Despite another losing effort by the Minnesota Vikings, the contest itself showed a lot of promise in specific areas, and afforded us all an interesting learning lesson.
To veer off topic for a second, I would've liked to have seen a few more of the younger players on this team on the field, but here we are.
Let's take a look at what we learned from this contest against the Detroit Lions.
Many of the Minnesota faithful already know what the team needs are going to be going into the offseason, but what makes the road difficult, is exactly how to approach it.
With significant needs on the O-Line, secondary and receiver departments, the Vikings are going to have to pick and choose which area to tackle first, and whether or not free agency or the upcoming draft is the way to go.
In addition to choosing the path wisely, the Vikings will also have to decide which area of concern to target first.
My personal opinion on the matter is the Vikings have quite a few receivers to choose from in free agency, and acquiring a veteran receiver—perhaps a marquee name such as DeSean Jackson, Vince Jackson or even Reggie Wayne—would have a significant impact on this team in a very positive way.
If the Vikings were able to handle this area of concern in this fashion, they could focus their efforts on settling other positional needs through this year's draft, while continuing to develop within.
Joe Webb is obviously more than just a mobile quarterback occupying bench space for the Vikings, he's a secret weapon waiting to emerge on a consistent basis.
Webb has tremendous speed, can even play as a receiver, and of course, has a pretty good arm.
There have been a few whispers suggesting that the Vikings may want to involve Webb more in different offensive roles, but that is left to be seen.
To be honest, however, they should seriously consider doing so.
There are significant pros and cons to Christian Ponder's game, but the majority of both sides are to be expected aspects of a developing quarterback in his rookie season.
On the downside, Ponder really needs to stop holding onto the ball so long, and he needs to run through his pre-snap reads just a bit better if he is to elevate his play.
On the upside, ponder has clearly shown he can move this offense, is a dual threat in the open field, and isn't afraid to take chances.
I still very much believe Ponder is the future of Minnesota, but he isn't quite there yet.
OK, Toby Gerhart may not be as good as Adrian Peterson, but boy can this guy run, and boy can this guy contribute on offense.
Through his last three games, Gerhart has rushed for 225 yards and a single touchdown, while also catching 13 balls for 80 yards and a single touchdown.
Gerhart posses enough of an offensive threat on the field, that defenses must account for him, and the Vikings have got to be happy with the ability that Gerhart possesses.
The Vikings may have had one helluva miserable season, but we all have seen shadows of what is to come, at nearly every position, each and every week.
The wide receiver department isn't all that great, but we have seen "no-namers" step up and play huge.
The secondary has been terrible, but at times, have been curiously solid such in the case of this week's game against Detroit as they blanked Calvin Johnson.
The point is, the Vikings are nowhere near as bad off as their record suggests, and throughout each season, there is always one or two teams who happen to fit this uncomfortable mold.
The team is getting younger, the team has a host of golden opportunities in this year's draft and free agency, and the team already has some solid developmental players who are destine to become household names in the North Star State.
See? A brighter future is always better than a darker present.