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Whenever A Season Ends, An Offseason Begins

The Vikings, led by backup quarterback Joe Webb, got their asses kicked at Lambeau Field in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

There really is no nicer way to put it than that without being dishonest.  The game was a debacle in all phases of the game.  Embarrassing production on offense, deadly mistakes on defense, turnovers coming from the special teams, and a coaching staff that seemed outmatched nearly the whole time.

With that being said, Saturday night’s letdown is just one black mark in what was otherwise a very pleasant surprise of a season, with the Vikings netting 10 wins after getting just three the season prior.

The Vikings accomplished many of their stated goals in 2012.  They kept Ponder upright for 16 games in an effort to gauge his progression.   The offensive line improved with players that never once had to miss a start.  The running game was one of the best that the world has ever seen, with Adrian Peterson making a very convincing bid to be the NFL’s MVP.

On defense, Alan Williams put together one of the better looking secondaries, albeit lacking depth, that Vikings fans have seen in years and years.  The pass rush was fairly consistent and the run defense was usually fairly stout, with only a select few exceptions in each area.

The special teams unit was overall one of the best in the NFL.

Following a phenomenal Draft from Rick Spielman, and Eric Sugarman earning every penny of his salary in keeping this squad relatively healthy, the Vikings are certainly a lot further along in their rebuilding process than almost anybody expected.

With that being said, there is not a position on this roster that couldn’t stand to be improved, other than kicker, and the Vikings now have another offseason full of opportunity to get even better.  They have an offseason to evaluate the coaching staff, search for free agents, prepare for the NFL Draft, and continue to develop their current talent.

While I was hoping not to be starting this for a few more weeks, the offseason unfortunately does begin today, and we here at VT are excited to do you the favor of filling it full of analysis, irresponsible speculation, rumor mongering, and discussion.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. Good observations Adam, and you guys have done an absolutely fabulous job with this site. I’m lovin’ it, and appreciate all the time and energy you give us. Officially, Thanks Very Much!

    As you Ponder the Vikings offseason (couldn’t help it) I would like to ask you, or anyone, a question: What level of credit does Musgrave get for the nearly record-setting season of Adrian Peterson?

    1. I don’t know what type of deal Adrian made with the devil, but the credit for a season he never should have had, begins and ends with his pure will and dedication to being the best. After that is a long line of people that deserve credit.

      Eric Sugarman deserves a huge raise. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery. Rick Spielman upgraded the left side of the line and conjured up additional blockers such as Felton, Ellison, and Carlson. The whole offensive line. Leslie Frazier.

      I would actually argue that Peterson would have broken the record, and the Vikings might have had homefield advantage in this latest playoff loss, if Musgrave had realized sooner that they are “built to win” by relying very heavily on Peterson. Remember those games when I argued that the Vikings didn’t stick with the run enough and should have kept feeding the beast? Yeah, they could have won more games by doing just that.

      Ponder perhaps deserves credit… because if he didn’t have that November slump then Musgrave might not have called quite so many handoffs.

      1. And thank you, Bud, for the compliments… hoping to keep VT growing and getting better and better.

        1. Adam and Brett,
          Always a pleasure reading your articles, Appreciate your hard work you put into the site.
          As Bud and Tomb said,
          Thank you very much.

      2. Agree with Bud that you’ve done a great job with this site…cheers!

        Also, agree that Musgrave finally realized he had to just feed the ball to AD (think I may have mentioned that when I was debating some rascally ol’ blogger)…I also agree that Ponder’s slump also had much to do with it, and finally also believe Harvin’s injury left one and only one real blue chipper of a threat on the team, contributing to AD getting the rock as much as he did.

      3. Those are points I understand Adam, but I have a significantly different take on it all. We got all off-season to discuss this, but suffice it to say that I think we are wrong to ignore the work of Musgrave in designing an offense that worked to utilize the greatest weapon we have. You don’t simply hand the ball to a running back. Personally, and once more in the minority I imagine, I give him some of the credit for our rise to 10-6.

        1. “You don’t simply hand the ball to a running back.”

          Here is where I couldn’t disagree more… especially with AD on the roster. Anything other than simply handing the ball to the running back is overthinking it, in my opinion.

          1. Really? You don’t think personnel packages, blocking schemes, formations, timing, etc. has anything to do with running the ball successfully? When we hired Musgrave, he said right up front there would be more TE’s on the roster, and that their blocking ability would be critical. Maybe we are differing on semantics here, but my point is that a part of Adrian’s success this year WOULD be affected by the schemes put in place by the coordinator.

