Here’s how I see it. The Minnesota Vikings need to win now. Fans did not deserve to be subjected to the sick, angry, numb, disappointment, shock and horror of the broken-hearted 2010 season. And, no, I’m not including the Packers Championship in this. That’s not what this is about. The Wilfs, point blank, put out a bad product last year. A coach who inspired no one, a quarterback out of sync with his teammates, no contingency plan for their #1 receiver’s injury. Head coach Leslie Frazier seems to be leaning toward adding two quarterbacks this off-season, with reports that Joe Webb is “nowhere close.”
The questions are: “what are you asking of the rental?”, “who takes over for him after the rental?” and “what is the offense’s identity moving forward?”
The veteran rental: Marc Bulger. Fans questioned whether Bulger had lost his desire to play. He openly admitted he had lost his desire while he played under Scott Linehan’s aggravating offense, being smacked around constantly. Is this a red flag? I think that – in light of the urgency to win – Zygi’s failed Favre gamble must result in more gambles.
Why not Donovan McNabb? Is it really a gamble to ask Bulger to play hard for one season? He excelled in the preseason last year, which is only a small positive but there are no negatives from his 2010. Donovan McNabb’s 2010 play was overwhelmingly negative. Which do you trust more? That Bulger’s play tailed off WHEN Mike Martz left and BECAUSE of the Scott Linehan offense? Or that McNabb’s play tailed off WHEN he left and BECAUSE of the Mike Shanahan offense?
In Rex Grossman’s first start as a Redskin, he gave Chris Cooley, Anthony Armstrong and Santana Moss their best performances of the year. His next two games against Jacksonville and New York weren’t special and he needs to stop fumbling and make a few less dangerous throws, but the offense otherwise moved appreciably better with Rex Grossman.
The 2007-2008 Shanahan Broncos offenses were nothing spectacular but Cutler was playing in his first full year as a starter with undiagnosed diabetes and a bunch of young players in 2007 and they had to face a litany of running back injuries in 2008.
Why not Kyle Orton? When deciding between Orton and Bulger, you are picking between a player who reads the field well and has rarely eclipsed average accuracy (one season over 60%, 2009) and skill and a guy who has shown exceptional accuracy awhile ago (2002-2006 he never went below 62.9 and two seasons was above 66%), still owns a quick release and has Orton slightly beat in the QB IQ dept.
When Ron Turner was an offensive coordinator – Lovie cuffs or not – he was the worst in the NFL. That held Orton back. With that asterisk, By the time Orton had played 50 games, he had a total of 7 games in which he had 2+ total TDs, +1 or higher TD-INT ratio, and 220+ yards. Bulger had 7 such games in 2003 and 7 more games like that in 2004. Orton did get four more in his first season with McDaniels, hit those numbers 3 times in his first five 2010 appearances but was pretty inaccurate the rest of the way with just two more such games last year.
What’s the bigger gamble? Thinking that putting Bulger in the right offense will bring him back to his 2003-2006 Pro Bowl level or thinking that you can get Kyle Orton to that level he’s never reached?
It’s worth noting that trade discussions for starting quarterbacks like Orton or Kolb start and usually end with draft picks, of which the Vikings are already missing one.
Why not Carson Palmer? This is the most intriguing one. I think McNabb could regain his old form, I believe Bulger will regain his old form (probably in Arizona, though that line is awful) but Palmer seems to crumble under pressure. He wants a change of scenery and it could happen but I like a rejuvenated Marc Bulger just a hair more.
The franchise: Once you have all the pieces in place, you want a quarterback that can execute the offense. The three quarterbacks in this draft that seem to have the highest quarterback IQ are Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Greg McElroy. The Vikings don’t have time to mess around while Cam Newton learns for 2.5 seasons.
The offense: TIMING. TEMPO. AGGRESSION. PASS TO SET UP THE RUN. Rice is special, but – financially – it will make much more sense to sign a Sims-Walker or Terrell Owens – cutting Berrian – and drafting Julio Jones if he’s there at #12. Whoever they put out there, use them. This is a copycat league so if the Vikings don’t take a receiver in the first, I could see them spending their fourth or a third they might pick up on a speedy, athletic tight end. All I know is that Musgrave will put the playmakers in a position to make plays. As a Baltimore fan, that makes me jealous because my team had so much talent but Stallworth was constantly on the sideline and Cam never designed plays to Boldin’s strengths. It was EXCRUCIATING TO WATCH. At least nine Ravens players including Flacco and Ray Lewis spoke out against the offense and yet Cameron was retained. The low point (or hopefully, the turning point) was seeing my favorite player Q on First Take be asked what they need to do to improve the offense. Someone in the crowd yelled “Fire Cam Cameron!”. Instead of standing up for Cam, Q laughed heartily for awhile.