10 Reasons Why Minnesota Vikings Fans Should Be Excited About 2013
There are so many reasons why Minnesota Vikings fans should be excited about 2013 that picking 10 is almost impossible to do.
From player development, to the addition of fresh faces, all the way to getting the chance to watch our star-studded rookie class perform, if one thing is clear, it's that 2013 should be a great year for those of us who worship this franchise.
In order to effectively select 10 reasons for excitement, I wrote this piece with as much balance as possible.
Factoring in some of the major offseason storylines with the growth of the team's younger players and topping it off with few tributes to greatness, below is the slideshow detailing 10 reasons why Vikings fans should be excited about 2013.
*All stats provided by Pro-Football Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.
The Arrival of Greg Jennings
One reason Vikings fans should be considerably excited about next season is the arrival of Greg Jennings.
Jennings, the former standout Green Bay Packers wide receiver, has arrived in Minnesota during a pivotal year for the franchise.
Not only is he joining a young receiving corps that's in need of some guidance, but he has arrived right on cue, as arguably the most talked about quarterback in the NFC North is about to undergo his make-or-break season.
With Christian Ponder at the helm of this improving Vikings offense, as long as he can stay healthy, Jennings will serve as an anchor of sorts for the former Florida State product.
Outside of his fantastic production on the field, what sets Jennings apart from a lot of other players in this league is that he is somewhat of a perfectionist.
While he may kid around and say he is striving for "excellence" this season because perfection can get you into trouble, the fact remains that this gifted wide receiver will be a welcomed addition to the Vikings' roster.
Not only will he be able to mentor guys like Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright, but Jennings will provide a developing Ponder an ultra-talented target to throw the ball to whenever he drops back to pass.
Needless to say, Jennings' presence in a purple and gold uniform is just the first reason Vikings fans should be thrilled about 2013.
The Kick Return Game, Starring Cordarrelle Patterson
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When you talk about Cordarrelle Patterson—one of the three first-round draft picks this past April for the Vikings—it seems there are a lot of believers and non-believers.
If you're one of those non-believers, then as Don Draper put it so elegantly, "You're a non-believer, why should we waste time with kabuki?"
But if you are one of those who believe in the abilities and talent that this young man possesses, I welcome you all with open arms to The Kick Return Game, starring Cordarrelle Patterson.
A scintillating player to watch with the ball in his hands during his time at the University of Tennessee, Patterson is one of those rare speed and size combo athletes who can truly do it all on the field.
While there's no doubt that he will have to learn over time and grow as a wide receiver, the impact this young man can make taking back kicks can be felt from the moment his cleats touch the field.
An explosion waiting to happen, Patterson's ability to change direction and break away from defenders will excite Vikings fans well beyond this season.
Adrian Peterson Chasing Eric Dickerson's Record
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"MVP! MVP!" Can't you just envision the crowd roaring as Adrian Peterson enters the Metrodome this season?
Last season, AP fell just nine yards shy of breaking the legendary Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. And while Dickerson may still own that record, coming off a devastating knee injury, AP, with all things considered, might have produced the better season.
But, either way, you can bet that the heart and soul of the Vikings offense will be ready to make another run at history in 2013.
Peterson, who still might not be human—only Dr. James Andrews knows the truth—is the living definition of excitement.
I don't have to tell you about his bone-crushing running style or his pedal-to-the-floor DeLorean-like speed. Because we all know that watching AP play has been one of the true pleasures Vikings fans have gotten to enjoy since he was drafted way back in 2007.
Even if Peterson doesn't break Dickerson's record, like many Vikings fans, I know that when this season comes to a close, we will all have gained even more respect and a better appreciation for one of the greatest running backs to come along in NFL history.
The Emergence of Kyle Rudolph
Another major reason Vikings fans should be excited about 2013 is the emergence of Kyle Rudolph.
Rudolph, who's entering his third season with the Vikings, should be able to improve and build on his past success this season.
Hauling in nine touchdowns to go along with 53 receptions, Rudolph proved to his coaches and teammates that he could be used as a valuable weapon for quarterback Christian Ponder moving forward.
With that Rob Gronkowski-like build, 2013 could prove to be an even bigger year for Rudolph. With the additions of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, this former Notre Dame standout should find it a lot easier to get open downfield—increasing his yardage totals and overall contribution to the Vikings offense.
A player who constantly wants to get better, Vikings fans should be thrilled about getting the chance to watch Rudolph suit up in 2013.
Getting a Shot at Redemption
On October 27, 2013, the Minnesota Vikings will get their first shot at sweet redemption.
After last year's disappointing playoff loss to a Green Bay team that didn't see us at full strength, Vikings fans have to be thrilled about getting another shot at Aaron Rodgers in a pivotal division game.
