Tarvaris Jackson, in his second NFL season and first as the Vikings starter, posted a very respectable 8-4 record but also had a 58.2 completion percentage, threw 12 interceptions and only nine touchdowns and had a 70.8 rating. That last statistic ranked 28th in the NFL.
Obviously, those numbers are going to have to improve if Jackson is going to remain this team's starter.
Coach Brad Childress has yet to commit to the 2006 second-round pick but unless something better comes along, that's who will be under center come next summer when the Vikings report to training camp in Mankato.
If Jackson is to show significant improvement, his receiving corps is going to need a key addition or two. Bobby Wade, signed as a free agent last offseason, and second-round pick Sidney Rice had good seasons but this offense still lacks a receiver that can stretch the field and allow the Vikings to go vertical.
Troy Williamson, the seventh overall pick in the 2005 draft, could have been that player but he has been a disappointment through three seasons and it's likely he will be let go by the Vikings.
Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who like Wade was added as a free agent last March, also is going to have to become more of a factor in the passing game to prove he warranted the five-year, $18.2 million deal he was given.
Improvement in this area is crucial because the Minnesota offense has the potential to be one of the NFL's best. The Vikings led the league in rushing with rookie Adrian Peterson and veteran Chester Taylor combining for a team-record 2,185 yards.
Peterson is a special player and if defenses had to respect the pass — and could not stack the box — the NFL's second-leading rusher in 2007 (1,341 yards) would be that much better.
As it is, teams were able to slow Peterson late in the second half of the season in part because they could sellout to stop the run.
The Vikings defense had a new coordinator — Leslie Frazier replaced Mike Tomlin after the latter left to become Pittsburgh's head coach — but the results were remarkably similar to 2006.
Minnesota again led the NFL against the run, giving up an average of 74.1 yards per game, but was last versus the pass. The defense surrendered 264.1 yards per game through the air. In 2006, the Vikings gave up an average of 238.6 passing yards to tie Cincinnati for worst in the league.
While the secondary is the obvious place to point for this problem, another big reason was the continued lack of a consistent pass rush from up front. Defensive ends Ray Edwards and Kenechi Udeze and linebacker Ben Leber tied for the team lead with five sacks apiece.
What this team lacks is a dominant pass-rushing presence off the right side. It's likely the Vikings will take a long look at available receivers and pass rushers in the free-agent market and draft this offseason.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I am disappointed that I wasn't able to take this team to the playoffs. All of us can go back and see the could-have, should-have, and would-have, but I guess I prefer to look at the assets and going forward the assets that we'll end (up) adding and that will certainly be our goal as we start in to 2008." — Coach Brad Childress, when asked if the Vikings should be expected to be a playoff team next season.