Monday, May 21, 2012

For NFL and Vikings fans, the dog days of May have arrived

There should be some sort of Internet rule that gives NFL bloggers – both those that are paid to do it (not me) and those that do it for fun (me) –  the month of May off.

This story from a week ago by ESPN 1500's Judd Zulgad illustrates why that would be a good idea. In the piece, Zulgad gives us the story of Arkansas teammates and wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs, who didn't like each other all that much when they first met as fourth graders.

Wow! That's astounding. These guys didn't like each other when they were 10, but by the time they were 15 or so, they were best buddies. That never happens, does it?

Actually, it happens all the time. There were a whole bunch of kids I couldn't stand when I was in grade four (and they didn't like me much, either) that I ended up liking a lot by the time my high school graduation rolled around.

But I shouldn't be too hard on Zulgad, because there just isn't much news to report on. Free agency is done. So is the NFL draft. All the club's coaching changes have been made. Even the stadium issue is pretty much resolved. So we're left with stories about the Vikings signing guys like Levi Horn and where they will be holding training camp in 2012.

However, for the 2012 Minnesota Vikings, the dearth of subjects to write about seems even greater this year than in previous springs. I think I even know why.

In year's past (I've been blogging about this team since 2007), the Vikings seemed like a legitimate playoff team. So there was more to write about from a blogger's perspective. If the Vikings could just get a bit better play from Tarvaris Jackson/Gus Frerotte/Kelly Holcomb at quarterback (it never happened); if they could just find an elite pass rusher (hello, Jared Allen); if Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian could emerge into a big play receiving threats (one out of two ain't bad, I guess). If, if if.

Because the Vikings had Adrian Peterson, a stout run defense, a deadly accurate placekicker and guys like Antoine Winfield, E.J. Henderson, Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk still in their primes, an upgrade of one player at one position could potentially be enough to turn the Vikings from an average team into a playoff – even a Super Bowl contending – one.

But the 3-13 season the Vikings put together in 2011 has stripped away any hope from fans, and bloggers, that if the team can just improve a littler bit at wide receiver and a little bit at cornerback, they'll be in the thick of the hunt for the elusive Lombardi Trophy.

I'm not going to give up hope in May that that could happen, because anything can happen in the NFL. Still, it seems much more plausible that the Vikings won't be contending for a playoff spot – let alone the Lombardi Trophy – until 2014, at the earliest. And so, there is a lot less to obsess about when it comes to improving the Vikings roster. The Vikings need to get a lot better at every position. This team has no strengths (although it does have some very good individual players) and that makes it more difficult (for me, anyway) to write anything compelling about whether Jasper Brinkley can handle the middle linebacker job or if Jerome Simpson can be a deep threat at wide receiver.

It would be a positive development if those guys panned out. But even if they don't, and that's very possible, it won't make a break the Vikings 2012 season. 

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