Vikings' additions bring higher expectations

The Vikings have added veteran pieces at several spots that were considered weaknesses heading into the offseason. Now, after all of the front-office work, the expectations of the 2008 season are upon the coaches and players.

Expectations on opening weekend of the football season are usually ramped up for just about every team. Whether you're viewed as a Super Bowl contender like the Cowboys, Patriots, Chargers or Colts or teams trying to pull themselves out of the mire like the Dolphins, Falcons, Raiders or Rams, opening day is a time for looking forward and getting exciting about the prospects for 2008.

For the Vikings, those expectations are huge and, it can be argued, there is no reason why the Vikings shouldn't be in the postseason when all is said and done. At the end of last season, the most glaring weaknesses that the Vikings were going to address in the offseason were defensive end, wide receiver and safety. It didn't take long to get all of those matters worked out.

The wide receiver problem got taken care of just hours after the start of free agency, as the Vikings made Bernard Berrian a wealthy man. The same was true for safety. A year after having an injury-laden cattle call with aging vets like Dwight Smith and injury-prone players like Tank Williams and Mike Doss, the Vikings went for young playmakers Madieu Williams in free agency and Tyrell Johnson in the draft. The same was true at defensive end, where the Vikings made a bold move and traded for Jared Allen shortly before the 2008 draft

In his first year as head coach, Brad Childress faced expectations, but, after a 4-2 start, the Vikings fell flat on their faces by finishing 2-8 over the final 10 games. Last year, after a midseason resurgence, the Vikings seemed to run out of gas and finished 8-8. With the additions the team has made this offseason, there is no such room for failure this year. The Vikings have been made the favorite in the NFC North for a reason. By the end of the Vikings-Packers game, there will be 16 teams in the NFL that already have a loss pinned on them. The Vikings don't want to be one of those teams.

Expectations can be killers, but Vikings fans have some big ones because the front office has put all the pieces into place. Now it's simply a matter of living up those expectations.

SUNDAY NOTES

  • Thanks to playing on Monday, everything surrounding the Vikings week of practice is pushed back a day, making today a walk-through day for the Vikings before leaving for Green Bay.

  • It could be a painful day for Vikings fans. In the local Twin Cities market, fans will have two options for the early games – either watching the Jets and Dolphins or the Lions and Falcons. While Brett Favre will be the highlight of the first game, FOX typically gives Vikings fans a NFC North game when the Vikes are in prime time. With the Packers and Bears also in prime time, all that leaves is Detroit. Is it too early to rake leaves?

  • Speaking of the Lions, the team has refused to release the videotape in which it is alleged Tatum Bell can be seen stealing Rudi Johnson's bags. Bell has said he's afraid the rest of the league is going to blackball him for being viewed as a thief.

  • Perhaps no head coach is under more fire early this year that former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. If the Rams stumble out of the gate, Linehan is viewed as a favorite to be the first coaching casualty of the new season.

  • The Cowboys are expected to sign Brooks Bollinger Monday. By waiting until after their first game, the Cowboys wouldn't have to guarantee Bollinger's contract for the entire season.


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