The Minnesota Vikings seem to be a team that is slowly but surly coming together. The acquisition of former college standout Christian Ponder was a huge step in the right direction for the Vikings organization.
Adrian Peterson is as reliable as always, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. That said, there are a few glaring deficiencies that must be addressed if the men in purple and gold hope to be serious Super Bowl contenders once again.
In the order that they should be fixed, lets take a look at areas the Vikings need to improve on over the next few years.
The departure of Sidney Rice left some serious shoes that need filling. Rice was a rangy player that could get downfield in a hurry and make acrobatic catches all over the field. So with the loss of Rice to the Seahawks, the recent release of Bernard Berrian and the underachieving performances from Greg Camarillo and Michael Jenkins, the Vikings are in desperate need of a legitimate deep threat.
The Vikings should look to draft a wide receiver in the first round of the 2012 or 2013 NFL draft. Justin Blackmon would fit this team perfectly because he would be able to stretch the field and make an impact as a rookie.
Terrell Owens is an option at this point, but most fans in Minnesota would prefer to not deal with his antics. Eventually, the Vikings need to come up with a long term solution to this problem. This should be the Vikings number one priority.
The anchor of the Vikings secondary is unquestionably Antoine Winfield. Unfortunately, Winfield is showing his age more and more with each season, while the other starting cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook have their own problems.
Griffin has damaged ligaments in both of his knees, while Cook checks in and out of jail more than a hotel. The situation at safety is not much prettier, big pass plays have been the achilles heel of the Vikings all season.
Tyrell Johnson has been a disappointment since being picked in the second round of the 2008 draft. The other safeties, Husain Abdullah and Jamarca Sanford, are just names on the roster, and half the time it seems like they aren't even on the field.
If the Vikings don't undergo a complete makeover in the secondary, either via trades or draft picks, the team will be forced to try to come out on top of shootouts for years to come.
Jared Allen has been a one man wrecking crew this year. He has over nine sacks on the season and should set a personal record by the end of the year. Unfortunately, with the loss of Pat Williams and Ray Edwards the team is suffering.
What this team needs is a big defensive tackle who can plug holes and get penetration the same way Williams was able to. And unless Brian Robison can step up and produce similar results as Edwards, the Vikings will need another powerful pass rusher to compliment Jared Allen.
Thanks to a veteran group of linebackers, the Vikings still do well against the run but if the Vikings want a truly dominant defense, this should be fixed as soon as the secondary is patched up.
Rebuilding a team is never easy, it's taken years for Detroit to build a respectable team. The Vikings are not the same though because there are far less big questions to answer—they have a quarterback of the future and a hall of fame bound running back.
But, in football it's about the little things, and getting them right. If the Vikings can fix these few issues, then they could be a juggernaut in the NFC.
Maybe sooner than people think.