2012/ OFF-SEASON REVIEW
Last season the Vikings had running back Adrian Peterson carry them on offense, while defensive end Jared Allen kept the pass rush strong on defense, helping the team secure it first playoff berth since 2009.
Then with quarterback Christian Ponder out for the Wild Card game against Green Bay, the team put Joe Webb in as the starter. Webb faltered under pressure and ruined any chance of team advancing to the next round. While the team did play well enough to make the playoffs there were deficiencies in the passing game on offense (31st) and defense (24th).
In the offseason the Vikings decided to rid themselves of the talented but often injured wide receiver Percy Harvin and signed former foe Greg Jennings to replace him. On draft night the team was the biggest wheeler and dealer ending up with three first round picks. With these picks the Vikings bolstered their wide receiving corps, secondary, and added a big man to the defensive line. So now let’s take a closer look and see if the Vikings have what it takes to improve on last season’s magical ride.
After two seasons where he has played up and down, the verdict is still out on Christian Ponder. On a positive note Ponder did increase his Completion Percentage (62.1) from the year before while throwing more touchdowns than interceptions (18/12).
Also, one has to believe the Vikings would have at least put up a fight against the Packers in the playoffs if Ponder wasn’t injured, especially after the game he had against them week before (120.2 QB Rating, three touchdowns). No matter what, coming into his third season, this will be the year where the Vikings will know for sure if Ponder is the answer at quarterback.
With Ponder’s future not set in stone and the back-up situation greatly needing a suitable player, the Vikings signed Matt Cassel in the off-season. A short time ago, Cassel looked to be establishing himself as solid starting quarterback after leading the Chiefs to the playoffs in 2010. Since then it’s been all downhill (16 TD and 21 INT) and now Cassel is playing second fiddle to Ponder on the Vikings.
QB GRADE C:This is a make or break year for Ponder and if he struggles early don’t be shocked if Cassel gets a shot at the starting job.
The Vikings offense is clearly led by Adrian Peterson who returned earlier than expected from a torn ACL and MCL to go and have a career defying season (2,097 RuYD). This year A.P. is gunning for 2,500 RuYD, however remember nobody has ever broken the 2,000 yard (predictions on Peterson repeating here) barrier in back-to-back seasons. Still, Peterson is without a doubt the best running back in the game today and is the heart and soul of this offense.
Tony Gerhart is back to give Peterson a breather from time to time, and will be giving it his all due to the fact that his contract is up at the end of the year. The last player of importance is the formidable fullback Jerome Felton, who is out after appendectomy surgery and now facing suspension for three games for a DUI. This leaves unknown rookie Zach Lane at fullback for the beginning of the season which won’t help Peterson in his goal of breaking Dickerson’s record.
RB GRADE A+: When you’re running back comes nine yards short of the rushing yard record you have a special player on your hands. Expect greatness to continue as anything can happen when “All Day” has the ball in hands.
Up Next: WR, TE, and the Offensive Line