Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

NFC North Rankings-Minnesota Vikings


Minnesota Vikings

One name defines this Vikings offense; Adrian Peterson.

The man was a tank last season, rushing within 9 yards of the NFL record set by Eric Dickerson. Peterson was the heart, soul and legs of the 2012 Vikings offense, rushing for 2,097 yards, 12 touchdowns at a 6.0 yards per carry average as well as catching 40 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown.

All day was simply unstoppable last season, a season coming off one of the most ugliest knee injuries in recent years.

Many have questioned the validity of his comeback and whether or not he used performance enhancing drugs. In my estimation he was destined to have a season like he did last year.

The word ‘quit’ is simply not in Peterson’s vocabulary.

With that considered, we must look at the entire offense of the Vikings, including their under-performing passing offense.

If the Vikes want to beat those cheese packing pests from Green Bay, then they need Christian ponder and Matt Cassel to be as consistent as the sun and as powerful as the rain.

Many may not know but this combo of Ponder and Cassel, could produce a quarterback controversy up in St. Paul as contentious as Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow.

Ponder; coming off a mediocre sophomore season with the Vikings (2,935 yards, 13 interceptions, 5 fumbles), has some steep competition coming from former Chief and Patriot Matt Cassel, who in 2010 with the Chiefs, passed for 3,116 yards and 27 touchdowns with a less than talented chiefs team.

Although they both are maybe top 20 QBs, they both have two distinct quarterbacking styles.

Ponder (253 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2012), is a very mobile QB than Cassel, a more pocket passer (125 yards and 3.9 average yards per carry in 2010).

For this Bill Musgrave offense, Cassel is the best option considering his ability to stay in the pocket, drop back and deliver deep passes with great accuracy (58% completion percentage or higher the past 3 seasons).

Meanwhile, Ponder is a more dynamic athelete who with his legs has the ability to escape on the run and dish the rock.
Although he does not have the arm strength of Cassel, Ponder has the ability to run the option or pistol offense if offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave so chooses.

However, at the same time, the Vikings have utilized a more traditional one-back offense, combining stretch runs with halfback plunges up the middle to perfection.

Especially with a healthy offensive line consisting of Matt Kalil, Chris Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, and Phil Loadholt, the Vikings in 2013 will be unstoppable on offense (only allowed 32 sacks in 2013).

The running game with Peterson will always be there for Ponder and Cassel, the real questions, comments and concerns lie in the Viking’s receiving corps. With the loss of burner Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, the Vikings went out and got former Packer Greg Jennings. Even though Jennings was a former Pro Bowler and 1,000 yard receiver (3), I’m afraid at 29 he might have lost a hop in his step, but I wouldn’t be surprised after 2 back to back injury plagued season with the Packers, if he suddenly turns on the nitrous and take a Ponder pass down the sideline for 80 yards. As well, 2nd year TE Kyle Rudolph, coming off a 493 yard, 9 touchdown season will try and repeat as he could be a major part of a Vikings offense that doesn’t have a reliable red zone target. 29th overall pick Cordarrelle Patterson could have a break out rookie season as long as the Viking’s QBs play up to standard. Furthermore, looking at this Vikings 2013 offense, we know for certain that RB Adrian Peterson will be the cornerstone of the offense, perhaps not as dominant as last year, but definitely guaranteed at least 1,200 yards this season. Regardless of Peterson’s play, this next season can be a repeat of the Vikings 10-6 season if Ponder can live up to his first round label and prevent these Norse Men from letting their season go south.

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