It’s amazing how quickly the love affair the Minnesota Vikings fans had for coach Leslie Frazier has eroded.
Especially when most of the Vikings’ current problems aren’t all Frazier’s fault.
Anyone unhappy with the Vikings should be looking at owner Zygi Wilf and the Vikings’ front office. Pure and simple, the Vikings don’t have the talent to be a top level NFL team. They don’t have the talent to be an average NFL team.
Fans who think the Vikings have the talent to contend for an NFL title are delusional. The front office knew that this was going to be a down year so they planned economically. Look at all the free agents that left in the past two years that haven’t been replaced (Ben Leber, Pat Williams, etc.) without being replaced. The Vikings’ move to jettison Bryant McKinnie at the start of the season was 100 percent financial. They’d been trying to find a way to get out from under his contract while being able to save face. His showing up at training camp as a 400-pound tub of goo made it all too easy for the front office to hand him a pink slip.
To show the Vikings’ current talent level, we are dividing their starting players into four different categories. It shows how badly the front office has allowed the talent level to slide.
Star Players: Running back Adrian Peterson, defensive end Jared Allen, linebacker Chad Greenway.
We viewed this as players who are in the top 15 percent at their position, who would be likely Pro Bowl candidates. That the Vikings only have three out of 22 is an indictment of their talent pool.
Above Average: Receiver Percy Harvin, the tight end trio of Visante Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser and Kyle Rudolph, guard Steve Hutchinson, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, linebacker E.J. Henderson, cornerback Antoine Winfield.
We included 16-49 percent in this group. Hutchinson, Williams and Winfield were all Pro Bowl caliber players in the past, but their play has slipped and the Vikings have no young players being groomed to take over their positions. The Vikings’ trio of tight ends are individually all average, but combined this group has useful skills. Harvin and Henderson have the talent to be at the top of this group, but because of their health, neither can perform at a consistently high level.
Below Average: Tackle Charlie Johnson, guard Anthony Herrera, tackle Phil Loadholt, receiver Michael Jenkins, defensive end Brian Robison, cornerback Cedric Griffin, safety Jamarca Sanford, safety Husain Abdullah.
We went from 50-80 percent in this group. These players are serviceable at best and very marginal starters at worst. None has given any reason to think they will be above average again in their NFL careers.
Immediately Replaceable: Quarterback Donovan McNabb, receiver Bernard Berrian, center John Sullivan, defensive tackle Remi Ayodele, linebacker Erin Henderson.
It’s hard to imagine any of these guys starting for any other team in the NFL.
What should be most alarming for Vikings fans is the lack of young starters on this roster. For a team that is clearly aging, the Vikings have made few moves to begin building for the future. If the front office doesn’t start taking action, the Vikings’ stay at the bottom of the NFC North could last for several seasons.