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[NOTE FROM ADAM:  This is another installation of my position-by-position breakdown of the Vikings offseason.  You can click the links to view previous installments:  The Passers, The Runners, The Wide Outs, The Tight Ends, The Offensive Line, and The Defensive Tackles.]

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Minnesota Vikings in 2011 was their ability to get to opposing quarterbacks.  The team was tied with the Eagles for the most sacks with an even 50, and Jared Allen came within mere inches of breaking the all time sack record.

There is no doubt that the Vikings defense needs some serious work, but the defensive end position is fairly solidified.  Still, there are options the Vikings have, and evaluations to take place.

Let’s take a closer look.

This week hasn’t generated much news, other than a few Coordinator candidates dropping from the list, but I managed to drudge up some solid links for you all to check out:

 

Reports are starting to surface that the Vikings have, as expected, officially parted ways with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.

Some may find it funny that Dunbar, a fairly longstanding and respected member of the coaching staff, is being fired after one of his key players nearly broke the single season sack record.

The problem Leslie Frazier has with Dunbar may never be made public, but there are a few things to point towards when wondering why this has happened.

First, in May, Dunbar was charged with sexual assault and he received a restraining order as a result of the woman’s complaints.  That type of thing will never sit well with an organization trying to maintain a positive public image.

Secondly, I found it interesting that Jared Allen recently came out and enthusiastically defended defensive coordinator Fred Pagac but never said a word (that I heard or read, anyways) about what a great job Dunbar, his position coach, had been doing.  Allen is seemingly willing to fight tooth and nail for Pagac, which makes his silence on Dunbar even more telling.

Dunbar is likely the first of multiple coaching changes to be made on defense.

Pagac may or may not stay in his current role and may even be bound to leave the team all together.  We already passed along the fact that the Vikings are talking to Raheem Morris about a role on the defense.

Another interesting thing to throw into all of that, Larry Fitzgerald Sr. is a fairly connected guy within the Minnesota sports community, and he is under the impression that Mike Singletary will be the next defensive coordinator of your Minnesota Vikings.

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The hit website Pro Football Focus has taken the internet by storm the last few years with their unique stat tracking and player analysis.

This rating system of theirs pegged John Sullivan as the second best center in the NFL this season and Phil Loadholt as the best run blocking right tackle in the NFL this season.  In a year that Vikings fans had trouble recognizing any positives on the football field, outside of Percy Harvin and Jared Allen, it is always interesting to see their evaluations of individual players.

The latest tidbit of interest involves Vikings outside linebacker Erin Henderson, who is due to become a free agent in March.

Henderson has been named to PFF’s second team 2011 All Pro team as a 4-3 outside linebacker.

In fact, Henderson is the only Viking other than Jared Allen to make either the first team or the second team (Allen was on the first team), which means PFF has Henderson rated ahead of Chad Greenway. 

“Henderson isn’t on the radar of many,” says the article.  “Especially as a two down linebacker, but his play was so good it’s hard not to imagine some clever team giving him more than the Vikings can and get him on the field for every snap.”

After leading the league in special teams tackles, former Vikings linebacker Heath Farwell was named to the first team as a special teamer.

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Another week, another loss.

This week is somewhat different than previous weeks, however, as it is difficult to even find a “bright spot” to point out.  Nobody’s individual performances were really much to get excited about.  Toby Gerhart, Everson Griffen, and Benny Sapp would be candidates I suppose, but this 42-20 loss to the Saints was absolutely dreadful.

Veterans like Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen continue to express frustration after this loss, Peterson desiring more carries and Allen disagreeing with the fact that he was pulled late in the game.

In a week that featured a number of upsets, with the Colts getting their first win and the Packers getting their first loss, the Vikings continued to play a version of this game that only vaguely resembles American Football.

Fans can take some solace in the fact that this loss can only strengthen the Vikings draft position, with the number one overall pick again in sight.

The Vikings, as an organization, will be keeping a close eye on Christian Ponder over these last two games and there is more and more reason with each passing week to believe that he is still auditioning to be this team’s long term starter.  Ponder himself seems to recognize this.

I don’t know where I am going with this post, I’ll be honest.  I’m just simply out of things to write about this horrible team.  So, I’ll end it on an interesting note.

The Vikings 2012 opponents are nearly set, with 14 of their 16 opponents already determined, and here they are:

HOME:  Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Arizona, Tennessee, and Jacksonville.

AWAY:  Green Bay Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle Indianapolis, and Houston.

The last two spots will be filled by the last place teams of the NFC South and NFC East divisions.

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