On the Clock: Minnesota Vikings
First things first I would like to issue a notice to all Minnesota residents: Support your local football team!
Minnesota had not made the playoffs in four years.
The typical reaction to a team achieving success after continually losing is for fans to jump on the bandwagon.
Not in Minnesota.
Defensive end Jared Allen had to beg Minnesota fans to buy playoff tickets to prevent the game from being blacked out by national broadcasters. Even with his plea the Vikings had to be granted a 24-hour extension before selling out the stadium.
Can you imagine a team in the playoffs unable to sell out a home game?
Get on your job Vikings fans.
With that being said the 2008 Minnesota Vikings did a great job making something out of nothing.
Along with the lack of public support, the Vikings also fought against the ideal that to be a winning football team its a necessity to have a good quarterback. Nevermind that in the last 10 years, six of the Super Bowl MVP's have been quarterbacks.
Owner Zygi Wilf said to heck with a quality quarterback and proved NFL experts wrong by winning ten games in 2008.
But those miffed experts were rejuvenated on Jan. 4 when the Vikings took the field for the NFL Wild Card Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Three hours and a 71-yard screen pass for touchdown later, the Philadelphia Eagles advanced, defeating the Vikings 26-14.
And they were off!
Sports writers thrashed about on their laptops. Posting articles dripping with with sarcasm; citing quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's interception in the second quarter, his fumble in the fourth quarter, and his paltry 42.8 completion percentage as the reason for the Vikings's loss.
Though they are right, let's address something many of them chose to ignore: Jackson is not the sole reason for the loss.
How does the NFL's sixth-best defense allow 26 points?
How does a defense that allows 292.2 yards per game allow Donovan McNabb to throw for 300, and allow the Eagles offense to produce 350 yards?
True, Jackson struggled, but with a defensive output like that, the third year man out of Alabama State was practically playing Russian roulette with a Derringer.
It is not myth, rumor, or urban legend. To be a successful football team, you need a quarterback.
It is also well known that Minnesota has not had one since Daunte Culpepper's amazing 2004 season. Tarvaris Jackson struggled not only the entire 2008 season but the year before, too; his performance in the Wild Card game should not have come as a shock.
In 2007, Jackson played in 12 games; he threw for 1911 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Unfortunately for Jackson, he is athletically gifted, making him a dual threat as well. To complement his mediocre passing, Jackson ran for 260 yards and three touchdowns.
But he also had five fumbles.
His numbers were terrible, but he was selected as a developmental player, so as with most developmental players the Vikings believed time would cure all Jackson's inability.
Sadly it didn't. Which is why in 2008, when Jackson's stats began to mirror those of 2007, he was benched.
For journeyman Gus Frerotte.
The Vikings had a developmental player at quarterback who had made no substantial progress in two years, and they get Frerotte to replace him?
The Vikings spent the 2007 offseason half-heartedly trying to find a replacement for Jackson.
After Green Bay refused to deal Brett Favre to an opponent in the NFC North, Minnesota ended its quarterback search. Matt Schaub and Jeff Garcia were both available free agents, yet Minnesota ended its search after they couldn't get Favre. It causes other NFL teams to question how interested the Vikings truly were in replacing Jackson.
Surprisingly, Frerotte led the Vikings to an 8-3 record. The Vikings looked like a playoff bound team, that is until Frerotte hurt his back and the controls were returned to Tavaris Jackson and Vikings season quickly came to a close.
What happened next is what makes me question Minnesota's desire to win.
Gus Frerotte expressed his desire to be the Vikings starter for the 2009 season.
A week ago they cut him.
Frerotte is not an all-star quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, but the numbers can't be debated. He had 2157 yards, 12 touchdowns, and eight wins. Keep this in mind, the Vikings had 10 wins in 2008.
Frerotte had eight.
So they released him?
Do the Vikings like to win? This should be the question Christopher Nolan has the Riddler ask Bruce Wayne in the next Batman movie.
There are two possible reasons for the Vikings actions.
The first is the one I have already suggested: They simply enjoy losing.
The second is that they are potentially, and hopefully, planning to draft a quarterback in the 2009 Draft.
It's unlikely they will select one in the first round though. They have concerns at both Right Tackle and Cornerback.
After the position switch of Ryan Cook, Minnesota now lacks depth at tackle. Also, Antoine Winfield appears to be the only intimidating corner in the secondary; but after a 90 tackle season by Cedric Griffin I think the Vikings will pass on a corner, hoping that 2008 was indication of Griffin's progression.
If the Vikings select a tackle, either Eben Britton (Arizona) or Max Unger (Oregon) seems to be the choice. I'm not a fan of drafting linemen in the first round, but based on the quarterback I'm suggesting for Minnesota, picking Britton or Unger will be a good choice.
At 6'6" 309 pounds, Britton offers a solid frame to anchor the Vikings right side of the line.
Unger is no slouch either at 6'4" 309 pounds. He brings a little more to the table than Britton, due to his ability to play all five positions on the offensive line. If the Vikings are looking for a tackle, either pick would be fine.
The moment has arrived though, so lets head to our seats and be quiet as Commissioner Roger Goodell heads to the podium.
With the 54th pick in the 2009 Draft, the Minnesota Vikings should select: Curtis Painter.
I have already made the argument for Painter in earlier posts. In short, he is a big quarterback, extremely accurate and does not turn the ball over.
Sounds like everything the Vikings don't have.
If by the grace of god the Vikings land McNabb, then the situation changes completely. Draft a quarterback in the much later rounds, either fifth or sixth.
It's safe to say though that McNabb won't be in Minneapolis any time soon, so the Vikings should go ahead and draft Curtis Painter.
On the clock: Tampa Bay
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