The 2011-12 Minnesota Vikings season started heading down the tracks with Donovan McNabb as the conductor and finished as a train wreck led by Christian Ponder—a wreck that none of us could take our eyes off of.
Obviously McNabb and Ponder weren’t the only reasons for the paltry year Vikes fans were forced to stomach. There were a number of awful moments we can point to that contributed to the team’s multiple failures—some worse than others, yet all still very hard to swallow.
With that all being said, let’s take a look at the worst moments of this past season of the Minnesota Vikings.
This is one of the worst moments of the 2011-12 NFL season, but the Minnesota Vikings suffered because of it as well.
I get that every team was on a level playing field in terms of time spent getting ready for the season, but the OTAs and practice that Christian Ponder missed really hurt in his development as a rookie quarterback starting out in the league.
Also, Donovan McNabb wasn’t afforded much time to learn his new team and all the nuances that come with a new offense.
Maybe it’s unfair to say, but from that standpoint alone, you can say the Vikings never had a shot at competing in the NFC North.
Who would have thought that at halftime of Week 1, the Vikings would be up 17-7 over the San Diego Chargers? I’d be lying if I told you I thought that. However, that was the situation heading into the third quarter.
But Donovan McNabb's 39 yards through the air helped the Bolts mount a fourth-quarter comeback and walk away with a 24-17 win on the strength of a 19-yard TD pass from Philip Rivers to Mike Tolbert.
That first game would be the start of an NFL-record three straight halftime leads that the Vikes would choke away.
After already having coughed up halftime leads to the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Weeks 1 and 2, the Minnesota Vikings found themselves with a 20-0 halftime lead over the division rival Detroit Lions.
There was no way they could possibly give this away, right? Wrong.
Matthew Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson for two touchdowns and Jason Hanson drilled four field goals, including the game-winner in OT, as the Lions pulled off the miracle comeback.
That sent the Vikings into the NFL record books for giving up three straight halftime leads of at least 10 points.
Let's be honest, losing to the Green Bay Packers is always going to be a season low point.
This came after Christian Ponder had just notched his first career win over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers and a promising 33-27 loss to the archrival Green Bay Packers just three weeks earlier—a game in which Ponder made his first career start.
The Minnesota Vikings hoped their rookie QB would see this as an opportunity to exact some revenge and get a split with the Pack.
Instead, Aaron Rodgers and Co. put on an air show that included four TDs from Rodgers—two of which went to emerging star Jordy Nelson.
Ponder went on to throw one INT and also fumbled once, while getting sacked three times.
Far worse than anything that took place on the football field was the arrest of rising star Chris Cook for allegedly strangling his girlfriend at their Eden Prairie home on October 22nd of 2011.
It wasn’t enough, apparently, that he was arrested seven months earlier in March for brandishing a gun during a fight back in his home state of Virginia.
Sure, he was suspended indefinitely without pay and subsequently put on paid leave by the team, which obviously hurt an already depleted secondary.
But more importantly, this was another incident that points to this Minnesota Vikings team becoming more laughable as an organization, rather than being a respectable sports franchise.
I want to make it abundantly clear that I am all for the Minnesota Vikings having a general manager who will be in charge of making personnel decisions.
What I am completely against is who was put into that position.
Rick Spielman was given the position without even the consideration of bringing in some fresh blood—something this front office desperately needs… more so than the coaching staff.
His track record is not that impressive either.
Go ahead and make the case for him pulling off the trade for Jared Allen, but it’s not hard to send a team a first-round pick and three total picks for a guy who’s already a star.
He also was instrumental in drafting Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, right?
The truth is, both of those guys fell into the Vikings lap and there was no way those picks could be screwed up.
Not to mention, the true test of a general manager and a V.P. of Player Personnel is their ability to draft in rounds three through seven—something he’s struggled with to say the least.
When it comes to those crucial mid-to-late round picks, Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, John Sullivan and Joe Webb are all he has to show since joining the team in 2006. Webb is a backup.
People can argue Everson Griffen was a big fourth-round catch, but the book is still out on him.
Take those players and then look around the league and compare to the likes of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Mario Manningham and Brandon Carr just to name a few, and you wonder how Spielman consistently missed out on players like this.
If he hits on just one of those receivers, the Vikes WR issues aren’t issues at all.
Instead of drafting Carr in the fifth round of the 2008 draft to help solidify the secondary, the Vikings took quarterback John David Booty.
Booty Booty Booty! More like doody doody doody. Carr went three picks later, and now the Vikes are left with hoping they can make a play for his services during free agency.
Owner Zygi Wilf should have Spielman on a short leash. He and the rest of the front office should all be on notice.
If enough hadn’t already gone wrong during this past season, Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings were handed one of the worst Christmas presents imaginable when A.P. went down with a torn ACL on the Christmas Eve game against the Washington Redskins.
What’s worse is that this injury will undoubtedly affect the start of next season as well.
There’s no telling how much time he will miss. If the Vikings are having a horrible start to the season, they may not want to risk bringing him back, therefore shutting him down for all of next year.
If they’re competitive, he may be back sooner than expected.
One thing is for sure, the running back position will need to be addressed at some point this offseason, in order to help Toby Gerhart with those duties until Peterson does come back.
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