GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn - Mercifully, the Minnesota Vikings 2011 season has come to an end. Heading in, this season was viewed as a rebuilding year by most fans.. And, while this team never threw in the towel, the year ends leaving even the most optimistic Viking fan with many questions about which direction this team, and this franchise is headed.
Unfortunately, Christian Ponder couldn't end a rocky rookie campaign without getting beat-up again. Ponder was forced from the game with a hip pointer, afer he was driven into the turf by Chicago's Israel Idonije. Ponder finshes4-of-10 passing, for 28-yards, and an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Chicago's CharlesTillman.
Joe Webb comes off the bench and starts 6-for-6 passing. But, Most of the time Webb was running for his life behind the Vikings' porous offensive line. Webb finishes 17-of-32 passing, for 200-yards, no touchdowns, and a pair of picks.
For the Vikings, the story of the game was defensive end Jared Allen, who records 3-and-a-half sacks, breaking Chris Doleman's team record for sacks in a season byfinishing with 22. Unfortunately, that total was still a half-sack short of tying Michael Strahan's NFL all-time record.
The Vikes had chances to win. Following a Cedric Griffin interception, Ryan Longwell's field goal attempt never gets off the ground, when Chris Klue couldn't bring down the high snap from center.
Then, on their final drive of the season, Webb's pass was to nobody but Chicago's E.J. Moore, whose interceptionseals a 17-13 Bears victory, and a painful 3-13 campaign for the Vikes.
Jim Kleinsser wrapped-up a 13-year career with the Vikes in yesterday's loss. A real class act who was a dependable blocker and a true effort guy, Kleinsasser was a steal in the 5th round. Problem is, the Vikes took Kleinsasser in round-2!
You really can't say enough about the effort put forth this season by Jared Allen. To play that hard when you really had nothing to play for, and the first thing Allen said after getting the team record was, "Too bad it came in a loss." Kids, are you listening?
Viking fans don't spend the off-season fretting over whether Christian Ponder or Joe Webb should be the team's starting quarterback. Worry more about finding help and protection for these kids who give the Vikings hope, and depth at a position where both are vital in the NFL.
With the loss the Vikes nail down the 3rd overall pick in April's NFL Draft. That means there will be impact players and endless opportunities when their turn comes up. The big question is, who will be running the Vikings draft?
Let's face it, this team is WAY overdue for a general manager. This draft has the potential to make-or-break this team for the forseeable future, and it's much too important to leave it in the hands of those who have led this team to the state it finds itself in right now. Do the right thing, hire a GM, and let's hope for better things.. MUCH better things in 2012..