Minnesota Vikings: Five Reasons They Will Be Better Than the Critics Think
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The Minnesota Vikings are on the move and hope to have a very successful future ahead of them. Over the past few weeks the Viking organization has worked very hard to put out the best possible team. The Vikings acquired starter Donovan McNabb in the offseason along with quality back-ups Joe Webb and Christian Ponder. Ponder was perhaps the most "pro ready" quarterback to come out of the draft. The Vikings are finally looking solid in a position that has caused some major issues in past seasons.
Leslie Frazier has also been given the reins providing stability and a new coaching style that should be interesting to watch as the season goes on. After dealing with many crisis last season (metrodome collapse, Favre finally breaking down, and having to start a scout team quarterback in the last few games) Frazier has seen it all and kept calm during the storm.
Another position that the Vikings organization has revamped is wide receiver. Not since Chris Carter and Randy Moss have the Vikes seen a dominate pair of receivers. This year with some fresh receivers the Vikings look to become a threat in the passing game.
The Vikings running game will also be a key role in their success this year, relying on Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart to carry a tremendous load.
As always the Vikings defense will need to step up from last years performance after posting dismal numbers and being a non-factor. Last years key players will need to step their game up tremendously if they want this team to go anywhere this season.
New Head Coach Leslie Frazier
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On November 22, 2010 former Minnesota Viking head coach Brad Childress was fired. Taking his place was assistant head coach Leslie Frazier who went on to lead the Vikings to a 3-3 record. This season Frazier hopes to lead the Vikings to another NFC Championship and a coveted Super Bowl.
Frazier was very happy with the team following training camp and looked forward to the upcoming season when questioned by the media saying,
"We had a real good practice today. We were able to hit some situations that the guys are going to face in the game, had the chance to go through some two minute, last plays before the half and at the end of the game and crucial situations that we’re going to have to be good at. I think today for our young guys, it’s kind of like an eye opener because we’ve gone through a number of different situations with them. To know that you’ve got to execute in the midst of hectic times is something they’re not accustomed to. It’s not going to always go smoothly and we’ve trying to put them in different situations and see how they respond and hopefully prepare them to go out and play well on Saturday night."
Frazier will be playing a key role in the Vikings organization and he will be under a lot of pressure working for a deeply rooted fanbase. Frazier will need to make some key decisions this year and figure out who will be best utilized at each position.
A Solid Quarterback Situation
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After signing Donovan McNabb in the offseason the Vikings finally look good in position that has always seemed shaky. With veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb running the offense, the Vikings will be in reliable hands. McNabb is a very smart quarterback with years of experience. He has a good arm and spot on accuracy. McNabb brings stability and comfort to fans who were worried about the future of this organization. Behind him is Joe Webb.
Don't expect Webb to be seeing much playing time this year. Still, he is a capable back-up that is gaining more experience everyday. Against all odds Webb played in a few games last year after Favre was injured. The most notable game was against the Philadelphia Eagles when he threw for 195 yards and had a passer rating of 87.8.
The face of the future Vikings could be Christian Ponder. Ponder was drafted in the 1st round with the 12th pick of the 2011 NFL draft. This came as a surprise to many fans. Ponder may be one of the most NFL ready QB's right now. Ponder is gaining tons of experience and may be the face of the Vikings franchise in the near future. Don't be surprised if you see Ponder getting in on some series' this season.
A Solid Set of Wide Receivers
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Not since the age of the Chris Carter and Randy Moss duo have the Minnesota Vikings seen a solid group of wide receivers. That is about to change.
With Percy Harvin returning this season, the biggest concern for him and the Vikings is keeping him on the field for as many series as possible. In the games where Harvin played the Vikings were significantly better and were a passing threat. The biggest concern facing the Vikings receivers this year is having Harvin on the bench with more migraines.
In addition to Harvin the Vikings have also added to their roster free agent Micheal Jenkins from Atlanta and Devin Aromashodu from Chicago. These additions should provide some passing options for McNabb which will allow pressure to be taken off Harvin and returning veteran Bernard Berrian.
Tight End Visanthe Shiancoe is also returning for the Vikings which should allow for another solid option in the Vikings passing game.
One thing is for sure though, with the loss of deep threat Sidney Rice, the Vikings receivers are going to need to step up their game and make the simple catches in order to be successful.
Peterson and Minnesota's Running Game
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Star running back Adrian Peterson is going to have to step up his game. After having a down season last year Peterson needs to stay healthy and make the big runs that he is known for. Peterson is a franchise player who has done extremely well with the Vikings. In order to be successful Peterson needs to do what he always does and make big plays at key times. Only fumbling once last season Peterson needs to repeat that performance. When it comes to big games, he cannot be losing the ball like he did against New Orleans in the NFC Championship game.
Behind Peterson is Toby Gerhart from Stanford. Gerhart needs to start showing the Vikings some of the big plays he was known for at Stanford. The Vikings need a quality running back that can go in when Peterson is out. Gerhart needs to fill that role that requires some big shoes to fill.
Third string running back Lorenzo Booker is looking to move up within the Vikings organization. Booker had a few good runs in the Vikings preseason game against the Titans. Booker can improve as a kickoff returner and hopefully become a successful running back and return man who will help the Vikings in the future.
The Heart and Soul of the Vikings: Defense
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The bread and butter of the Vikings organization has always been its defense. In beginning years the Vikings were known as "The Purple People Eaters" and were a force to reckoned with. Last season the Vikings did not get enough production out of their stacked line-up. In order for the Vikings to make a run the defense is going to have to step up.
Key players such as Jared Allen are going to have to step up their production and contribute to squad. Allen had an unproductive season and was basically a non-factor in the beginning of the season. The defensive ends are going to have to put pressure on quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers who are going to put up big numbers if not pressured.
Kevin Williams and E.J. Henderson are going to have to stop the running game and do everything they can to keep teams from passing.
Vikings cornerbacks are going to have to step up their play if they want to quiet the critics who have criticized the Vikings corners for years. Antoine Winfield is going to have to step up his game after last season where he was always kind of there but never really did much. Cedric Griffin is another player who did not make a lot of big plays last year. If the Vikings want to be successful, they need to get production out these players.