Why I cannot get myself up for the 2008 Draft
Looking at the draft ahead of time, I feel like this will be a relatively insignificant draft for the Vikings. The team's biggest need is a pass rusher, and I fear they'll draft a mediocre defensive end in the first round; they could get a decent defensive lineman, but I'm doubtful they'll get an all-star pass rusher. They might draft a good offensive lineman which would be good long-term, but offensive line isn't one of the team's biggest needs right now (the team's two RBs averaged 5.6 and 5.4 yards per attempt, and Tarvaris Jackson had an OK sack rate). They might get another young defensive back somewhere in the draft, but I'm not sure that defensive back will be better than Cedric Griffin or Marcus McCauley (who have been occasionally awful, but have also occasionally shown signs of competence--I think they were better in the second half of the season, but then, they were playing some awful passing teams in the second half, too).
So I'm a bit cool on the draft. Of course it would be a significant (for better or worse) draft for the franchise if they draft a quarterback in the first two rounds, or if they draft a wide receiver in the first round. But I'm skeptical that any defensive lineman, offensive lineman, or defensive back the team drafts in the first round is going to have a big immediate impact in making the Vikings a better team. Obviously, in any draft a team can acquire important starters and stars throughout the entire draft: we might see the Vikes draft eventual replacements for players like Pat Williams, Matt Birk, or Darren Sharper. But I can't work myself up over "eventual replacements," either.
Anybody else having this problem?
What was that bang? already went through the schedule with some detail below, but here are a few of my thoughts:
The lack of cold weather games would have excited me back when Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss were the stars. Now that the team is built on running the ball and stopping the run, I'm not sure what the impact the weather has on this particular team. Indeed, the domes and good weather could just keep conditions easy for opponents to slice up the Viking pass defense. But I'm being a bit pessimistic: of course it's always better for a Dome team if it can avoid bad weather.
The Vikes play only two teams that I'm confident will be very good in 2008: Indianapolis and Jacksonville. Obviously other teams on the schedule will be good (I don't know how much Green Bay will decline), but I can't reasonably guess which teams will be good, mediocre, and bad. I'm with Kevin Seifert in dismissing strength of schedule rankings based on last year's winning percentages. The Vikes might have an easy schedule and they might have a hard schedule, just like everybody else.
Cold, Hard Football Facts on the all-time greatest pass defenses:
"If any team has frustrated its fans more than the Vikings, we don’t know about it. Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, the Vikings fielded many of the most dominant teams in history. And nobody fielded a more consistently dominant pass defense than the Vikings of 1969 to 1972, the famed Purple People Eaters. [...] Offenses during this period averaged about 7.0 yards per pass attempt (roughly the same as today). Yet over this four-year stretch, the Vikings allowed opposing offenses just 5.21 yards per attempt (just 4.95 YPA from 69-71)."
TNABACG on the Viking schedule:
"there's some great news for Purple players who hate the cold: Minnesota will be spending the final months of the season in comfort this year. Their November and December games, nine in all, stack up thusly:
"Dome, dome, Florida, Florida, dome, dome, Arizona, dome, dome."
Kevin Seifert at the Star Tribune on the Viking schedule:
"The Vikings haven't started better than 2-2 in coach Brad Childress' first two seasons. But that record might be a best-case scenario in the most difficult opening-month schedule he has faced here. The Vikings will hope to capitalize on some unsettled quarterback situations: The Packers (new starter Aaron Rodgers), Panthers (a rehabilitating Jake Delhomme) and Titans (Vince Young under a new offensive coordinator) are all in some kind of transition."