Minnesota Vikings: 5 Reasons Next Season Could Be Great for the Vikings
After a 2-5 start and a difficult second half of the schedule upcoming, many Vikings fans are looking forward to 2012 knowing they have a quarterback in place.
Leslie Frazier made a change three weeks ago when it was evident the Vikings needed a spark. He appointed rookie quarterback, Christian Ponder, as his starter.
With Adrian Peterson under contract for several years and Christian Ponder handling the reins at quarterback, Vikings fans have plenty to be excited for.
The following are five reasons why they have a chance to be great next season.
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This seems obvious, but any time your organization has Adrian Peterson, your team has a chance to be special.
Peterson is widely regarded as the best running back in the NFL. He boasts the size (6'1" 220 pounds), the speed (4.4 40-yard dash), the elusiveness, the power and the breakaway speed.
He simply does it all and his statistics back it up.
Since entering the league in 2007, Peterson has rushed for 1,250 yards or more in every season and has never seen a season under 10 rushing touchdowns.
He is not slowing down, either. He is on pace for almost 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011.
No contract issues will distract him as he signed an enormous $100 million contract over seven years.
If the Vikings are to be great, it starts with Adrian Peterson.
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Christian Ponder first saw extensive playing time in a blowout loss to Chicago in Week 6. Following that loss, Leslie Frazier felt the Vikings needed a spark and it was time to bench Donovan McNabb in favor of the rookie first-round pick.
In six games as a starter, McNabb threw just four touchdown passes. In two games as a starter, Ponder has already thrown three touchdowns and Frazier is looking like he made the right move.
What excited Vikings fans most was his duel against fellow rookie Cam Newton last Sunday. It was a battle between the future of this league and Ponder came out victorious as he threw 236 yards and a touchdown.
In a year where the odds of the Vikings making the playoffs is almost zero, seeing improvement each week may be more than enough to be optimistic about 2012.
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Jared Allen finished with a respectable 11.0 sacks in 2010, but it was concerning for Vikings fans and the organization to see Allen record just one sack in the first seven games.
2011 has been the reemergence of Allen and he has arguably been one of the most impressive defenders through eight games as he's recorded 34 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 3 FF, 4 passes defended, and an interception.
The Vikings have boasted one of the better defensive lines in the NFL for the past several years and if Jared Allen can continue to lead this unit, the Vikings will be able to focus on improving the secondary.
The NFL Draft
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The Vikings are on pace for a Top 10 draft pick in next April's draft and will need to address their secondary, which currently ranks 29th in the NFL.
Chris Cook has proven unreliable due to his off-the-field incidents and Asher Allen has been underwhelming in his place.
Cedric Griffin has been a very solid piece to the Vikings secondary, but is a step slower after two significant knee injuries over the past two years.
Antoine Winfield is still a capable player when he is on the field, but age is becoming a factor and he has missed the past four games with injury.
In this April's NFL Draft, the Vikings can address their cornerback position by drafting Morris Claiborne (LSU) or Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama). These two SEC products are both Top 10 talents and among the best at their position.
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Leslie Frazier is widely considered one of the nicest men in the NFL and has been a successful defensive coordinator throughout his entire career.
Following the departure of Brad Childress, Frazier was named head coach of the Vikings.
Many fans were happy with this hiring, but also questioned his ability to coach on both sides of the ball.
He has a 5-9 record as a head coach and will get better as he gains more experience.
Frazier knows what it takes to win. He was part of the 1985 Chicago bears team that won Super Bowl XX and at some point will have to instill what he learned as a player to his current players.