In assessing the damage already done during the NFL lockout, ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton identifies an NFC North team that rhymes with Rinnesota Rikings as the most stricken in the NFL. Clayton on the Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings have a deadly combination of going with a new head coach (Leslie Frazier) and a new quarterback (Christian Ponder). It helps a little that Frazier was the interim coach last season, so it shouldn't take much time to get the defense up to speed.
That can't be said of the offense. Ponder had only a brief meeting with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and is having to learn the playbook on his own. He's thinking of getting a couple of his wide receivers together for some throwing sessions in Florida, but there is another problem. Minneapolis, like Green Bay and Buffalo, is not an offseason home for most of the players. Warmer climates such as Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans have significant edges because they can get three dozen players together without difficulty.
Training in Houston, Adrian Peterson, for example, has spent more time with Vince Young -- who won't be a Viking -- than Ponder. Trying to pull all of this together without an offseason program will be tough. The longer this lockout goes, the more the Vikings will suffer.
None of this is a surprise, nor is it particularly the Vikings' fault. Their transition in two key areas -- the head coach and quarterback -- has intersected with a labor dispute that limits the reasonable progress of both.
Frazier has responded gamely, saying in March: "The fact that all the other teams are operating under the same system -- I don't feel I'm at a disadvantage than the fact that I'm so familiar with our team and what our needs are and how we have to approach things. As long as the other 31 teams are operating under the same rules, I'm all right with it. I think we'll be fine."
The reality is Frazier signed a three-year contract in December and has already lost the offseason for one of those seasons. Take that for what you will.