Thursday, July 28, 2011

Minnesota Vikings

The acquisition of veteran Donovan McNabb still leaves the Minnesota Vikings with questions at quarterback.
"What will be interesting to me is the time frame with both Donovan and Matt," former Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick told the Pioneer Press this morning.
Billick, who coached the Baltimore Ravens to the 2001 Super Bowl championship, was also referring to Matt Hasselbeck, another veteran QB who this week left the Seattle Seahawks for the Tennessee Titans. The Vikings also showed interest in Hasselbeck, according to reports.
"They're thinking of how long they'll be the starters of those teams," said Billick, an NFL Network and FOX analyst, of McNabb and Hasselbeck. "I'm sure in their minds it's, 'Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll be here two, three years and win a bunch of games, and those guys can come in behind me.' "
"Well," Billick added, "I'll wager that Christian Ponder and Jake Locker aren't thinking of that kind of time frame. If indeed Donovan McNabb is the guy - and there's no reason to think that he won't be - then a year from now, I don't know that you're going to know anything more about Christian Ponder than you do today.
"Is that a good thing long-term? Probably not. But if Minnesota thinks of itself as a championship-caliber team right now, and they obviously do, they did the right thing."
- Billick said McNabb, who turns 35 in November, is still effective.
"No question," he said. "His strengths are his strengths and his
weaknesses are his weaknesses. He'll make big plays for you and he can manage the game fairly well. He's not going to lead the league in passing, he's not going to lead the league in efficiency. He'll have those 50, 55 percent completion games, but he'll make plays, particularly with a good running game."I think the formula Minnesota had two years ago with Brett Favre is very doable with Donovan McNabb. I think it's very telling by both Minnesota and Tennessee, when you expend the 12th pick (Ponder) and the eighth pick (Locker) in the draft, what you're saying is we recognize these guys aren't ready. Most people had both those guys ranked in the late first, maybe early second round, at best.
"But now, it's 'Yeah, we like them but we think we're good enough that we're not going to turn the keys over to a Christian Ponder or a Jake Locker,' and hence, you end up with Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck."
- Billick likes the Vikings.
"Minnesota's got a good football team - anytime you can start with defense and can run the ball, you've got a good start."
But, he added, "Are you going to challenge Green Bay and Chicago this year with Christian Ponder at quarterback? Not likely. So to me, it's clear-cut that you're saying, 'Yes, we do think we're a good football team. We're in a window we want to take advantage of and we need that veteran quarterback.' "
- Another major question for the Vikings is how to replace wide receiver Sidney Rice, who agreed to a $41 million ($18.5 million guaranteed), five-year deal with the Seahawks.
"That hurts; that's huge," Billick said. "I love Sidney Rice. You talk about Donovan McNabb being able to make big plays. How about the combination of Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shiancoe, along with AP (Adrian Peterson) in the backfield - that's a pretty good trifecta.
"Now you take one of those away, you're going to have to fill that in another way."
Billick understands why the Vikings had concerns about Rice.
"That hip injury (Rice had surgery early last season) is a concern for a receiver," he said. "I'm guessing the Vikings had concerns about his ability to stay healthy. For those who want to be critical of Minnesota for letting him go, you can't just dismiss that.
"But it's a little interesting that (the Vikings) struck out that way."
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf isn't the cash machine that Seahawks owner Paul Allen is.
"That's never been an issue for Paul Allen," Billick said.