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Updated: January 23rd, 2011 9:38pm
2010 Vikings Review: Harvin, Peterson get offense's top grades

2010 Vikings Review: Harvin, Peterson get offense's top grades

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Editor's note: This is the first installment in a three-part series grading the 2010 Minnesota Vikings. For grades on the defense, click here. For grades on specialists, coaching and personnel, click here.

Sidney Rice's surprise surgery, Brett Favre's rapid decline and an injury-riddled line's uneven play contributed to the Vikings' descent from the NFL's offensive elite in 2010.

One year after finishing second in scoring, fifth in total offense and eighth in net passing, the Vikings plummeted to 29th (17.6 points per game), 23rd (314.9 yards per game) and 26th (193.6 net passing yards per game), respectively. They allowed 36 sacks (21st), converted only 34.6% of third downs (24th), scored touchdowns on 43.5% of trips into the red zone (27th), committed 37 turnovers (tied for 29th) and had passes intercepted at the highest rate in the NFL.

The following are individual grades for the 31 offensive players who finished the season on the Vikings' 53-man roster or injured reserve. Grades are based on observations of games and practice, weekly tape studies and interviews with NFL coaches and scouts throughout the season. Unofficial statistics such as targeted passes, broken tackles, drops and yards after contact are compiled by ProFootballFocus.com, an independent research firm that charts NFL games.

Players are graded on a scale that designates "A" for elite performance, "B" for above-average performance, "C" for average performance, "D" for below-average performance and "F" for failure to perform at an NFL level. Any player spending fewer than six weeks on the active roster and/or appearing in fewer than three games is given an "I" for incomplete.

Quarterbacks

Brett Favre (C-): With the exception of one miraculous rally Nov. 7 against Arizona, Favre never mustered the magic the Vikings expected when they offered to pay him $1 million a game and begged him to return three weeks into training camp. Finished 29th among 31 qualifying players in passer rating (69.9). Completed 60.6% of his passes (217-for-358) for 2,509 yards. Threw 11 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions. Committed damaging turnovers in losses to Miami, the New York Jets and Green Bay (twice). Accuracy failed him time and again on passes he had completed so many times in his illustrious 20-year career. Ultimately, Favre's legendarily durable body broke down, with elbow and foot injuries plaguing him much of the season before a sprained sternoclavicular joint near his throwing shoulder ended his record consecutive-starts streak at 321 (including playoffs). At age 41, couldn't finish three games and missed three others completely because of the shoulder and a concussion that knocked him unconscious and ended his season on Dec. 20. Played only 729 of 1,028 gradable snaps (70.9%). Seven of the 13 games he did play graded out as below-average. An NFL investigation into allegations of sexually charged misconduct against him surely didn't help Favre's focus. Committed nine penalties, third-most among NFL quarterbacks. Did throw for a career-high 446 yards in the comeback against the Cardinals, completing his last seven passes for double-digit gains. Scrambled for a first down to seal a win on Nov. 28 at Washington. Too often, Favre appeared disengaged, and his play reflected it. Has said repeatedly he's retiring for good and that's probably the right decision.

Tarvaris Jackson (D+): Another late arrival by Favre relegated Jackson (126 snaps, 12.3%) to the backup role, and when he finally got the chance to start, Jackson flopped. Performed adequately in relief on Oct. 31 at New England, completing touch passes for a score and 2-point conversion before scuffling in the 2-minute drill. Replaced Favre again on Dec. 5 against Buffalo, gift-wrapped a pick-six, then settled down to complete his next eight passes for 104 yards and two scores while leading four consecutive touchdown drives. Threw three interceptions in that game and another against the Giants on Dec. 13, when he completed 15 of 30 passes for 118 yards and a 46.2 passer rating before a toe injury ended his night and his season. Despite relentless praise from former Vikings coach Brad Childress for his work on the practice field, there were few signs Jackson was a different quarterback than the player benched on multiple occasions in his five-year career. The firing of his biggest supporter means Jackson, 27, probably will get a fresh start elsewhere in 2011.

Joe Webb (D+): The rookie sixth-round draft pick wasn't active until Dec. 5, when he returned the opening kickoff 30 yards, played one snap at receiver and left with a hamstring injury. By season's end, he was seeing extended action for a fourth straight week and making his second consecutive start at quarterback because of injuries to Favre and Jackson. Freakishly talented but extremely raw, Webb (174 snaps, 16.9%) was at his best executing a Football 101 game plan in an upset victory on Dec. 28 at Philadelphia -- scrambling 13 yards for a touchdown, completing 65.4% of his passes for 195 yards and not committing a turnover. His youth was exposed five days later at Detroit, where he amassed only 81 passing yards over the first 54 minutes, missed a wide-open receiver in the red zone and threw a bad interception instead of scrambling on third-and-8. The Vikings appear committed to continuing Webb's development as a quarterback, but his short-term future likely is in a multi-positional role.

Patrick Ramsey (I): Signed to a one-year contract on Dec. 16 after Jackson landed on injured reserve. Inactive as the No. 3 quarterback in one game and did not play in two others. Unlikely to return.

