Football will do the talking from now on for Vikes
The blather of the off-season is over and the Minnesota Vikings have returned to Mankato like a flock of purple swallows.
Mike Zimmer and his staff have a cartload of players to make a team from and it is crucial that they succeed. They also have a lot of bugaboos to run off.
The New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens did not have the most talent when they won their most recent Super Bowl titles. Seattle was not supposed to be that much better than Denver last February in Super Bowl XLVIII but they clobbered the Broncos 43-8. They did not turn the ball over four times. They did not turn the ball over at all.
Mike Zimmer is reputed to be a great football coach. His Cincinnati defense gave up the third fewest yards last season. The Vikings were 31st in a 32-team league in yardage allowed. But Zimmer will have to prove himself a worthy head coach. His defensive coordinator days are over. He is going to be carrying the entire burden this year. It is not going to be a snap. He has to convince a team that was 0-7-1 on the road last year they can win away from home. Their home stadium is going to be outdoors and the Vikes have not been a winner out there.
The word is out that the Vikings are going to be far less predictable defensively this year. It may appear to be a reckless brand of defense but if it worked in Cincy where they have made the playoffs three years in a row, who are the Vikes not to give it a look?
The Vikings have the dubious honor of facing three of football's best passing games in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler can make it a long afternoon for any defense when they are on target to guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Ashlon Jeffery. Throw in backs like Eddie Lacy, Reggie Bush and Matt Forte and you can see why the Vikes went 2-3-1 in their division last year.
The Vikes are going to need big years from Chad Greenway, Harrison Smith and their younger pass rushing gang.
Minny's offense last year was Adrian Peterson. The Vikings scored the most rushing touchdowns in football but Peterson did not have the same kind of season he had in 2012 when he logged over 2,000 yards.
With Norv Turner is charge of the offense, Peterson the rushing threat stands a good chance of becoming Peterson the receiving threat. It will be interesting to see if Peterson's hands are as good as his feet.
The Vikings are making noises like Cordarrelle Patterson is going to be one of the biggest receiving threats in football this fall but he was only targeted 78 times last season. That would be dandy but the second year player's real talent seems to be his versatility. He scored nine touchdowns for Minnesota last season between rushing, returning and catching the football - making him a younger version of Percy Harvin.
The final piece of legerdemain will be instilling a "can do" attitude with the game on the line. The Vikings have to come up with a way to sustain offensive drives. This three and out junk in the fourth quarter with the game on the line has got to go. Christian Ponder lost his starting job because he failed to move the club in the clutch. Matt Cassel could lose his for the same reason which would leave it in the hands of rookie Teddy Bridgewater. The defense has to come up with the plays in the final quarter that win games. It is going to call for a toughness the Vikes have not shown. It is going to call for some real team play.