Gonzo over at SBN's Vikings blog The Daily Norseman was kind enough to answer some questions for us ahead of tonight's preseason tussle in Minnesota. TST reciprocated with a look at the Rams for the readers over there, check it out. As you'll see both teams have a lot of questions and even more to examine before the season starts in a month. In seeing a team like the Vikings that are going through something of an era change with a key position battle at QB, we can be relatively thankful that things are reasonably settled for the Rams as they start a second year under a new coach.
Game thread coming later today.
Are the Vikings going to have a QB controversy this season, Bollinger or Jackson?
It's a possibility, yes. As of this point in time, even though Brad Childress has said that the race for the QB position is wide open, it's Jackson's job to lose, and has been since the second to last game of 2006. Thus far, he doesn't appear to have done anything to lose it, and the odds are pretty good that Childress is going to give Jackson the first shot to be the starter against the Falcons on 9 September. If Jackson gets off to a rocky start, however, it will be interesting to see how long he goes before putting Bollinger into the mix. Bollinger has proven himself to be at least capable in spot duty, playing decently for a horrible Jets team the year they went 4-12, but Childress thinks that Jackson is the long-term solution, and he'll get every chance to prove the coach right.
Any other exciting preseason position battles in Minnesota?
If you can call the Vikings' wide receivers "exciting," the battle for spots on the depth chart would qualify. No position on the roster. . .not even quarterback, in my opinion. . .has as many questions surrounding it for Minnesota as the wide receiver position. Will all the work that Troy Williamson put in this off-season pay off the way it did for Jake Reed when he went through similar treatments? Are Sidney Rice and Aundrae Allison ready to play at this level? Can Bobby Wade continue to build off of the success he had last year in Tennessee? And who will the #5 and #6 guys be? The Vikings' WR corps has the potential to be very good. . .production-wise, they haven't done it yet, but the potential is definitely there.
What three things are Vikings fans going to be watching for in this game and throughout the rest of the preseason?
- Quarterback play. Every eye in the state of Minnesota is going to be on Tarvaris Jackson on Friday night, and with good reason. It's his first game since being given the keys to the proverbial car, he's in front of the home town crowd, and he's obviously going to want to make a good impression.
- Pass rush. Anyone that watched the Vikings knows how good they were for 93% of the season against the run, and if they hadn't mailed in last year's season finale they would have set the record for best rush defense of the modern era, and possibly of all time. But the pass rush was abysmal, and this is something that HAS to change for the Vikings this year. It remains to be seen whether the departure of Mike Tomlin, and his subsequent replacement by Leslie Frazier, can help the Vikings' pass rush be what it has the potential to be.
- Play calling. More specifically, who's going to be doing it? Brad Childress said he might have tried to do too much last year, and there have been rumors that this season the plays might be called by either Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell or quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers. Either way, the play calling can't possibly be any worse than it was last season, so we'll have to keep an eye on how it goes.
Actually, according to the Star-Tribune, Childress hasn't made his final decision on Peterson yet, so Ram fans might get to see him after all. In the event that he doesn't play on Friday, I'm sure he'll be on the field before the season opener against Atlanta. As far as the role he'll play, he'll probably be part of a "backfield by committee" (the kind that's hated by fantasy players everywhere) for at least the start of the year. There will probably be numerous situations where Peterson and Chester Taylor will line up in the backfield together. But as the season goes on, if Peterson stays healthy, I'd anticipate him getting more and more of the workload and Taylor becoming more of a relief type of back.
Is there a lake cruise in the team's future?
Man, this is the quietest off-season this team has had in a long time. The worst thing that happened was Cedric Griffin being unable to keep his pants up. Hopefully nobody will be purifying themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka any time soon.