The TSB’s NFL Training Camp Previews heads up north to the land of 10,000 lakes as a new regime and potential new quarterback look to get things turned around quickly before heading into a new stadium. Outdoor Football all year round will return to Minnesota for the next couple of seasons and hope is when the Super Bowl is in Minnesota in a few years the home team will be there as well.
So lets take a look at the Minnesota Vikings
2013 Record: 5-10-1 (Missed Playoffs for 3rd time in last four seasons)
Passing Leader: Matt Cassel 1807 YDS, 11 TD, 9 INT
Rushing Leader: Adrian Peterson 1266 YDS, 10 TD
Receiving Leader: Greg Jennings 68 REC, 4 TD
Leading Tackler: Chad Greenway 134 Tackles/83 Solo
Sacks Leader: Jared Allen 11.5 Sacks
Int Leader: Chad Greenway 3 INT
FA losses: Toby Gerhart RB, Chris Cook CB, Jared Allen DE, Josh Freeman QB, J’Marcus Webb OT, Kevin Williams DT, John Carlson TE
FA signings: Linval Joseph DT, Captain Munnerlyn CB, Corey Wooten DE, Kurt Coleman FS
1st Round: Anthony Barr, Linebacker, UCLA
Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville
3rd Round: Scott Crichton, Defensive End, Oregon State\
Jerick McKinnon, Running Back, Georgia Southern
5th Round: David Yankey, Guard, Stanford
6th Round: Antone Exum, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
Kendall James, Cornerback, Maine
7th Round: Shamar Stephen, Defensive Tackle, Connecticut
Brandon Watts, Linebacker, Georgia Tech
Jabari Price, Cornerback, North Carolina
Change is in the air for the Vikings this season as they move from the Metrodome to TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota football team, on a temporary basis and have a new head coach and a new rookie quarterback that will be asked to lead the team back from the depths.
A quarterback carousel put a damper on a team that was coming off a 10 win season and a playoff berth the year before. Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder went back and forth as the starters last year and ruined what seems to be an offense that with some continuity wont be as bad as some will think.
The biggest changes, as with most bad teams, happened at the two most important positions for any football team. Mike Zimmer, former defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, was hired as the new Head Coach and the team used the draft to address their issues at Quarterback by taking Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd overall pick.
The Vikings did not make many changes in terms of who is now on the roster and who is not as the only major losses were Jared Allen who signed with the Bears and Toby Gerhart who is now the #1 RB for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Linval Joseph and Captain Munnerlyn were the biggest additions through free agency.
The Vikings used their first pick in the Draft on standout LB Anthony Barr to add to the underrated Chad Greenway for the linebacker core. The defense will be asked to deal with big time offenses led by Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in the division 6 times a season and the Vikings put all their focus on trying to improve it.
Offensively everything begins and ends with Adrian Peterson as maybe the best Running Back the NFL has seen since Barry Sanders is back once again to carry the load. The Wide Recieving core though has got a one-two combination that seems to be flying way too much under the radar. Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson are a nice tandem to have and bringing back Jerome Simpson and keeping TE Kyle Rudolph healthy could give whoever is the QB plenty of weapons to work with.
At this point the question, as it has been since Brett Farve retired, is who will be the Quarterback for the Vikings. Christian Ponder, a former first round pick of the Vikings seems to be the odd man out as Matt Cassel has re-signed and played solidly in the pre-season while Bridgewater is the next first round savior for Minnesota.
I would say that the Vikings have nothing to lose by having Bridgewater start right away considering they really have no chance to make any serious noise in the NFC North. But the other side of things is that going the route that Jacksonville is going and having Bridgewater sit for a year isn’t out of the question.
There are pieces in Minnesota this season that can lead to a bright future for the franchise. Their time is not now and the learning process and culture change with Mike Zimmer as coach wont be easy and another playoff less year in Minnesota is going to happen.