Get your mouths ready, Vikings fans. After what science has reported as 37 long months of non-football activities, the NFL finally returns – kind of – this Friday. Yes, annual training camp is upon us, and heading into the 2014 edition of this annual festivity, we have several questions that surround the team. What crap quarterback will emerge from the pack? Will the offensive line hold together? Am I going to cry a lot or a little?
We open training camp week by taking a look at the top five most pressing issues for the Vikings on offense, and what we think about them. Because our opinions MATTER. Let’s do this.
1. Which Quarterback Will Quarterback?
Easily the biggest question heading into camp, right? Who is going to hold the quarterback reigns? Will it be the “incumbent by default”, tried and steady Matt Cassel and his Moustache? Or is Christian Ponder really showing signs of turning things around? There’s no way that a new coach like Norv Turner is going to let a rookie jump into the fire, is he? That’s why the team re-signed Matt Cassel, after all, isn’t it? To keep the chair warm until Teddy Bridgewater inevitably took over in week 5 or 6? It’s the natural progression of things. Either way, like with any year, if we get to our third string quarterback (Ponder), the season is already lost. But watching these guys battle it out in camp, in a new offense, should be pretty fun. I’d guess we’re all cheering for Bridgewater.
2. What Happens After Jesus?
Adrian Peterson, aka, Purple Jesus, aka, The Only Reason for This Blog, is 29 years old. He’s getting closer and closer to hitting that dreaded 30-year old mark that running backs hit and start their performance decline. Now, the question is whether these puny rules actually apply to a god like Peterson. I’d say no, but you can never be too careful. And if they DO apply, what’s the back up plan? It no longer is – nor was it ever, really – going to be Toby Gerhart. The most “experienced” back up running back on the roster is Matt Asiata, but do you really want him as your number two behind Peterson? Rookie Jerick McKinnon will get his shot, but he’s largely an unknown until he knocks some skulls will training camp vets. So we’ll see how it plays out, but the team could use another play-maker here to help spell Peterson. Hopefully McKinnon is that guy. Baby Jesus, maybe?
3. Are the Receivers Competent?
I saw someone point out that in Christian Ponder’s first full year as a starter, his top wide receivers included Percy Harvin (Good), Michael Jenkins (Uh …), Jerome Simpson (Haha), and Devin Aromashodu (Guh). And we wonder why he didn’t turn out successful? Heading into this year, the Vikings receiving core is looking as solid as it has in a while, with solid vet Greg Jennings, emerging star Cordarrelle Patterson, and receiving targets like Jarius Wright and Kyle Rudolph finally emerging into their own, or – perhaps more fairly – working with coaches who know how to use their talents. Certainly, the talent is there, but depth is a legitimate concern. Will any of the young training camp guys like Rodney Smith, Adam Thielen, or Erik Lora (Loras, Tyrell?) step up? … Probably not, but it’d be super nice.
4. Is Norv Gonna Norv?
For the first time in three-some odd years, the Vikings will have an offensive coordinator who has a play card bigger than a Cards Against Humanity hand. Norv is clearly a better offensive coach than Bill Musgrave ever was or will be, but just how impactful he’ll be in his first year remains to be seen. Also, you’re lying to yourself if you don’t feel like Norv’s continued failures around the league are simply because of him “head coaching” instead of “coordinating.” I mean, I’m nervous that he just may not be as good of a coach as we all want him to be, sure. But I guess we need to be aware of incremental growth when it comes to this franchise; Norv > Musgrave. Either way, Norv should have plenty of toys to play with offensively on this team, and as long as he doesn’t pull out last year’s personnel packages and playbooks, we should look better.
5. Offensive Line or Not-Offensive Offensive Line?
Wait, what? Offensive line? Who gives a shit. Well … Not a lot of people, obviously. But the offensive line is still a concern of mine. Matt Kalil had a disappointing second year in 2013, and the interior of the offensive line left Ponder running away from all his hopes and dreams. The new Vikings staff obviously recognized this, as they signed Vladimir Ducasse and drafted highly touted David Yankey out of Stanford. They also re-signed guard Brandon Fusco (right? That was this offseason, yes?), who quietly grades out as a solid interior defender, but the entire unit is going to have to play better for either Peterson or the Wheel of Fortune quarterback to have any success. Soooo … No pressure, guys.
Regardless, GET EXCITE. Football is near, and we’re ready for it. Defense tomorrow.