            As far as the start of the year, I would like to remind us all that we were beggin’ for them to take it easy on that knee. Some here didn’t even want him to play the first few weeks, “…it’s not like its gonna be a playoff season or anything…” is one quote I recall. There is some hindsight in play here in saying we should have run him even more.

            1. If it is hind sight, then why was I saying it at the time… after each game? And, as you will recall, I also thought Gerhart was way underutilized too.

              And yes, I know what you mean about Musgrave. I get it. The guy oversaw the second best rushing season in all of history. He did. He deserves credit.

    2. Ya know coach that’s a hard question to answer. Musgrave has taken a lot of heat all season but I’m not sure how much he really deserves. Take out Ad and Percy(who’s been gone) and we have the worst offense in NFL history. I think Musgrave held his own with what he had and deserves another year. Same with Leslie.

      That said i think both coaches have a lot of questions so they shouldn’t get huge extensions if you ask me.

      1. lol – “…the worst offense in NFL history.” Whoooo, boy, you are talkin’ BAD there, Skol.

        Yeah, like you, I am looking forward to see what another year will bring – it is pretty apparent that continuity is of value in this league.

        1. Even Ponder can admit his second season wasn’t what he had hoped, so surely you can give me that much, right coach? So, honest question: Is continuity of great enough value to the Vikings that they don’t even entertain the idea of making a change, say Norv Turner, at OC with hopes of jump starting the young QB?

          1. I give you Ponder’s quote, yes Adam, and you do ask a valid honest question. I ask you – did Ponder say his year wasn’t what he had hoped ‘because of Musgrave’? (Well, I know he couldn’t and wouldn’t actually say that.) I think he was just saying he had hoped he would play better. Period. Yes, I think continuity is important enough that we stay with our staff. I find it interesting that this team exceeded our wildest expectations, but we also want to talk about firing coaches. I don’t get it.

            Let’s just give this whole system another year with a more experienced young QB, the Percy thing resolved, and hopefully an upgraded receiving corps. This is a team that finished 14th in the league in scoring (ahead of the Bears, with all their D-scores, Dallas, Lions, Panthers, Colts, and Norv Turner’s Chargers) and 20th in yards. True, Saturday night wasn’t one of our shining offensive nights, but I think we all know there were a lot of factors for that, and I think it might be clouding our perspective.

            1. Firing coaches? Plural? Make no mistake, coach, I am singling out only one guy in Musgrave.

              I know Ponder didn’t call Musgrave out. I’m just wondering if you think Ponder’s growth has been stunted… and if so, what the cause is… and if a change might help.

              Apparently you think no change is needed. That’s cool.

              1. Sorry Adam, I didn’t mean to suggest you were talkin’ multiple coaches, it was just some sort of English language thing… ask Tomb, he would know. And yes, I recall you were calling for more running early in the year. My point was that we were all a little edgy about AD’s knee, and I’m sure the coaching staff was too. I also agree that it seemed to take too long to get him those 30 carries per game, Musgrave would probably admit it too.

        2. We’d definitely be up there coach. With gerhart as our starting RB, Ponder passing to Jenkins and aromashasu as top 2 wr’s. I can’t think of an uglier offense. Even the 0-16 lions had Megatron.

          1. Agree, Skol, we would be “in the hunt”, as they say. I offer the 0-14 Tampa Bay Bucs, of which coach John McKay said, when asked about his team’s execution, “I would be in favor of it.”

            1. Hah I love the quote coach, but I wasn’t alive to see the 0-14 bucs so I can’t attest to their sucky-ness.

          2. Well,
            Toby looked pretty good when he had a chance for that short stint, He’s not A.P.
            As far as Jenkins and Aromashasu…
            OK, Leaning your way lol.

                1. Geez! You even got that one wrong Tomb; It’s Chuck, Chuck, Bo Buck.
                  You just trying to piss me off?

              1. Fran,
                I actually like A.D.A.P.
                All Day Adrian Peterson !!!
                Chuck Chuck Bo Buck …

      2. Money shouldn’t matter much to us when it comes to coaches, since it has no impact on the salary cap, and thus is literally just Zygi’s money being spent. The Vikings cannot go into next season with Leslie as a lame duck HC… that would send a horrible message to the players.

        If the men at the top aren’t confident enough to commit to their head coach, then why should the players be confident in him? Why should free agents want to sign here?

        1. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh geeze I have some discomfort with that.

