This is a difficult time for Vikings fans. The “12 men in the huddle” penalty, six fumbles, and Brett Favre's interception at the end all brought back the sting of 1998’s painful Gary Anderson debacle.
I intentionally will not write an article recapping that game. The game itself said enough.
With many Vikings fans feeling hopeless, much like 1998, let’s see if I can provide a glimmer of hope.
The Vikings have some glaring needs this offseason—starting with figuring out the quarterback situation. However, there are a number of other issues to be resolved if the Vikings want to make a successful run at the Super Bowl next season.
I am beginning a series looking in-depth at the Vikings’ offseason situation. This will be an optimistic series because wallowing in Vikings pessimism is not fun.
I’ll start with the most obvious and glaring need in part one of the series:
Figure Out the Quarterback Situation
Brad Childress claims he is not holding Favre to a timeline for an official announcement on his 2010 status, as reported by various news sources. Childress is known for being coy, though.
The truth is Minnesota needs to know when free agency hits whether Favre will be a Viking.
We cannot really trust any sources on what Favre is thinking now, including Favre himself. We’ve been in that mess before.
If the Vikings don’t know his status by the beginning of the free agency and trading period, it is in their best interest to sever ties with Favre and engage an all-out pursuit of Donovan McNabb.
McNabb seems to be on his way out in Philadelphia and will likely be available when trading begins on Feb. 27.
Childress coached McNabb with the Philadelphia Eagles and was given much of the credit for his development into a good pro passer. McNabb knows the west coast offense and would be an immediate fit for the Vikings.
Though McNabb has been scrutinized in Philadelphia (what Philly athlete hasn’t?), he has proven to be a valuable player at quarterback.
McNabb rarely throws interceptions, as evidenced by a career interception rate of just 2.1 percent. For comparison sake, Favre’s career rate is 3.2 percent and Peyton Manning’s is 2.8 percent.
McNabb also has great ability to throw on the run, is excellent in play-action, and throws a very good deep ball.
Put him with the Vikings’ weapons and you have a dangerous combination.
The Eagles were high-powered on offense this year with weapons inferior to what the Vikings have. McNabb has never played with a running back that defenses fear like Adrian Peterson.
Say what you want about Peterson’s fumbling problem, but teams did not stack the box against Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, or LeSean McCoy during McNabb’s tenure with the Eagles.
One would be hard-pressed to find many plays where teams did not stack the box against Peterson even with Favre behind center. McNabb would thrive on the play-action pass with the Vikings because of eight-man opposing fronts.
The Vikings also have superior options at receiver. Though the Eagles have deep threats in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, they lack a solid possession receiver like Sidney Rice. This led to many boom-or-bust possessions for the Eagles.
Percy Harvin also proved to be a great third-down receiver for the Vikings, converting a high percentage of his third-down receptions into first downs.
The Vikings are not lacking in deep threats, either. Harvin and Bernard Berrian are burners, and Rice was among the league leaders in 40-yard receptions while doubling as the Vikings’ key possession receiver.
In the Vikings’ offense, McNabb could thrive and finally make the Super Bowl run he’s been hoping for.
It remains to be seen what the price tag will be for McNabb, who has one year remaining on his contract with the Eagles. If they are without Favre, though, the Vikings will have to be willing to pay whatever price is asked of them.
Minnesota simply cannot afford to wait for Favre like they did this season. The stakes are too high.
If Favre returns, we can expect a season similar to 2009, hopefully with less heartache. If I were a betting man, though, I would say the odds are 50-50 in Favre’s mind right now.
In reality, the odds of a Favre return are closer to 80-20 in favor of retirement. Comments like, “I know I’m going out on top” despite not winning the Super Bowl are not too convincing of a Favre return.
I would also bet that Favre will not have a decision by the time free agency and trading begins on Feb. 27.
As much as it would be great for Favre to return for one more season to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl, it does not seem very realistic for the Vikings to plan on it. Suffice to say, the Vikings need to start making plans for a future without Brett Favre.
Regardless of the situation with Favre and McNabb, the Vikings must look to the draft for a future quarterback to develop. Options for Minnesota will include Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, and Jevan Snead among others.
As mentioned in my previous article, I believe McCoy is the best pro prospect of that group. For my analysis on McCoy, please read that article.
Like Tarvaris Jackson, Tebow will be a difficult player for NFL coaches to develop. He is not worth the risk for the Vikings.
Pike and Snead both have the physical tools scouts look for, but lack a track record of performance.
McCoy requires a few coaching tweaks to his delivery, reading defenses, and throwing the deep ball. However, he has a track record backed by strong statistics and leadership. He is the best bet for the Vikings in developing a young quarterback.
Still, Minnesota would likely have to take him with its first round pick despite McCoy being graded as a second-round prospect by many scouts. Drafting McCoy does come with risk.
This is an option the Vikings will have to weigh as they try to meet needs in the secondary, at defensive tackle, and at linebacker. However, the Vikings have made the mistake in the past of securing other positions before securing the quarterback position.
That is a mistake the Vikings can no longer afford to make. They have a team that can dominate now with a good quarterback.
The Vikings cannot let all the talent and money they have spent go to waste with mediocrity lining up behind center.
Obviously, Vikings management, fans, and players are hoping for Favre to suit up for one more year at age 41.
If he does not, it starts with securing the only viable and available quarterback in McNabb and drafting a solid pro prospect to sit behind him for a few years.
For Vikings fans who want to continue sporting a purple No. 4 jersey, you better start praying.
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