Minnesota Vikings: Which Guys Could Be Under the Most Pressure in 2011?
I'll be the first to admit that the Minnesota Vikings' 2010 campaign was an epic failure.
After reaching the 2009 NFC Championship, the bottom of the division was a tough reality to face.
With a new head coach, a new QB, and a new outlook, the Vikings have nowhere to go but up. Or do they?
With how poorly they performed in 2010, there are some pretty heavy expectations from Vikings fans going into 2011.
For any given player there is pressure throughout the season but some players are often under much more pressure than others.
Here are 5 Minnesota Vikings that are under the most pressure in 2011.
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Back in 2008, Brad Childress brought in Bernard Berrian from the Chicago Bears to be the new #1 receiver in Minnesota.
Since then, Berrian hasn't received many passes, but he has received a baffling massive contract.
The way I see it, Berrian has to work his tail off to stay in a Vikings uniform for much longer.
Berrian struggles creating space and catching in traffic, or catching at all for that matter.
The Vikings don't need to pay their third receiving option $42 Million over six years. After the three he's already had, I'd tell the Vikings to cut their losses and develop a younger receiver.
Of course, I wouldn't be opposed to keeping Berrian if he played like his contract calls for, but it doesn't look likely to me. Berrian will be under a lot of pressure if he wants to keep his job in Minnesota.
Cedric Griffin is one of the few players in the Vikings' secondary that has shown any sort of potential whatsoever.
Unfortunately for both Griffin and the Vikings, he suffered a torn ACL in the 2009 NFC Championship game which kept him from playing early on in the 2010 season.
If that wasn't enough, Cedric injured a knee once again with another ACL tear shortly after his return in 2010.
If Griffin is able to stay healthy, he is a real asset to the Vikings.
He will be under some real pressure to stay healthy for the 2011 season.
Personally, I think he could do that by moving to free safety to avoid further injury. Time will only tell if Griffin's knee will hold up.
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Bryant McKinnie is, in my opinion, the most overrated player on the Vikings.
He is highly respected as one of the better left tackles in the NFL, but hasn't quite lived up to that reputation over the last few years.
His play has gotten lazy and he seems uninspired on the field. Someone needs to light a fire under him or he could find himself with another team, or possibly worse, without a team at all.
McKinnie is under the serious threat of losing his starting job to a younger player or possibly a free agent acquisition.
RT Phil Loadholt has shown steady improvement and could be a candidate to replace McKinnie, should the Vikings choose to go in a different direction. The Vikings also drafted two young, capable offensive linemen that could attribute to the threat on McKinnie's job.
McKinnie will be under the pressure to show that he is motivated enough to be a LT in the NFL. He will have to prove that he is capable of protecting his rookie quarterback.
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Two years ago, Jared Allen was one of the most feared defensive players in the NFL.
However, 2010 was a different story. After a slow start to the season, Allen only recorded 11 sacks.
While that figure might be decent to most players, the Vikings expect more out of this man who, when they signed him, was the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.
Allen has addressed this issue, recently he shared his goal of 17+ sacks in 2011, which would give him 100 career sacks.
This is a lofty goal and one that will likely exert a lot of attention to his relentless pursuit of that goal.
Jared Allen will be under a lot of pressure after making his goal known, but also to prove that he is worth the kind of money his contract warrants.
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Leslie Frazier has done everything right so far, as the Vikings' head coach.
He brought in an excellent new staff to Minnesota, got his franchise QB, and avoided any sort of media related frenzy that Vikings coaches seem so prone to getting themselves into.
Prior to being named the Vikings head coach, he spent his time as the team's defensive coordinator.
In 2009, the Vikings defense struck fear into the hearts of it's opponents, but since then has looked quite a bit softer.
I realize that it is now Fred Pagac's job to fire up the defense, but being a defensive minded coach, Frazier would do well to make sure his defense is in top shape this year.
Frazier will be under pressure to prove his worth as a head coach. He will have to hold this team together as they go through this transition period without some strong veteran leaders on the field.
In my opinion, Frazier has nowhere to go but up in the public eye. Brad Childress was an absolute embarrassment to the entire organization. I am already impressed with the work that he has done since being named the head coach.
I wish coach Frazier nothing but the best as he begins his career as a head coach.
Why Not Christian Ponder?
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Christian Ponder will be under just as much pressure as any other rookie in the NFL.
A reduced offseason will only hurt the young QB, but think about this.
He has the best RB in the NFL right behind him every snap.
He has two very capable receivers in Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice (assuming he gets re-signed).
He has an offensive system essentially designed for him to run, not to mention he got the first playbook.
Most importantly, in my opinion, he has the support of the organization and the fan-base who so desperately want a franchise QB to call their own.
Vikings fans have welcomed Ponder with open arms. That is imperative to the confidence a young QB will have and that will directly correlate (but not guarantee) with his performances on Sundays.
Ponder should be nervous, its good to be nervous. Ultimately, I think he's got the job in the bag. Yes, Ponder will be under pressure in 2011, but no, he will not be in the top 5.
Thanks for the read guys, please feel free to leave me comments.
And also check out another article similar to this one, which visits the NFL's top 10 Starting QBs with something to prove in 2011.