My Dad called me yesterday to tell me about his dream. Now for those of you who don’t know my father (all you avid
fans fan out there—my girlfriend is my only fan and the only one willing to humor this blog) you’ll know that my father is an eccentric guy. He has long hair, and likes to play the bongo drums in his backyard, usually he’s fully clothed and he’s not stoned like Matthew McConaughey. So when he calls me and tells me he has a weird dream to tell me about, I take note. He tells me “Son, I know that Brett Favre is coming back, but he is not playing for the Vikings.” Ok, Dad. “He’s going to be playing for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers will be taking up the clipboard again, and during goaline scenarios, Favre is not going to wear a helmet. In my dream he said he wanted more face time. He might dip during plays, I couldn’t tell in the dream it was out of focus.” I prefer my Brett Favre singing lead vocals for Lynard Skynard, hammered drunk…I honestly think the Wrangler commercials with Brett Favre aren't him acting. Those are actual home videos...I swear. He just lines up his buddies in the mud and declares himself all-time QB and then throws lasers at his friends...
Anyway, this brings me to a brief analysis of the Vikings for this season.
First off, they’re going to be good (that pains me to say as I’m still talking to my therapist about the 34-3 drubbing they gave the Cowboys last year and I cried when I watched the Viking be declared a winner on “The Deadliest Warrior” which has to be one of the greatest shows ever”). They have almost every piece returning, Chester Taylor being the notable departure to the division rival Bears. If Favre returns (look he’s going to return, he just wants to spend more time dipping and riding around shooting and stuff and throwing footballs to high schoolers) then they will be a contender once again.
Reasons they could win the Super Bowl:
Maybe some of you don’t remember, but I giggled like a school girl as the Giant’s ran over Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. The Vikings d-line is capable of replicating that performance (they even play the Pats so hopefully they can truck stick him like the Giants did). Pat and Kevin Williams, despite the ongoing StarCaps investigation, are free to play because of our country’s appeal laws. Jared Allen is free to play because he’s simply awesome and may actually be a real life Viking and descendant of Leif Erickson. (Jared if you read this send me a “Mullet Militia” shirt). And rounding out the defensive line is the underrated Ray Edwards who is freed up because of the havoc that Jared Allen causes. If this front four can stay healthy and dominant, I like the Vikings to go far.
It’s no secret that Adrian Peterson is an absolute monster. He might actually be made of the scales that they showed in commercials last year. His violent running style and ability to get into the secondary make the Vikings success in the air possible. None of the Viking’s receivers are really dominant enough to command consistent double teams, however, defenses are forced to load the box and leave the Vikings with man-to-man coverage. If Peterson can replicate his previous success (albeit last year was a bit of a letdown after he failed to record over 100 yards in his last six regular season games) the Vikings will have success on offense.
While I’ve already stated that none of these receivers are world-beaters, all of them are pretty solid. Expect Percy Harvin to be an exceptional second or third option (think a poor man’s DaSean Jackson). Sidney Rice is a vertical route runner who is a perfect deep threat in the play action game and Shiancoe is a very solid tightend. Bernard Berrian did not have the kind of season he would have liked last year, but he is still a very solid option. (Also, don’t forget Jimmy Kleinsasser as a darkhorse passing option)
Reasons they may struggle
Linebackers, and Secondary
Apparently E.J. Henderson is healthy, but my money says that he never quite regains the form he had prior to his nasty leg injury (this was the worst injury I’d seen since Willis McGahee got pwned by . Also, I’m too young for the Theisman injury). Look, Jasper Brinkley was baptized by fire last year filling in and did a pretty good job. I expect him to be better than last year but neither player is going to be as strong as E.J. Henderson circa before his injury.
In the secondary, I have serious questions about Antoine Winfield. His nagging injuries last year made him an easy target for opposing quarterbacks. When healthy, he can be a ball hawking dominant corner. But at 33 I’m not sure he can reproduce the dominance of yesteryear. Cedric Griffin is also coming back from ACL surgery which makes him a little bit dicey and he may miss some of training camp. They did pick up Lito Shepard but his last two seasons with the Eagles and Jets have been anything but smooth. They also picked up a promising prospect in Chris Cook, who at 6’2, is huge for a corner, but he’s not likely to see too much action except on special teams this year.
The Vikings favorite play in last year’s NFC championship game was the “Fumbleroosky” (or the “Ill-advised throw across your body for an interception”) and they must kick the turnover habit to be a contender. I know Favre threw an impossibly low seven interceptions last year, but that number is an anomaly for his career. I think we can safely expect that number to be higher this year. Adrian Peterson also likes giving the ball away to opponents. To be fair, he can probably afford to have more fumbles than backs with less star power, but he can’t afford to give the ball away in big time situations. He needs to do a better job protecting the football, especially in the redzone.
This may come as a bit of a surprise here but I don’t love the Vikings offensive line. If they are unable to create holes for Adrian Peterson, his value as a decoy is severely diminished. If this happens, expect teams to pin their ears back and attack an aging (read: old) Brett Favre. He’s a tough guy, but if Loadholt, and McKinnie can’t keep defensive ends off of him, he’s going to look like the same ragdoll that got beat up by the Saints.
I just don’t think the Vikings can reproduce the magic of last season. Losing Chester Taylor is a bigger blow than most people think and I don’t think Toby Gerhart is well suited to taking over the 3rd down back role. I think teams like the Packers and possibly even the Bears will close the gap on the Vikings this year. Additionally a brutal early schedule with matchups against the Jets, Cowboys, Packers and Patriots could doom this team. They will be in the playoffs in all likelihood, but I don’t expect a Super Bowl.