The Minnesota Vikings are officially scary!!

Posted by Uptown Murf On May – 1 – 2013


Here in Atlanta, I’ve had a front row seat for the transformation of a franchise (Well figuratively speaking, I sit kinda high up in my seat at the Dome). The Falcons have gone from an inconsistent, wayward direction of a franchise, to one of the best ran franchises in all of football. It’s an amazing turnaround for such a short time period. The methods used for the transformation are seemingly being duplicated by another team in NFC. That team being, the Minnesota Vikings!

The Falcons first came to prominence  in 2008. Reliant upon a heavy run game, with the ultra physical Michael Turner, the Falcons methodically moved the ball while limiting offensive mistakes and creating turnovers on defense. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave forged an offensive system that allowed a young quarterback Matt Ryan to develop slowly, while not being the focal point of the team.

Originally armed with the aforementioned Turner and budding all-world receiver Roddy White, the Falcons rode their brand of smash mouth football all the way to a playoff berth. Slowly, but surely, the Falcons began surrounding Matt Ryan with even more offensive talent. With the addition of future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez, and one of the best young wide receiver prospects in college football in Julio Jones, the Falcons officially solidified themselves as perennially one of the five best franchises in the NFL. 

They evolved out of their “three yards and a cloud of dust” offense, into a high powered, high-flying offensive juggernaut. All culminating with the franchises first playoff win since 2004, spearheaded by a #1 overall seed. The Falcons lost in the NFC title game, and are expected to possibly duplicate or exceed those results. In 2013, the Minnesota Vikings seem to be vigorously on the same path.

In 2012, the Minnesota Vikings rode the back of the best offensive football player in the league – all the way to a surprising wild-card berth in the playoffs. Adrian Peterson, coming off of a season ending injury, not only ended up the MVP of the the league but his 2,097 yards and pursuit of the all-time rushing record – captivated the entire league. Coupled with a solid defense, this formula was very much reminiscent of what the Falcons established in 2008. Offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, yes the former Falcons quarterback coach, brought the smash mouth offense with him to help out his young QB Christian Ponder.


Ponder, much like Matt Ryan, is a QB devoid of elite arm strength. Much like Ryan, he makes up for it with uncanny accuracy, and the ability to throw from different platforms. Elite ball-handling and play-action are in the repertoire of both of these former ACC QB’s. As a matter of fact, the second year for both of these guys are eerily similar.

Matt Ryan in ’09: 22 td’s, 14 int’s – 2,916 yards – 58.3% completion for an 80.9 rating

Ponder in 2012: 18 td’s, 12 int’s – 2,935 yards – 62.5% completion for an 81.2 rating

Surprisingly for a guy that takes a lot of heat from the fans, Ponder in a lot of ways had an even better second season than the much heralded, pro-bowler, Matt Ryan. His completion percentage of almost 63% was a huge improvement over the 54.3% he posted as a rookie. At 6’2, 230 lbs – Ponder is a really good athlete that can extend plays – and is a serious threat to bolt the pocket for big run gains. I expect Musgrave to take advantage of this attribute even more in 2013. If Ponder’s third season mirrors Matt Ryan’s – the Vikings could very much see the Falcons or whoever is in the NFC championship game. I believe Ponder as well as his team is ready for that next step after going 10-6 last season.


This offseason, the Vikings were able to snag pro-bowler Greg Jennings – formerly of the rival Green Bay Packers – to give Ponder by far the most consistent receiving threat of his short career. Jennings is arguably the best route runner in the entire NFL, and is known for his clutch plays. In Musgrave’s offense, Jennings will fill the role that Roddy White, as the intermediate area threat/high volume catch artist. Both Jennings and White have the innate ability to break tackles (A prerequisite tangible for a great West Coast offense wide receiver). Jennings is a film-junkie who has been known to be a mentor for younger receivers. His knowledge will be invaluable as the elder statesman on this team. While Jennings has played with arguably the best QB in the league his entire career, he has never been on a team with such a tremendous run game. He will undoubtedly see a lot more man coverage than he has ever seen in his career. I’m expecting a lot of big plays and high energy from the charismatic receiver.

In addition to Jennings, the Vikings drafted Cordarralle Patterson out of the University of Tennessee.

"Cordarrelle Patterson"

Jerry Lai – USA TODAY Sports

Patterson will help circumvent the loss of do-it-all dynamo Percy Harvin – who was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Patterson is a very similar player to Harvin. Both are receivers with a running back base. Both work best catching short passes, swings, reverses, and occasionally lining up in the backfield. They also both are special teams aces by way of returning kickoffs and punts. The difference being that at 6’2 – 216 lbs, Patterson is over 3 inches taller, and over 30 lbs larger – despite having the same blazing speed and eye-popping agility (He ran a 4.42 fourty yard dash at this years combine!).

