I know. . .we were all geared up for the Minnesota Vikings to spend the next couple of weeks getting ready to be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. The dream came up short for this year, and that really stinks. I get that.
But this is different from 2009, and it’s different by a mile.
The 2017 season is certainly not the end of anything for the Minnesota Vikings. To the contrary, it appears that it’s just the beginning. This team is going to make it to the Super Bowl, wherever it might be, in the very near future. Frankly, it’s going to be very difficult for them not to.
Think about this for a moment.
There’s no reason, at this point, to have anything but complete faith in this team’s front office. Sure, if you want to gripe about Rick Spielman and his success in the first round of the draft, that’s fine. This team has spent their last three first round picks on Trae Waynes, Laquon Treadwell, and the Sam Bradford trade. . .and despite that, have built a roster that was good enough to go 13-3 this season with their third choice at quarterback and a duo at running back that won’t be mistaken for Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen anytime soon. There’s more to the draft that the first round, folks. How about. . .
- Dalvin Cook (second round)
- Eric Kendricks (second round)
- Pat Elflein (third round)
- Danielle Hunter (third round)
- Jarius Wright (fourth round)
- Stefon Diggs (fifth round)
- David Morgan (sixth round)
Not to mention undrafted free agents. . .Adam Thielen, Andrew Sendejo, Nick Easton (via trade), Rashod Hill, Marcus Sherels, and C.J. Ham. Those are some pretty good finds by the Vikings’ scouting staff, after all.
And when free agency comes around this year? The Vikings are one of the few playoff contenders from this season that are going to be flush with cash. Sure, they’ll have guys of their own to take care of, but this team will make the correct calls to supplement this team when the money starts to flow.
Now, the Vikings’ defense? Best in the National Football League in points and yardage? They have ten of eleven starters under contract for next season. There are still stars at every level of the defense. The defensive unit is going to continue to grow and develop together, as they have in the first four years of the Zimmer regime. It’s a little scary to think about, but this defense still has room to actually improve. Will they?
On offense, the rebuild on the line will continue. The line made the leap from “dumpster fire” to “average” this past season, and Mike Zimmer attributed that to having better players in his press conference today. This team will continue to add talent to the offensive line, and they’ll be taking another leap forward next season. By the way, Cook. . .who really was the centerpiece of the offense until his injury. . .will be back at 100% next season and once again showing what he’s capable of. Diggs will be back, Thielen will be back, Kyle Rudolph will be back. The Vikings’ offense was near the bottom of the league in 2016, and was on the fringe of the top ten this season. There aren’t exactly any graybeards on offense right now, either.
Sure, the quarterback situation needs to get sorted out. But, unlike past years where the Vikings have been picking the best of a bad lot, now they have three choices that are actually good. This team can win games with Case Keenum, they can win games with Sam Bradford, and they can win games with Teddy Bridgewater. With the departure of Pat Shurmur, the need for an offensive coordinator that can capitalize on the strengths of whichever quarterback the team chooses will be necessary. But, that’s on Mike Zimmer, and I have no reason to think he won’t make a good choice. He brought in Shurmur in the first place, after all.
“But, but, next year Aaron Rodgers is going to be back and he’s awesome and, and, and. . .”
Yeah, Aaron Rodgers is pretty awesome. He’s also lost games over the past three seasons to Vikings teams quarterbacked by Bridgewater and Bradford (and Keenum, if you want to count the first meeting this year). And don’t tell anyone that I told you this, but. . .the Vikings have beaten the Packers in four of their last five meetings. Also, Rodgers isn’t getting any younger, and if anything should happen to him again, the Packers will find themselves in exactly the same place they found themselves this season, which is “Nowheresville.” Even if Rodgers is back for a whole season in 2017, if I may borrow a phrase. . .I ain’t scared.
Besides, the Vikings should be constantly concerning themselves with what other teams are doing. Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer and the rest of the people who run things are concerned with making this team better. They’re going to make this team better. When that happens, everything else will take care of itself.
As we know, there’s exactly one fan base in the National Football League that deserves to bring home a Super Bowl title. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see them chase that goal on their home turf in a couple of weeks. But the door is not closed for this team, folks. It is wide open, and this team is going to walk right through it. It could be as early as 2019 in Atlanta. Wouldn’t that be something?