Moss: 6'3", 39" verticle, 4.39 40 (in 1998)
I found this silly article recently:
A sorry state of affairs: in the NFL's weakest division, we anoint Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings the front-runners by default by Andy Friedlander
A QUICK DISCLAIMER: THE SUPER Bowl champion will not come from the NFC North. If a team from this division even makes it past the first round of the playoffs, it will be surprising.
The Minnesota Vikings have all sorts of talent, especially on offense, and might have helped themselves more during the offseason than any other team, despite the loss of moody but electric wideout Randy Moss. They still have Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper and have added defensive stars such as Fred Smoot and Darren Sharper.
So how is it that they seem on the verge of falling apart? Well, that's not unusual for the Vikes, who, like the temperature in Minneapolis, always seem to plummet in November and December. Disarray is a way of life for the Vikings, and this offseason was no exception. There was bickering, scandal, ownership issues, and just plain silliness. None of it adds up to a long playoff run. The problem is, no team in the North has the horses to take the division title away from them. So as the Vikings fall, no one appears ready to rise and surpass them.
1. Minnesota Vikings
Where they left off: Crashing and burning, as usual. Despite their worst efforts--a staggering 1-4 finish and a 3-7 mark after a 5-1 start--the Vikings backed into the playoffs and actually managed to win a postseason game, though it was against another faltering NFC North team, the Packers. Jettisoning the gifted but disruptive Moss is what baseball legend Branch Rickey used to call "addition by subtraction," but the loss of The Original Whizzinator himself, running back Onterrio Smith, to a reported yearlong suspension for a drug violation is a negative.
New faces: Start with desperately needed help on defense, which last season ranked 28th in the league and allowed 30 touchdown passes, more than all but two teams. That's where Smoot, a strong cover corner signed from the Washington Redskins, and Sharper come in. Minnesota expects Erasmus James, one of two first-round draft choices (Moss replacement Troy Williamson was the other) to provide some big-time heat on the passer. Of course, none of those players addresses the Vikings' other defensive problem: their 4.6 yards allowed per rushing attempt last season. Only Arizona (4.7) was worse.
X's and O's: Williamson has the speed to stretch the defense the way Moss did, but he lacks the height and leaping ability that allowed Moss to win every jump-ball situation in the endzone, a staple of the Minnesota offense. Running backs Michael Bennett and Mewelde Moore are good, but are they true feature backs? Fourth-round pick Ciatrick Fason--a slasher, not a burner--might get a good look in camp.
Coaching/management: Is there any management going on here? The old owner, Red McCombs, is selling the team and was accused of running it into the ground. The new owner, Reggie Fowler, turned out not to have enough cash to make the $625 million deal and turned control of the wannabe ownership group to Zygi Wilf, the billionaire with the rock-star name. Mike Tice, the league's lowest-paid coach (and rightfully so), admitted to scalping his Super Bowl tickets in violation of NFL rules, which is odd because that's the only way he'll get into the game. How much longer can he survive his team's late-season collapses?
Why they'll finish first: Frankly, because nobody else seems to want to. The Vikings are deeply flawed and look like a one-and-done in the playoffs, but they're the best of this sorry lot.
Is this joker senile or something? Sorry bout the length of this for those who don't like to read.