Minnesota Vikings: It's Time to Clean House
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If you thought the Vikings couldn't get any worse than their 2-6 start to the season, you are absolutely wrong.
After a 45-7 butt-whipping (even that may be too lenient) at the hands of the defending champions, it has become clear that the Vikings need to clean house.
The general manager, coaching staff, most of the offense and defense and the scouting department need to go. There are only a handful of players that look like they want to be on this team right now. It hurts to see the Vikings wasting the talents of guys like Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen.
The Vikings need to do something. With a likely top-10 pick in the upcoming draft, the Vikings could land an area of huge need at cornerback, wide receiver or the offensive line.
For things to change for this Vikings team, an overhaul is definitely needed.
Is Bill Musgrave Really This Predictable?
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Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has been an absolute bust for the Vikings.
You know the play-calling is horrible when your wife (who absolutely hates football and knows very little about the sport) is able to sit down for five minutes and call what the Vikings are going to do on offense.
Adrian Peterson should not get only 14 attempts against a run defense that is rated near the bottom of the league in a variety of stats.
Two weeks after Peterson caught five balls for 76 yards, Peterson had a whopping zero receptions against the Packers. Getting Peterson the ball only 14 times all game long is awful.
The defense knows when a run is being called. A wide receiver is put in motion into the backfield, leaving all but a single receiver out wide.
With the Vikings' lack of a passing attack, do you really think they are going to pass the ball in this situation? Why not commit to a spread formation and see what Peterson can do when cornerbacks and linebackers are forced to cover outside receivers instead of sitting on top of the offensive line?
Another problem is how the offensive line is being run.
How Clay Matthews went unblocked for most of the game is also a mystery. Watching the Vikings trying to stunt block with eight men in the box is laughable. These lineman are not good enough to pick up blocks on the run.
It's time to say goodbye to Musgrave and his all-too-predictable play-calling.
I never thought for one second that I'd say I'd rather have Darrell Bevell back calling plays.
Did Fred Pagac Forget That the Vikings Have No Secondary Playmakers?
When Pagac faced the Eagles late last season, he sent a blitz package that stunned the Eagles. They had no answer.
It's great that this type of aggressiveness has continued, but when the secondary is as awful as the Vikings' is, it is pointless.
Does Pagac go by the motto, "if it doesn't work the first 10 times, it will work the next 15 times?"
When the Vikings blitz, they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
For a guy like Aaron Rodgers, blitzes do not matter. He will pick apart a defense regardless of whether you send one guy at him or eight guys.
While it's hard to question the play-calling on the defensive side of the ball, it's easy to question the scheme to which the Vikings run.
With two safeties 20 yards off the line of scrimmage, there should not be a single deep pass completed. As we have witnessed all season long, though, the safeties cannot sustain their coverage.
I'm not sure that Pagac needs to be sent packing, but one thing if for certain—the Vikings cannot allow this Cover 2 scheme to continue.
Every quarterback (with the exception of Kevin Kolb) has picked apart this secondary.
What Has Happened to the Special Teams?
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While the special teams units were never a really big bright spot, there is room to question whether or not they have actually gotten worse since last season.
The unit as a whole, outside of Everson Griffen, has been awful.
The Vikings take some of the worst angles on punt coverage that I have seen in a long time.
While this is consistent with the way that most of the defense takes angles, something has to be done.
Angles to the ball is something that is relatively easy to work on. If you see a player running right, you do not run to the point they were just at, you run to where they are aiming. It's not that difficult to work on, and there may be more to the story, but something needs to be done here.
I put part of the blame on Chris Kluwe.
While the guy is one of my favorite players, why he punts down the middle of the field to one of the best returners is beyond many Vikings fans.
There is a reason why punters practice coffin-corner kicks. Why are the Vikings not utilizing this method during the game?
Also, what happened to Ryan Longwell?
Not only did his leg strength disappear, but his accuracy is far from what it was last season. He has missed a field goal in four of the last five games after missing just one all season long in 2010.
It's Time to Overhaul the Defense
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It's easy to criticize the Vikings defense, so I'll try to be nice here.
The Vikings defense played the worst football that they have played since—ever.
The run defense is great. It's still rated as one of the top units in the NFL.
The pass defense, though, is historically bad.
Outside of Winfield, who is aging and struggling with injuries lately, there is not a lot to like.
