Favre and The Vikings: On Top of the World
Unlike previous seasons, the Minnesota Vikings have experienced a rather slow and uneventful offseason. Over the past few years, they made a big splash in free agency by signing or trading for players like Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen and, yes, even Brett Favre. However, even with little activity this year, the Vikings are finding themselves in just as good, if not better, spot than last year.
Don't forget that at this time last year, the quarterback position was still unresolved, with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels set to battle it out for the starting gig. The competition waged on until August 18, when Brett Favre signed with the team and answered the prayers of every Vikings fan.
There were still questions about how well Favre would play, given his late-season slide the previous year with the Jets, but he answered all critics throughout the season by leading the team to a 12-4 regular season record and a birth in the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints.
This NFC title game would be forgettable for Vikings fans. The team lost in overtime despite a clear advantage in nearly all statistical categories and to make things worse, their savior quarterback was badly injured during the third quarter. It would later be determined that Favre would need surgery to repair his ankle.
This season, the team is determined and in position to make a run back to the NFC title game and probably even the Super Bowl. What have they done to better themselves this offseason? Nothing at all, but a series of events have pointed to the Vikings returning NFC supremacy in the 2010 season.
For starters, Brett Favre elected to have surgery on his injured ankle last week. This provided everyone evidence that he does plan to play his 20th NFL season this year. Everybody on the team wants him back, and they are not concerned about him missing training camp. After all, he missed training camp and the first preseason game last year and ended up have the best statistical season of his career. Could anyone imagine what he's capable of after already having played one season with the team?
Another reason pointing towards success in Minnesota this season is that the team is still intact. The same team that went to the NFC Championship and nearly won hasn't really lost any significant players. Backup running back Chester Taylor left via free agency, but the Vikings traded up in the draft to get Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart. Gerhart and All-Pro Adrian Peterson seem like they can be an even more dangerous tandem than Taylor and Peterson, as long as Peterson took care of his "fumbling problem" this off season.
But what about the Williams Wall? Pro Bowlers Pat and Kevin Williams are still facing legal trouble stemming from the 2008 season when they were handed four game suspensions for apparently violating the league's substance abuse policy. Thanks to yet another injunction, it appears that both the Williams will be able to play the entire 2010 season while their trial will remain on hold.
There are still two question marks on the roster: E.J. Henderson and Cedric Griffin. Both were lost because of severe leg injuries during the season, and many are questioning whether or not they will be able to return for next season. The Vikings obviously saw enough of then-rookie Jasper Brinkley to gfeel confident that he can fill in for Henderson and former Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard was brought in for insurance in case Griffin is unable to go.
Last season, many questioned the lack of depth in the team's secondary. So, along with the addition of Sheppard, the team drafted CB Chris Cook with its first pick. If Pro Bowler Antoine Winfield can stay healthy, and former rookies Asher Allen and Jamarca Sanford can continue to show off their potential, the Vikings should be pretty strong in an area where they struggled towards the end of last season.
The Minnesota Vikings did not add any big name free agents this offseason nor did they draft anyone in the first round of the draft. However, they still managed to have a great offseason. With the return of Brett Favre and every other starter, the Vikings are poised to make another run at the Super Bowl. It all begins September 9th with a shot at revenge against the New Orleans Saints.
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