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Leslie Frazier is a soft spoken type of guy, but don’t let that fool you on the football field. He prepares his team to play tough, aggressive football. He believes in a power running game and likes to run an aggressive 4-3 defense. He coached this team to the playoffs last year, with Ponder playing horribly most of the year, and can do it again.
Everyone knows the Vikings have the premier running back in the league with Adrian Peterson. I still can’t believe he came back so fast and so strong after hurting his knee the way he did. When they were showing replays on ESPN of the hit that hurt him…absolutely brutal. It made me cringe through the TV. However, there is no doubt that he is the man. He likely won’t get the yards he did last season because defenses will focus on him more but he can’t be fully contained. The extra attention should also get Ponder some better looks.
Bill Musgrave has a lot to work with in A.D. but that isn’t quite the case with Ponder. They are going to try and fit him into a game manager type of role to complement Peterson. He’d ideally average around 25 passes a game with high percentage throws focusing on not making mistakes. The problem is, that may not be enough. They brought Cassel in as the backup and he may end up taking the starting job from Ponder. They have a once in a generation talent in Peterson and a QB who could at least do enough to threaten the defense would make him even more dangerous. It would be a shame to not see that.
It would have been really nice if the Vikings could have kept Harvin and picked up Jennings, but that wasn’t the case. Harvin, a real talent, is off to Seattle, and in comes Jennigs, a former Packer. Jennings will probably prove to be the better overall player to have on the team though. He is a very savvy, disciplined route runner, but he’s also a veteran off the field. The Vikings moved into the first round to draft Patterson from Tennessee. He appears to have a tremendous amount of potential, but he only played college ball for one year. Jennings will help make his transition to the NFL easier. That will pay huge dividends for the team in the future.
The teams defense is led by coordinator Alan Williams. He has them playing a traditional 4-3 scheme that relies on pressure from the front four.
The Vikings still have a dominant front four. Williams is still a stalwart in the middle even entering his 11th season. However, this year he’ll have real talent rotating with him. The Vikings drafted Sharrif Floyd in this years draft and may have gotten a real steal. Floyd was considered a top five talent and dropped all the way to the Vikings at number 23. Of course, they also have Jared Allen coming off the edge. He has a relentless motor and he should be fully healthy after surgery this offseason.
The team made a big mistake in the way they dealt with Winfield. I can understand the logic behind the business aspect of it, but what about the morality. You release a guy planning on trying to get him back signing for less. Instead he ended up in Seattle with Harvin as well. He was the best corner on the team and his presence will be missed in the secondary. General manager Spielman looked to replace him in the draft with Rhodes from Florida State. He is big for a corner, 6-1, 215 lbs, and he plays aggressively. He has some learning to do before he can catch up to where Winfield was at, but he has real promise.
If the Vikings are going to make the playoffs it will likely have to be a wild card birth. I can’t see them winning the division this season, that will likely go to Green Bay. They still have questions at middle linebacker and cornerback. They can however make some real improvements and still make it to the post season. If this is the year that Ponder really puts it together. And the rookies on this team get well acclimated to the system , they may be able to get hot, make a late season push and come into the playoffs with some steam.