We remember. It was a season coming off of one of the harshest losses the Minnesota Vikings had ever suffered in an NFC Championship. Beaten on the road after a decisive win at home in the previous round. Fans who disliked the coach for his lack of playoff success grew. But their was hope by many as the team had a new quarterback who had played very well in getting the team to the NFC Championship.
And then, tragedy struck.
A player would not be available to start the season. It would be a blow to the offense, who had counted on this player for its' success. They would start poorly without him, losing their first two games. Then they would win one they should at home to be 1-2 in the standings. A tough schedule lay ahead.
The 2010 Minnesota Vikings you say?
Or maybe the 2001-02 Vikings. Back then it was Daunte Culpepper, fresh off his successful first year with the team. The much maligned Denny Green had disappointed in the playoffs again. The New York Giants disposed of Minnesota 41-0 at the end. During the following training camp, Korey Stringer died tragically, and the team was scrambling to replace such an important member of the offense.
They started the season by losing 24-13 to Carolina. The Panthers would win only one game the entire year. Next, Minnesota lost 17-10 to Chicago. After a 31-26 win over Tampa Bay, they stood at 1-2. The city was nervous. Things were not clicking like they had in the previous year. And they were right to be nervous. Minnesota would make it to 3-3, and then proceed to lose nine of the last eleven games, to finish at 5-11.
Dennis Green was let go before the end of the year. He had not done enough with the talent he was given. That final year, Minnesota had an exceptionally poor Draft, with Michael Bennnett being the top selection with the 27th pick. Mike Tice replaced Green in the final game, and would go on to a mediocre few years before being let go. Both Green Bay and Chicago had success in those years while Minnesota floundered.
The loss of Sidney Rice just before the season has had an obvious impact on Minnesota. The Vikings are 29th in total offense. Brett Favre, who tore the league up in 2009, has a 60.4 passer rating (that's really low). He has only 597 yards and two touchdowns in his first three games. Despite the number two rusher in the NFL, the offense is just not getting it done.
Brad Childress is a coach walking the plank, so to speak. He has had improved success in regular season each year, but little in the playoffs. Minnesota fans are not happy with just getting there. Childress has been given plenty of talent to obtain that elusive first Super Bowl. Positive drafts have yielded players like Adrian Peterson, Rice, Percy Harvin and much more. Acquisitions, like Favre and Steve Hutchinson, have given the team elite offensive talent. Their are many veterans on the defense who are candidates for All-Pro consideration this year. It is now or never for the coach.
Some are hoping that Childress' trend of improvement every year will also apply to the playoffs. Most fans would concede that the Vikings certainly had the team necessary to win one. The humbling of the Cowboys and the strong effort in New Orleans demonstrated just that. But this year's slow start, or more specifically, the loss to the Dolphins at home, has fans on edge. The Childress haters are convinced we have no chance. The realists see a very tough schedule in the upcoming weeks and more talent on both the Bears and Packers than a true Viking fan could stand. And the optimist correctly assessing available talent, is sure that this is still the strongest team in the NFC North. They remember that this team was a play (or huddle) away from winning the NFC Championship. And they have faith that Brett Favre will begin to return to last year's form.
We did experience 2001. It was not fun. This season's start has been somewhat depressing, given the talent and expectation coming into the opener in New Orleans. If it is to be deja vous all over again, it will probably come at the expense of a head coach. Many would like that. Sacrifice a season to get a new head coach. But what if the next one is Mike Tice? I think we should just start winning again with the same coach.
We will find out soon after the bye week is over.
Life is brutal. Whenever anyone gets ahead, thinks they have life 'by the tail', fate comes along and slaps you across the face. Kismet. Swwaaappp. Every time, it seems.
Vikings' Land was confident. The Saints were using up every bit of good luck a team can have to survive a loss in Washington D.C., and Minnesota was waiting for the Sunday Night game against the Cardinals. The place where Tarvaris Jackson lit up Arizona last year. Where time and time again, the Cards have struggled in 2009. It was looking too good. But then winter came. The Arizonans closed the domed roof due to chilly temperatures (60s), and lit up Minnesota to the tune of a 30-17 victory. Worse yet, the Vikings had numerous injuries in the game, including losing stellar MLB E.J. Henderson. Rookie Phil Loadholt and fellow tackle Aaron McKinnie were also out with injuries, along with others. The blooming season of 10-1 experienced a change in the weather, to the extreme.
