Is this the most cliché Vikings Offense team ever? The roster seems to reflect many “rules” that we’ve seen on past teams:
Roster Rule #1 – The Journeyman QB
The Vikings succeed with the arm of a journeyman QB. Any purple fan over 15 years old knows this truth well. The franchise started off great by drafting scrambler Fran Tarkenton in 1961, Tommy Kramer in 1977, and Wade Wilson in 1981. These stars all played before the modern era of free agency. Minnesota also drafted Brad Johnson in 1994 but he put together his best years in Washington and Tampa Bay.
Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre achieved more success than Daunte Culpepper, Tavaris Jackson, and Christian Ponder ever did. In fact over the past 25 years, Quarterbacks drafted by Minnesota (.512) win a game less per season than quarterbacks acquired by other means (.572).
The trend disturbs our franchise-QB-starved fan base. We want the Vikings to grow the position organically, but we’ve watched them achieve more success with free agents. Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater make that dilemma more apparent than ever. I desperately want Teddy to pan out. History tells me Sam will lead them further.
Roster Rule #2 – The Stud Drafted RB
Rule #2 drastically contrasts to Rule #1. We warmly laud the names of Chuck Foreman, Robert Smith, and Adrian Peterson. In recent history, the squad’s leading rusher has been a draft pick 92% of the time. Almost a lock.
Running Back stability holds the Vikings ship afloat while the franchise constantly searches for QB answers. Smith played with seven different starting quarterbacks in eight years, starting with Jim McMahon and ending with Daunte Culpepper. Peterson meanwhile bridged the gap between Brooks Bollinger all the way to Sam Bradford. His 10 year stint saw 13 different starting quarterbacks. While a strong running game doesn’t always produce winning records, Minnesota appeared in the playoffs anytime they could pair a good RB with average QB play.
That’s exactly what we hope to see in 2017. If Cook hits like his predecessors, that stronger rushing attack will pair nicely with 2016’s consistent, low-turnover passing game. At the same time this rule doesn’t bode well for Latavius Murray. Free agent RBs only see moderate success in Minnesota.
Roster Rule #3 – The Solid WR Corps
Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Jake Reed. Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, and Bernard Berrian. Stefon Diggs, Mike Wallace, and Jarius Wright. Then throw in TEs like Andrew Glover, Jermaine Wiggins, Visanthe Shiancoe, and Kyle Rudolph. The evidence is clear: The best versions of the Vikings feature solid receiving threats all the way down the depth chart.
Both Carters, Reed, Moss, Berrian, Harvin, Rice, Glover, Wiggins, Shiancoe, Nate Burleson and Bobby Wade, all had the best years of their career in purple. That’s 12 different pass catchers having career years in the span of 24 years.
This current group of WRs is more homegrown in years past. Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph proved their worth over the last two years. Michael Floyd, Jarius Wright, Stacy Coley and Rodney Adams are set to make solid impact as well. 2017’s Teen Titans should be a deep, well rounded core that powers the offense to success.
Roster Rule #4 – One OL You Love, One OL You Hate
All-time great offensive lineman litter Vikings history. We’ve been privileged to watch the full careers of Hall of Famers Mick Tinglehoff, Ron Yary, and Randall McDaniel. Matt Birk manned the Center position for a decade, with stalwart Steve Hutchinson next to him at Left Guard. The five names above accumulated 38 Pro Bowls and 23 All Pro awards combined. They’re a truly impressive group of Minnesota blockers that we laud accordingly.
Yet being a purple fan is about balance, and no position group exemplifies this more than the offensive line. For every Steve Hutchinson there’s a Ryan Cook. For every Randall McDaniel there’s a Matt Kalil. These huge liabilities make us uncomfortable about the OL overall.
It’s hard to feel any comfort from the 2017 group. They’re hoping average is good enough. We’ve already transferred OL ire from TJ Clemmings to Mike Remmers. Quality blockers have been scarce, but we hope Pat Elflein ascends to stalwart status. Even if we come to love Elflein, there’s sure to be plenty of dissatisfaction with OL play this year.
A journeyman QB, drafted RB, deep WRs, and unbalanced OL. Yeah, they’re the most cliché Vikings Offense ever.