Thursday, January 2, 2014
Minnesota Vikings season wrap-up
By Ben Goessling
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 24
Preseason Power Ranking: 17
Biggest surprise: Hopes were high for rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson when the Vikings traded back into the first round to take him in April, but even the team had to be surprised with his explosiveness. He ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns, scored twice as a running back and had three receiving touchdowns, finishing third in the league in all-purpose yards and giving the Vikings a weapon that looked tantalizingly close to Percy Harvin. He'll be in the running for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Biggest disappointment: The Vikings were firmly behind quarterback Christian Ponder at the beginning of the season, hoping he would build on the promise he showed in the final four games of the 2012 season. But by the time they went to London in Week 4, the Vikings were on to their second starting quarterback, and a year marked by change at the position was triggered by Ponder's inability to show he can be a long-term solution at the position. He threw nine interceptions in nine games, couldn't develop a rapport with Greg Jennings and made too many of the same mistakes that had marked his first two seasons.
Biggest need: After Ponder's washout of a season and Josh Freeman's inability to reclaim the starting job after one disastrous start, the Vikings have to figure out their quarterback position. They'll have a top-10 pick in the draft, but there's not a sure thing in this year's QB class, however deep it might be, and GM Rick Spielman's track record of finding quarterbacks hasn't been good. It might help to keep Matt Cassel around as a short-term solution who can bridge the gap to a young quarterback.
Team MVP: It has to be Adrian Peterson, who wasn't able to win another rushing title a year after running for 2,097 yards and winning league MVP honors, but who played through nagging injuries and still finished fifth in the league in rushing. Peterson played with hamstring, groin and foot injuries, missing only one game a week after he sprained his foot in Baltimore, and carried a combined 67 times in back-to-back overtime games with Green Bay and Chicago -- while playing with the groin strain. At age 28, he remains the bedrock of the Vikings' offense.