The post mortem on the 2006 Minnesota can all but be written. Because, even if the Vikings somehow manage to climb into the playoffs--a faint possibility that the Vikings will probably put to rest in convincing fashion on Thursday at Lambeau Field, there is little reason, if any, to get excited about this football team.
The Vikings' short-comings over the past three seasons have been well-documented. They included an inability to run the ball, an inability to catch the ball, an inability to pass the ball, a porous offensive line, a defense that cannot stop the pass, and coaching decisions that make the most hardy squeamish. On Sunday, 14 games into the season, the Vikings displayed each of those failings.
All of which raises the question whether the Vikings have made any meaningful improvements since their infamous 41-0 loss to the New York Giants in the 2000 NFC Championship game.
The short answer is that the Vikings have made some improvements. They have more depth on defense, a solid interior to the defensive line, some capability in the secondary, and improvement at linebacker.
But the Vikings have also failed to address the short-comings on the right side of their offensive line, continue to struggle to stop the pass, continue to play too far off of receivers, and continue to struggle in the passing game. Worse yet, in one year, the team has regressed at several positions, most notably at quarterback, wide-receiver, tight end, cornerback, safety, left offensive tackle, right offensive tackle, right offensive guard, and on kick returns.
Add to these problems the fact that a rookie coach surrounded himself with rookie assistant coaches, that the best coach has found the formula for obliterating the running game but has no answer for stopping the more dangerous passing game, that the rookie head coach is more stubborn than the veteran coach who he replaced and who lost his job, in large part, because he was stubborn, and you have a team that has six wins in 14 games, all but one of which came against a team picking in the first ten of the 2007 draft.
Tarvaris Jackson might provide some excitement along with his certain growing pains the remainder of this year and next year, but there's far more that ails this team than merely the quarterbacking position. And odds are that the Vikings have no clue how to address these ills.
Up Next: Who's Out in 2007 and Who Will Stay In Spite of Themselves.