Monday (The Vikings' QB legacy) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • November 5, 2012 - 9:45 AM

The Vikings, in their 50-plus years of history, have drafted and developed exactly one franchise quarterback (Fran Tarkenton) and two other long-term starters (Tommy Kramer and Daunte Culpepper). It speaks volumes about both the franchise QB history and -- to a degree -- the players Kramer and Culpepper had around them -- that we honor them with such a declaration, seeing as how both of them finished with losing records (38-42 for Daunte, 54-56 for Tommy) all-time for a franchise that is nearly 70 games over .500. Brad Johnson, a 9th-round pick who outplayed his draft slot, was never really a long-term starter.

The Vikings have also tried (and failed) to draft and develop other QBs. They have not, however, attempted it very often. They tried with Tarvaris Jackson, and it didn't work. They are trying with Christian Ponder, but he is -- at the very least -- in the midst of a major slump. He is often hurried by leaky protection. When he has time, sometimes his receivers are not open. But the roughest thing is this: when he has time and receivers get that step -- about all you are going to get in the NFL on most plays -- he is either misfiring or shying away from pulling the trigger. Then protection breaks down, or he runs to a spot that makes the protection breaks down, and the phone lines are full.

If you look around the NFL, draft-and-develop has often been the model for recent Super Bowl teams. Tom Brady. Ben Roethlisberger. Aaron Rodgers. Eli Manning. Maybe, this year, Matt Ryan. Sometimes you get a big-time QB at a young age through a trade (Jay Cutler) or free agency (Drew Brees). But it makes sense that the Vikings would try to draft and develop.

Except for this: If you want to talk about the most successful seasons in recent franchise history, the vast majority of them have come with reclamation projects at QB. Randall Cunningham in 1998. Brett Favre in 2009. Even Jeff George in 1999. Of QBs who have attempted at least 100 passes for the Vikings, those are the three highest-rated passers in franchise history.

While the fans scream for Joe Webb, maybe the Vikings should stop tempting fate and go back to the tried and true formula: Spend a couple of years building up every position except quarterback, then go find a one-year wonder. Roll the dice on Michael Vick. Wait for Dallas to burn its team down and dump Tony Romo. It might run contrary to everything the NFL is telling them. But it just might be the Vikings Way.

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