NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – INSIDE SLANT
Unlike a year ago when the Vikings returned every starter from a team that had lost a heart-breaker in the NFC title game at New Orleans, Minnesota enters this season with plenty of question marks.
Can an offense now run by new coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterback Donovan McNabb get on track without having had any type of offseason in which to work together? Will the secondary be able to stay healthy and show improvement?
Can an offensive line that already was deemed suspect entering training camp protect McNabb despite the fact left tackle Bryant McKinnie was cut only a few days into camp after he showed up at nearly 400 pounds?
The good thing for the Vikings is that coach Leslie Frazier has done an excellent job of bringing stability to a franchise that lacked it for much of the four-plus seasons that Brad Childress ran the show at WInter Park.
Frazier navigated the Vikings through some extremely rough times last season after being promoted from defensive coordinator to interim coach when Childress was fired following a 31-3 loss to Green Bay on Nov. 21.
Among the issues Frazier dealt with after taking over was the collapse of the Metrodome roof in December after a snowstorm — that forced one “home” game to be moved to Detroit and another to be moved to TCF Bank Stadium, where the Minnesota Gophers play their home games — and a trip to Philadelphia that turned into a three-day stay because the game was postponed due to the threat of a storm.
Frazier remained calm through all of this and he did te same when McKinnie arrived grossly out of shape. A quick decision was made to cut him, creating a definite hole for the Vikings, but also removing the circus-like atmosphere that had surrounded this team the past two years as Childress waited for Brett Favre to decide whether he wanted to play another season.
“When you’re trying to build a championship team, it’s hard if you’ve got a lot of other things you’re dealing with other than football,” Frazier said. “Nothing against anything that we’ve ever done — it’s just my mindset is we’ve got to be focused on the now and what we have to get done to win a championship.
“That’s not to say that we’re not going to have to deal with some issues along the way, but not to the point where hopefully it becomes a distraction to what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
The reality is that this Vikings team almost certainly isn’t going to get into the playoffs, let alone make a run at a championship.