Minnesota Vikings 2010 Preview
Last Years Record 12-4
Wins: Detroit Lions (x2), Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers (x2), San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants
Losses: Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals
RB, Oklahoma, Drafted #7, 4th Year
Adrian Peterson in 2009 performed remarkably well and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18, along with 1819 total yards from scrimmage. Peterson in three years has gained 5313 all purpose yards, while also compiling 40 rushing touchdowns over that span of time. In retrospect, former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith (NFL’s all-time leading rusher, and 2010 Hall of Fame Inductee) gained 5034 all-purpose yards with 41 rushing touchdowns. A little scary huh? Yeah he’s that good. Also worth noting, his fumble problems? 20 fumbles in 3 seasons? Yeah Emmitt Smith fumbled 19 times in his first 3 seasons as well…He went on to only have one more 7 fumble season for the rest of his career. We hope that Peterson can make the same development this year. Peterson hasn’t eclipsed 375 carries yet, and if the Vikings are wise in his usage he has the talent to surpass Smith’s rushing record.
Impact Player Brett Favre
QB, Southern Miss, Drafted #33, 20th Year
Apparently this is the gunslingers last rodeo for good… For some reason I don’t believe him, but what I do know is that he will mow down defenses again this fall. After arguably his best year in 19 seasons, it was disappointing to see Favre fail to reach the Super Bowl. This offseason Favre had surgery on his ankle, an injury that has nagged him his entire career. Favre holds numerous passing records, however anything short of a Super Bowl in 2010 will be a disappointment to him; he is a winner and instantly makes the talented Vikings team a title contender.
Biggest Offseason Addition Javon Walker/Greg Camarillo
This offseason, Vikings leading receiver Sidney Rice injured his hip, requiring surgery that will put him out through the first 6 weeks of the season. This is a huge blow to one of the most prolific offenses in 2009, as Rice recorded 83 receptions for 1312 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Favre and Rice made an instant connection, as Rice was the Vikings go-to receiver in big time situations. In order to fill the gap left by Rice and the uncertainty surrounding Percy Harvin’s migraine issues, the Vikings acquired Javon Walker and Greg Camarillo. Walker is a one-time Pro Bowler who has 2 1,000 yard receiving seasons under his belt. During his 4 year stay with the Packers catching passes from Brett Favre, Walker caught 157 passes for 2,444 yards. Walker and Favre weren’t exactly best pals, however they got the job done together. Greg Camarillo following a knee injury that knocked him out of the 2008 season, rebounded in 2009 with an excellent season. Camarillo dropped zero passes through 73 targets, a remarkable feat for any receiver to achieve; Camarillo provides a secondary slot option across from Harvin, with the ability to make catches across the middle. Walker looks to start opposite of Bernard Berrian on the outside, and will supply Favre with another deep threat.
Biggest Offseason Loss Chester Taylor
RB, Toledo, Drafted #207,9th year
The primary backup for Adrian Peterson the last three seasons, Taylor has been one of the league’s top pass catchers out of the backfield over the past four seasons, catching 160 passes. Taylor has polished hands, is great in pass protection, and has shown the ability to break open some big play runs. Replacing Taylor this season is rookie Toby Gerhart, who is a very talented and hard working back out of Stanford. My personal pick for the Heisman trophy in 2009, Gerhart lost to Mark Ingram by just a hair. Gerhart is a stronger back who has the ability to develop into a workhorse back in my opinion, however Gerhart is nowhere near the receiveing threat that Chester Taylor was. Don’t get me wrong however, Gerhart is a very capable receiver in the short to intermediate game, and he will likely be used in spelling Peterson’s carries. Gerhart’s all-around abilities to do it all as a back will allow him to succeed in the NFL, nevertheless Taylor will be missed; look for an increase in Vinsanthe Shaincoe’s and Bernard Berrian’s numbers as the two will be more heavily targeted by QB Brett Favre.