Rhett Bomar (I): Signed off the Giants' practice squad on Dec. 21. Inactive as the No. 3 quarterback for the Vikings' final two games. Enters offseason along with Webb as the only quarterbacks under contract.

Running backs

Adrian Peterson (B+): The Vikings' best player finished sixth in the NFL rushing (1,273 yards on 283 carries, 4.6 average), scored 13 touchdowns and might have led all backs in unblocked yardage. Broke 46 tackles (tied for second). Gained 877 yards (68.9%) after contact (third). Had nine carries of 20 yards or more, including a game-breaking 80-yard touchdown run on Sept. 26 against Detroit. Once again was a threat in the passing game (36 receptions for 341 yards), though he also had several drops. Left game on Nov. 28 at Washington with an ankle injury but gutted it out seven days later for a big day (16 carries for 107 yards and three touchdowns) in a win over Buffalo. Clanged knees with Jackson the following week and ended up with a sore quadriceps that forced him to miss a game. Played 673 snaps (65.5%). Fixed fumbling issue, carrying 253 times before losing one at Philadelphia. Also mishandled a handoff on Oct. 17 against Dallas, setting up a Cowboys touchdown. Remained inconsistent in blitz pickup, more susceptible to quickness than power. Bad reads on goal-line plays against Miami (twice) and New England proved costly. Due $10.72 million in 2011, the last non-voidable year of his rookie contract, Peterson seems unlikely to play without a long-term deal.

Naufahu Tahi (D+): Continued use of one-back sets and tight ends as lead blockers left only 243 snaps (23.6%) for the Vikings' lone fullback. Was a healthy scratch for one game and played fewer than 18 snaps in 11 others. Twice had blocks shedded in the opener at New Orleans, thwarting third-and-short runs. Thin pickup on a blitzer the next week against Miami contributed to an interception. Took two penalties. Overall, Tahi improved as the season wore on. Caught a touchdown at New England. Battled through an ankle injury at Philadelphia and played the finale at Detroit despite limited practice time. Made $1.176 million last season under the low restricted tender and might not be back, especially if the Vikings think former seventh-round pick Ryan D'Imperio, who spent the entire season on the practice squad, will be ready to contribute.

Toby Gerhart (D+): The rookie second-round pick got bullied in training camp, was inactive for the opener because of a minor knee injury and didn't really get involved until midseason. Most of Gerhart's 270 snaps (26.3%) came over the final five games when Peterson was nicked. Gained 322 yards on 81 carries (4.0 average) -- 224 of them (69.6%) after contact -- plus 167 yards on 21 catches (8.0). Lost three fumbles in 102 touches (2.9%), all in high-leverage situations. Dropped a couple of passes. Had by far his best game after Peterson departed at Washington, rushing for 76 yards on 22 carries (3.5 average) and a touchdown in a win. Made one special-teams tackle. Was slow getting off a block when Arizona's LaRod Stephens-Howling returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Strained a hamstring Dec. 5 against Buffalo but played the next week. Needs to improve ball security and strength in blitz pickup to factor more heavily on third downs next season.

Albert Young (F): Handed the No. 3 halfback job when the Vikings traded return man Darius Reynaud to the Giants, Young played 24 snaps (2.3%) over three games. Allowed a sack with a missed blitz pickup against Dallas. Got 10 of his 13 carries (for 29 yards, 2.2 average) against Buffalo and suffered a knee injury that ended his season. Inactive for nine other games. Generally makes sound reads but has zero burst. Exclusive-rights free agent with little chance to make the roster even if the Vikings re-sign him.

Lorenzo Booker (I): Signed to a two-year deal out of the United Football League on Dec. 7, Booker (43 snaps, 4.2%) made an impression in limited opportunities. Had a 49-yard kick return, plus a 96-yarder wiped out by a questionable penalty. Caught five passes for 32 yards (6.4 average) and was overthrown on a sure touchdown by Webb. Had a false start. Got flattened on one blitz pickup and took out two rushers on another. Twice chased down Chicago players after interceptions. Deserves a chance to compete for work on third downs and returns next season.

Receivers

Percy Harvin (B+): Toss out the season's first two games, when coaches foolishly were trying to make him an outside receiver as he battled a hip injury, and Harvin (626 snaps, 60.9%) played at an elite level. Led the Vikings with 71 receptions for 868 yards (12.2 average) and five touchdowns in 14 games. Missed two others because of migraines. Made the catch of the year for an 11-yard touchdown against the Jets and also beat All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis for a 34-yard score in that game. Flipped momentum against Dallas with a 95-yard kick return touchdown after halftime. Nearly saved the day at Green Bay before his leaping 35-yard TD catch was overturned on review. Returned after spraining an ankle at New England to catch six passes for 104 yards. Played the next week against Arizona without practicing and posted career highs of nine receptions for 126 yards. Broke two tackles for a 23-yard touchdown against Chicago. Probably played his best game at Philadelphia -- making the first man miss after his first three catches, pulling down a 46-yarder and running a perfect route on third-and-11 late. Did fumble a kickoff in the Arizona game, committed six penalties and dropped five of 104 targeted passes (4.8%). Route-running can be more precise; Harvin still is most dangerous in the slot and making plays off manufactured touches. Missed 36 full practices and parts of at least 13 others because of a death in the family, migraines and an allergic reaction to medication, plus hip and ankle injures. Imagine how good he could be if he stays healthy.

