In the past few years going back even before Brett Favre, the Minnesota Vikings have been active when going after who they want. These days the approach is quite different. Right away, fans wonder why the relaxed tone and not aggressive moves. Then you see the mind boggling contracts that occur in the first few hours of free agency. The Vikings have many needs….MANY NEEDS. We wonder why little or no movement to improve this team. I wonder myself to some degree. However I do understand the rationale. Here I will break down a few reasons for the approach they are taking in Rick Spielman’s vision with the future of the purple and gold.
I currently look at this team like a revolving wheel. In 2009, with Brett Favre, that wheel was close to the top of the mountain with healthy veterans and youth who could play. At that time you hit the market hard knowing you are a piece or two away and not afraid to spend a little being more confident the team can make a run. Since that year it has quickly rolled to the bottom with most recently a 3-13 record. Owners of the Minnesota Vikings, Zygi and Mark Wilf have never hesitated to spend plenty of money and have always wanted to bring a championship to Minnesota. Yet, at this time with so many holes and with the wheel at the bottom of the mountain you have to alter the way you have done things with the current makeup of the team.
1. General Manager Rick Spielman’s Vision: YOUTH– The recent cuts many experts and I anticipated have become a reality with lineman Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, and injury plagued Cedric Griffin being let go. The Vikings goal is to build from the bottom up and with fresh faces. The idea is similar to what philosophy Green Bay and New England have used in not being over aggressive in free agency. The goal is to be opportunistic on who they sign, spending efficiently and drafting wisely. Another point Rick Speilman wanted to make on a recent broadcast of “The Power Trip Morning Show” www.kfan.com is that during the 2011 season the vikings did take care of a few pieces of their own by signing All-Pro Running Back Adrian Peterson an extension, along with Linebacker Chad Greenway, Center John Sullivan and Long Snapper Cullen Loeffler.
I also would like to point out teams that like to spend recklessly does not necessarily equal success such as last year Philadelphia and the regular splashes the Washington Redskins make in free agency. With a cap you have to use a little discipline. If I was talking about a Major League Baseball Team, I would say, “Spend Away and beat the Yankees!”
2. Build through the DRAFT!-Rick Spielman’s make or break as General Manager with the Vikings may solely depend on the 2012 NFL Draft. The MN Vikings at this point have 10 picks in this draft. It is no secret the biggest needs are the Wide Receiver, Offensive Lineman and Defensive Backfield.
3. Wide Receivers will continue to be looked at…..but not at outrageous prices they have been given during this free agency period. The Vikes are trying to be smart and methodical with the money they spend with so many needs, breaking the bank of a few will NOT be advantageous. My hope is a sneaky pick up of a Free Agent WR with youth and potential. I refuse to believe it is smart for a team to sign the 3rd WR from Dallas (Laurent Robinson) to a 32.5 mil. in 5 yrs. who has had an injured history. That team would be the Jacksonville Jaguars. Another thing to think about are the many receivers that move on to other destinations and lack expectations- Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice (so far), TJ Houshmandzadeh, Chad Ochocinco, and Randy Moss since NE to name just a few.
4. Offensive Line and Defensive Backfield– The Offensive Line after the draft and to my estimation will be refreshed and should be healthier, youthful, and in much better shape overall. The cohesion of several new parts will take time however. Cornerback Chris Cook was found not guilty of all counts Thursday (March 15th). He sadly was our best defensive back who missed many games after the assault charges were brought against him. My opinion of him as a person is much to be desired but his return as a player will be welcomed to what I call the worst defensive backfield in NFL history. I see Cook at one Corner, Winfield at Nickel Corner and …….? Time will tell in the Defensive Backfield with the acquisitions and the draft, but anything will be better then the abysmal performances in a passing league and no interceptions in 9 games while your defensive end nearly breaks the NFL sack record. How is that all possible?
5. Signings and Impact-The most notable signing up to this point is Minnesota native and former Seattle Seahawk Tight End John Carlson. This signing I did not have a problem with knowing that Visanthe Shiancoe would not being resigned and Jimmy Kleinsasser being retired. Like fellow TE Kyle Rudolph and Center John Sullivan (who the vikings signed an extension during last season), Carlson has more then just roots in MN. If he can remain healthy this TE dual can be a force. I believe they will incorporate a 2- TE set and try to emulate NE in the way they use Gronkowski and Hernandez are utilized. I did not see that much last year which left me scratching my head and hope the 2012 season will exhibit that scheme.
Finally, I do know what the vikings are trying to do, yet understand and feel the frusterations of fans such as Matthew Burnett of Marshall, Minnesota who has very valid points as well, “If they continue to (try to build youth) they are going to waste a lot of the talent they have now like Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson. I am sick of MN teams always rebuilding, why can’t we go out and spend money and get the players we need. Look at the Lions, they wasted Barry Sanders and were terrible for many many years. I don’t want the vikings to go 20 years without competing for a Super Bowl. All MN teams do is rebuild, they may have one good year and then decide to get rid of all their talent to rebuild!!” The sediments of many fans.
I know Adrian will take over a year just to “hopefully” get back to his old form. Allen’s motor hopefully will not sputter soon and Antoine somehow can stay healthy and maybe eventually can transition to safety to get the most out of him at the end of his career. Hopefully that is not too much to ask….pretty please:)