Vikings starting over at QB...once again
To say last year was a disaster for the Minnesota Vikings is certainly an understatement.
What started out as Super Bowl aspirations, turned out to be a three-ring circus resulting in a 6-10 record.
But one good thing about the NFL is the fact there is a new season every year -- although not quite guaranteed as the lockout almost wiped out America's favorite past time.
So the 2010 season can be looked upon as water under the bridge, along with several of the main forces who made it into the Vikings first losing season in quite some time.
Those who pass under that bridge and into Viking history include lead ringmaster head coach Brad Childress, who was fired just past midway through the season and replaced by current head coach Leslie Frazier.
The preseason carnival of wooing now-retired Brett Favre is also a history notation.
The Vikings finally addressed their quarterback situation for the future by selecting Florida State's Christian Ponder. But even that selection was tainted a little by the offseason-long NFL lockout, which forced the Vikings to go out and get a more reliable veteran QB in Donovan McNabb, because there would be no way a rookie quarterback could take over the reins in a matter of weeks to prepare.
But other than the acquisition of McNabb, the Vikings' offseason additions have been underwhelming.
Just recently, another hole was created with the dismissal of 10-year left tackle starter Bryant McKinnie.
Man, what a disappointing finish to McKinnie's Viking career, as the already mammoth tackle from the University of Miami came into camp a bit bloated -- as in nearly 400-pounds of bloat.
McKinnie's "don't give a damn" attitude must have been practiced to the fullest extent during the lockout. Even his cholesterol was off the charts, marking him to be a danger of tipping over dead on the Mankato practice field -- and all this coming on the 10th anniversary of Korey Stringer's death at training camp.
Unfortunately McKinnie came to the Vikings after the tragic death of Stringer, which was marked by the team during this year's training camp.
The big-eating, club-going McKinnie could have learned something from Stringer on how to be a real professional. But in the end, McKinnie's career was marked by mediocrity and his legacy will be that of blown potential.
McKinnie has lately had a shot of motivation, being signed by Baltimore. But as the Ravens will find out, a few weeks into the season and when McKinnie is once again complacent, quarterback Joe Flacco will be feeling the hits from defensive linemen firsthand.
Even technology has been against McKinnie, as his Twitter account backfired on him.
Some frustrated Twits were directed towards McKinnie since his release Tuesday, some actually pretty funny.
One Twit stated, "Apparently, Leslie Frazier was worried about the bridges in Minnesota being able to hold #BryantMcKinnie."
Another thanked McKinnie "...for going to #TacoBell w/me 2night. I never thought about wrapping a chalupa in a quesadilla in a Mexican pizza b4."
The signing of Colts' left tackle Charlie Johnson, who has been guarding Peyton Manning's blindside for the last 49 games, was made and after three preseason games, is looking better and better.
Johnson didn't allow Dallas Cowboy sackmaster Demarcus Ware gain any sacks, while McNabb was touched only once.
Another big loss came with Seattle signing wide receiver Sydney Rice, who signed a five-year $41 million contract, with $18 million guaranteed.
That's quite a lot of guaranteed money for a player who has only been able to complete one full season out of four, but make no doubt about it, Rice is a top ball catcher.
With the Vikings not dipping into the quality end of the wide receiver free agency pool, there is quite a void on the edges.
Minnesota did sign the Bears' fourth wide receiver Devin Aromashodu and Falcon reject Michael Jenkins.
So far, that leaves underachieving Bernard Berrian and Jenkins at the starting wideout positions, with the talented Percy Harvin in the slot and two solid tight ends in Visanthe Shiancoe and rookie Kyle Rudolph.
McNabb is used to not having quality weapons down the field, so if the Vikings stay pat and not sign San Diego's Malcolm Floyd or the Jets' Braylon Edwards, he will be working the middle quite a bit with Harvin and his two tight ends.
But McNabb's job will be to find those receivers, who need to create separation. Oh, yeah, and hand it off to All-World Adrian Peterson, who maybe seeing his carries increase quite a bit this year.
The offensive look will be a much more conservative one, with McNabb hitting the short to intermediate passes, while feeding off of play action, created by Peterson's gains.
It worked to perfection versus Dallas in the third preseason game, after five straight runs by Peterson netted just over 30 yards, a play action by McNabb freed up a streaking Berrian.
McNabb, who is known for his deep ball, hit Berrian in stride for the long touchdown. If this season is going to have any success, it will be plays like that which will keep the Vikes in games.
The defensive line wasn't addressed as much as it should have, either.
Thus far, the Vikes have opted not to resign nose tackle Pat Williams, instead going with the Saints' Remi Ayodele, who goes 6-2, 318 pounds.
Not a bad exchange, since Williams, along with Kevin Williams, will probably be suspended for the first two games. Although Kevin Williams has not heard about any suspension, as of yet.
But another DT should have been signed and not retread Fred Evans.
One glaring need, though, is at safety. Madieu Williams was released after an inglorious stint as a Viking.
That leaves disappointing Tyrell Johnson and unknown quantity Husain Abdullah as the last line of defense. Johnson has looked better, along with Jamarca Sanford, but the secondary still is a big weakness of the defense.
Expectations are definitely tapered, as they should be.
Linebacker Chad Greenway was stated as saying the Vikings can go .500 or better. Quite the difference from a year ago, but at the very least, this training camp does provide hope for the future with a potential franchise quarterback in Ponder and a level-headed head coach in Frazier.