Wanted to roll this out earlier this week but couple things prevented me from being able too. With 4 weeks in the books for the 2011 season, here is my quarterly grades for the Vikings.
McNabb can’t take all the blame for the 0-4 start but he hasn’t helped much either. I don’t think any expected a miracle from him and he has looked good at times but he’s missing on throws far too much and especially on 3rd down. Only 1 team that started 0-4 teams has ever made the playoffs so the only logical thing left would be to insert Ponder in as starter sooner than later.
Adrian Peterson has seen his production slip in every game but he also makes a lot out of nothing. Imagine if he ran behind a good offensive line? He’s averaging 94 yards/gm with 4.6 yards per carry. Toby Gerhart has seen limited action so far this year and has made the most of his chances.
Percy Harvin has been doing it all. I like the way they are using him out of the backfield but still would like to see him get more targets in the passing game. I think Harvin has potential to have 90+ catches out of the slot. Michael Jenkins has been sure handed and leads the team in receiving touchdowns. He’s been targeted in the passing game 18 times and has hauled in 16 of those passes. According to Berrian he has been open all year. So I guess its not his fault he only has 2 catches in 177 snaps? He will be someone else’s problem next year. I think the Vikings need to get Aromashodu some more playing time and experience. He only has 2 catches on the year but has seen limited playing time. Showed some vertical speed in week 4 when he hauled in a 35 yard TD. Why Berrian is playing more snaps than him is beyond me. I don’t think anyone would argue if they let Berrian go and promoted Manny Arceneaux from the practice squad. Possibly even bring back fan favorite Jaymar Johnson?
It took 4 weeks to finally see Shiancoe become a go to guy for McNabb. He ended up with 6 receptions for 58 yards in the loss against KC. Vikings 2nd round pick Kyle Rudolph has shown solid hands and play making ability through first 4 weeks. I hope the Vikings get this kid some more targets, he has potential to be special. Whoever is behind center will need to heavily involve these 2 to have success in the passing game the rest of the year.
Only reason they didn’t get an F is because Sully has shown some improvement this year. Ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 6th best center in the league. He was my biggest question mark heading into 2011 and now that he’s healthy he looks much improved. Steve Hutchinson still probably our most consistent lineman but he has looked average at best. It’s clear his elite days are over and age has caught up to him. Vikings are going to need to find a replacement for him sooner than later. Mammoth RT Phil Loadholt has looked solid in run support but terrible in pass protection. He commits a false start about every game and speed rushers continue to have their way with him. Anthony Herrera still doesn’t look a 100%. Can’t convince me Chris DeGeare would play any worse. Time to get the younger players some experience. That leaves me with Charlie Johnson last. Brought in to replace McKinnie and he’s been terrible. He should be playing guard and DeMarcus Love should be getting playing time at tackle.
Jared Allen and Brian Robison are a force and both have graded out as top 10 DE’s so far this year. Allen is 2nd in the league with 6.5 sacks and Robison has been stout in pass rushing and run support. I think the biggest question mark for this group was whether Robison could handle full time duties and he’s stepped up in a big way. Did I mention he’s PFF’s 5th ranked DE for first 4 games? Ray Edwards is 59th. Kevin Williams missed first 2 games but has looked good in his return. As it stands now you can add a NT to the off-season needs because Remi Ayodele has been invisible even though he weighs 320 lbs. Letroy Guion is proven to be a nice find and continues to produce in his limited action.
As a group they have been strong in run support but one big weakness is their coverage skills. Chad Greenway is ranked dead last in coverage for 4-3 OLB’s. Between RB’s and TE’s through 4 games, they have allowed 49 receptions for 474 yards, 2 TD’s and a 9.6 Yard per catch average.
Cornerbacks have been solid for the most part but I do believe Chris Cook should be covering the opposing teams #1 WR at all times. One question I raise is what are we going to do when Winfield calls it a career? He is such a great tackler while the rest of the secondary struggles in that department. Vikings have seemed to find a gem in FS Husain Abdullah and he’s really started to come into his own this year. SS is still a concern and while Sanford has won the starting job, the Vikings will need to address the position next year. I wouldn’t be against giving Mistral Raymond a shot this year and see what he can do.
Special Teams is a solid bunch with Longwell and Kluwe. Percy Harvin returned opening kickoff this year and Marcus Sherels has impressed as the punt returner.