So, the other day on Twitter, I argued that the Packers seem boring, and that it’s a good thing. My take on it was (and is) simply that while some teams around the league are making a lot of noise in the offseason, it’s nice to cheer for a team that realizes it has most of the pieces already in place to achieve its goals. It’s refreshing to not be agonizing over starters at skills positions. Let the Bears and Lions make big splashes in free agency. We’ll see whether ‘winning’ in March is worth a darn in October.
But then, while chatting with my dad, he raised a good question. If the Packers are a fairly ‘boring’ team, or, put in other words, you know what you’re going to get in terms of management decisions and typical player performance, who are the most volatile teams? Which teams put their fans through rollercoaster rides during the offseason? From game to game? Put plainly, if we made a volatility index of all the teams in the league, which team would you put on top?
Sure, easy answers are the Redskins, Raiders and Cowboys, purely for the insanity of their ownership. But for my money, if you have to pick one team that plays Jekyll & Hyde without apparent cause, you gotta hand it to the Minnesota Vikings.
Take their offensive skill positions.
Brett Favre, for all that he played the best season of his career, throwing the fewest interceptions by half, still made boneheaded decisions against Arizona during the regular season and New Orleans in the NFC title game. Packer fans need not be reminded about this man’s volatility – on more than one occasion, the man drove me to drink. But, if he doesn’t come back in 2010, where does this leave the Vikings? That team’s identity will swing so fast, I’m not sure where it’ll end up. With Favre, DCs have to game plan for a balanced offense. Without him, the weight of the offense shifts back to where it was in 2008. Unfortunately for the Vikings, where it was in 2008 was on the shoulders of…
Adrian Peterson, who has already reached the dubious milestone of 20 fumbles in only 3 years of professional play. Yes, he was Rookie of the Year in 2007, led the league in yards in 2008, and led the league in rush TDs in 2009. All the yards in the world don’t matter if you can’t hold on to the ball, and this is one area where Packer RBs wiped the floor with AP in 2009. Minnesota’s stalwart backup Chester Taylor helped take some of the pressure off Peterson in his first three years, but he’s down in Chicago now. Who’s going to be put in the game when Peterson fumbles in 2010? Not L.T., who didn’t hear what he wanted to hear when the Vikings wined and dined him. A raw rookie? That’s encouraging. And then there’s…
Percy Harvin, the explosive rookie who made life miserable for many a coverage unit last year. That is, except when he was suffering from migraines so bad he couldn’t suit up against Cincinnati. I recognize that migraines are beyond a player’s control. Still, given the impact he had when he was on the field and the unpredictability of the onset of those headaches, he’s got some risk associated with him.
The defense is a little less volatile. You knew that Jared Allen wanted to get to the QB, and if he got there, the defense would have success. If he didn’t, you knew that their passing defense was somewhat more porous. That, at least, was fairly expected.
What wasn’t expected was the complete identity shift from the first half to the second against the Bears on MNF in Week 16. What wasn’t expected was the complete meltdown against the Carolina Panthers. Those types of plays, quarters, halves, games, etc., are what make fans pull their hair out.
The Vikings get my vote for the most volatile team. Who gets yours?