Vikings finally have Plan A and Plan B at QB

It’s been a long time since the Vikings have had a viable quarterback of the present and future. They do now.

As the Vikings start gearing up for the St. Louis Rams and the regular season opener, the big talker coming out the next few days will be how the Rams will deal with the loss of starting quarterback Sam Bradford.

Former Viking and 13-year backup Shaun Hill will get the call. In St. Louis, there is a sense of panic. The Rams are familiar with this made-for-TV movie Cinderella story. Last time something similar happened in the preseason – expensive free agent signee Trent Green went down and recent grocery bagger Kurt Warner took his place – big things happened, but there isn’t the same optimism this time around. They know what they have in Hill and it’s pedestrian at best.

Meanwhile, the big question for the last three years for the Vikings has been their starting quarterback. The Vikings have remained steadfast in their claim when they re-signed Matt Cassel that he was their starter.

He is.

For now.

The Vikings enter the 2014 season coming off a decade of a turnstile at the quarterback position. In 2005, Daunte Culpepper was entrenched as the Vikings franchise quarterback. That was, until Mike Tice called a QB draw against the Carolina Panthers that worked to perfection.

The Panthers were fish-hooked. The O-line executed perfectly. The receivers did their job to open a chasm of a running lane. Pepp ran 20 yards before the nearest defender got close to him.

Then disaster happened. Both for the Vikings and Culpepper. Because of his daunting size, defensive backs never went high on him. They had to go low. Chris Gamble went low and did his job. His job description included a hit that would, for all intents, end Culpepper’s career. He played for Miami and Oakland after that, but he was never the same.

Neither were the Vikings.

Over the next three years, it was a quick, revolving quarterback door. Brad Johnson. Tarvaris Jackson. Kelly Holcomb. Brooks Bollinger. Gus Frerotte.

They all tried. For the most part, they all failed.

At a time when the NFL experts said all that was missing from a Super Bowl equation for the Vikings was a quarterback, historic luck was within the grasp of the Vikings. Brett Favre wasn’t ready to quit and he had an axe to grind against a general manager who told him it was time to retire down south before he was ready.

Favre showed the Vikings how much having a franchise quarterback could alter the impact of a franchise. 2009 was a magical season … until they helped hand the Lombardi Trophy to the Saints.

Since then, things haven’t been the same. The sequel sucked (they often do). Since Favre’s chalk outline was implanted into the turf at TCF Bank Stadium on a cold, snowy night in 2010, the same nightmare recurred.

T-Jack took his shot again. So did Joe Webb, Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Cassel and Josh Freeman.

The Vikings rarely had a Plan A over the last decade, much less a viable Plan B.
They have it now, thanks the promise held with rookie Teddy Bridgewater. If you’re going to build a franchise that is going to compete for a Lombardi Trophy that has eluded the Vikings for a half-century, having a QB of the present and a QB of the future tends to be a recipe for success.

They have it now and Vikings fans aren’t currently in a panic mode. If all goes to plan, they won’t be for years to come.

Heading into next week’s season opener, both the Vikings and Rams don’t have the quarterback that the most vocal of their fan bases want to have. Rams fans are in panic mode. Vikings fans aren’t. The difference is that the Vikings have two viable options. The Rams are worried they may not have one.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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