Here, I'm off the bandwagon; go on without me
September 16, 2010 - Per Peterson
As much as last year was the Vikings’ year — that magical season where everything seemed to come together — this year is shaping up to be the exact opposite.
Here’s why,?position by position:
QB — Last year Brett Favre was blessed, as was the entire offense. It was a magic carpet ride that only comes around so often in an athlete’s career. It was as if the football gods said, “OK Brett, here’s one more shot. Even we are getting tired of all your offseason antics, skipping training camp, all the crap, but you are Brett Favre, so here ya go.” This year, the gods haven’t been as friendly and Favre looks all of almost-41. His mobility has decreased even more from last year and he was way off the mark in the season opener. He won’t last the season.
RB?— Last year the Vikings had the best 1-2 punch out of the backfield. Now, 2 is gone and 1 will suffer for it. Toby Gerhart is no Chester Taylor. Peterson probably will eclipse 1,000 yards again this year, but don’t count on 18 more touchdowns from him like he got in last year’s magical season.
WR?— Where to begin. Last year was Sidney Rice’s breakout year thanks to Favre. This year Rice won’t even see the field until sometime in October, if then. Plus, he won’t be sneaking up on anyone. Defenses will roll their coverage his way and will be more aggressive with him. Besides, he’s coming off a serious hip injury which you can only expect will affect his speed and leaping ability. Percy Harvin seems to have the migraine thing figured out, but he’s banged up with a bad hip. Touted last year on a weekly basis for his toughness, we’re left to question just how tough he is now.
OL?— The line wasn’t all that great last year, but held up. Center John Sullivan has a full year under his belt, but he, too, is coming off an injury. Steven Hutchinson is a year older, Artis Hicks is gone and Bryant McKinnie is, well, Bryant McKinnie. He can dominate one game and embarrass himself the next two.
CB?— Antoine Winfield is another year older, Cedric Griffin, who was emerging during last season’s magical run is still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in January’s NFC?championship game. The man brought in to be Winfield’s successor, Chris Cook, is hurt and might not even play this weekend against the Dolphins.
SAFETY — They were horrible last year and I still need a media guide to remind me who plays back there.
DL?—?The defensive line is still one of the league’s best, but for as good as Jared Allen has been for the Vikings, I don’t remember hearing his name too much against the Saints in the season opener. He has flashes — big ones at that — but a good offensive lineman can take him completely out of games and his aggressiveness sometimes leaves big holes for opposing running backs. Pat Williams isn’t getting any younger and it would come as no surprise if he played the entire season without a trip to the injured reserve list — in other words, like so many of his teammates, he’s old.
LB?— This is the one position that’s hard to poke holes in, especially in light of E.J. Henderson’s return. Henderson is the defense’s biggest stud, proving what the Vikes’ D was able to do after he went down last year —?especially against the Saints — was remarkable (and remarkable things tend to happen in magical, once-in-a-lifetime seasons, don't they?). Ben Leber and Chad Greenway round out the LB corps and it’s still one of the best in the league. But if the defensive line doesn’t hold up, the linebackers will wear down, and Henderson has already been exposed this season as a linebacker who has some issues covering the good tight ends.
Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic, or at least cautiously pessimistic, but I get the sense from the football gods that they’ll be hard on the Vikes this year. These are, after all, the Vikings. If you’re not buying that, take another look at their schedule. I can find nine wins. And that's after plenty of digging.