#30 – Minnesota Vikings
KEY ARRIVALS: WR Jerome Simpson, RB Lex Hilliard, TE John Carlson
KEY DEPARTURES: PK Ryan Longwell, S Tyrell Johnson, Steve Hutchinson
Clocking in at #30 in the 32 for 32 series are the bottom dwellers of the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota started 2011 on a shocking note by reaching for QB Christian Ponder early in the draft and signing QB Donovan McNabb, McNabb stumbled out the gate with a 35-yard performance and after a few more games, the rest was history.
Christian Ponder was given the keys midway through the season and from there the Vikings struggled to find an identity while Ponder struggled to find his game. He showed some flashes of starter quality, but for the most part he looked lost, at times enough for Leslie Frazier to yank him for backup Joe Webb. The Vikings definitely have confidence in him, and they’ll let him take his lumps, it should help that Adrian Peterson will be back in action, and hopefully at full strength.
The main problem for the Vikings offense will be the lack of depth at WR, as of right now the biggest WR moves they made included resigning Aromashadu and signing FA Jerome Simpson. Ponder has almost nobody to throw to, and if that doesn’t change, neither will his development. If Ponder struggles, don’t expect Joe Webb in unless it’s to prove a point, the Vikings seem dead set on keeping Ponder as the starter and not admitting they may have made a mistake.
As far as the defense goes the rushing defense was decent, ranked 11th in the league and allowing 107 ypg, but their passing defense has struggled and although they decided to go after the offensive line problem in the 1st round of the draft, drafting Matt Kalil with the #3 pick, they went after the DB problem by selecting 3 defensive backs throughout the rest of the weekend. The Vikings defense needs a retooling in the secondary, and maybe an injection of youth will be what gets them going in the right direction. I don’t know for sure, all I know is that the biggest question for Minnesota will be Ponder and whether or not he’s going to develop into the QB the Vikings hoped he would be when they drafted him in the top of the first round last season. Don’t expect the Vikings to move out of the basement of the NFC North this season, it may take one more year under coach Leslie to make some moves….but that may be all the time he has left.