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  • The 2013 Minnesota Vikings: Preseason Wrap-Up and the Road Ahead

    The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their preseason last weekend beating the Tennessee Titans 24-23 in the Metrodome Thursday night. They finally broke 300 yards on offense with 342 against the Titans. It’s worth mentioning that most of the guys who excelled on Thursday weren’t on the active roster by Sunday as the last cuts to get to 53 were due in Saturday night.

    The preseason wasn’t exactly kind to the Norsemen (1-3) in terms of wins and losses but the coaches feel that they got an extended look at their depth and avoided major injury to key players- which is really the point. Roster fluidity is the name of the game before Week 1, as the Vikings recently signed J’Marcus Webb freshly cut from the rival Chicago Bears. He will add some needed depth behind Phil Loadholt at right tackle. Added to the Vikings practice squad are RB Joe Banyard, G Travis Bond, DT Everett Dawkins, TE Chase Ford, OT Kevin Murphy, WR Rodney Smith and WR Adam Thielen. Banyard has shown flashes throughout the preseason and looks more than capable of adding to the second best rushing attack in the league. He’ll be joined by Zach Line, who as predicted last article, made the team as the Viking fullback in the wake of the Jerome Felton suspension.

    While the team’s official depth chart has some younger veterans starting over new additions (CB Josh Robinson over Xavier Rhodes, for example) guys like Rhodes and Patterson figure heavily into the team’s plans early on. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Xavier Rhodes get a few snaps against Calvin Johnson on Sunday or see Cordarrelle Patterson get some touches in a shootout with the Lions, if explosive plays are needed. Linebacker Marvin Mitchell is a starting weak side linebacker but a 100% healthy Desmond Bishop figures to be starting when he has a full grasp of the playbook. The weak side backer and the nickel back are pretty important on Minnesota when you play teams that feature three-receiver sets as much as division foes Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago.

    On offense, we’re looking for Jerome Simpson to be the guy at the number two position for Minnesota. He has pressure to outperform not only speedy WR Jarius Wright who is more of a natural slot receiver anyway, but Cordarrelle Patterson who has great yards-after-the-catch ability. Quarterback Christian Ponder will probably throw more passes to tight end Kyle Randolph if defenses try to take away the deeper threats. With Ponder throwing the rock he attempted the second most play action passes (165) in the NFL. So in 2013, with him at the helm foes are sure to be fed a heavy diet of play action to crossing receivers and tight ends, which makes perfect sense with Adrian Peterson toting the heavy load. But they need guys to bail Ponder out which was the beauty of a healthy Percy Harvin. We believe with Simpson and Greg Jennings combined they will have the great route running possession receiver (Jennings- who also excels against zone defenses) and the deep threat who is simply more athletically gifted then most human beings in Simpson.

    Opening with two division rivals, the Vikings have a tough row to hoe early on. Lions, Bears, Browns, Steelers before the Week 5 will be great tests of offensive balance and our defensive scheme since all these teams have elements of great defense and besides the Lions, aren’t exactly unstoppable offensive juggernauts. Opening in Detroit in Week 1 they face Calvin Johnson who has tortured the Vikings secondary for years now, but the Vikings did sweep them last year. Look for our boys to take away new Lions running back Reggie Bush and force the sometimes mechanically sloppy Matthew Stafford into a shootout. Detroit will air it out, no question and the Vikings are going to need the horses to match as Detroit is going to come in mad about going 4-12 last year.

    Will the new look Vikings offense be able to survive a terrorizing Lions pass rush? Can the defense force mistakes from Stafford? I think both of these are a “yes”. The Vikings will then have to go to Soldier Field to do battle with the Bears in Week 2, who they don’t match up well against at first look. Let’s say they go 1-1 in two road division games—most Minnesota fans will take that. A mini-home stand with Cleveland and Pittsburgh, both AFC teams seemingly headed in opposite directions, are both winnable games.

    Our boys, with some tough defense and opportunistic offense, could easily find themselves 3-1 in the division before October rolls around. They could also find themselves 0-4 if the offense can’t match and the defense takes longer to gel. Such is the NFL—but we’ll put it on the line right now and say the Vikings we’ll need to go at least 2-2 to make the playoffs this year.
    This article was originally published in blog: The 2013 Minnesota Vikings: Preseason Wrap-Up and the Road Ahead started by Webby