How to Fix the Minnesota Vikings

Posted on January 5, 2012

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The Vikings finished 3-13 in 2011, a train wreck of a season that saw three starting quarterbacks, an 0-6 division mark, and injuries to their best player, Adrian Peterson, including a torn ACL. The only bright spot was Jared Allen, who set a franchise record with 22 sacks, ½ sack short of Michael Strahan’s record. Here’s what they should do to give them the best shot at playing meaningful football next December.

1. Make a decision at quarterback. Rookie Christian Ponder showed promise in 2011, but the fact remains that Minnesota went 2-8 in games he started, and Joe Webb outplayed him down the stretch, and is also more mobile. Ponder also threw as many picks (13) as touchdowns and finished the season with a below-average passer rating of 70.1. However, GM’s never give up on No. 12 overall picks whom they drafted after just one year, regardless of if there’s someone better on the roster. The Vikes will stick with Ponder as their franchise QB, but shouldn’t trade Webb, as 2011 has taught the importance of having a talented backup quarterback.

2. Prepare for the worst with AP. While early indications are that the all-world Peterson should be ready for week 1, it’s way too early to tell, especially with a torn ACL. Even if he does make it back for the opener, who knows when – or if – he’ll fully recover and truly be 100%? If the Vikings have any shot at being competitive in 2012, they’ll need a healthy Peterson. But in case the injury is worse than expected, Minnesota should sign or draft a running back in the middle rounds to complement Toby Gerhardt. Oh, and one more thing: leave Percy Harvin at receiver. You don’t want to be wasting his talent by letting him get hit by a linebacker 10 times a game running the ball up the middle.

3. Improve the defense. Jared Allen can’t do it all by himself. The Vikings ranked 31st in points allowed this year, averaging more than 28 points per game. You’re not going to win a lot of games that way without a quarterback named Rodgers, Brady or Brees. This team particularly needs help in the secondary, which suffered with injuries the entire season. Getting Cedric Griffin back healthy would be a boost. To put into perspective how bad this defense is, they allowed 35 points to Tim Tebow and Co. That’s right; the same Tim Tebow whose team scored 3 points last week. They should draft a corner in the first or second round. Even if they do all these things, 2012 is not looking like the year the Vikings turn it around, especially playing in the NFC North. In order for Leslie Frazier to keep his job, however, Minnesota – or wherever they play next year – will need to improve on this year’s disaster of a season.

– Elliot Heller

 

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Posted in: Football