Scoggins: Vikings' success boils down to QB

  • Updated: August 31, 2013 - 7:04 PM

The message didn’t change, only the context.

Don’t listen to what people say about you, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier warned his team on the eve of training camp. The NFL is too unpredictable and fluid to fall into that trap.

“I’m sure over this offseason they have had a lot of people telling them, ‘Hey, you guys are on your way, you’re moving in the right direction,’ ” Frazier said.

Frazier shared a similar edict about outside expectations before the start of training camp last summer. He told his players to ignore chatter, which was smart, because most of it predicted a rather crummy season.

“In the NFL today, I don’t know if you want to count yourself out of any situation,” Frazier said then.

In many ways, this season will provide more context to their 2012 surprise, perhaps reveal whether a 10-6 record and playoff appearance was a fluke or an indication that the organization truly is on the ascent. In truth, it’s still difficult to get a read on this team, largely because of its quarterback.

Preseason predictions are mostly a futile exercise in the NFL because roster turnover changes every team’s chemistry. And injuries remain an unforgiving reality that levels the playing field and can submarine even the best teams.

The Vikings look like a talented team, maybe even a playoff team again, if — and this belongs in bold capital letters — Christian Ponder can perform at the level he showed in the final three games of the season. It’s hard to envision the Vikings advancing in the playoffs with mediocre quarterback play, but a more consistent Ponder should give this team a chance to contend for the division title.

But nobody really knows if Ponder can do that and the schedule looks treacherous, so the Vikings inspire an equal dose of optimism and skepticism. Here’s why:

A year ago, the Vikings had more new faces than freshman orientation. This season, they return 19 of 22 starters, all three coordinators and added a few important pieces in Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes.

They have a nucleus of players who rank somewhere between elite and very good at their respective positions: Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, John Sullivan, Kyle Rudolph, Matt Kalil, Chad Greenway, Harrison Smith and Blair Walsh.

That’s a solid foundation to build upon. Yet that doesn’t guarantee anything because so many factors determine the direction a season takes.

Take 2012, for example. Everything just kind of came together for the Vikings last season. Their young players exceeded expectations, Peterson performed out-of-this-world and the team caught momentum and ran with it.

Can that happen again? Sure. But some areas of concern create enough doubt, beginning obviously with Ponder’s development and whether he can be trusted as a franchise quarterback.

The Vikings also are thin at linebacker, and Erin Henderson must prove that he can handle the middle linebacker role. The depth at defensive tackle will be tested if Kevin Williams’ knee injury lingers.

The loss of cornerback Antoine Winfield can’t be overstated because he was a glue for the secondary, and his absence leaves a lot of unknowns at cornerback. Can Chris Cook stay healthy? How will Rhodes fare as a rookie? Can Josh Robinson handle the slot/nickel?

And the schedule is a doozy. The Vikings own the league’s 10th-hardest schedule, based on their opponents’ 2012 record, according to NFL.com. That’s always a nebulous statistic because of the league’s year-to-year fluidity, but the path appears daunting.

The Vikings open with back-to-back road games in the NFC North (Detroit and Chicago) and play only one true home game the first month because of their London trip.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - B. Colon 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
Baltimore - U. Jimenez 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy
Kansas City - Y. Ventura 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 6:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - J. Cueto
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Houston - B. Oberholtzer 7:05 PM
Texas - N. Martinez
St. Louis - S. Miller 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Arizona - A. Chafin 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Chicago 27 FINAL
NY Jets 19
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Carolina 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Columbus
Boston 6:30 PM
Montreal
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Toronto
Detroit 7:30 PM
Chicago
San Jose 8:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Vancouver 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which struggling team is in the worst shape?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close