Saturday, April 23, 2005

Vikings Filling Needs Quickly

Started Wednesday, 25 March, 2005, Finally Finished 34 April, 2005 as the draft kicks off

This is a pre-draft article.

This has been a crazy offseason for the Minnesota Vikings. I don't want to cover most of the 'action' yet but I did want to talk about the Vikings needs and how they are filling those needs.

There's a lot to cover with this team and to be honest, different people see the needs differently. Because of that, I asked a Brad S., a Vikings fan with great football knowledge, to share his expertise as well when it came to looking at what's needed by the Vikes.

Disclaimer: I asked Brad to share his thoughts on the team's needs and have not read his material as I write mine. I respect Brad's opinions and did not want to taint my opinions with his insight. He completed his analysis before I did so all I know is he sent three messages called "Rating the Offseason (Offense)", "Rating the Offseason (Defense)", and "Rating the Offseason (Special Teams)" so I broke down my thoughts in the same blocks.

Rating the Offseason (Offense)

Don's Take

Offensively, the Vikings were stacked last year. Burleson emerged and rumors of trading Micheal Bennett proved the Vikings were deep at that position. The quarterback position looks solid and the loss of Gus Frerotte to Miami was quickly covered by the return of ex-Viking Brad Johnson.

The offensively line seems to be the biggest need and I suspect we'll see some draft picks to restock the line. There's still a lot of time left for the Vikings to improve an already-good offense so I'm not concerned.

Did you think I'd skip wide receiver? Well, I'm writing this before the draft and honestly, I really don't think they HAVE to draft a wide receiver. However, I will say that I pity the guy who will undoubtedly be compared to Randy Moss for his entire career. It's too bad. If the Vikings do draft a wide receiver, I wish the young man luck in dodging the Randy comparison.

Brad's Take

Offense, so far about a C for work to improve

Traded Moss, the top 1 or 2 wideout in the league, but this is actually a plus to moral, but a minus to Offense prowness.

Kept Wiggins, good move, can be a key player with Kleinsasser. Gives them potential for a great option pass system.

To improve they need to...

commit to one running back and make him the focus, RBC will not work.

Get a WR to replace Moss as deep speed threat. This will need to be in the Draft, not FA. Burleson should be the #1, new draft #2, Robinson #3. Robinson seems best suited to be a situational WR, not a starter.

Need depth on the line, too many injuries weaken the line.


Rating the Offseason (Defense)

Don's Take

For me the D was an enigma in 2004. The D was not good in 2003 and things did not get better. Oddly enough, the team that excelled at collecting turnovers disappeared only to be replaced by guys who couldn't even carry Fred Smoot's equipment.

The real problem with 2004 was the unexplained drop off from the previous year. Maybe 2005 will show us which team was the fluke. I know Vikings fans are hoping a return to the ball-hogging 2003 defense. You can bet that former Redskin Fred Smoot will light a fire in the D's house. It will be wild to watch.

But Fred's not the only addition. The Vikings seriously addressed their defensive woes this offseason by picking up three great defensive additions. Look whom they picked up:

  • #1 free agent tackle Pat Williams

  • ex-Packer safety Darren Sharper

  • Of course, all-pro cornerback Fred Smoot

Brad's Take

Defense Currently a C

Offseason activities an A-

Line fair. Added a DT will help, need more depth

LB fair/poor, no stamina for season. Harris big questions. Lost Claiborne, not sure that hurts except maybe some leadership, but they did not seem to have it last year anyway. Need to address in Draft, second pick in 1st round or 2nd round depending on LB depth.

Secondary, fair/poor, seemed confused and dazed at times in 2004. Big, good moves in offseason. Smoot and Sharper big pluses. We should have a top 10 secondary if coached right.

Still need to get another quality LB in draft or trade. And Depth, Depth, Depth. We could be a 10 top defense if done right.

One Offense Note

Gardner trade seems unnecessary, not sure what they want unless they plan to trade a WR as well.

Final thoughts

Offense needs to get back to have a top 5 producing RB and work more at using Daunte's scambling skills with option passes and boot legs. Get the people that can produce in the open and let them get the yards. Use the vertical pass as an option, not as the primary goal of every play.

Defense, just make it better, we should be playing to get field postion, not limiting them to just 3 points each time they go down the field. Oh and keep them to 3 when they do get down the field, too many times they broke for 6 when it should have been 3.


Rating the Offseason (Special Teams)

Don's Take

The special teams biggest gap was field goal kicker. Though Morten Andersen is a hall of famer in acuracy, his range is now suspect. Last year, it seems liked the Vikings' lack of kicking the long field goal was due to a lack of confidence in Andersen's range. I admit to lacking exact statistics on opportunities, but it seemed that especially late in the season, Mortensen's lack of range caused the Vikings to play very conserative instead of getting needed points.

Besides kicker, the Vikings will need to look at punt and kick returners. Leading the team were Burleson and Campbell. If Campbell's resigned (he's an unrestricted free agent and his legal troubles are not helping his case), you can bet the Vikings will likely want to bring in a returner to replace two players who did pretty well fielding the ball.

Thus far we haven't seen a moves in specials teams but I didn't expect anything so I'm not concerned. I've talked to wide receiver & kick returner Ryan Hoag, and I'm interested to see what he can do on the field.

Brad's Take

Current rating D

Offseason efforts D

Need to get some help in this area. I think the coaching is the big issue here. Too many mental mistakes, players out of position, etc.


What do you think? Please add your comments.