As Dan so eloquently (and patiently) described in his post yesterday, there’s really not that much to write about the Vikings right now. Our offensive line would make 90% of the league’s quarterbacks look bad. Our defensive line can only play well for two quarters. Our linebackers can’t cover their zones on passing plays and the four guys behind them, well…let’s just say they are not good.
So, instead of trying to find something to break down or analyze, I’ll just throw out some of the random thoughts and questions that I’m sure a lot of you have shared with me over the last few weeks:
—We should have signed Hasselbeck (not Tim).
—Would a more expensive trade for Carson Palmer have been better than our relatively cheap trade for Donovan McNabb?
—Do I really want to watch Christian Ponder get destroyed? Unless he is a future hall of famer, is there any chance Ponder will really learn anything from playing with this terrible team?
—Maybe Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin both could use a move to safety. Griffin is too slow to play cornerback anymore (maybe too slow to play anywhere). I maintain that Husain Abdullah is servicable for the time being, but Tyrell Johnson can’t seem to figure it out and Jamarca Sanford probably is getting the best he can out of his abilities.
—John Sullivan is the only offensive lineman that should stay. Well, maybe Phil Loadholt too. I think Loadholt is physically capable of being an NFL offensive lineman, but the penalties are just killer. Plus, it’s sort of like the Michael Jenkins situation: If Jenkins was our third wide receiver and came in as a possession guy on third downs, that would be cool. When he is our best WR, things are not good. Same goes for Loadholt. If we had four average or better than average linemen, putting Loadholt at right side of that group would be fine…but, in reality, in some ways he is our best lineman. Not fine.
—I don’t know if Kyle Rudolph is ready to take over at tight end, but it was nice to finally see that “two-TE offense” finally get going. I’m not sure he can block, but Rudolph definitely can catch and it looks like he can run with the ball too. Visanthe Shiancoe was nice against Kansas City and can still do the job.
—Although I think they’ve been pretty bad at times, the defensive line may be the one position that will have some continuity as the Vikings transition into whatever it is that comes next. Jared Allen has a few more good years left, and Kevin Williams is still decent. Fred Evans, Christian Ballard, Letroy Guion, and Everson Griffen combine to make a fine supporting cast and I can’t say that I miss Ray Edwards now that Brian Robison is playing fulltime. I would love to see Minnesota continue to add players on the d-line and make it a point to have one of the league’s best units. (One of my favorite draft picks in NFL history was the Giants pick of Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round in 2010. Seriously. When it comes to offensive line and defensive line, you should never stop trying to get better.)
—E.J. Henderson, Griffin, and Winfield appear too slow to play their positions. Henderson was never a great pass defender in the middle of the field, and this year he has been a real liability. Unfortunately, there is nobody to replace him on passing downs. Griffin’s two injuries definitely have set him back, and unless he is a candidate to play a strong safety type of position, I’m not sure where he fits anymore (I have to say, Griffin has always been one of my favorite Vikings, and I have always defended him against any detractors. I hate that he sustained those two injuries). Unfortunately for Cedric, Winfield is probably a better option for the move to safety. Either way, if the Vikings try that switch, they’ll have to count on Chris Cook, which is beyond scary (even though he had a nice game against Detroit).
—On Monday, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press suggested that the Vikings turn to Joe Webb instead of Ponder. I was actually thinking the same thing yesterday. Why not? He showed last year that he is not afraid of being an NFL quarterback. He plays fast and reacts more than he thinks (the anti-Tarvaris Jackson). I have reservations about thrusting Ponder into this not-so-ideal situation, namely…
—My biggest fears about Ponder: That we will put him in this impossible situation and instead of learning from it, he will be forever scarred, sort of like Jackson; or, that we will put Ponder in and run an abbreviated version of the offense (like we did with Jackson) and we won’t actually find out how good he is. That is, he’ll hand it off on first and second down, then throw a check down on third down because the coaches are afraid to turn him loose. If either of those things happen, we’re talking about the franchise being set back for years. Imagine: Ponder turns out to be terrible; Frazier gets fired after less than two seasons; we have to start over with a new staff and that staff has to try to find a long-term quarterback solution. That’s at least a four year scenario.
—After the thrilling Colts-Buccaneers game on Monday night, some yakking heads on ESPN started this conversation: What happens if the Colts finish with the league’s worst record? Is there any way they don’t draft Andrew Luck? Once they have Luck, do they waste a year or two of his career ‘grooming’ him behind Manning? Maybe Manning wants out immediately?
I say we go for it!