At times he will remind fans of another athletic-monstrosity of player, in former Vikings receiver Randy Moss. Although I must warn that Patterson doesn’t remotely have the type of receiving ability as Moss at this point in his career. This is strictly an athletic comparison. Patterson lists Moss as his favorite football player growing up, now he gets a chance to play for his old team and wear his jersey #84 , how’s that for irony?

Now let’s take a look at the film and see where Patterson can contribute the most initially. 

CP84 of the Vikings can be the next great kick returner early in his career.

CP84 of the Vikings can be the next great kick returner early in his career.


Patterson’s agility is meant for a much smaller player. It’s truly uncanny!


His open field awareness is light years ahead of his route running and overall pass receiver acumen.


He can power out of tackles in the open field with the best of them.


He has the vision of an Adrian Peterson. He would’ve been an All-American running back if he had chosen that route. 


Once he sticks that foot in the ground…He won’t be caught from behind. 

Initially, Patterson will make his presence felt as a kick returner. He has Josh Cribb’s size, Devin Hester’s agility, topped off with Jacoby Jones’ speed. He’s that talented! But in the future – I expect Patterson to have the type of impact for Ponder that Julio Jones is having for Matt Ryan. Jones is already a top 10 receiver in only 2 seasons and is a threat for a big play with every single reception. But even he isn’t as versatile as Cordarralle Patterson.

In addition to Jennings and Patterson, the Vikings have a couple of tight ends that are match-up nightmares. The Notre Dame bred duo of Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson, provide versatility and athleticism in their own right. I expect a big year from Rudolph as Carlson is coming off injury. But if Carlson can return to form, the two tight end sets that Musgrave has been inclined to employ, will be that much more special. In addition, young receivers like Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton provide depth. Veteran Jerome Simpson has had his moments and is always good for some type of spectacular highlight reel catch. But make no mistake, this offense is built for the run! Adrian Peterson should have another astonishing season if Christian Ponder and his cast of skill-players can produce in the way the Falcons do. And considering the Vikings may have a top 5 offensive line – this is definitely conceivable. The Falcons can’t even boast  having that.

The defense was ranked right in the middle of the league at 16th. Collectively there is talent at every level. The addition of highly touted rookies Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes beefs up an already capable unit. Outside linebacker Chad Greenway was 2nd in the league in total tackles. Defensive end Jared Allen is one of the best sack producers of the past 5 years. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams provides high-caliber interior pressure and plays the run just as well. The secondary is stocked with young talent like safety Harrison Smith and corners Josh Robinson and Chris Cook. There are very few holes on this team period!

The Vikings have the look of a Super Bowl caliber-team (Literally! The team’s new uniform design, in my opinion, is the best in the league). It won’t be easy though, as most of the better teams reside not only in their conference, but right inside their division. The Packers won the Super Bowl three season ago, and are two seasons removed from being 15-1. Not to mention they easily beat a Ponder-less Vikings team in the NFC wildcard round last season. The Chicago Bears were 10-6 and only missed the playoffs due to the Vikings having a tie breaker over them. And the Detroit Lions were statistically one of the three best offenses in the entire NFL last season. But if the Vikings are hitting on all cylinders, I can most definitely see them getting deep in the playoffs…And even winning it all! Now that’s scary!!

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  • ocmmafan

    Nice article, dmurf. They have some nice pieces and I’ll keep my eye on Patterson. I remember him from the drubbing they took from Vanderbilt and he looked really big for a punt returner. Rough division but the Vikings are headed in the right direction. I also didn’t realize Ponder had more TDs than interceptions and am interested in seeing his year 3 progress.

    • Uptown Murf

      Yeah you aren’t lying bro, super tough division. Technically the best division in football. Hopefully the continuity of the coaching staff in addition to the upgrade in talent will be the deciding factor in their quest for a division title. Thanks for reading my dude OC.

  • Patsy Hunter

    Uptown murf, the article is very insightful, you keep me hooked til the end! Can’t wait for the next article!

    • Uptown Murf

      ‘Preciate it!! Thanks for the read!!

  • Jason

    Very good article and well thought out. Found the ’09 comparison of Matt Ryan to the ’12 Ponder surprising. As a Vikings fan, I hope you’re right!

