Minnesota Vikings: A 20-Month Journey to Rock Bottom
It was roughly 20 months ago when Vikings fans everywhere had their hearts ripped out by a senseless "12 men on the field" penalty, followed by a classic Brett Favre interception to set the Saints up for a trip to the Super Bowl and ultimately a Lombardi Trophy.
Since that fateful night, nothing has gone right for the Vikings or their fans. I could go on for hours about the trials and tribulations for the Vikings over the last 20 months, but I will try to sum it up.
It all started with the Favre interception in New Orleans. We will skip the immediate fallout and depression of the ensuing days and focus on the offseason that year.
Chester Taylor left town to join the hated Bears. The Vikings drafted Toby Gerhart, who looks like he is running in sand next to Adrian Peterson. It took months (again) for Favre to make up his mind, and it took a much publicized trip to Mississippi by Jared Allen, Ryan Longwell and Steve Hutchinson to pull Favre away from the high school kids he was practicing with. Only then did Favre finally return to Minnesota for one more year.
While this was going on, the Vikings' top receiver, Sidney Rice, was enjoying his offseason until early in camp, he decided he needed hip surgery and would miss half the season. This was a blow to the Vikings receiving corps they never quite recovered from.
While Rice had his hip issues, Percy Harvin had migraine issues which never allowed him to practice enough in training camp to establish timing with anybody.
Once the 2010 season started, Vikings fans still saw promise. The Vikings looked decent against the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, but then lost a heartbreaker to Miami before beating Detroit to go into the bye week.
During that bye week, the trade happened. The Vikings brought back No. 84, Randy Moss. Like most Vikings fans, I loved seeing Moss back in the purple and yellow, but those good feelings didn't last long.
The Vikings went 2-5 in their next seven games. Losing was bad enough, but it was piled on by the Moss fiasco, which resulted in Randy being unproductive, having harsh words for the Vikings mom-and-pop caterers, and being released only weeks after trading for him.
The next person the Vikings released was Brad Childress. He had to go. Leslie Frazier was promoted to interim head coach.
Frazier went 3-3 to end the year. .500 through the final six games didn't look too bad, but it wasn't easy.
First, the Metrodome roof came down. The roof collapse has been shown thousands of times and is still an embarrassment to the Vikings and their fans. The Vikings were forced to play home games in Detroit and at TCF Bank Stadium, home to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
During this rough stretch, the Vikings found out that Tarvaris Jackson was still not a starting quarterback. Joe Webb dazzled—while still showing he wasn't the answer at quarterback either—in a late season game against Philadelphia. The Vikings ended the season at 6-10.
It seemed the nightmare was over, but it was just beginning. The NFC championship game could not have been worse for Vikings fans. The hated rivals, the Bears and Packers, played for the right to go to the Super Bowl—a right earned by the Packers. Vikings fans throughout the country were watching their two most hated teams play in the game the Vikings blew a season before.
When should Christian Ponder take over the starting role?
In the offseason, the Vikings promoted Leslie Frazier to Head Coach, and reached in the draft for Florida State Quarterback Christian Ponder. The Ponder selection was met with confusion from Vikings fans and football commentators alike.
Following the NFL lockout, the Vikings shored up the quarterback position by signing aging veteran Donovan McNabb. This move was also met with hesitation. McNabb had been underwhelming in his two previous seasons in Philly and Washington.
The Vikings also lost Tarvaris Jackson (who cares?) and Sidney Rice to the Seahawks. These two losses were not very harmful, but a No. 1 receiver's (Rice) presence has been missed.
Moving on to the actual 2011 season. Do I really need to recap the first month of football?
The Vikings became the first team ever to blow double-digit halftime leads in three consecutive weeks, then laid a stinker against a winless Kansas City Chiefs team.
Things could not be worse in Minnesota right now. Some people are even calling for an Adrian Peterson trade, much like the Herschel Walker trade that the Vikings got the worst of 20 years ago. I am not on board with this idea, but it is being floated.
If this isn't rock bottom as a Vikings fan, I don't want to know what is.
It is time to either bottom out with Christian Ponder and go for a top draft pick (Andrew Luck), or find out that Ponder is the Vikings future quarterback and build around Ponder, AP and Harvin.
Times are tough in Minnesota. Let's hope they start to look up, either in the standings or on the draft board.
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