Guys like Asher Allen, Tyrell Johnson, Jamarca Sanford and Cedric Griffin wouldn't even be practice-material guys on NFL teams across the country right now. However, they are starting for the Vikings. The loss of Winfield really hurts.
With Chris Cook dealing with legal issues, the secondary is thin.
Cook will likely not play another down for the Vikings after this whole ordeal. It's a shame really, because Cook was one guy that was starting to look really good. I'd hate for these accusations to be true.
With Jared Allen playing the best football of his career, it's painful to watch him play for such a horrible unit.
Kevin Williams played great last night, completely manhandling the Pro Bowl-caliber guard Josh Sitton, but he is getting up there in age. The line will not be dominant for long.
It's time to let go of the entire secondary and most of the linebacking corps. Their inability to sustain coverage is terrible.
Who Will Stay on Offense Next Season?
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I've already ripped the play-calling to shreds, but there is more to it than that.
The offensive line is not performing up to its potential.
Steve Hutchinson is the lone wolf. While he has definitely showed signs of aging recently, the guy is still a good offensive lineman and dominated on several of Peterson's runs.
The other guys on the line proved last night that they are expendable.
Phil Loadholt had to answer for Clay Matthews, John Sullivan needed help on every block and Charlie Johnson is more suited to play guard than left tackle.
There are rookie offensive lineman that need to start seeing time. It's time to cut your losses with Loadholt, Sullivan and Herrera and invest in rookies DeMarcus Love and Brandon Fusco.
The wide receiving corps is lacking a deep-threat guy who can bring coverage off the line of scrimmage.
Percy Harvin is a great slot guy but cannot stay on the field for back-to-back plays (or the coaches don't let him). Michael Jenkins has some ridiculously good hands but is extremely slow downfield.
The rest of the receivers can be cut as far as I'm concerned.
Ponder needs more protection in front of him and to the players he is throwing to.
Kyle Rudolph had some great plays last night and proved that he will be an asset to look forward to in the future.
The only guys that I'd like to see around next season include Harvin, Jenkins, Hutchinson, Love, Fusco, Rudolph, Ponder, Webb, Peterson and Booker. Everyone else can be shown the door.
What Should the Vikings Do in Free Agency?
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While going over the roster, I counted a total of seven players on defense, nine offensive players and two special teams players that I would like to see back next season.
If this team is going to rebuild, you have to start this offseason in free agency.
Right now, the wide receiver position looks really deep in free agency, headlined by Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and DeSean Jackson, among others.
It's likely Jackson won't be back with San Diego, and being only 28 years old right now, he will still be productive for another four years easily. Throw money at him and bring him in.
On the offensive line, there is a good chance that Carl Nicks is going to be available.
The Saints need to give Brees his money, and after giving big money to Jahri Evans last year, the Saints may not be able to afford the Pro Bowl-caliber guard. Get the guy while he's still in his prime.
At the cornerback position, it's hard to imagine Cook back with the Vikings. If somehow he is, he'll easily be the No. 1 cornerback.
There is not a whole lot in free agency—the Vikings should take a long look at Tracy Porter (Remember him for the 2010 NFC Championship game?) or Brent Grimes. While neither is an elite option, they are going to be the best on the market, if they make it that far.
For the Vikings to be competitive, they need to free up some cap space. In order to do that, they may have to move Hutchinson or Williams in a trade and try to get some draft picks to start rebuilding.
Trading Williams may seem like a horrible move right now, but the guy is entering his 30s and won't be adding much to the Vikings team two or three years from now.
What Will the Draft Look Like?
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Like I said before, the Vikings are likely going to end up with a top-10 pick.
They severely need help in the secondary, offensive line and wide receiver.
They are almost a lock to have cornerback Morris Claiborne (pictured), tackles Riley Reiff, Matt Kalil and Jonathan Martin, or wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery to choose from.
The Vikings should be analyzing each very carefully over the next month or so.
It's almost a given that the Vikings are going to have to take two of these three positions in the first two rounds.
How they go about picking those will really determine how much success they are going to have in 2012. I don't expect them to be competitive next season, but in 2013 with two years under Ponder's belt, this team could be ready to go.
This is where the scouting department needs work.
Over the last few seasons, the Vikings have done a horrible job at finding talent deep in the draft. They cannot afford to screw these picks up.
The 2012 draft will determine whether or not the Adrian Peterson era is going to continue. If the Vikings don't start winning, it is always possible that the star players may be asking for a trade.