First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter.
Now we stare at a team with a hurting offensive line, the most important part of Brett Favre's health, if not his success. When Hicks, Cooper, and whomever are in, we know our limitations. We are suddenly missing an All-Pro level MLB. Our secondary is suspect. For the first time all season, we feel the defensive line did little. Adrian Peterson held to near nothing in rushing yards. When the athletes on this team do not perform, we realize that our play calling is non-lethal. Favre in December? Childress? Suddenly, it is raining and sleeting doubt. Blizzards of worry loom, ready to pounce on the Twin Cities.
In the garden, growth has it's seasons.
OK, Henderson is gone. Maybe for 2010, too? But many others are still ready. Yes, we are short some linemen, but guys like Sullivan and Herrera are having good seasons. McKinnie, too. Antoine Winfield is coming back soon. Ben Leber and Chad Greenway will both continue to play well, and help whomever replaces E.J. And I guess Childress and Bevell aren't actually the ones making the plays. It will be fine.
Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
Or how about before the playoffs start? Seriously, we face the inevitable falls of injuries and losses that are a part of every season. We realize that as long as our nucleus is solid, we are still the same team. It will be fine. Really.
Just listen to Chance. It's simple.
For many years the Viking pass defense has been the great cause for concern. Despite a spectacular run defense, Minnesota has struggled to shut down teams over the last few years via the air. In the first two rounds of the last six draft the Vikings have not selected some very good DBs. Sometimes the player they choose has been worth it, such as Adrian Peterson. But looking at the Draft's missed defensive backs over the years gives us reason to the "why" we are not an elite defense. The last six years:
2004 Draft results: 20th Pick, Kenechi Udeze, DE. 48th Pick, Dontarrious Thomas, LB.
Missed DBs: 25th Pick, Ahmad Carroll, Green Bay; 28th Pick, Chris Gamble, Carolina; 44th Pick Bob Sanders, Indianapolis; 53rd Pick, Michael Boulware, Baltimore.
2005 Draft results: 7th Pick, Troy Williamson, WR. 18th Pick, Erasmus James, DE. 49th Pick, Marcus Johnson, OT.
Missed DBs: 8th Pick, Antrell Rolle, Arizona; 9th Pick, Carlos Rogers, Washington; 23rd Pick, Fabian Washington, Oakland; 29th Pick, Marlin Jackson, Indianapolis; 50th Pick, Ronald Bartell, St. Louis; 51st Pick, Nick Collins, Green Bay; 56th Pick, Darrent Williams, Denver.
2006 Draft results: 17th Pick, Chad Greenway, LB. 48th Pick, Cedric Griffin, DB 64th Pick, Tarvaris Jackson, QB.
Missed DBs: 19th Pick, Antonio Cromartie, San Diego; 24th Pick, Jonathan Joseph, Cincinnati.
2007 Draft results: 7th Pick, Adrian Peterson, RB. 44th Pick, Sidney Rice, WR.
Missed DBs: 14th Pick, Darrelle Revis, New York Jets; 19th Pick, Michael Griffin, Tennessee; 53rd Pick, Eric Wright, Cleveland.
2008 Draft results: 43rd Tyrell Johnson.
2009 Draft results: 22nd Pick, Percy Harvin, WR. 54th Pick, Phil Loadholt, OT.
Missed DBs: 25th Pick, Vontae Davis. 55th Pick, William Moore. 59th Pick, Sherrod Martin.
I have been upset for years as we have only chosen two DBs in the last six years in the first two rounds. And surprise, the two we have selected (Cedric Griffin and Tyrell Johnson) are both starters.
If the Vikings want to win Super Bowls their defense will have to improve against the pass. No amounts of Williamses is going to change that. If you replaced Troy Williamson in the 2005 Draft with Antrell Rolle, we would be favored to beat the Steelers this week. If you added another to our roster, like Nick Collins, Darrelle Revis, or Antonio Cromartie, then we would be favored every game this year.
The loss (or potential) of Antoine Winfield (a free agent sign), points to out hole in the Vikings Defense. With Karl Paymahs' struggles, and the name of Benny Sapp being offered in hope, fans are now worried about what will occur versus Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday. That is our cause for pessimism.
Hopefully, the Vikings will overcome the injury issues and move to 7-0. If they win this one, they will shut up the leftover critics. That would be nice...
If they lose, the doubters will gain great numbers and momentum. And we will talk more about Drafts and DBs.
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