Latest Vikings deals give hopePublished 8:39am Monday, March 17, 2014
The last few days have been as exciting for Vikings fans since, well, the kickoff of the NFC Championship game in Jan. 24, 2010.
With the exception of a four-game winning streak in late 2012, it’s been ugly since.
Since that marvelous day when Brett Favre and the Vikings had a chance to reach the Super Bowl, we Vikings fans have suffered through the excruciating loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, and three losing seasons out of the past four.
We have suffered through a rotation of bad quarterbacks, from a washed-up Favre to a has-been Donavan McNabb to draft bust Christian Ponder to never-was Joe Webb to why-did-we-get-him Josh Freeman to he’s-better-than-anything-since-Favre Matt Cassel.
We went from an outstanding defense to one of the two worst defenses in the NFL last year. The Vikings were the only team to give up 30 points per game last year, and only the Dallas Cowboys gave up more yards. Anyone who watched the Vikings lose a handful of games because the defense could not stop the opposing team from scoring in the final minute of the game should not be surprised at these statistics.
Throw in the fact that the Wolves are a disappointment again and a long shot to make the playoffs, the Wild still are shaky in a tough conference, and the Twins look like they’ve improved themselves to become, well, mediocre, it’s hard not to grab on to something like the Vikings’ recent dives into free agency.
Since the 2013 season ended, the Vikings have hired a new coach in Mike Zimmer, re-signed Cassel and young, up-and-coming defense end Everson Griffen, and signed two likely starters in nose tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (world’s greatest name).
Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman says they’re also likely to sign more players. In addition, the Vikings, thanks to their lousy 2013 season, have the eighth pick in the draft, which will likely yield either a potential franchise quarterback or a stud on defense.
I’d take either at this point, provided the Vikings pick a quarterback somewhere in the draft.
If Cassel can serve as a competent bridge at quarterback to guide an already talented offense, a new coach and new players can vastly upgrade the defense, and Spielman can find a future franchise quarterback in this year’s draft, then we may actually have a football team when the new, billion-dollar stadium is completed.
Of course, the reality of professional football also sets in.
Signing players who seemingly fill big holes in March is one thing. Getting enough wins to make the playoffs and contend is another.
Teams like the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers rarely make big news in the offseason, but they seem to find unheralded players late in the draft or off the street and continue to win.
All that said, we Minnesota sports fans need something to raise our hopes, to get us excited again.
This week, scanning the sports news web sites for the latest free agent signing is about all we’ve got.
• • •
Speaking of rays of hope, it was hard not to feel happy while walking around Lake Alice Thursday night. With a beautiful sunset, temperatures in the 50s, and streams of water flowing down the streets as the snow melted, I felt like I was on vacation or something.
Mother Nature owes us one.
We had a late spring last year, a quick fall and a brutal winter. An early spring would indeed be nice.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s Publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org