by Patrick Marek
It's unseasonably warm in the upper midwest. There's no ice on the lakes, golfers are shining up their clubs, and it's easy to imagine the crocuses pushing their way up through the sun drenched soil. However, for Viking fans, this is officially the winter of our discontent.
With a new coach, a parcel of high draft choices, and a free spending owner, 2006 started out full of promise and possibility for Minnesota fans.
Unfortunately, our hopes were dashed so thoroughly during the 2006 campaign that even the most stouthearted of the purple faithful are expecting more excitement out of the cold and flu season than what the team has to offer in 2007.
In retrospect, it wasn't the botched draft, mismanaged games, pet rock personality of Coach Childress, jaw dropping penalty total, or even the classless way the Vikings released Marcus Robinson on Christmas Eve that sucked the interest and relevancy out of an organization that has dominated the hearts and minds of Minnesota residents since the glory days of the Purple People Eaters. The worst thing that happened to the Vikings in 2007 is that they became boring.
Much has been written about the predictability of the Childress offense...and most of it has been true. When you can sit in your living room and predict 90 percent of the plays before they happen, what can we expect from professional Defensive Coordinators? Guess what? They had the "dink and dunk" offense figured out after two games and started putting 8 men in the box. Because Childress is either the most oblivious, or most stubborn man in the world, he never made an adjustment all season long. The offense for the final game of the year against St. Louis was exactly the same as game one against Washington. With this predictability came great peril, and this incredibly boring and unproductive offense also produced more turnovers than any other team in the league.
Mike Tomlin's performance as Viking's first year Defensive Coordinator has received high marks from most pundits and have earned him a round of Head Coach interviews. However, he should also be taken to task for not making adjustments to his defensive scheme after the Patriots blew it up with short passes and zone busting quick outs. The NFL is a copycat league, and almost everyone (the coaches who didn't should be branded as even more stubborn as Childress) abandoned the run and torched our increasingly porous secondary. Once Tomlin found out that he didn't have a pass rush, he should have changed his secondary scheme away from zone and into man to man coverage. The fact he didn't adjust either mean's that he too is terminally stubborn, or that he has a power mad control freak as a Head Coach.
Here's the good news as we face 2007. The Vikings have the seventh pick in the draft, plenty of room under the salary cap, and an owner willing to spend it. Unfortunately, we still have Brad Childress hunkered down in his bunker making the decisions, and he has the full support of an owner who has promised to get more involved in the day to day operations of the team. Did I mention that the Vikings are considering INCREASING their season ticket prices this year?
And then...depression set in.