It's done. It's 5-10-and-1 for the Minnesota Vikings, and it feels like we were inches from a much better record. We picked a terrible season to choke away those games late and almost gave up the most points in the history of the team. The division was extremely winnable and we flat blew it. What a shame.
As I walked from the Vox Box to the field to emcee the closing ceremony at MOA Field at the HHH Metrodome owner ZYGI WILF put his arm around me in fatherly fashion and said "Good job this year, Paul." I was emotional over the closure of the season and the speeches from immortality that were to come on the field to celebrate the final game at the 'dome. I thanked the boss and put my arm around him.
After the emotional speeches by greats MATT BIRK, ROBERT SMITH, ADRIAN PETERSON and BUD GRANT, Zygi and I walked back up the tunnel together. He was rubbing his eyes and clearly was overtaken by the emotion of the moment. I said, "It'll get better, boss." He shared, "All I want to do is win. That's it, just win more."
Mr. Wilf has deserved more winning during his eight years owning the most popular team in the state. You can not like him for whatever reason but it cannot be denied he pumps requisite money into this team to give it the best chance to prevail and worked arduously to secure what will be a beautiful new stadium in 2016. It, too, can be argued he and his group are the greatest, most giving owners in the history of Minnesota sports.
The team has played in four playoff games during his eight years as owner. While it has won the division twice and almost made the Super Bowl once it has not been enough success in my opinion for the money he has poured into this sucker. From JARED ALLEN to BRETT FAVRE to Adrian to GREG JENNINGS, Zygi Wilf has been antithetical to other local owners who refuse to splash via big-money trades or free-agency signings. He just wants to win and the losing of three of the last four years has to irk him.
So, how do we make it better so this man can taste victory more frequently? Maybe the team needs a new head coach? I am on record hoping LESLIE FRAZIER remains as the HC because of the respect I have for the man, but if the powers that be determine he's not good enough to lead the team so be it -- find somebody who is, and be right this time.
Maybe Leslie stays and they hire new coordinators? Our offense was not the major reason we finished 5-10-and-1, the defense was, and special teams was upper-echelon all season. If for some reason the team moves on the HC and the assistants depart we will be making a mistake by letting STC MIKE PRIEFER leave. Seriously, he's one of the most impressive leaders with whom I have worked in my 12 years with the team, and his work ethic and passion remind me a lot of MIKE TOMLIN. No matter what the next week holds we cannot let Priefer leave the building for good.
The QB spot has to be fixed, and with the eighth overall selection in the May draft I am a fan of selecting JOHNNY FOOTBALL to join our mix. I have chatted with many pro and college people about him and am sold on his skill set and leadership. Johnny Manziel will be a winner at this level, and his charisma will be infectious for the fan base. He'll just be hitting a top-level stride by the time we enter the new spot in 2016, and as of now I want the Vikings to select Johnny Football with their first pick come May.
That we this year went from PONDER to CASSEL to FREEMAN back to Christian and back to Cassel was embarrassing. At times it felt like we were throwing darts. No good teams handle the QB position like that. I am not negative on spending the $2 million and change on Freeman either because that's better than maybe paying much more this offseason to determine he doesn't belong here and isn't who he was while putting up big numbers in Tampa. Josh never fit in here and in my opinion will not be back next season.
Defensively I am feeling Allen, COOK and ERIN HENDERSON might be out, they'll ask CHAD GREENWAY to restructure, might attempt to keep KEVIN WILLIAMS and move him to nose tackle and should make CB a top priority in free agency. I wouldn't mind seeing THEGREAT PEANUT TILLMAN finish his career in our colors, playing opposite XAVIER RHODES. That would be the best CB tandem we have had here in a long time.
I, too, am a fan of bringing back Allen, who finished with 11 1/2 sacks this year. Even though he didn't get close to the 17 sacks I put him on into the year at a fair price he'll change the game for you, and the bookend bit of he and BRIAN ROBISON still is the best in the division.
All of that may or may not happen, and we have much to discuss #92Noon this Vikings offseason. Whatever transpire sI hope it eventually turns out fun like 2009, a year Zygi Wilf got a lot of wins and a tremendous emotional return on his investment. This man deserves a better product and should do whatever it takes to get there. Whatever it takes.
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