Biggest Draft Steal Toby Gerhart
RB, Stanford, Drafted #51, Rookie
The Heisman trophy runner up in 2009, Gerhart rushed for 1,871 yards and 28 TDs setting single season and all-time career rushing records at Stanford. Critisized for his lack of speed and explosiveness, Gerhart silenced Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay when he ran his 40 yard dash in 4.53 seconds. Gerhart is a complete running back who will be a great addition to this talented Vikings offense.
Biggest Draft Mistake Missing on Patrick Robinson
After trading up into the 2nd round, the Vikings narrowly missed on drafting their man Patrick Robinson. This forced them into taking Chris Cook; Cook is a raw talent who has upside, however will not overtake either cornerback position. The defensive backfield is still the team’s liability and until they address this need, we will only see close failures at reaching a Super Bowl.
Offseason Grade B-
The Vikings addressed a few issues in the 2010 offseason; get Brett Favre back, draft talent and depth on defense, and replenish a injury plagued receiving core. Vikings have one more chance to win a Super Bowl with Favre as he has stated this is his last season.
X-Factor Pass Defense
The only issue for the forceful defense, the Vikings pass defense finished in the bottom half of the NFL in pass yards allowed in 2009. The drafting of Chris Cook adds depth to a weak unit, however the coverage ability of the corners is questionable, and the question marks surrounding safety abound. Cedric Griffen and Lito Sheppard need to up their play dramatically for this unit to be where it needs to be.
Name You Should Know Ray Edwards
DE, Purdue, Drafted #127, 5th Year
Over the course of the last 2 seasons, Edwards has combined for 105 tackles, and an impressive 13.5 sacks. Edwards is a quick, speed rusher who uses his high energy to overwhelm blockers. In the Vikings 2 playoff games in’09, Edwards played huge with 8 total tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Edwards plays even better in high pressure situations, and looks to continue his impressive play in 2010.
Rising Star Tarvaris Jackson/Joe Webb
Both QBs Jackson and Webb are extremely athletic kids, who have the ability to stretch defenses with their running abilities. Jackson has shown tremendous strides in improving his passing game. Webb is a more explosive runner than Jackson, but a raw talent at QB; I see him converting to WR at some point in his career. Its good to see however, that Jackson is ready to take lead when Favre retires.
Offensive Outlook A-
The offense for the Vikes once again looks to be high octane and explosive. Following a breakout season in ’09, Rice sadly underwent hip surgery this offseason. This injury will likely slow Rice down for the duration of his career, and he could possibly never return to his ’09 form. Nevertheless the team returns Favre, AD, and a deep receiving corps, which leads me to believe that there will be no hiccups following a disastrous finish Vs. the Saints in the NFC Championship game.
Defensive Outlook B+
Minnesota has in my mind, the most dominant front seven in all of football. Ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards provide a steady, intense pass rush, and Pat and Kevin Williams anchor the middle. LBs E.J. and Erin Henderson, Chard Greenway, and Ben Leber are solid starters who control the running game. The defensive backfield is the only weakness I find in this otherwise solid unit. At times, the Vikings were torn apart in the pass attack, and if they improve slightly we could see an even deeper playoff run.
Special Teams Outlook A-
Kicker Ryan Longwell is possibly one of the most consistent and clutch kickers in the game today. Return man Darius Reynaud is a light-footed, quick runner who can break open big plays at any moment, and punter Chris Kluwe was among the league’s top punters in ’09.
Projected 2010 Record 11-5
The loss of Rice from the offense will be bigger than expected, as Favre loses his go-to WR. Adrian Peterson sees an increase in touches, due to the loss of Taylor. This increase will likely wear on Peterson as the season progresses, and late in the season we could see the Vikes drop some games. With that said, I feel Peterson is primed for a huge season, he has improved steadily over the course of his career and looks more polished catching passes out of the backfield.The defense will continue its impressive play, but will give up big plays in the passing game. This team will contend all season for a NFC Championship; Brett Favre badly would like to add another Super Bowl to his resume.