          Why should free agents want to sign here? Same reason 99% on FA moves are made. Money.

          I’d like to see someone actually ride out their contract, and not renegotiate ahead of schedule. I guess I don’t see any reason to do anything but have him back on his already signed contract for next year.

          1. Well, not either firing or extending Frazier would certainly be an unusual approach for the wilf family. Name a HC that has been a lame duck in the NFL that didn’t end up getting fired in the middle of his final year anyways.

            The decision needs to come this offseason for the Wilfs, one way or the other.

            Extend him.

            1. I couldn’t tell you one Adam but at the same time i can’t think of a coach who’s had their contact expired, they all get fired.

              1. Exactly. That’s because owners don’t let lame duck coaches happen in their organization. Just doesn’t happen… unless the coach is planning an announced retirement.

                1. Maybe they should, i think it’s dumb how nobody at any position plays out their contract anymore.

                  1. I would just do a one year band-aid extension to the year he has left. I know that Frazier deserves a ton of credit for this season but I would want to see another winning season before committing a long term deal to the staff. The Giants did that with Coughlin on a couple of occasions so it’s not unprecedented. It wouldn’t be that bad of a deal for Frazier either. He would get two years of job security and the chance to cash in big a year or two from now if the team continues to perform. He’s not likely to get top money on a long term deal now, so I could see this happening.

                    1. That’s the best idea I’ve heard thus far. A full on, lucrative extension strikes me as premature. I fully endorse what Dan said.

                    2. Absolutely agree with this Dan. Probably won’t happen simply because the Wilfs have so much money and seem to always want to reward people prematurely
                      As to Musgrave, there’s a lot of head coaches that just got fired. I have no idea how many of them are defense-minded coaches but why not interview a few of them before re-hiring Musgrave, who I am not entirely satisfied with anyway.

                    3. I’ll jump on the bandwagon for Dan’s idea. Prematurely extending Childo’s contract still has to be in the back of Zigy’s mind so I would think he’ll be a little more cautious this time. I’m not sold on Muskrat or Ponder at this point so I hope there’s a plan B in place.

            1. Bud,
              Aches and pains,One of the things i don’t like about getting older.
              Oh and hunting around for glasses, I have the Dollar store glasses all around the house…

                1. Funny you should mention that, Charlie. I was hunting around the house looking for my back-up pair of glasses just this morning. Only took me 10 minutes to remenber where I had left them – pretty proud of that number!

                  1. My wife once let me look for my glasses for many minutes, giggling the whole time, as I got madder and madder.
                    I think I was maybe reaching up to pull some hair out when I realized what she was laughing about.

  2. i can’t believe you guys are having this conversation. no way will they not extend frazier. even musky seems safe to me, but not by much. these coaches are all still a bit new, we’re rebuilding, and the coaches are, like our team, doing better than expected. ya don’t get rid of them when they’re on the upswing. who knows, they could turn out to be very good. it’s kind of like a stock, ya don’t sell it just when it is starting to rise. we’ll ride it out

  3. Agree Cal. Frazier gets a new contract…well deserved. Musky should be back, but yesterday he didn’t do well. The option read was working, only ran it 6 times in 62 plays. 5 of those for 1st downs. I’m sorry but….what the hell? They went away from the only thing that was working…

    1. ” The option read was working, only ran it 6 times in 62 plays. 5 of those for 1st downs. I’m sorry but….what the hell?”
      Ant THAT is the best reason of all to take a hard took at Musgrave, before extending his contract.
      He did the same thing, time after time, thru the regular season.

  4. This intrigues me…

    Rodgers goes 23 of 33, 274 yards and 1 TD, leading to 24 points in the win over Minnesota. All the talk is about how he carved up Vikes, etc., etc.. Throwing to one of the best set of receivers in the league.

    The week before, Ponder goes 16 of 28, 234 yards and 3 TD’s, leading to 37 points in the win over Green Bay. Most of the talk is how weak our QB is. Throwing to one of the weakest sets of receivers in the league.

    I know, Rodgers has “arrived” and Ponder is “unproven”, but can’t we be somewhat objective here? And what would things look like if the receivers on the two teams were reversed?

    1. I don’t know if I’d use Saturday’s game as a comparison. As far as Green Bay is concerned, I saw a team that could all but score at will visibly take their collective foot off the accelerator.

      1. Maybe, although I got to believe they would have liked to score more than 24 just to make sure, so “at will” seems a bit exaggerative. Even so, why is Ponder’s line from week 16, which includes 37 points, being treated so dismissively?

