To get ready for Sunday's game, I exchanged five questions with Ted Glover of Daily Norseman, SB Nation's Minnesota Vikings blog. My answers to his questions can be found here, and his answers to my questions are below.
1. How long do you think Donovan McNabb will be the Vikings' starting quarterback? Is he a one-year stopgap until Christian Ponder takes over, or could we actually see Ponder as early as this season?
It depends -- yes and maybe. How's that for definitive?
As far as McNabb remaining the starter, so far Leslie Frazier has been as adamant that McNabb is his starter this year as he was about Brett Favre last year, even after the Vikings were out of it. That tells me that Frazier will probably remain committed to McNabb for the season.
I think McNabb is definitely a one-year stopgap, at least I hope he is. This is nothing against him personally, but most Vikings fans are sick and tired of the used quarterback of the day being the Vikes starter. It worked out well with Favre in 2009, but that's been the exception more than the rule.
McNabb signed a one-year contract, so unless he really, really lights it up, I see him moving on after this season. As much as Vikings fans might start clamoring for Ponder if the losses pile up, I don't think Frazier will start him unless he has to. Frazier has a history and a very good relationship with McNabb, and he stuck by Favre last season and didn't start Tarvaris Jackson or Joe Webb until he had to. I expect the same thing this year with McNabb.
2. Just how important is Adrian Peterson to the Vikings?
How important is sex to a good political scandal? Without it, it's still a scandal, but it's not nearly as exciting and very few people pay attention to it. And the Vikings offense is much like a sexless political scandal without Peterson.
There are two people in the Vikings offense that would keep me awake at night if I were an NFL defensive coordinator: Peterson and Percy Harvin. Take away Peterson and I can double and triple Harvin and stop anything the Vikings want to try and do. Michael Jenkins is a possession receiver, Bernard Berrian isn't a threat, McNabb isn't a threat to run much anymore, and the tight ends are league average. But with Peterson, I have to drop eight men in the box more often than not, and now there are some mismatches the Vikings can take advantage of. Theoretically, anyway.
3. For one night last season, the Vikings had to call Ford Field home due to the collapse of the Metrodome roof. The Vikings have been working for a while now to get a new stadium built, and the pressure to put a viable plan together went up even more after the roof collapse. Where do things stand right now on the Vikings stadium issue?
Sean, it's a hot mess. The Vikings have a plan to build a stadium in Ramsey County, using abandoned land from an old Army Ammunition assembly plant. The parameters laid down by the state to the Vikings to pay for it were for the team to contribute a significant amount themselves and find a local city/county government partner to raise money, and if they did that the state would contribute $300 million. The Vikings are offering to pay $400 million plus cost overruns, and Ramsey County, the county where the stadium would be built, will contribute $300 million through a countywide half-cent sales tax.
In Minnesota, for a county to pass a sales tax, there must be a voter referendum on it in the county that would be affected, and polls indicate that the referendum would probably fail. (Who wants to vote themselves a tax increase?) The state legislature can vote to waive the referendum if it's for the public good, and they did that very thing for Hennepin County in Minneapolis for Target Field, the Twins' new stadium. (At the time, polls showed most fans were against the Twins stadium, but now everyone loves it. Go figure.)
State political leaders have reneged on the Vikings. They now say there is no way they're going to give the Vikings the state contribution and the Vikings must find another way to get that $300 million portion funded. They support a referendum, and that vote won't take place until Nov. 2012 at the earliest. They are pretty much daring the Vikings to leave. With the Metrodome lease expiring at the end of the season, there's nothing legally keeping them in Minnesota.
Unless something dramatic changes, I predict Zygi Wilf will sell the team and the Vikings will move to Los Angeles.
4. What do Vikings fans think about Leslie Frazier, who was made the team's head coach after serving as the interim coach for the last part of the 2010 season?
He has a lot of support among the team and the fans ... except for the crazies who want to fire all the coaches and release all the players after two games. The 0-2 start is disconcerting, but Frazier has assembled a good staff, and he commands respect from the players. I was able to get to Mankato for a couple days and cover the team, and they're all buying what he's selling, and to a player they said it was a refreshing change from Brad Childress.
5. How do Vikings fans feel about the franchise right now? Do they see it as being in the middle of a rebuilding process that could take a few years, or do they believe that the Vikings can compete in the NFC North in a year or possibly even this year?
I honestly don't know. When you look at the roster, you see that there is talent on both sides of the ball. They took San Diego to the limit on the road and led Tampa Bay for 59 minutes last week. So you look at that, and you see guys like Peterson, Harvin, Jared Allen, and Chad Greenway, and you think that there is a nucleus of talent that can take the Vikings a long way. But then you see stalwarts like Steve Hutchinson, Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield and E.J. Henderson all go farther and farther north of 30 and you realize they'll have to be replaced sooner rather than later. And I don't know that the guys that are behind them can fill their shoes. After a couple of good drafts, they've had a couple of pedestrian ones (at least it seems that way), and the Vikings feel like an 8-8 team in transition, but not quite rebuilding. Another weak draft or two, though, and it could be full on rebuilding.
But that very well could be L.A.'s problem.