This offseason, the Minnesota Vikings have a number of issues to work through if they want to make a Super Bowl run in 2010-11.
While the NFL Draft and free agency will be very important for the Vikings this offseason, the Vikings need to first fix problems at home:
Adrian Peterson's Fumble Problem
When Adrian Peterson burst onto the scene in 2007, he was electrifying. Given the smallest crease, he could score a touchdown on any given play.
In 2009, however, fans held their breath every time Peterson got a crease. It seemed he might fumble on any given play, palming the ball instead of tucking it away.
This is not to bash Peterson. He is a phenomenal running back and widely known as one of the hardest-working players on the Vikings, if not in the NFL. However, like the Giants realized with Tiki Barber, your star needs to hold on to the football.
If I were Zygi Wilf, I would have no problem writing a check to Barber and having him come coach Peterson for a few weeks on his ball-carrying technique.
Obviously, the current Vikings coaching staff does not have the ability to teach Peterson proper technique. It has been three seasons with no improvement on carrying the ball securely.
The key for Peterson is learning to finish a run with aggression, as he is known for, but also protecting the football. If you watched the Vikings this season, you saw that nearly all of Peterson's fumbles came as he attempted to finish a run with a bang.
Fixing this problem absolutely must be a focus for the Minnesota Vikings this season. Barber is proof that the problem is fixable.
During Barber's last three seasons, from 2004 to 2006, he had the best seasons of his career. A big part of that: a new technique for securing the football.
In 2002 and 2003, Barber put the ball on the turf a total of 18 times and lost 12 fumbles as a result.
In 2004, he cut his fumbles to five; in 2005, he cut down to just one fumble; and in 2006, he had just three fumbles. Barber lost just four of those fumbles over his last three seasons.
One might be wondering if focusing so much on securing the football would cause a runner to be less aggressive and put up poor numbers. Barber shoved those thoughts aside.
From 2004 to 2006, Barber rushed for 1,518 yards, 1,860 yards, and 1,662 yards—higher totals than each of his previous seven seasons.
Even if it costs them $1 million, the Vikings need to fix Peterson's fumble problem. The results could be scary (in a good way).
Percy Harvin's Migraines
The solution to Percy Harvin's migraine problem is not obvious. Harvin has struggled with migraine headaches for years, including his time at Florida.
Until after the NFL Draft combine, it appears Harvin self-medicated with marijuana. With strict NFL drug testing, Harvin cannot afford to get busted with weed again, so there needs to be another viable solution.
Though Harvin missed just one game in 2009 because of the migraines, he missed significant practice time. Who knows what could happen if the headaches get worse?
This past season, Harvin proved that he has nearly unlimited potential:
He proved to be a great possession receiver on third downs, a big-play threat in the passing game, a solid change-of-pace runner, a decoy, and a game-breaker in the return game.
Like Peterson's fumble problem, the Vikings will probably have to spend some coin to get rid of Harvin's headaches.
There are a number of medical clinics throughout the United States that specialize in migraines and other head pain.
According to the National Migraine Association, one of the top head pain practitioners in the country is in nearby Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Vikings need to fly Harvin out to this medical clinic, or one like it. If this problem becomes worse, we could have a superstar missing time for a treatable issue.
Like Peterson's fumble problem, even if it costs $1 million, it will be worth it in the long run.