To tackle the ins and outs of the Broncos week 13 opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, I asked Dan Zinski of The Viking Age some questions about the team that he knows better than anyone. The Vikings sit at the bottom of the NFC North, but hope to steal this one away from the Broncos.
Without further ado, let’s go Inside the Villain’s Venue with The Viking Age.
Q: The Vikings are 2-9 this season. Where does the blame rest?
A: I think when you boil it right down the Vikings’ problems are mostly personnel-related. Leslie Frazier has taken a lot of the heat on himself the last couple of weeks, maybe trying to shield his players a little bit, but the fact is this team was under-manned from the very beginning. They had to let a lot of solid veterans go this off-season and most of those guys were replaced by lesser players. And a lot of the veterans they hung on to either didn’t produce or showed their age. Basically, they tried to patch things together for one last run and it just didn’t work. If you need to lay blame, a lot of it has to go on the organization as a whole for neglecting the offensive line in the draft the last few years. They just let the offensive line go to pot.
Q: The Donovan McNabb experiment was short-lived and now the Christian Ponder era has begun. Do you think his NFL career will take off or will he be a draft bust?
A: It’s too early to tell on Ponder. He’s looked pretty good considering the mess he’s been thrust into but I still haven’t seen enough to make a determination. I like some of the stuff he does and I want to see what he does with a better line and better receivers. Whether he’s perceived as a bust kind of depends on expectations. He was drafted 12 overall so people will want him to become a playoff quarterback. But for that to happen the whole team has to improve. He does seem to have good leadership qualities and he makes accurate throws on the run. And he’s very confident. I’m concerned about his ability to throw deep consistently and I don’t think he’s one of those guys who will be able to zip balls into tight spaces.
Q: Adrian Peterson is a very real threat on the ground and the Vikings ground game ranks 5th in the NFL. How have other teams halted their production this season?
A: Well when you have Adrian you’re always going to be able to run it. Even with a bad offensive line Adrian still gets his yards. The problem has been in the passing game. Quite simply, the Vikings don’t present enough of a downfield threat to keep teams from stacking the box. Pretty much everyone plays with one safety back against the Vikings and dares them to throw. And teams run blitz them a lot as well. You could probably offset some of this by running screens and outside runs and stuff but they’ve been terrible at executing those sorts of plays. Their entire running game is between the tackles and they have almost no passing game to their backs. The offensive line has really limited them. They can’t pass protect and they’re not physical enough to just pound the ball the whole game.
Q: Finally, what’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?
A: I’m an optimist so I’m going to take the Vikings 24-17. I think this is the week they cut Ponder loose a little bit and let him throw it. I know Denver has a good defense but I think things have been opening up slightly in the passing game for us the last few weeks and this week we’ll put it together.