News Bulletin for Memorial Day Weekend: Minnesota Vikings

NFL off-season is all about predictions:  ESPN NFC North’s blogger Kevin Seifert predicts the Minnesota Vikings best- and worst-case scenarios.  His dream scenario involves the Vikings finishing the season with nine wins and seven losses.  In order for the Vikings to achieve this status, Christian Ponder will need to take a huge leap forward at the quarterback position, Adrian Peterson will be back at full strength early in the season, and increased production from their defensive backfield.  The Vikings worst-case scenario would finishing with the same 3-13 record they had in 2011.  The lack of record improvement would involve no improvement, which I believe would be impossible: Christian Ponder will remain inconsistent, Peterson isn’t dominant when he returns, and the defense implodes.

Vegas predicts 6 wins for the Vikings: The Vegas line for Minnesota’s 2012 season is 6 (Over: even, Under: -130).
DJ Gallo (ESPN):  Under. With a new stadium on the way in the next few years, it would be inappropriate for the Vikings to send the Metrodome out with success. They need to honor their history there by losing.
Joe Fortenbaugh (National Football Post)UNDER Minnesota Vikings (6): It’s possible that the Vikings come out of the gate strong with wins over Indianapolis and Jacksonville during the first two weeks of the season. But it’s also conceivable that Minnesota turns in another 0-6 divisional record like they did in 2010, meaning the Vikings would need to go 7-3 outside of the NFC North to give us a loser. That’s a tall order for Christian Ponder and an organization that didn’t make a whole lot of upgrades this offseason.

Sporting News Coaches Rank: Well, lets say they weren’t too kind to Minnesota Vikings’ second-year head coach.  Leslie Frazier ranked 27-out-of-32 head coaches in the NFL.  Frazier is the lowest ranked head coach who coached the previous year.  However, I wouldn’t rush to too much judgement in terms of Leslie’s first full year as the Vikings head coach.  In Frazier’s first year, the Vikings were unable to hold offseason workouts due to the NFL lockout.

Charlie Johnson accepts move to guard: In 2011, Charlie Johnson was in charge of protecting Donovan McNabb’s and Christian Ponder’s blind side and it’s safe to say, it wasn’t pretty.  With Johnson’s lackluster perfromance at left tackle, the Vikings used their fourth overall draft pick to draft USC’s Matt Kalil, which will solidify the left tackle position for many years to come.  With the addition of Kalil, Johnson is expected to slide over to the left guard position, which he is better suited for.

You could say it’s easier to play guard than tackle.  A lot of times in pass protection as a guard, you can try to funnel a guy back inside toward the center because the center might be uncovered. He may be free and looking to help where help is needed. That’s the biggest change. You can get more help instead of being out on an island. — Charlie Johnson

ESPN’s “Football Scientist” predicts big things for Ponder in his sophomore season: KC Joyner, who is referred to as the Football Scientist suggests Ponder could have a “break out season” in 2012.

“An upgraded supporting cast should also go a long way toward helping Ponder reduce his 4.3 percent bad decision rate (BDR) last year (BDR being a gauge of how often a quarterback makes a mental error that leads to a turnover or a near-turnover). That total was the third-highest in the league, but is not atypical of the BDR numbers posted by many of today’s top quarterbacks early in their career and thus isn’t an unsolvable problem.”

ESPN’s Rookie Buzz highlights Vikings’ WR Greg Childs: ESPN’s NFC North Blogger Kevin Seifert highlights Childs as an “intriguing rookie.”  The Vikings have a thin wide receivers core behind Percy Harvin and newly signed Jerome Simpson, so Childs will have an opportunity to make an impact immediately on the field.  If he truly his 100% following his knee injury, like he says he is, I expect Childs to bounce back from a less-than stellar senior season at Arkansas.

In October 2010, Childs was projected as one of college football’s best NFL receiver prospects before tearing the patella tendon in his right knee. Doctors told him it could take up to a year and a half to recover fully, which would have cost him his final season at Arkansas. Childs decided to play in 2011, but as it turned out, he might have been better off sitting out.

Childs seems quite aware of his opportunity, telling the “Vikings Tonight” radio show that “I definitely have a chip on my shoulder,” adding that he wants to “show everyone that I can still be one of the top receivers and that I will be a steal of this draft.”

Indeed, draft analyst Matt Waldman – writing for The New York Times last month – considered Childs the fifth-best receiver available in the draft. Waldman wrote that Childs’ pro day was indicative of a full recovery and “a return to the skills he displayed as a sophomore and junior.”

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