Okay, the thing I like least about blogging is this whole playing “catch up” after an extended absence. Nevertheless, if I don’t do it now, then I’ll feel weird about just jumping in with current news out of the blue.
So, I’d like to address some of the hot button issues that I missed while I was gone. Here goes.
I don’t think we ever had much doubt that McNabb was a one-and-done stopgap. The lockout situation pressured the Vikings into believing they needed an experienced veteran throwing passes if they wanted to win in 2011. As it turns out, they were destined to lose games either way. Tossing aside the laziness rumors, just like Leslie Frazier tossed them aside, it was clear that it was time to let McNabb’s tenure as a Vikings starter end a little earlier than planned. At this point, wins and losses are relatively inconsequential (other than draft order), so it makes sense to start evaluating talent that could be on the roster moving forward.
Everybody, I have to be honest, we need to temper our expectations a bit. Ponder got his first start against the Packers and commanded an offense that was able to put up 27 points… a rarity for this year’s Vikings. It was good to see some young blood slinging passes down the field, spreading the ball around, and occasionally producing the big play. Still, he was only able to complete 40% of his passes and threw two crucial picks. The kid will have ups and downs, and just as it is important that we don’t crucify him after a down week, we need to be careful not to crown him after a good one. The Vikings quarterback situation is far from solid at this point. Whether it is developing Ponder, searching in free agency, or looking towards the 2012 Draft (or all of the above) the quarterback position still needs work.
There is draft strategy that basically says “a guy that fails off the field, is unlikely to succeed on it.” Like any draft strategy, there are exceptions, but the Vikings have ignored that idea in recent years and it has done more damage than good. Cook was looking like a decent starting cornerback this year, after an injury plagued rookie campaign, but allegations that he bloodied his girlfriend during a jealous rampage are indeed very serious. He not only hurt is team by not being available on Sunday to cover Greg Jennings, he is obviously a young man that needs to get his act together off the field before he can succeed on it. The decision to suspend Cook was a no-brainer for the Vikings, but the suspension is temporary, and the team now needs to decide if Cook is damaged beyond repair or if he is a young man that they can help become a better human and get a quality football player in return. No matter how they handle this situation there will be criticisms following shortly behind.
Was he drunk!?! C’mon man, that’s despicable. What can you say about this other than that it was poor sportsmanship, he deserved every penny of his $20,000 fine, and I was glad to see he was able to smooth things over with T.J. Lang. Robison, who has been one of my favorite players this year, gave Vikings fans no room to trash talk with a Packers fan this year with one kick to no-fly zone. Hopefully Robison puts that schoolyard B.S. behind him and we never see anything like that again on an NFL field.
Berrian Being Cut
Just like with McNabb being benched, it was time to put the underachieving stopgaps to the side and see how some of these youngsters can handle themselves in the NFL. I am curious to see if Stephen Burton sees any playing time and how he does. Michael Jenkins seems like a solid #2 receiver and Harvin is built for the slot, so it is clear that finding a true #1 receiver must be an offseason priority. At this point, Berrian’s absence will be hardly noticeable as he’s been invisible for over two years.
Some Positive Stuff
Before the season started, if I had told you that Jared Allen would lead the NFL after seven games with 11.5 sacks, and Adrian Peterson would lead the league in rushing with 712 rushing yards, would you have guessed that they would have the second worst record in the NFC? Me neither. Still, that’s where they are. However, there are still elite talents on this team (Allen and Peterson are not the only ones) and they are both going to be here for years to come. There is no doubt that these are guys to rebuild a team around and should give everyone hope for the future.