        (Just trying to stir up trouble, Tomb. What fun is it if everyone despises Ponder as our QB of the future?)

    2. Watch the tapes coach, don’t look at the stat lines. Peterson doesn’t always lead the league in yards but he’s easily the best rb in my lifetime.

      1. I fully understand that, Skol, but sometimes I wonder if we are more influenced by the “way” he plays and looks, when we should be at least somewhat more focused on the results. I know there is surely improvement needed in Ponder’s game, but if people are waiting for Ponder to “look” like Rodgers, they won’t be happy. The bottom line IS the bottom line, and those ARE comparable numbers. I will never be convinced that game on Saturday wouldn’t have looked entirely different with him under center.

    3. So, numbers are irrelevant all Eason except for in week 17? You’ve done nothing but defend his piss poor passing numbers all season long but now they are relevant? Did we somehow win that final regular season game in a way we are not built to win?

      You confuse me so much Bud! Lol.

      In all seriousness I would say judging how a player “looks” is more important than stats. That’s how scouts do their jobs, by assessing the individual player by attempting to strip away all the influences and circumstances always present in a team sport.

      In assessing a player, however, it is important to take his whole body of work into consideration. Most statisticians, if you want to talk numbers, would label week 17 as an “outlier” for Ponder.

      1. Easy, Adam, easy…

        I think BOTH sides of the Ponder argument can be accused of using numbers when they do and don’t want to, so I’ll let that one sit. My simple point is that Ponder has been a work in progress and has shown improvement, especially in the later part of the season when our opponents were strongest. I have always acknowledged some level of “piss poor passing numbers’ as you put it, but I just find it interesting that when he starts to put up some pretty darn good ones, he’s STILL not good enough. I stand by my point that some of his criticism is about style points, and I think I have evaluated enough football players in my day to know that sometimes “how” was often not as important as “if” or “if not”. Yes, footwork, mechanics, decision-making, all important….and Brett Favre will go into the Hall of Fame with shortfalls in all those areas. (No, I am not saying that Ponder will be the next Brett Favre.)

        Maybe… Saturday night’s rushing numbers for AD showed that teams were respecting Ponder’s passing more that we thought?

        So…. I repeat… I simply find it intriguing that the comparison of those two QB numbers is ignored. Right or wrong, I simply find it intriguing. With that, I apologize for any confusion I cause in my position, and return to my minority corner of the room. 🙂

        1. No, I know what you are saying Coach… Ponder had really good numbers in week 17. I can’t deny it, and I think he got quite a bit of credit actually. In fact, I don’t know if any of you saw this, but at one point had their top headline as “Manning or Ponder? The answer might surprise you.”

          Which, of course, is ridiculous to this blogger that was incredibly disappointed by Ponder this season no matter how you slice it.

          Numbers: With a few exceptions (outliers) Ponder’s numbers were not good. Aaron Rodgers stats you mentioned would be an outlier for him, Coach, as he is consistently much better than that (and Ponder) and you know that. 11 TD’s and zero INTs in the last four games is pretty darn good… his season is pretty darn good… his career is pretty darn good. At this point, comparing the two statistically is just as ridiculous as’s headline.

          Looks: Even in week 17 when his numbers were better, Ponder made some horrible looking throws and reads. Consistency isn’t going to come until, yes, he improves how he “looks.”

          Style: Lets not get ahead of ourselves yet. You know I didn’t like Favre either, or the way he played the position, so apparently you and me (with me being the minority on this one) have different definitions of “style.”

          If your point is that Ponder is better than Rodgers, you are insane. If your point is that Ponder will one day be better than Rodgers, then you are only slightly less insane.

          If your point is that Ponder is better than Joe Webb… well, ummm… checkmate?

      2. Always fun coach… You are a very staunch supporter (as was I at first) and I hope someday to eat plenty of crow about the whole matter.

        We aren’t there yet, though.

  5. … and if you think I was saying that Ponder is better than Rodgers, you need to take a course in English as a second language. 🙂 But in turn, I have learned I need to pay closer attention to these outliers, which are apparently leading me to like a quarterback I should not be liking.

    Thanks for the volley, Adam. Fun.

  6. LOL. I love it when you two try to get all polite at the end of your debates.

    Come on, one of you drop a “Jane you ignorant slut” on the other guy. For funsies!

    1. You’re gonna have to get that stuff somewhere else, Tomb. Won’t come from me. Heck, I don’t always agree with myself, so I sure can’t get mad at Adam, or even you! 🙂