army ammunition plant site in Arden Hills. There's enough land, if it can be cleaned and bought, to build a stadium and develop hotels, shops, and restaurants around it. It's a great start, but we're far from the finish line, as the Vikings still need to come up with a financial plan with Ramsey County officials, and then get that approved by the State Legislature. The same state legislature that is dealing with a $6 billion debt. I think it will get done, but there's a lot of work left before we break out the cigars and champagne.
7. Will Sidney Rice be in purple in 2011?
When healthy, I think Sidney Rice is a top ten wide receiver. There's still a lot to be worked out with the new CBA, and although teams are using franchise and transition tags on players there's still no given those will be in effect. The Vikings receivers really suffered with Rice out, as Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin had to play out of position. If there's no franchise and transition tags and Rice makes it to the open market, it might be tough to keep him. That said, the Vikes have done a very good job in recent years of keeping what they feel are their core players in the fold, and Rice would be considered one of those guys, so yeah, I expect to see him in a Vikes uniform next year...if there is---oops, almost let that slip out there.
6. Will Chad Greenway?
I think Greenway is essential to a good defense, and if a schlub like me thinks that, the Vikings undoubtedly do. Like Rice, Greenway will get signed once the CBA gets worked out.
5. Quarterback: Free Agent/trade, draft, or Joe ‘Spiderman' Webb?
There's been lots of talk over the last couple of months (well, before that) on what direction the Vikings need to go to solve the quarterback dilemma. First off, I don't think Joe Webb has done enough to be warranted the incumbent for 2011, but he has done enough to be given a chance to compete for the job in training camp. There are rumors about how much Philadelphia wants for Kevin Kolb, and a lot of draft prognosticators are predicting the Vikings will take a quarterback. Blaine Gabbert is the most popular choice now, but the NFL combine can change that in a New York minute. Philly reportedly wants a first rounder for Kolb, which is a steep price, but he's a known commodity, and if the Vikes are going to use a first round draft pick on a QB, that would be my choice. Is Kolb worth a first rounder? Gabbert? Ryan Mallet?
4. Who will replace Pat Williams?
I'm going to miss Pat Williams, and so will the Vikings defense. He took up a lot of real estate, and commanded a lot of attention, and it's going to fall to Jimmy Kennedy and Fred Evans to pick up the slack. One of the reason I felt Kennedy and Evans were so effective is that they were able to be situationally rotated in; with increased exposure one must wonder how they will do. Kennedy was a former starter/first round bust before coming to Minnesota, so will his expanded role result in a decrease in performance? We'll see.
3. Let Ray Edwards go, or not?
I am a big fan of Ray Edwards, and I'm not convinced that the DE depth is enough that the Vikings can afford to let him walk. Brian Robison is a good pass rusher, but like Kennedy, I think he's a situational guy and if moved to a starter role he might not be as effective. Everson Griffen didn't impress me in his rookie season, and a Robison-Griffen tandem doesn't seem nearly as impressive as an Edwards-Robison rotation. With other roster decisions looming, I don't know that Edwards will be back, but I hope he is.
2. Bill Musgrave: Offensive genius or KAO reincarnated?
I look at Musgrave's hiring this way: other than the 2009 offense, which I think we can now say was an anomaly, could it be any worse than any other offense that former coach Brad Childress forced us to sit through? Yeah, I didn't think so. I give Brad Childress for adding a lot of offensive firepower to this offense from 2006-2010, but his unimaginative play calling was his undoing. 2009 was pretty awesome, though.
1. How will Leslie Frazier do?
I'm optimistic. He seems like a no-nonsense guy. I like his approach to the players, and I REALLY like how he answers a straight question with a straight answer. It's a refreshing change from the Chilly Laboratory of Subterfuge, Bullshit, and Terrible Jokes, and now that Frazier has more input on the roster, I'm excited to see what he's going to do. If the hiring of assistant coaches is any indication, I fully expect the Vikings to be contending for a division title in 2011.
If there is a---oops, almost let that slip again.