    • Uptown Murf

      Yeah – don’t let the media fool ya. Ponder is more than adequate. Just needed some weapons. Now if he flops, we know it’s more than likely his fault..Thanks for the read.

  • Derik Jay Lee

    Awesome article.

    • Uptown Murf

      Thanks man! I totally appreciate it. Hope your season turns out well for ya.

  • canyon

    Good article, but a few of the comparisons are way off. Ponder’s accuracy is horrible, whre Ryan is above average. While the second year stats of each compare well in number, looking into some detail shows Ponder does not compare well – (1) so many of Ponder’s yards were YAC which should detract from credit to Ponder and instead give credit to Harvin and/or play calling and/or poor tackling… (2) Ponder didn’t “make plays” like Ryan did in the comparable years, and Ponder had Peterson’s top-5 ever RB year in his support while Ryan had only a very good but no where near top-5 ever year with Turner, and (3) Ryan executes the play action fake and pass much better than Ponder.

    Still, MN seems to be ascending on a path similar to what ATL did, and maybe even with some aspects better than what ATL had, such as top special teams (Walsh was all-pro, and led the league in TBs) and maybe (with the two 1st round picks) a better D.

    • Uptown Murf

      Great rebuttal bro…Although Ponder had a top 5 ever year to lean on – leaning on the second leading rusher in Michael Turner at 1,699 yards the prior year will attract just as much attention in the box. So I don’t see a disparity there. Not to mention Ponder never remotely had a threat like Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White to throw to in his 2nd year in the league. (Tony came here in ’09) Roddy is a consensus top 5 receiver who has never missed a game. Harvin as good as he is, only played 9 games and is not a top 5 receiver.

      Saying Ryan executes the play-action pass much better is subjective. I’d say he does to a certain degree, b/c on the other those passes were two players who are top 5 at their respective positions in Tony G and Roddy White. Ponder was throwing to a dude we ran the hell out of Altanta b/c he was absolute trash in Michael Jenkins, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright. And as good as Rudolph is, he wasn’t a top 10 TE as a rookie…

      So in closing – Matt Ryan in his 2nd year had one of the top 5 RB’s at the time in Turner. He had the best TE in the league at the time in Tony G. And he had possibly the greatest receiver to ever lace ‘em up in Atlanta in Roddy White….Ponder had Michael Jenkins……lololol – and Ponder completing 62.3% of his passes shows that his accuracy is on par with Ryans. if ponder could throw to Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony G – his % would be probably like 65% easily..Matt went from 58% to almost 70% with these weapons. Not saying Matt isn’t getting more accurate, but i followed his whole college career and accuracy problems and interceptions was the knock on him…

  • canyon

    Oh, and let me add a fourth aspect to that list of why the Ponder/Ryan comparison is only statistically fair, and looking past the stats makes the comparison much more in Ryan’s favor – Ponder repeated sees 8 or 9 defenders in the box (even 10 when MN fails to counter and spread the field with another WR), and yet he was only able to achieve the same statistical results as Ryan’s comparable year when Ryan had to pass against a D that was defending the pass.

  • Duff Man

    Great Article!

    The Vikings are definitely looking juicy right now, hopefully they can put everything together and win 10+ again this year ..

    • Uptown Murf

      Thanks Man, I have no doubt that they will bring all your wishes to fruition! They seem to have the most balanced team in the league outside of maybe the Texans, Hawks and Niners.

  • VikesPurple

    I’v had a hatred for the Falcons ever since the NFC Championship game in 98 BUT it’s hard not to respect what they have done ever since drafting Matty Ice, and considering how they got screwed in the whole Vick ordeal. Good article!

    • Uptown Murf

      Thanks bro, great regimes start from the top. The Falcons GM and Coaching staff are on the same page as the owner. They have a scheme that works well with the personnel as well. The same can be said about your Vikes! Now breathe and let that hatred go…lolol

  • Ken Manies

    I’m excited about defense a lot.. I can’t believe Floyd was there at 23 … With Floyd , Jarad Allen, Kevin Willam and Brian Robison we have a awesome line ..

  • Ken Manies

    I’m excited about defense a lot.. I can’t believe Floyd was there at 23 … With Floyd , Jarad Allen, Kevin Willam and Brian Robison we have a awesome line ..

    • Uptown Murf

      Yeah I overlooked Robison – he’s very serviceable. And it showed that the Vikes knew what they were doing when they chose him over Ray Edwards – who was easily the biggest free-agent bust we’ve had here in Atlanta..That line is scary bro!! Old school Vikes D-Line..

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