2009. That is the last time that the Vikings had won the division. Now the landscape looks completely different. Going into this new season the Vikings are the guys that are on top and it looks like it could be a shootout for the next few years with the Vikings having settled on their franchise QB in Teddy Bridgwater.
Where did it all change? The easy answer would be to say it all changed the year that they won, but that’s not really the full answer. They won in 2009 but came 4th the next year winning half as many games as they did the year before, but in reality 2011 was the year that it started. The rebuild.
Now before you attack me, 2009 was a “win now” team. In picking up Brett Favre they had a very limited window to try and build a team that was able to win. They managed that year but midway through the season Head Coach Brad Childress was fired meaning management had (I think) come to the realisation that this team needed to be rebuilt and it wasn’t ready to “win now”.
In 2011 there was a shift in the players that they were drafting, and they needed to find the answer that every team needs to find at some point, “Who is going to be our arm and lead our team?” Unless you have a dominant defense, like the Broncos, you aren’t going to be making the stretches down the line that you need to without the leader under centre.
Seemingly, 2011 didn’t give them that answer in first round pick Christian Ponder as always happens in the NFL and its bittersweet nature- his performance did mean they would get the 3rd pick in 2012. This is where, in my opinion, things started to turn for the Vikings. They were able to trade off their pick for the 4th (only moving down one place) to the Browns. It was a good year for the franchise and they picked up future pro bowlers Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith and their kicker Blair Walsh. It led to a great year on the field with a winning record.
2013 allowed them to further improve their roster with solid starter Xavier Rhodes. Cordarrelle Patterson has looked like a bust but the Vikings weren’t the only team to buy into him.
2014 was the hit they needed. Looking back in one of the craziest drafts, they picked up the transcendent talent early in Anthony Barr who allowed them to challenge the QB on a consistent basis, especially with the re-signing of Everson Griffen too. After a not too great pro-day Teddy Bridgwater was slipping down the draft board, and the front office made a fantastic decision in giving the Seahawks what was needed to move up the order and snag the piece that every team needs. THE QB. Had it not been for the lack of a certain running back, who’ll remain un-named, they may have been able to get into the playoffs that year.
All the pieces came together in 2015. They had the running back, the quarterback and offensive line that could protect him, and the defense pieces they needed to make a run.
If you look at Vikings team record since 2009 you can really see the journey they made.
- 2009: 1st 12-4-0
- 2010: 4th 6-10-0
- 2011: 4th 3-13-0
- 2012: 2nd 10-6-0 (made wildcard)
- 2013: 4th 5-10-1
- 2014: 3rd 7-9-0
- 2015: 1st 11-5-0 (playoffs)
As a fan of the NFL I like seeing each team be competitive and its good to see that teams like Green Bay Packers are going to have to pull their socks up to try and make the playoffs now, especially as they aren’t given the bye that they have previously enjoyed. Welcome Vikings!
Richard is a Green Bay Packers fan (as a result of too much ‘That 70’s show’ as a child). When he isn’t watching or commenting on the NFL he is watching rugby and can be followed on Twitter @dvdaldo.