Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/22/11

The 2011 Season can’t come to a close soon enough for the Minnesota Vikings. It has been a dismal season on all accounts, bet’s take a look at the top five story lines of the year for the Purple.

 

More Questions than Answers at Quarterback

The Vikings selected Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick in the draft to be the Quarterback of the future. Facing a shortened off season, new Head Coach Leslie Frazier made the decision to bring in Donovan McNabb to led the team, and give Ponder time to learn from the sidelines, as many rookies have done in the past. The Vikings soon learned that McNabb was available because not only had his skills deteriorated, but his desire had completely evaporated. Frazier was forced to throw Ponder into the fire to avoid losing his team and alienating a grumpy fan base. Ponder has shown flashes of greatness, but he isn’t ready to be an NFL QB yet. He has made poor decisions, and has yet to learn how to use the sideline to provide an advantage to his receivers. In his defense, he doesn’t have much to throw to, and his offensive line has given him virtually no protection. It is still way too early to say if Ponder will be the long term answer for the Vikings, but a full off season and a top three draft pick will go a long way in helping this kid out.

Head Coach Leslie Frazier Underwhelms

When the Vikings fired Brad Childress last season, Zygi Wilf knew that he didn’t have the star power to attract a high end coach like Bill Cowher or even a Jon Gruden to coach his team, so he went the easy route and signed Leslie Frazier to lead the team. The Players rejoiced at the signing of a “players coach” after Childress had alienated many of the players and the fans, but Frazier’s performance this year has left a lot to be desired. The Vikings are on the verge of finishing with the worst record in team history, and if the team can’t rebound to win at least half their games next year, Frazier will be gone. Even with a mediocre season next year it would not be surprising for Zigy to begin wooing a more visible coach to take over soon, especially if the team finally gets approval to build a new stadium in Minnesota.

Chris Cook Chokes Away His Season, and Maybe His Career

In October, Chris Cook was arrested and charged with domestic assault for allegedly choking his girlfriend nearly to death in an argument. Cook wasn’t bound for the Pro-Bowl this year, but he was having a fairly decent season, and he was beginning to show glimpses of the talent that the Vikings hoped he would show when they drafted him. After the arrest, the Vikings chose to sit Cook down for the year rather than cut him, but that decision has had a large impact on the team. With Cook away from the team, the Vikings have been forced to attempt to compete with a 52 man roster, and the Vikings Players aren’t happy at all with the decision to pay a player that doesn’t play. If Cook is able to emerge from the legal battle without landing in jail, the Vikings will have a huge PR headache on their hands if they keep him on the roster, and any team that wants to trade for this semi-talented basket case will know that and offer up a 6th or 7th round pick. With the holes on the Offensive Line and the rest of the Secondary in shambles the Cook situation just makes a bad situation worse.

The Vikings are Still No Closer to a New Stadium

When Zygi Wilf purchased the Minnesota Vikings he did so for one reason, to turn a profit. Zygi’s plan was to make money on the Real Estate development opportunities around a new stadium either in Minnesota or in a different market such as Los Angeles after moving the team. Six years later the Vikings still have no commitment from the state or local government to build the behemoth they covet, and the team continues to flounder in the bottom tier from a revenue standpoint and in the standings. With a general election coming in just over a year, the Vikings Stadium will once again be a political hot button in Minnesota, and that doesn’t bode well for the Wilf’s, especially in a down economy. With the team continuing to put a subpar product on the field, the public support will continue to come only from a core group of supports, while the majority will clamor against public subsidies for Billionaire owners. It will be interesting to watch the battle play out especially when the current lease at the Metrodome runs out after the week 17 game against Chicago.

Trading in Drama for Disarray

The Vikings endured an incredible drama filled season in 2010 with Favre finally showing his age, the firing of head coach Brad Childress, the collapse of the Metrodome roof and a general down year. This season the team drafted a QB of the future, brought in Leslie as the new Head Coach and looked to at least be competitive on the field. Instead the team is in complete free fall and doesn’t seem to have the talent that it needs to lead this team into the future off the field or on it. It’s more than evident that the time has come for a General Manager in Minnesota that can guide the team in the right direction, and allow the ownership group to focus their attention on Real Estate. The drama of last season has turned into disarray for the team, and disappointment for the fans. Until this franchise can find a true football leader, they will continue to struggle which would be an absolute shame for talents like Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Jared Allen.

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