Today there are a handful of NFL Teams making post-season travel plans. They’re repacking the gear and preparing for a week of practice before setting off on that toughest of journeys, the road to the Super Bowl. The Vikings, suffice it to say, are not one of those teams. While those teams repack their gear, the Vikings will be packing up their lockers for good this week, shutting the door on 2011 and getting some rest before 2012 preparations begin.
But what really needs to happen between now and the opening of training camp in July? We know that the Vikings were 3-13, we know that they only won 1 home game, we know that several units on this team need a serious overhaul. But we are still realists, and we know that those things can’t all be rectified at once. Here’s the reality of the situation – the Bears, wildly inconsistent all season, finished the year at 8-8, or five games in front of Minnesota. The Lions made the playoffs as a wild card, and the Packers are one dismal afternoon in Kansas City away from being undefeated. The gap just within the Division for Minnesota is enormous, and it means that really, all the Vikings need to consider in the offseason is their position relative to those three teams. If they can close the gap there, the rest of the pieces will fall into place.
With that being said, here’s a realistic checklist of some of the biggest things that MUST happen during this offseason to enjoy an improved 2012:
1) Overhaul the Secondary. You’ve never seen a rougher secondary than the 2011 Vikings’ edition, and they were far worse than their 26th ranking would lead you to believe. Teams threw with supreme confidence on Minnesota all season, and that’s really the only reason that they gave up so few rushing yards, to be honest. Why run it when you can throw through an aging, injured secondary? Until that mindset changes because the secondary has improved, victories will be rare.
2) Decide what can be fixed via Draft. By this, I mean seriously consider trading the #3 Pick. Look, the Vikings have several well-documented needs, and there are teams out there that want to move up for certain players – the suitors for RGIII come to mind here. If the Vikings can parlay their spot into several additional first-day picks, it just makes too much sense to pass the deal up. We’ll get into draft scenarios at a later date, but suffice it to say that this one HAS to be a homerun for Minnesota.
3) Stabilize the Stadium Issue. Wherever and whenever its being built, it needs to happen and soon so that it can stop being an off-field distraction. I don’t think that it distracts players or coaches, but fans have been griping on every side of this issue for too long now, and it needs to simply go away.
We’ll get into all of these things and more as the offseason progresses – - until then, cheer hard for the Wild, Wolves, and Twins!
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