After finishing with 10 or more losses in two of the past three seasons it's not a big surprise to find the Vikings toward the bottom of the original NFL Power Rankings released by Pro Football Talk, Wednesday.
Since the Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game in 2009 the franchise has been on a roller coaster. They responded by winning just six games in 2010, then equaled a franchise worst 3-13 in 2011. The Vikings catapulted back into the playoffs in 2012, then limped to a 5-10-1 mark last season.
Pro Football Talk says new head coach Mike Zimmer, will be faced with a familiar problem in Minnesota – quarterback play.
The Vikings have the quiet confidence of a team flying under the radar with more talent than most realize. Quarterback play will be the most important ingredient between success and failure, and the defense will need to be able to gel – especially once the Vikings are again playing late-season home games in the elements.
A playoff berth this year or next will be regarded as a bonus. This team has the feel of a franchise on scholarship until the new stadium opens in 2016.
Which puts the Vikings near the bottom of the barrel as the 2014 season approaches.
The Vikings coaches have said there is an open competition at starting quarterback between Matt Cassel, first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder.
If the quarterback play fails to improve it won't be because of a lack of pass catchers or playmakers.
The Vikings return their top targets from a season ago. Kyle Rudolph is back and healthy, and has reportedly lost 15 pounds as he gets set for a big contract year. Greg Jennings showed last year he still has plenty in the tank. And the Vikings are expecting big things from second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Even Adrian Peterson is expected to be more involved in the passing game.
As for the other side of the ball, Zimmer is expected to bring an aggressive attitude to the defense. The team focused on improving the pass rush, and according to PFT, that will help the rest of the unit.
Not long ago, the Vikings boasted one of the most potent front fours in football, a neo-Purple People Eaters consisting of Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams and Ray Edwards. All four are now gone, replaced by what ideally will become a Seahawks-style flurry of fresh bodies flying around opposing quarterbacks, from Everson Griffen to Brian Robison to Sharrif Floyd to Linval Joseph to Corey Wooton to Anthony Barr and beyond.