For me, the 2010 football season featured less fun and joy than any season since, gosh, maybe ever. The Vikings disappointed grandly. My wife quit watching the games with me when the Vikings cut Randy Moss. My fantasy teams sucked (my Hazelweird team appears to have peaked in Week 17, just in time to avoid last place). The season featured many things against my rooting interests (the Packers are in the playoffs, the Patriots are dominant again), and even the snowy collapse of Thunderdome. The only things to consider now is where to go from here.
Joe Webb. Sure, maybe this game was a buzzkill, but we still know what we knew: Webb has a lot of work to do to be a quality starter, but the potential is there. The Vikings should not, in my opinion, draft a QB in the first round of the draft. This is partly because there are glaring needs elsewhere (the Vikes need 2-4 new starting defensive backs, depending on how things go, and also need offensive line improvement), but mostly that it would be pointless to have two young, inexperienced, talented QBs on the roster competing for the chance to start. Webb certainly deserves a spot on the roster, and far better to bring in a veteran QB for him to play behind or to compete against for the job. A veteran QB (by which I mean an experienced QB around the middle of his career, not a Childress-special end-of-career-stopgap solution, which would be somebody like Donovan McNabb or Matt Hasselbeck) available in an offseason is going to have baggage. It might be somebody in the range of Kevin Kolb-Rex Grossman-Sage Rosenfels-Kyle Orton-Carson Palmer-Matt Leinart-Jason Campbell. If you don't like those names, tell me a better realistic possibility (and some of those guys aren't even going to be available).
Leslie Frazier. I think keeping Frazier is a good thing. As I've said, when you hire a new coach, you try to project based on his resume and personality whether he will be a successful coach in your particular situation. Zygi Wilf had a chance to actually see what Frazier could do in this situation, and I think it would have been difficult for Frazier, in these circumstances, to do a better job than he has done. Now he has a tough job, I think: telling current assistant coaches--a few weeks ago his colleagues--that the team needs to go in a different direction offensively.
New offensive approach. There is a load of skill position talent on the roster, and the Vikings need to utilize it better than they have been. The Vikings have unique talents like Adrian Peterson (still a potential all-timer, whose potential has yet to be fulfilled) and Percy Harvin (a versatile player that can be moved all over the field and asked to do all sorts of things with the ball). Can they find a creative, adaptive offensive coordinator who can find ways to utilize their talents? I hope they don't keep the same offensive coaching staff and scheme.
Aging veterans. The Vikings should keep Antoine Winfield on the roster until it's clear he can't do anything anymore--he's too savvy a player not to be useful. But the Vikes might be cutting ties with some other starters.
The year long weaknesses: secondary and offensive line. Because the Vikings need to add multiple quality starters in these areas, this is no quick fix.
Who can they keep? Chad Greenway? Ray Edwards? Sidney Rice? Will they be Vikings next year? I hope so.
But I won't be here to blog about it anymore. No drama: I'm just wore out from five season of writing about this team, and my time and energies are more and more devoted to other important things. I just want to follow and watch the team, not think of what to say about it (frankly, I've scrambled for time this year, and feel my writing has frequently been pretty incomplete and scattered). I leave you as I started with A.E. Housman's poem "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now." With each of my allotted years that goes by, one chance to see the Vikings win the Super Bowl passes by unfulfilled. Maybe next year. Always, eternally, forever, maybe next year.
Thanks for reading.