2006 season: 6-10
Head Coach: Brad Childress
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Tomlin(Head Coach of Pittsburgh now)
Pro-Bowl: Steve Hutchinson(OG), Matt Birk(C), Kevin Williams(DT), Pat Williams(DT)
For many years, the Minnesota Vikings have been known for a high-powered passing offense with big play capabilities. That was not the case this year. With them trading Randy Moss a couple years ago and departing with their Pro-Bowl QB Daunte Culpepper, they were left with Brad Johnson starting at QB and a bunch of busts at WR. Johnson had a bad season only throwing for 2,750 yards and 15 interceptions to go with just 9 touchdowns. The starting job was handed to rookie, Tarvaris Jackson the final two games of the season and was able to throw for 475 yards, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The Vikings have never been known to have a solid running game, that is until they picked up Chester Taylor in free-agency. Taylor ran for over 1200 yards, 6 touchdowns and caught 42 balls for 288 yards. Troy Williamson continued to play like the first round bust that he is, with only catching 37 balls for just 455 yards. The only other receiver worth mentioning was Travis Taylor, he had 57 receptions, 651 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Vikings have been know for their passing game, but this season with new head coach, Brad Childress, they went with a more conventional, run the ball and stop the run. That's just what their defense excelled at, stuffing the run. Minnesota ranked #1 in rushing yards allowed, with just 61.9. It was extremely hard for other teams to run through the Vikings huge defensive line, with pro-bowlers Kevin and Pat Williams. Kevin got 36 tackles with 5 sacks, although his numbers are good, they don't do enough justice for him. E.J. Henderson led the team with 109 tackles and was tied for 3rd with 3 sacks. Antoine Winfield also had a great year, he racked up 97 tackles, defended 10 passes and intercepted 4 passes. The only real problem they need help with is a true pass rusher and another possibly another outside linebacker.
Ryan Longwell hit 84% of his field goals, just missing 4.(2 from 50+ and 2 from 40-49) He also threw a touchdown against Carolina, that led to an overtime win. Chris Kluwe wasn't bad this year, with an average of 42.3 and 28 punts inside the 20. Mewelde Moore continued his superb punt returning ability with over 365 yards and 1 touchdown. Bethel Johnson took over the Kickoff returns, and he did ok. He had just over 1,000 yards and a nice average of 23.4.
The Vikings have a lot of needs, both offensively and defensively. On the offensive side of the ball, they aren't quite sure if they job of starting quarterback will go to Jackson or if they will attempt to sign Jeff Garcia in free-agency. Another possibility is the draft. Also they need to get a receiver...again. Williamson is just not adjusting to the NFL and Robinson, Taylor and McMullen are not #1 guys. Other needs on defense are simply a defensive end that can actually get the QB and sack him, also another cornerback that can force turnovers, something they didn't do alot this year. It might be a smart idea to look at an outside linebacker as well.
Positions that must be solved with the draft.
1. Defensive End
2. Wide Receiver
3. Outside Linebacker
5. Corner Back
One of the things the Vikings struggled with was defending the pass. Not really so much the fault of the defensive backs, but more so the defensive lines inability to pressure the quarterback. With the #7 pick expect them to draft whichever DE is left, either Jamaal Anderson or Gaines Adams.
I have their #1 weakness being DE, but I could easily be swayed into the direction of WR. Ever since trading Randy Moss, the Vikings have been fighting to find a number one option in the passing game. With no luck drafting Troy Williamson two years ago in the first round, they are still looking for one. They could opt to take Ted Ginn Jr. to replenish that vertical passing game that they have missed or they could be tempted to take Dwayne Jarrett who has good speed and can catch nearly anything thrown in his direction.
They don't have alot of depth at OLB and Ben Leber had just an ok season. I think Prescott Burgess(MICH) or KaMichael Hall(GT) would look very good in purple.
Like I mentioned, I don't think they're 100% sure on Jackson being ready to be a full time starter, they could be tempted to go after Jeff Garcia, but they also could be coaxed into looking at help in the draft. Potentials could be Chris Leak(FLA), Tyler Palko(PITT), Trent Edwards(STAN) or Jordan Palmer(UTEP).
Antoine Winfield had a great season, but besides him, they had no help at corner back. Due to injuries to Fred Smoot and Cedric Griffin. But even with those two, they lack a ball hawk, someone that is just great at intercepting the ball or forcing fumbles. They desperately need someone that can change the momentum on defense. If Daymeion Hughes is available in the 2nd round I would take him. He intercepted 8 balls last season and 15 overall in his 4 years at California. Ryan Smith out of Florida could also help in the later rounds. He also had 8 interceptions last season.
I feel the Vikings have a good team. If they can stay healthy and fix the small problems then they could contend in the NFC North. But the big question this season is QB play. If Jackson can handle it then they will be good if not and they have to go back to Brad Johnson, well then they may be in a lot of trouble.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
2006 season: 6-10