Daunte Culpepper is no longer the signal caller for the Minnesota Vikings
and Randy Moss
is preparing for his second season with the Oakland Raiders. New head coach Brad Childress brings a new attitude to Minnesota in hopes of a playoff run in the 2006-2007 NFL season. Last season the Vikings began with injuries and an embarrassing scandal. When the season was over, Minnesota was one win away from a playoff berth. The late run by the Vikings in 2005 proved that the team has talent and heart. The biggest question regarding the Vikings is whether they can carry over the lat run in 2005 into this upcoming season?
After Culpepper went down last season, Brad Johnson stepped in and provided the Vikings with some desperate needed eadership. Johnson finished the 2005 season with a 7-2 record and the starting quarterback job for this upcoming season. The problem is that Brad Johnson will be entering his 14th NFL season. If he is unable to finish the entire season, the Vikings will be forced to put five year veteran Mike McMahon in the line-up. McMahon has been less than impressive for most of his career, but at times can show a flash of talent. One of the keys to the Vikings success is keeping Brad Johnson healthy for the entire season. With the addition of guard Steve Hutchinson, the Offensive line may be able to keep Brad Johnson off the ground. Center Matt Birk has been a staple to the o-line and the Vikings hope he will continue his solid play this upcoming season.
Chester Taylor – acquired from the Baltimore Ravens – will get the nod as the Vikings starting tail back. With the Ravens, Taylor was the back-up to Jamal Lewis. However, whenever the opportunity was giving to him, he delivered. Taylor is a solid back and will look to make an impact on a team that has been missing a reliable running back since Robert Smith. Back-up Mewelde Moore is a good change up as well. In 2005, Moore led the Vikings with 662 rushing yards.
The wide receivers for the Minnesota Vikings are a talented group of players but too inconsistent to be a threat in the NFL. Marcus Robinson had an up-and-down year in 2005, catching only 31 receptions for 515 yards. Troy Williamson will be entering his second season in the NFL and will need to have a big season with the Vikings. In his first year, Williamson had an “as expected” rookie season. This year, Minnesota hopes he will put up numbers similar to what he did in college. Travis Taylor led the wide receivers in receptions with 50 grabs in 2005. Tight end Jermaine Wiggins is a huge target for Brad Johnson as well. He snagged 69 balls in 2005.
The Minnesota Vikings has some talented players on the Defensive side of the ball. Erasmus James and Kenechi Udeze can clog up holes on the D-line as well as produce a decent pass rush. E.J. Henderson is good Linebacker that is all over the field for the Vikings. The best talent is in the Secondary. Last season, Antoine Winfield let the team in tackles with 98 and Darren Sharper had 9 interceptions. Cornerback Fred Smoot struggled in 2005, but is still a solid NFL cornerback.
A LOOK AT THE 2006 SCHEDULE
The first three games are murderous for the Minnesota Vikings. In week one, they travel to Washington to play the Redskins and then will host the Panthers, and the Bears. Other games that looks tough for the Vikings is against the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. The Vikings will need to have a winning record in their own division. The NFC North division is pretty weak, so it is possible that only one team from that division will make the playoffs.