...the dragon ship needs a long spell in dry dock
Well fans, I guess Sundayís matchup with the Bears went about as well as we could have hoped. Jared Allen thrilled us to the marrow by nearly setting a new NFL sack record, the Vikes stayed in it till the end, thanks to the antics of Joe Webb, and they didnít do anything really stupid like win and wind up choosing sixth in next springís draft instead of clinching the third pick. This means, if current wisdom holds, that the Purple will have a shot at the second coming of Ron Yary, USCís Matt Kalil, a once in ten years sure thing at left tackle. Or, QB Robert Griffen III might be there, who could probably be traded to a team desperate for a young QB for a couple extra high picks. In fact, Griffen played so well the other night in the Whadyacallit Bowl that he might possibly supplant Stanfordís Andrew Luck as first pick, which could drop the latter into our laps. Of course, between now and next May any of these lads might reveal a penchant for bank robbery or felony assault, but that scenario holds up reasonably for now.
Watching this last game of the season should take all temptation away to grab another QB in the draft, instead of a blue chip offensive lineman. Protection for Christian Ponder and then Joe Webb was just about nil. Ponder is lucky that he got off with a hip pointer, which should heal up fairly quickly. He could have had his head torn off by Israel Odanije, a much more serious injury. I donít think a Viking touched Idonije all day long except, of course, Ponder, a Christian thrown disgracefully and unmercifully to the lions these last few weeks.
There will be a QB controversy next year, because at this point it is not clear that Ponder is the better passer, and Webbís Houdini act is so entertaining that he will fill seats even if 2012 is another 3 Ė 13 season. Unfortunately, it will only be a matter of time before some 300 pounder tracks Webb down and settles his hash, what with the total lack of protection evident last Sunday.
Any bright spots for next year? It would have to start in the defensive secondary, where Cedric Griffin has shown flashes of his old form the last two weeks. Maybe it is just a matter of coming all the way back from the knee injuries. It would be awfully nice to get another full year out of Antoine Winfield but the smart money would bet that he is too old, little, and brittle to avoid the constant injuries anymore. Thatís too bad Ė I canít remember a better Vikings DB, or one more fun to watch since Joey Browner, who could probably still play ahead of some of the stiffs weíre seeing back there these days. Anyhow, get Chris Cook a frontal lobotomy, and there you have three competent cornerbacks. The VIkes must also find another safety, either in the draft or as a free agent. Two would be twice as good. The Vikings are recording enough sacks to have a good pass defense, if their defensive backs were merely adequate.
The front seven on defense are better than adequate, except no one has replaced big Pat Williams as a run stopper. Filling that hole would really help to shore up the Purple defense. In fact, merely incremental improvements on defense would probably get this team to .500 next year.
I donít even want to talk about the offense till next week.