Now that the finality of the Vikings season ending in New Orleans on Sunday has sunk in, it's possible to look back at what was and ahead to what be might (and stop obsessing about what might have been).
We have to start of course with Mr. Favre. Much of what I said about Favre when he signed proved to be almost completely wrong:
The other group of Viking fans are cool-headed and rational enough to realize that while Favre once WAS a great quarterback, his best days are long behind him. Now, he's nothing more than a washed-up, egomaniacal prima donna whose brain is writing checks that his arm can no longer cash.
Favre clearly proved me and the other skeptics wrong by having a great regular season and leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship game. I have no problem eating crow and admitting that I was wrong. I just wish I had been proven 100% incorrect:
The idea that he's going to calmly and carefully help quarterback the Vikings to the Super Bowl with deliberate style is absurd. Even if he wanted to take such a measured approach to the game, he couldn't. It's not in his nature. He's still Brett Favre and even if he manages to contain his urge to improvise for a good part of the season, you know that at some critical point in a key game he's going to try to do too much.
Say with nineteen seconds left in a tied NFC Championship game for example. But as awful as that throw was, I can't blame Favre for the loss. If his teammates hadn't fumbled away scoring opportunities and given them to the Saints and if the Vikings had a head coach who knew how to finish a game, he wouldn't have had to be in that position to begin with. Favre is Favre. You have to take the good (getting the Vikings to the brink of the Bowl) with the bad (making a bad decision in crunch time). If he decides to come back next year, I (and I imagine almost all Viking fans) would welcome him back with open arms. Next year, the Vikings just need to make sure not to let the game come down to one Favre gamble.
Next up, how do you solve a problem like Adrian? Having Adrian Peterson on your team is like having a beautiful girlfriend given to incurable bouts of explosive diarrhea. When she's strutting around looking smokin' hot, you couldn't imagine wanting anyone else. But when that diarrhea flares up, you want nothing to do with her. The question is do you stick with her and hope she figures out a way to control her problem or trade her in for a less hot but more regular gal? In the case of Peterson, that might mean the Vikes opt to try to make another run with Chester Taylor and see what they could get for Peterson in a trade. Personally, I think he's got too much talent to let him go and you rarely get back what you give up talent wise in NFL trades. Get somebody to work with him on holding on to the damn ball this offseason and see what happens next year.
Speaking of trading talent, assuming that Favre comes back and AP can hold on to the ball, the Vikings offense should once again be potent. But to make it even more so, the Vikings should discretely inquire whether the Patriots have had enough of Randy Moss. He's inked through next year with them, but after this year's shenanigans I wouldn't doubt if the Pats would be willing to move him. I have no idea what they would want or what the Vikings could give them, but the idea of Favre having Moss as a potential target is an intriguing prospect. Hell, it might even help convince Favre to come back.
Even if the Vikings don't get Moss back in purple, they appear to be positioned pretty well for next year. There are definitely positions that could be upgraded, but no glaring deficiencies. Among the players at least.
My number one concern continues to be the coaching. On the surface, Childress' record of success is hard to argue with. 6-10, 8-8, 10-6, 12-4 is an impressive four-year improvement and it seems that he played an instrumental part in getting Favre on the team. You can't deny him credit for that. But like Denny Green, I wonder if he's one of those coaches who doesn't know how to get it done in the clutch. Even before the inexcusable 12 men in the huddle fiasco, it didn't seem as if he had a clear plan for how they were going to win the game. As Vox Day has astutely noted, as soon as the Vikings got inside the Saints forty, Childress started to tighten up. I was watching the game with the NIGP and neither of us could understand why the Vikings called that first time out. And then to follow it up with two obvious running plays that gained nothing, another timeout, and then the penalty that will live in infamy call Childress' game management skills into serious question. I can't imagine other NFL coaches who have had success at the highest levels making those same series of mistakes.
Unfortunately, Childress had his contract extended this year so Vikings fans will have to hope that he learned something from Sunday night. Yes, the Vikings should be fine next year. As long as they can overcome Favre's nature, Peterson's dropsyness, and Chilly's command skills. No worries, right?
Finally, let me say that I am not one of those Vikings fans who's now wishing the Saints well in the Super Bowl. They had the NFC Championship game handed to them and they almost let it get away. While it's to their credit that they did win the game, they hardly looked impressive doing so. The Colts are not going to be nearly as generous as the Vikings were and if the Saints are going to become Super Bowl champs they're going to have to go out and win the game themselves. Frankly, I'm still not sold on the idea that Brees is a quarterback who can do that. We'll find out in a couple of weeks. Watching the Super Bowl as observers from the outside. A position that Viking fans are all too familiar with.
The Nihilist Chirps in: For me, the least favorite part of every Viking season is the week or so spent dissecting exactly where the team failed. The closer to the big game, the more unpleasant the exercise is. So I'm going to change the subject by informing readers that the AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins just signed slugger Jim Thome to an incentive-laden contract. He should see at least 80 games as DH, as well as providing valuable insurance in the event that Justin Morneau's back injury is still impacting him. It's time to look forward.