As week 1 of the 2013 season approached I was convinced that the Vikings had addressed what, in my opinion, was one of the the glaring reasons for their offensive struggles. That of course being the wide reciever position. See, in my mind the team boasted one of the premier offensive lines, to go along with an emerging star at tight end in Kyle Rudolph, a bulldozer fullback in Felton, and a running back that we’ll just say is better than average. Sure there was a huge question mark at QB, but with Ponder playing his best ball in the final 4 games I figured that, should he be provided some weapons on the outside to get the ball to, there would be no stopping this high-octane Minnesota Viking squad!
Things didn’t quite work out that way. Instead we saw the Vikings best receiver making phenomenal plays in a Seahawks uniform a couple Sundays back. The front office, however, did make some moves in an effort to strengthen the position. They started in free agency, adding long time enemy Greg Jennings, who had just been released from Green Bay where he had a great career. Jennings went well over 1000 yards 3 years in a row. (2008-10) Jennings also had a nose for the endzone, racking up 53 TD’s in his time with the Packers. Fast forward to week 12 in the 2013 season and it looks as though the Vikings invested a large amount of revenue into a player who’s best days are a few years behind him. Jennings has just two TD’s this season, both of which came in the same game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watching Jennings on film it seems like there is very little effort given on his part, but some of that may be due to declining abilities and poor play from the team as a whole.
The Vikings also drafted help at the position, and gave away the farm to do so. Cordarelle Patterson was selected by the Vikings after they gave away multiple picks to slide back into the 1st round of the 2013 draft. They took the raw prospect with only one season of major college ball under his belt ahead of proven commodities such as Cal’s Kennan Allen, and USC’s Robert Woods based on his seemingly unlimited upside. Patterson is a thrill to watch in the return game, and I’m very optimistic about what we will see from this kid in the years to come. Patterson’s playing time has increased a great deal in the past few weeks, almost because the fans were so vocal about wanting to see more of him that Musgrave and Frazier were left with no choice. While he shines on almost every play he gets his hands on the ball, his inexperience still shows quite often as well, just look to what would’ve been the game winning TD in the back of the endzone last week in overtime. Having Bill Musgrave as an offensive coordinator doesn’t do this young man any favors either. A player with his skill set requires some creativity in the play calling to be succesful.
The move I questioned most this offseason was the decision to bring back Jerome Simpson. After all he had only 26 receptions for less than 300 yards, and frankly the man just could not get open to save his life. However, he has been a great surprise this season, proving to be the teams most reliable receiver and Ponders favorite target on the outside. So given the fact that this team has given him a second, second chance, and he’s shown us that he can actually ball a little bit, it only seems right that he would go out and get himself arrested and set himself up for yet another suspension.
After the improvement Jarius Wright showed at the end of 2012 many thought he may fill the role that Percy Harvin left vacated. We all saw video of Greg Childs rehabbing and practicing with the team, and never heard from him again. Stephen Burton looked to be a viable deep threat in the preseason. I even thought back-up QB, turned WR, Joe Webb could turn all that speed and athleticism into yards and touchdowns, but as Richard Sherman told him over and over again in their game a few weeks ago, he’s been nothing short of “sorry”.
There’s one number that sums it all up. 5. The entire receiving corps has amassed just 5 touchdowns in 11 weeks. Granted, the QB has been shaky to say the least, and the reason Musgraves play card is so small is because he only knows 3 plays, and 2 of them are runs up the middle. Still, no matter who your QB is, or how terrible the offensive coordinator is, 5 TD’s is a bad number.