Minnesota Vikings: Fatally Flawed

JP FrederickCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - DECEMBER 28:   Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball in for a touchdown as James Butler of the New York Giants defends on December 28, 2008 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 20-19. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings are a team any football coach would love. Be it Parcells, Lombardi, Pop Warner, or the Rock's character from the poignant tale Gridiron Gang, there has never been a coach that wouldn't love these Minnesota Vikings. Maybe Mike Martz would be the exception.

There are many reasons to love the Vikings. First and most obvious would be the Jim Brown doppelganger at running back. Second and second obvious would be the three pro bowlers starting on the defensive line. Then there is the McKinnie/Hutchinson alley; Antoine Winfield's ability to make his 5'9'', 200-pound body seem like it's 6'4'', 260; the dependable linebacker corp with star potential; Bernard Berrian, one of the best deep threats in football, now paired up with Percy Harvin, one of the quickest receivers college football has seen this decade.

There are many reasons any football coach would love these Minnesota Vikings.

And one big, absurd fatal flaw at quarterback that will doom a team flush with Super Bowl aspirations. Again.

Come to think of it, Parcells would have hated this team. Probably hated them to the very core of his being, of his soul. He would run around town in racy lingerie, raving about his distaste for living in a world with a team so perfectly constructed in almost every way a team could be, except for the most important position of them all. Lombardi would've gotten drunk.

Some names change, some names don't, but the Minnesota Vikings preseason story is the same it has been since Brad Childress first stepped through their Winter Park facility: Forget Super Bowl, how will you win even a playoff game with...whatever...you got at QB?

There's a myth in football that if you have a good enough defense, you don't need that good of a quarterback; i.e. Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, or Brad Johnson and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But those quarterbacks didn't have "good enough" defenses; they had rip-throats-out, stomp-on-spines, don't-spare-women-and-children defenses.

The Vikings have a good enough defense, but Cedric Griffin and Tyrell Johnson aren't going to morph into John Lynch or Rod Woodson anytime soon. And while the Vikings have a skillful set of linebackers, they ain't Ray Lewis or Derrick Brooks.

Minnesota has the Williams Wall and the Mullet, and while that is a rip-throats-out, stomp-on-spines, don't-spare-women-and-children defensive line, the defense as a whole can't win a Super Bowl for this team. The offense has to help out, and any offense with nightmare quarterbacks will not be consistent enough to win in the playoffs.

The Vikings do have Adrian, though.

Purple Jesus. All Day. The undisputed best running back in football. The guy with a handshake so impressive that every gall-dang media outlet in the gall-dang country had to report about it.  

Unfortunately, he's looking like he's in some Barry Sanders "Twilight Zone" episode, with Childress starring as Wayne Fontes, Sage as Scott Mitchell, the QB with a heart of gold and a head of lead, and T-Jack as Andre Ware, the QB who started too soon and knew too little.

But Adrian isn't the only guy wasting away his prime years with no QB; Pat Williams is old. Winfield is old. Hutchinson is old. They're not getting older, they're old now; McKinnie, Berrian, Leber, and E.J. are getting older. 

This Vikings team just doesn't have many more years with these players, with this nucleus, this talent. But that talent—outside of the most important position on the football field—is still top-tier talent this upcoming year.

That's where we are with the Minnesota Vikings. Brad Childress and the Vikings front office think Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson will be the quarterback to lead this NFC Champion contender.

But there is just one more thing: Brett Favre. This couldn't be a Vikings preview without mentioning the graybeard elephant in the room.

This isn't a Brett Favre article, now. Nothing is coming about what he should do, shouldn't do, his legacy, the Packers, the Jets, Hattiesburg High School's football depth chart, or anything of that Rachel Nichols nature. Still a Vikings preview.

And from the Vikings perspective, Brett Favre would be the rug that ties the room together.

Brett Favre has never had a running back like Adrian Peterson, and Adrian Peterson has certainly never had a quarterback like Brett Favre.

Despite how last year ended, despite his possible shoulder injury, the fact is 40-year-old Favre gives the Vikings a capable, proven NFL quarterback. Rosenfels can't give them that. Neither can Tarvaris.

Imagine Adrian Peterson running in a seven-man box. Imagine Favre throwing against an eight-man box. Imagine Harvin catching Favre's slant.

Then, imagine Favre having that five-interception game. You take the good, you take the bad, and there you have the facts of Favre.

But that one, two, probably four bad games from Favre is still better than the sputtering offense and field goals that Tarvaris or Sage would give all season long.

This really is a Texas Hold 'Em situation. There is a big pot, Chilly flopped an open-ended straight flush draw, and the guy to his right just put in a big raise.  Chilly doesn't have that many chips left. He can fold or go all-in.

Getting Brett Favre is his all-in. And it's not a bad play.

Doesn't mean he'll win the pot, but it gives him a better chance than folding.