So the 2013 season and the Metrodome era come to a simultaneous end. The Vikings beat the Lions 14-13, and we now move outside for two years before we get to move into our new home, sweet home. Amirite Mr Neal?
Take me to your heart
Feel me in your bones
Just one more night
And I'm comin' off this
Long & winding road
I'm on my way
I'm on my way
Home sweet home...
I'm on my way
I'm on my way
Home sweet home...
Your SMR that takes in the entire season follows. Remember, these ratings are over the course of the whole season, not just the Lions game. Why? Well, I kind of barely watched the Vikings game today, to be honest. I have family in town, to include the two grandsons, so even though I had the game on, I barely paid attention to it until the fourth quarter.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR: One thing I am going to be interested to hear about with the new staff, whoever they will be, will be how they plan to incorporate Patterson. One thing I did like about Bill Musgrave is that he found a lot of creative ways to get former Viking Percy Harvin involved with the offense. Patterson is a guy that needs to be fed the ball, because he is one of the rare players in the game that is capable of taking it to the house whenever he touches it.
Adrian Peterson, RB: Despite dealing with nagging injuries all year that caused him to miss the final tow games, Peterson still ran for over 1,200 yards. When the Vikings had competent quarterback play this year, it was exciting to see an offense that could exploit the eight and nine man fronts teams used to try and stop Peterson. Get healthy, AP, because next year, I think you're going to have a big season.
Blair Walsh, K: Although Walsh attempted less field goals this year than he made last season, and he missed his first kick greater than 50 yards,Walsh is still one of the most automatic kickers in the NFL, and will be a fixture of this team for seasons to come.
Everson Griffen, DE: With the return of Jared Allen and DT Kevin Williams very much up in the air, re-signing Griffen is a priority for the Vikings. He had a good game against the Lions, registering a huge sack, and could be a very good tandem with Brian Robison. He won't be as good as Allen was/is coming off the edge, but I do feel he's better in run support than Allen is. Either way, if getting him back in the fold for 2014 isn't priority one it should be 1A.
Greg Jennings, WR: Jennings didn't have the year many Vikings fans thought, but once the switch was made from Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel, Jennings flourished, and we saw the type of receiver he could be with a competent quarterback. With Patterson and Jennings, the Vikings have a very promising outside tandem for 2014.
Shawn Prater, CB: I really liked what Prater brought to the table late in the season, and going into training camp next year you can talk me in to Prater being in the mix for the nickel job, if not a starting job across from Xavier Rhodes.
The rest of the rookies. I liked what I saw from just about every rookie on the Vikings this year. Shariff Floyd and Xavier Rhodes came on late in the season, and look like fixtures for next year. I will keep beating the 'start Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges at linebacker drum' until the Vikings actually start them or release them. They both played well on special teams, and not playing them once the season was lost is one of the main reasons this staff should be let go, at least from my perspective.
Christian Ponder, QB: What was a make or break year for the former number one draft pick quickly broke into a mess bigger than the Humpty Dumpty catastrophe. Ponder still has two years left on his contract, but after the way the quarterback position was butchered and mishandled by the Vikings brain trust this year, I don't know that there's a way he can come back to the team in 2014. I'm not saying the door is completely closed, because anything can happen with a new coaching staff. But it seems that a fresh start on a new team would be best for everyone right now.
All the linebackers with more than one year on the roster: The Vikings linebacker corps was such a disgusting mess they could've been their own episode on Hoarders. Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, and Marvin Mitchell were a Trio of Terrible in 2013, and this key position needs a complete overhaul for next year. You can talk me into Greenway coming back, because he's been a good player up until this year, but yeah, Mitchell and Henderson? See ya.
The rest of the quarterback situation. Maybe two or three years from now we'll look back on the Josh Freeman signing and laugh. But right now, it seems like it's Rick Spielman's break with reality moment, like Charlie Sheen's infamous Tiger Blood interview, or Britney Spears shaving her head a few years ago, or Miley Cyrus on Thursday. From a pure talent upgrade perspective, it wasn't an awful theory, even though I didn't agree with it--sign him, get him up to speed, and then play him while doing a season long evaluation for 2014. His supporters insisted he would be an upgrade over what was currently on the roster, and at the time, that wasn't out of the realm of possibility.
However, when put in practice, it was a disaster. Freeman played one awful, terrible game, and never saw the field again. It was like an elephant on stilts on roller skates--fairly horrific, possibly cruel, but man, you really couldn't turn away as Freeman overthrew one receiver after another by 10 to 15 feet. He never saw the field again, and if he was so bad he couldn't--at any point in the season apparently--overtake Ponder or Cassel, I can't see one good reason why he should return.
As to Matt Cassel, you could talk me into coming back for the second year of his contract. Cassel is a veteran that knows how to run an offense, but he has limitations. He struggles against top notch defenses and has a penchant for turning the ball over. But he would be a good mentor for a rookie quarterback WHO NAMES RHYMES WITH BONNY SHAMZEIL, and a guy that could come in and play in case the rookie isn't ready. He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he can get the ball to his receivers, and make defenses pay for loading the box to stop Adrian Peterson.
Chris Cook, CB: As much as I dislike Cook's inability to stay healthy, and the running Twitter joke for Vikings fans is "so and so now has more career interceptions than Chris Cook", BECAUSE COOK HAS NONE THAT'S THE JOKE PEOPLE, you can talk me into Cook returning. As much as I liked Prater, Cook can still be a serviceable CB, and let's face it, when he does record his first pick Twitter and DN will melt the hell down, and I want to experience it live. Depth at that position is still at a premium, and releasing him could be construed as cutting off the nose to spite the face.
Buy: New coaching staff. The writing is on the wall for Leslie Frazier, and he will land on his feet somewhere. He's a good defensive coach, and players like playing for him, but this is a results business, and the results have been unacceptable.
Sell: A protracted coaching search without fixating on 'the hot name'. Whoever the new guy is, time is of the essence...but let's not fixate on one guy and be hasty about it. That happened in 2006, and the result was Brad Childress, who was gone by mid-2010. Whether it's Bill O'Brien, Jay Gruden, or somebody else, just do your homework, and get us a guy that will finally take the Vikings to the Promised Land. No pressure.
Buy: Ending the Metrodome era. I never liked that place, and I'm glad it's come to an end. I'm really looking forward to the next two years outdoors, followed by the new stadium. Believe it or not, I think it's an exciting time to be a Vikings fan. The talent isn't all bad, we're going to get a new coach, we have a top 10 draft pick, and we've got a new stadium coming.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
Sorry guys. Dad wasn't feeling up to coming over today, so he didn't see the game. Been a busy week for him with Christmas and all the family coming in. It's been a long week for him, but a good one. He met his other great grandson this week, so all in all, it wasn't too bad.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and be safe this New Year's Eve.