Vikings: What Went Right and Wrong

In a quick look back at the season that just completed, we examined what went right for the Vikings and what went wrong.

The Vikings' two-victory improvement from 2006 could be considered a step in the right direction for second-year coach Brad Childress. However, this is a team that will enter the offseason with plenty of regrets.

A five-game winning streak put the Vikings in a prime position to clinch a playoff spot in Week 16 against Washington at the Metrodome. They failed to do so, losing 32-21 to the Redskins, and saw the season end with a 22-19 overtime loss at Denver.

In reality, the loss to the Broncos meant little because Washington's victory over Dallas locked up the final postseason spot in the NFC regardless of what happened at Invesco Field.

Still, some significant steps forward that came during victories over Oakland, the Giants, Detroit, San Francisco and Chicago were minimized in the last two games.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Running back Adrian Peterson, taken with the seventh-overall selection in last April's draft, gives the Vikings plenty of reason for optimism in the future. Peterson set an NFL single-game record by rushing for 296 yards in a Nov. 4 victory over San Diego and finished the season with 1,341 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

A partially torn ligament in his right knee suffered Nov. 11 at Green Bay cost Peterson two games and might have contributed to him ending the season with less than 100 yards rushing in his last four games.

Nonetheless, the Vikings still entered the regular-season finale averaging an NFL-leading 164.1 yards per game on the ground.

The Vikings also continued to be dominant against the run with Pro Bowl tackles Kevin and Pat Williams leading the way. Minnesota was giving up an NFL-best 70.5 yards per game on the ground entering Week 17.

Minnesota also led the NFL in rush defense in 2006, surrendering an average of 61.6 yards per game.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Tarvaris Jackson's first season as the starting quarterback had more downs than ups. Put into the position of learning on the job, Jackson was awful early, showed improvement during the first four games of a five-game winning streak and then struggled again.

Jackson finished the season with 12 interceptions and nine touchdown passes. The main problem with Jackson's struggles and inconsistency was the fact he did not consistently make opponents pay for putting eight and nine men in the box and focusing on the run.

But to put all the blame for the Vikings' anemic passing game on Jackson would be foolhardy. The Vikings receiving corps didn't scare anyone. Veteran Bobby Wade, a free-agent addition, led the Vikings in receptions but only had three touchdown catches. That included two in the final game. Beyond Wade, the Vikings did not have another reliable receiver on the roster, though rookie Sidney Rice showed plenty of potential.

It's not clear if Wade will be catching passes from Jackson in 2008. Childress has refused to say if he will stick with the quarterback. Whether Jackson is back running the Vikings offense next season or not, the Vikings will almost certainly look for help at receiver this offseason.

While the Vikings were very good against the run, the pass defense remained a major trouble spot. Tied for worst in the NFL last season under former coordinator Mike Tomlin, that unit entered the final game ranked last with an average of 266.1 yards given up per game under Leslie Frazier.

Frazier, much like Tomlin a year ago, made some in-season adjustments by upping the amount of blitzing the Vikings did. The move was necessary because the defensive ends failed to get the consistent pressure needed to help the defensive backs.


  • CB Antoine Winfield missed his second consecutive game because of a strained pectoral muscle. It was the sixth time in nine games Winfield sat because of injury. This came after Winfield had not missed a game in 2005 or 2006. Rookie Marcus McCauley continued to start in Winfield's place.

  • WR Sidney Rice missed the last two games because of a sprained ankle. Rice, who finished his rookie season with a team-leading four touchdown catches, was disappointed he didn't play in the finale, saying he was at "97 percent."

  • LBs Vinny Ciurciu (ankle) and Dontarrious Thomas (groin) both sat out the regular-season finale.

  • Rookie RB Adrian Peterson finished the season with four consecutive games under 100 yards rushing but still finished second in the NFL with 1,341 yards on the ground.

  • The Vikings did not have a receiver with a 100-yard game on the season. Bobby Wade caught five passes for 92 yards against Denver.

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