With the home crowd roaring, the purple-and-gold machine will be ready to rock when Minnesota takes on the rival Packers on national TV.
Thanks to the addition of Greg Jennings and the growth of the young players, this year things will be different. A classic battle between two elite NFC teams, Vikings fans should be counting down the days until the Packers come rolling into Minnesota ready for war.
The Growth of Harrison Smith
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Three interceptions, 104 combined tackles and one sack later, Harrison Smith emerged as a true rising star for the Vikings last season.
Coming off a fantastic rookie campaign, Smith enters camp this season a more polished and experienced player. If this up-and-coming safety can improve on his rookie year, Vikings fans are in for a treat.
When talking about the Vikings secondary, a lot of negative energy has been spread around in regard to the inexperience of Chris Cook and the departure of Antoine Winfield. But if you're a "looking-at-the-glass-half-full" type of guy, then you will agree that the real storyline in the secondary this season is Smith.
The type of player who seems to always find the football, watching him on tape, you can see right away this guy has great instincts and perspective on the field.
This season, as he begins to grow and develop even more into a playmaker, Vikings fans will start to get a real glimpse of just how fantastic this young man can be.
A true shining star within the organization, Smith is the real deal.
Watching Jared Allen
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With the 2013-14 season potentially being the last time we will ever get to watch All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen in a purple uniform, Vikings fans should be excited about getting to watch this man perform possibly one last time.
Whether he comes back or leaves next season, the 74 sacks Allen has racked up over his tenure with the team has been just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact this guy has made for this franchise.
A true leader by nature, Allen has been the key part of the revamped and deadly Vikings defensive unit. One of the most fearless and intense players you'll ever get to watch play, the relentless Allen will be back to full health as he attempts to shatter offensive linemen on his way to hunting down quarterbacks and helping the Vikings any way he can.
Many Vikings fans hope that both sides will reach an agreement and Allen will return to the team after this season, but if he doesn't, at least we can be excited about watching the mullet ride off into the sunset, leaving everything he had on the field as he fades into the distance.
Forget Cordarrelle Patterson and Sharrif Floyd for a second, because the top rookie drafted in this year's star-studded Vikings class might be the man they call Xavier Rhodes.
Rhodes, fresh out of Florida State, has impressed during his time with the team so far, sparking hopes that he can help fill the void left behind by longtime veteran Antoine Winfield.
A physical player who seems willing to learn every step of the way, Rhodes is the type of guy who will be embraced in the locker room.
In a division overloaded with talented wide receivers, it's no secret that this guy will have to learn on the fly if he has any chance of making an immediate impact for the Vikings this season.
One of the team's highly coveted first-round picks, watching this young cornerback perform under the scorching-hot NFL lights will be something Vikings fans can look forward to experiencing together each and every week.
Finding the Franchise Quarterback
It's been talked about over and over again, but you can't stress it enough, this year truly is Christian Ponder's make-or-break season.
Entering his second full season as the starter of the Vikings, Ponder will have every opportunity he needs to succeed this season.
With the additions of Greg Jennings and the emergence of Kyle Rudolph, Ponder's targets have dramatically improved since last season—not to mention he still has Adrian Peterson breathing smoke out of his nose just waiting to carry the pigskin out of the backfield.
While some Vikings fans aren't very optimistic about Ponder's long-term viability as the leader of this team, every fan should be excited about finally getting the answer to that burning question:
"Is Christian Ponder a franchise quarterback?"
The debate will rage on until next season is well underway, and until then all we can do as fans and journalists is sit back and examine his progress this offseason while we try to predict the future.
But as the legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel once said, "Never make predictions, especially about the future."
The Joe Webb Experiment
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It's rare that you get excited about a former quarterback who performed horribly in a playoff game the following season.
But in the case of Joe Webb, things are different.
Thanks to his freakish athleticism, the 6'4" Webb has been switched over from the quarterback position to wide receiver this offseason.
A big, strong type of player who possesses great speed, Webb should be able to help the Vikings out this season in a bunch of different ways.
Sparking the creative sides of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, fans should get excited about the possibility of watching Webb contribute on a weekly basis if he makes the team.
Even though his time as a quarterback in this league has come to an end, if he can utilize his skills, Webb should be able to find a niche on special teams and, who knows, maybe even make an impact for the team down the road as a wide receiver.
Either way, it will be exciting to see if Webb can turn his career around and become a productive player for the Vikings in some sort of capacity.
Wrapping things up, it's clear that 2013 is going to be an exciting year for Vikings fans. With an improving roster, the growth of our young core and the additions of some fresh faces, Vikings fans will be waiting—anxiously accompanied by butterflies in their stomachs—for this new season to get underway.