If the Minnesota Vikings are to have any chance of getting to the Super Bowl, they will need consistent production from the offense to keep the defense off the field and fresh.
They will open training camp with a huge question at the most important position on the field. Who is going to be the starting quarterback? If they had Tom Brady on the field with the talent on this roster they would be the Super Bowl favorites in Vegas. Let's take a look at all the positions on offense.
Who will it be, Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels? My guess is both of them will start five or more games in 2009. So a more important question might be: Who will be the quarterback in January?
My guess is Tarvaris Jackson. He showed his potential when they provided him adequate protection, i.e. in the preseason and against two bad defenses: Detroit and Arizona. That brings me to the next position.
An even bigger hole in Vikings offense last year was right tackle. Ryan Cook played so bad he was replaced by a guy whose natural position is left guard—Artis Hicks. A first or second round pick surely will be spent on this position, as long as there is a guy Childress and Spielman feel can start from day one.
Bryant McKinnie is an above average tackle who plays at an elite level except for two to three plays per game when he has a mental error.
Steve Hutchinson is the best guard in football, enough said. Herrera is an up and coming player who fits in great because he a menacing run blocker. If the Vikes lined him up next to a legitimate right tackle, he would be able to take the next step.
With the departure of Matt Birk, the Vikings will field a new center for the first time in 10 years. John Sullivan is expected to be that man. Birk wore out his welcome in Minnesota with the botched snap in the playoff loss against Philadelphia that took away any shot at a comeback.
I expect Sullivan to prove a better run blocker than Birk was in his last couple of years at Minnesota.
Who is the running back in Minnesota?
Bernard Berrian is a better than average No. 2 receiver. He cannot consistently make plays if he has to carry the load as a No. 1 receiver. Sidney Rice has shown good hands and could be a good possession receiver if he can stay healthy.
None of the other guys on the roster can get open on a consistent basis even though they are facing one on one coverage with the second and third corners on the other teams defense. The Vikings need an upgrade over Bobby Wade, and Aundrae Allison has been given enough chances.
I expect this area to be addressed in the draft.
Shiancoe started to make plays last year after he figured out how to catch the ball. Kleinsasser is probably the best blocking tight end in the league. Garrett Mills has potential as a pass catching tight end if he can stay healthy, and Jeff Dugan is an average player at both tight end and fullback.
Tahi is a good blocker, but not a good fit for their scheme. Beside the fact that Peterson prefers no fullback, Childress likes to run the fullback screen. Tahi does not catch well enough or turn his body after the catch fast enough to gain the desired three to five yards. Most of these plays resulted in a dropped pass or a one to two yard gain.
The Vikings could benefit from a fullback that catches well out of the backfield.
A couple of good draft picks at wide receiver and right tackle could greatly improve the Vikings offense and give whoever the quarterback is a better chance to succeed.