From just about anything dealing with Brett Favre -- except dealing with him, because he's fine to deal with -- to Sidney Rice missing most of the season, to Randy Moss coming and going, to coach Brad Childress getting fired, to the stadium roof collapsing to having a game delayed in Philadelphia by snow, the Vikings experienced just about everything. Except winning.
Minnesota pushed all its chips to the center of the table last season and busted. Favre couldn't rekindle the magic of 2009 and the trickle down -- or avalanche -- was a non-playoff, 6-10 season. The Vikings were one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL.
Now, as they head into the offseason, uncertainty is everywhere, and that's not even mentioning the labor situation that could hamstring football all together. The one area of stability is on the coaching staff. Interim head coach and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is now the head coach and he is widely respected by his staff, which is a sizeable improvement over how things were under Childress. There is a feeling among coaches that things can't get any worse than they did last season.
We all should know by now, though, things can always get worse. Here are five questions that will determine if that's the case in 2011:
1. What's the plan at quarterback?
There might not be a sound one right now. With trades of players stalled and free agency non-existent if there is no labor deal, the Vikings won't be able to add a veteran to the position. Joe Webb is the only quarterback under contract, but he won't be the starter unless all other options are exhausted. Minnesota hasn't shown any signs that it plans to bring back Tarvaris Jackson, either.
The Vikings will draft a quarterback, but likely not with the first pick. They will probably use their top picks on offensive and defensive linemen. Unless there is a change in philosophy, next season's quarterback isn't coming from the draft.
If/when a labor deal is reached, Minnesota could be in the trade market, but it could also be a player for former Titans starter Vince Young. Young is expected to be released by Tennessee and he shouldn't have a shortage of suitors. Denver's Kyle Orton and Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb will probably come up in discussions as well.
Minnesota needs to figure out Plans A through F. New offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has a base system but he's the type to tweak it based on his quarterback. He's dealt with pocket passers the past few seasons in Atlanta but he could change things up if he was offered up a more mobile type like Young.
2. How many impending free agents to re-sign?
One of Minnesota's biggest problems last season was that several key players -- OLB Chad Greenway, DE Ray Edwards, DT Pat Williams, Rice, Jackson, among others -- were in the final years of their contracts and didn't receive extensions. Several of those players, with Edwards being the most vocal, weren't happy.
Now, a lot of those players will hit the market, with Edwards, Williams, Jackson, OLB Ben Leber and possibly Rice being set free. Greenway is a long shot and he could be franchised, although Rice could be targeted for the tag as well. Other players under contract also could be shown the door.
Frazier's familiarity with the roster allows him to know who the players and gamers are and he might want to change things substantially. With no set quarterback, now is the time for transition. The thing is, Minnesota still has a lot of veteran talent (Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson, Adrian Peterson, Visanthe Shiancoe) and making substantial changes could do more harm than good.
3. Will Minnesota finally re-work Peterson's contract?
Unless they feel like paying him $10.7 million in 2011, they will. Adrian Peterson's salary spikes by more than $6 million -- a massive jump that also occupies a nice chunk of cap space. A long-term deal is all but certain, with Peterson getting a sizeable bonus check. The Vikings are waiting to see what the salary cap will be, but it really shouldn't make much of a difference.
It looks like they're about to clear a lot of salary off the books and fitting in Peterson won't be problematic. Peterson is going to be the focus of the offense again with Favre and possibly Rice gone and he should get a well-earned bump. Though Peterson has been taking some serious punishment, he's still got plenty of life left in him. Plus, he's one of the good guys NFL owners want on their team.
4. How will the defense look next season?
First off, replacing Edwards and Pat Williams won't be easy. Edwards is an excellent 4-3 left defensive end, who can support the run and rush the passer. Williams is a mountain, who controls the line of scrimmage. He's also one of the most respected players in the locker room. To find a big body with his intangibles won't be easy. If there is a drop off at that nose tackle spot, that would affect middle linebacker E.J. Henderson and the safety play as well.
It's not out of the question that Williams could be re-signed. He said he wants to play again and he might not have a huge audience on the open market because of his age. If he does return, he could finally have to serve, along with fellow Vikings DT Kevin Williams and Saints DE Will Smith, a four-game suspension for testing for a banned substance in the StarCaps supplement. They've avoided punishment for the past two seasons while the case has been tied up in court, but time could finally be catching up to them.
Minnesota figures to draft defensive linemen and it could find help in free agency, although it would be tough to replace Edwards through either means. DE Everson Griffen was drafted in 2010 to possibly replace Edwards and his time could be now.
Outside linebackers might be tougher to find, that's why retaining Greenway is a premium.
5. What could Vikings do with roster in offseason?
A lot of that depends on what happens with Rice and Greenway. If they lose Rice, drafting a wideout in the first round could be possible. There won't be many available in free agency, especially any of Rice's caliber. If they somehow let Greenway go, which still seems hard to fathom, an outside linebacker definitely could be a priority in the first round.
The Vikings also plan to look at offensive tackles, safeties and guards. They don't know how much longer stud guard Steve Hutchinson is going to be able to deliver at a high level. Fortifying the offensive line is important, especially after the slippage last season. A lot of mock drafts have the Vikings going offensive line with their first-round pick, but that is far from a certainty given all the holes they have to fill.
As a side note, Minnesota also has to worry about where it will play its home games. There is serious concern that the roof at Mall of America Field won't be ready in time for the start of the regular season -- if it starts as planned -- and, if so, the Vikings would have to work around the University of Minnesota's schedule since that would likely be the first alternative site to host games.