...now for the off-season
Well fans, this season fizzled out like one of those state-of-Minnesota approved fireworks that wouldn't scare the dog if you tied it to his tail. So the Vikes lose in OT after staging a miraculous comeback, but a win wouldn't have mattered anyhow. What's next?
Next year, that's what's next. Will Tarvaris Jackson be the starting QB? His play against the Broncos was typical of his season - inconsistent. He can look like a starting NFL QB for one quarter, and a career journeyman (at best) the next. It is clear that he has the necessary tools for the job, but not so that he will develop the judgment to ply them effectively in a consistent fashion.
Childress and his staff can analyze in three languages during the off-season and still not come up with a definite answer as to whether to go all out to find a different starter, bring someone in to challenge Jackson, or anoint him the once and future man. There is not a lot out there; Donovan McNabb and Cleveland's Derek Anderson are about it. I think you'll see them bring in another journeyman who is no sure bet to improve upon Bollinger or Holcomb.
There will be no such difficulty in settling Troy Williamson's fate - down the road with him and not so much as a seventh-rounder in trade. His agent will work hard to earn a percentage of a small number to place poor Williamson anywhere. The Purple definitely needs more help at wideout to determine whether Jackson can't make a decision, or just can't find an open man because no one's open.
And what about Adrian Peterson, the humble young man of sterling character, benched the first series for wandering late to the team bus going to a game which might get them to the playoffs? This would not amount to anything if his production hadn't fallen off to nothing over the last four games. What has happened there is a deep, dark mystery. Peterson was a miserable 11 for 36 Sunday, but Chester Taylor ran the ball fairly well, 10 for 83.
During the winning streak, it appeared that problems along the offensive line had been solved, but the play of Ryan Cook took a big step backwards Sunday, and the game was lost when someone failed to pick up the blitz in overtime. The fumble was blamed on Jackson, but the defender came untouched and hit him at full speed. Jackson was sacked three times by a team with a mediocre defense.
And speaking of mediocre defenses. The Vikings played loose coverage and missed tackles about as conspicuously as at any time all year in compiling a lousy record as pass defenders. Worrisome was the 128 yards they also gave up on the ground. It is whispered that big Pat Williams has worn down and needs surgery. He is huge (317 - hah!) and not so young. Big guys tend to wear out their wheels early. How effective will he be next year?
And the same questions on defense resurfaced this last month. Where is that pass rush? Can McCauley and Griffin improve enough at CB to avoid the need for replacements there? (Griffin covers well, but often seems to lose track of the ball.) And how soon will help be needed at safety? At least it will be an interesting off-season.