As we head into the offseason, we’ll need to keep in mind the Minnesota Vikings’ team needs:
First and foremost, head coach Leslie Frazier will need to get his coaching staff in order.
Former Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels will be coming in to interview, the Star Tribune‘s Judd Zulgad reports, presumably for the offensive coordinator position. This suggest Darrell Bevell will not return or will return in a different role.
Before flaming out as the Broncos head coach, McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots (cheaters) under Bill Belichick (head cheater) during the Pats’ record-breaking 2007 season and in 2008, when they lost Tom Brady to injury.
Going after McDaniels seems to reinforce what Frazier made clear in his introductory press conference, that he wants to fit the Vikings scheme to the personnel.
The most impressive thing about the Patriots is their ability to play any type of football. It is most obvious on defense, where they will play different schemes week-to-week based on their current opponent but you could also see it on offense this year, as the team changed from the long-ball, quick strike threat they were with Randy Moss, to a more deliberate ball-control type of attack we saw this year.
The question, of course, is how much of that is due to Belichick? Quite a lot, I’m willing to bet, but you’d hope a lot of that was absorbed by McDaniels with the significant role he played on that coaching staff.
He might also bring with him Kyle Orton as a transitional veteran quarterback.
ESPN’s John Clayton also reports that Leslie Frazier will bring in former San Fransisco 49ers head coach and former Bears teammate, Mike Singletary, to potentially coach the linebackers.
Where do we begin?
Obviously, we have a glaring need for a franchise quarterback for which I’d think we’d try and bring in a veteran like Kyle Orton, draft one high, if possible, and then let Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar and others all compete.
While we definitely need to find our franchise quarterback, it will be equally important to fix the mess that is the offensive line.
At the very least, Bryant McKinnie needs some serious competition. I know how hard good left tackles are to find in this league, but after the past two season, an average left tackle is going to be an updgrade.
It would sure be nice if I’m wrong, but it sure feels like Steve Hutchinson‘s lost his game. Hopefully, he comes back and has a standout year but I don’t think you can depend upon it.
Chris DeGeare showed potential along with inevitable rookie mistakes but with Anthony Herrera coming off two offseason surgeries, we’ll need to add some starting-quality guards to the roster.
John Sullivan is no Matt Birk. He gets pushed around way too much and his problems with the shotgun snap are troubling.
It’s too early in Phil Loadholt‘s career to fully pass judgment, but I will say that he’s at risk of becoming Bryant McKinnie on the opposite side if he doesn’t pick up his pass protection game.
I do hope the Vikings bring in a lot of offensive line competition through the draft and free agency.
We need a new fullback. Period.
We could also use some more talent at wide receiver, especially if Sidney Rice is gone.
Safety, safety, safety.
We need to improve to the point that the safeties are merely adequate rather than the gaping liability that they are right now. I’m a fan of both Hussain Abdullah and Jamarca Sanford.
Abdullah improved a great deal over the course of the season, so I wouldn’t be dismayed to see him holding down a starting gig. Sanford might not be starting material; we’ve never seen extended action out of him.
Madieu Williams, however, has got to go. So getting a starting free safety, I think, should be the priority for the defense.
As this year so clearly illustrated, you can never have enough talent at cornerback.
Sports medicine works miracles these days but you gotta wonder if Cedric Griffin will regain his form after another ACL injury. I don’t know if you can depend upon it.
We never really got a fair chance to see what rookie Chris Cook can do but there’s obviously a reason why he started the season ahead of second-year guy Asher Allen.
Allen got a lot of valuable experience and should be the better for it. Before you judge him too harshly, though, keep in mind that it took a while for Cedric Griffin to develop, too.
Nevertheless, we could benefit from some starting-quality competition at corner.
If Ben Leber leaves, and I think he will, then we’ll need another starting linebacker in addition to depth at the position.
Finally, we’ll need some depth at defensive end and defensive tackle.
If Ryan Longwell doesn’t return, then a place kicker is our obvious priority here. If Longwell does return, and I hope he does, then we’ve still got a problem with kickoffs because he rarely hits the end zone.
Chris Kluwe, I’m looking at you.
It’s amazing how much of a difference a coach can make to special teams. A unit that was atrocious the year before can bring back the same personnel and absolutely kill it the following year under different coaching.
Hopefully, that will be the case with the 2011 Vikings.
The only other thing I’d note about this unit is that it’s looking like Heath Farwell is on the downside of his outstanding special teams career.