Minnesota Vikings: 5 Offseason Moves That Should and Shouldn't Have Happened
Looking at the schedule before the season, most Vikings optimists figured their team would be at 2-1 after three games. They are, but certainly not in the manner that was expected.
The Vikings have certainly been on a carousel of emotions so far in 2012: A "how did we win that one?" victory in Week 1 was followed by a "how did we lose that one?" defeat in Week 2.
The naysayers were ready to pounce if Minnesota had been blown out by San Francisco last week, an outcome that just about all the experts predicted. So, of course, the Vikings played their best game in three seasons and dominated the 49ers.
2-1 is about all anyone who follows the Vikings could expect as a start to this season, and that's exactly where they are.
So what better time to do a little second guessing and look at five moves that should and shouldn't have happened this past offseason?
Mike Singletary Should Have Been Fired
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After a 2-1 start, the mood is very positive in Minnesota right now. A huge, unexpected win over the 49ers and everyone is happy.
That can change on a dime.
Are the Vikings a playoff team? Probably not.
The fact that the question can be written with a straight face shows you what a wild ride an NFL season is. That question would not have been written after the loss to the Colts. Any playoff talk would have been absurd.
It's still absurd, but the point is, we have to look objectively at the Vikings and realize that they're a young, inexperienced club with a second-year quarterback and rookies at two of the most vital positions on the field.
Having said all of that, one coaching move Leslie Frazier should have made this past offseason was to let go of Mike Singletary.
Singletary's title is, "Special Assistant to Head Coach/Linebackers Coach." Keep in mind, the Vikings have a brand new defensive coordinator in Alan Williams, a brand new linebackers coach in Fred Pagac and an assistant linebackers coach in Jeff Imamura.
So what exactly is Singletary's role? He's a guy who was fired in San Francisco and showed a poisonous attitude with his players. Jim Harbaugh immediately took the same players and completely turned the organization around.
Leslie Frazier hired Singletary because they go way back as members of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears, and Frazier obviously felt Singletary had some benefit to the franchise.
Singletary has made no qualms about wanting to be a head coach again.
There is no good reason for the moody Singletary to be around. His behavior last season was sporadic at best. Frazier needs to put his own stamp on the Vikings. Having a failed head coach who obviously has Frazier's ear in the building can't be a good thing.
John Carlson Shouldn't Have Been Signed
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Wait, the Vikings signed John Carlson? Is he on the team?
Okay, we're being a little harsh to a local kid who has had to deal with some injuries as he tries to find a place in the Vikings offense.
Signing Carlson to be a part of an offense that is going to stress short routes and ball control makes all the sense in the world, but they overpaid by a long shot.
Carlson missed all of 2011 with a torn labrum. His best season was as a rookie in 2008, when he caught 55 passes for 627 yards and five touchdowns. He's always had potential to do bigger things, but at 28 years old, his days of reaching his potential might be behind him.
It was a nice idea to try to copy the ridiculous amount of success that the Patriots have had with two productive tight ends. It doesn't seem to be working for Carlson. Percy Harvin leads the league in catches, and Kyle Rudolph is turning into an elite tight end. With Jerome Simpson coming off the suspension list this week, there will be even less opportunity for Carlson.
We hope that Carlson proves us wrong and that he can become a big contributor, but he just hasn't shown anything yet. Truth be told, third-string tight end Allen Reisner has looked more than impressive enough in his limited playing time that there was really no need to sign Carlson. Especially not for $5 million a year.
The Buccaneers Can Have Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks
Every offseason in the NFL, the fan bases of the have-nots—which the Vikings certainly were last year—get huge eyes when looking over the free-agent market for the coming season.
Two of the bigger names on last year's list were wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks. Both were coveted around the league, and both played positions the Vikings were in dire need of help at. Thank heavens GM Rick Spielman kept his wits about him and didn't break the bank for either one of them.
Jackson's been what he's always been in three games down in Tampa: decent, great and then non-existent. He's caught 10 balls in three games and scored one touchdown. He's 29 years old and the Bucs signed him to an absurd five-year, $55.5 million deal. Jackson is already in the decline of his career arc and having to pay him $10 million when he's 34 years old is just flushing money down the drain.
The Vikings instead signed Jerome Simpson to a one-year, $2 million deal that makes infinitely more sense for Minnesota. Simpson is young and will provide the Vikings with speed on the outside. He should be a nice bookend to Percy Harvin in the slot and Kyle Rudolph at tight end.
Simpson got a "prove it" contract from the Vikings, and as he enters into the fray in Week 3, he'll have the rest of the season to prove to Minnesota that he's worth keeping for years to come.
As for Nicks, sure he would have been an upgrade at guard, but is he even remotely worth the $47 million over five years that Tampa Bay is paying him? Thanks, but I'm just fine paying Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco roughly one-third of what Nicks is making.
The big name free agents always look really appealing in February and March, but most of the time come September, they just look like wasted money.
Kudos to Rick Spielman for starting the Vikings' rebuilding process the right way.
Jordan Todman Should Have Made the Roster
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This is a nitpick to be sure, but Jordan Todman is a better running back than Matt Asiata.
We're only three weeks into the season, and there has been no reason at all to have anyone other than Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart on the field. But the NFL season is a long grind and the time to have a third back will probably come sooner than later.
Todman has much more to offer as a third back than Asiata. He has breakaway speed and big-play ability that Asiata simply doesn't have. Where Asiata is a poor man's Toby Gerhart, Todman has the potential to be a big-time playmaker in the NFL.
The way the Vikings are developing the offense into a controlled, short passing attack, they'll need another option out of the backfield, and Todman is much better suited for that role than Asiata. Heaven forbid anything happen to Peterson or Gerhart, but if one of them should go down, Todman is a much better option to do some heavy lifting than Asiata is.
The Vikings were lucky to be able to keep Todman on their practice squad, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he got on the field before the season is over.
Michael Jenkins Should Have Been Cut
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Michael Jenkins' career with the Minnesota Vikings is probably at an end.
The club needs to waive a player in order to activate WR Jerome Simpson for this week's game against the Lions. Jenkins will more than likely be the odd man out.
Devin Aromashodu has outplayed Jenkins during the first three weeks of the season, and with both Simpson and rookie Jarius Wright ready to play starting this week, there is no more room for Jenkins on the team.
Had it not been for a season-ending injury to rookie Greg Childs, Jenkins might not have made the team out of training camp, but it's been clear in the first three weeks of the year that Jenkins is no longer a useful receiver in the NFL. He's too slow to get any separation on routes, and age has sapped him of his ability to go and get the ball once it's in the air.
Jenkins may find a spot as a dependable fifth receiver on a team that isn't in a rebuilding mode, but that's not the Vikings.