Sidney Rice (C+): Hip surgery on Aug. 23 -- nearly seven months after he suffered the injury -- cost Rice nine games and sent the Vikings' receiver corps into chaos. Returned to play 304 snaps (25.2%) over six appearances. Was out of sync in his first two games back, then lit up Buffalo for 105 yards on five catches, including a leaping 46-yard grab, a 31-yard touchdown over double coverage and a diving play for a 6-yard score. Caught only eight more passes for 99 yards in two-plus games before a hit by Philadelphia CB Asante Samuel yielded a concussion that ended Rice's season. Dropped two of 38 targeted passes (5.3%) and couldn't handle several other tough chances. Will draw substantial interest on the open market if four years' service is enough to get him to free agency. Using the franchise tag could be an option for the Vikings, if the tag exists under a new CBA.

Greg Camarillo (D+): Acquired in a trade from Miami two days after Rice's surgery, Camarillo (316 snaps, 30.7%) never carved out the possession-receiver role he'd owned with the Dolphins. Caught 20 passes for 240 yards (12.0 average) and a touchdown. Dropped one in a big spot at Chicago. Fumbled one of his first punt-return chances against Miami but otherwise was steady in that role, averaging 9.2 yards on 39 returns with a long of 52. Always set a tone with blocking and hustle. Raced more than 60 yards to strip Cardinals S Kerry Rhodes on an interception return. Camarillo has one more year remaining on his contract and figures to get another chance.

Bernard Berrian (D): The Vikings hoped a healthy Berrian (574 snaps, 55.8%) could make a larger impact in Rice's absence. Instead, Berrian took another step backward, catching 28 of 53 targeted passes (52.8%) for only 252 yards -- an unacceptable 9.0 average for a once-dangerous vertical receiver. Was miscast in Rice's fully dimensional role early in the season. Had only three "explosive" receptions of 16 yards or more. Dropped three passes (5.7%); four others (7.5%) were intercepted. Often resorted to lame arm-flailing in hopes of drawing flags. Excused himself from punt-return duties with muffs in first two games. Had nearly half his production (nine receptions for 89 yards) against Arizona. Followed up that performance by dropping out at Chicago before kickoff because of a tight groin and again after eight snaps the following week against Green Bay. Also sat out at Washington. Ended Peterson's no-fumble streak with a misstep while crackbacking at Philadelphia. Flagged twice, including once for a cheap shot near a pile. Doesn't look like he can play anymore. Worse, doesn't look like he wants to play. Smart money suggests he won't be back at age 30 for $4 million in 2011.

Greg Lewis (D): Re-signed for $50,000 in bonuses, Lewis (351 snaps, 34.1%) drifted in and out of the No. 3 receiver role with minimal impact. Finished with 17 receptions in 34 targets (50%) for 197 yards (11.6 average). Caught Revis peeking for a 33-yard gain against the Jets and beat Packers CB Sam Shields for 29 on a pump-and-go. Followed the latter with a damaging red-zone drop. Too often appeared to be on a different page than his quarterback. Mediocre as a blocker. Had two penalties. Missed one game because of a concussion and two others as a healthy scratch down the stretch. At age 30, Lewis might be out of chances.

Hank Baskett (F): Signed off the street on Sept. 22, Baskett (50 snaps, 4.9%) made his debut four days later against Detroit, caught a pass for 18 yards, dropped another ball and failed to highpoint what would have been a 39-yard touchdown. Deactivated the next four weeks and eight times total in 14 weeks on the roster. Didn't have another ball thrown his way until Dec. 20, when he ran the wrong route and the pass was intercepted. At 28, Baskett has only six catches over the past two seasons and couldn't get on the field even for a team that badly needed receiver help. Hard to imagine him being back, or in the NFL at all.

Juaquin Iglesias (I): A third-round draft pick in 2009, Iglesias was signed off Chicago's practice squad on Jan. 1. Inactive for season finale. Likely to get a long look through the offseason.

Jaymar Johnson (I): Battled drops in training camp, broke left thumb in preseason opener at St. Louis and spent entire season on injured reserve. With only one catch in three NFL seasons, Johnson probably is down to his last chance.

Tight ends

Jimmy Kleinsasser (B-): In his 12th NFL season, Kleinsasser (509 snaps, 49.5%) showed few signs of decline. Was typically steady and versatile as a blocker, even when line slides matched him one-on-one against rushers. Caught more passes (17 for 148 yards, 8.7 average) than he had since 2005, without a drop. Rumbled for 20 yards on third-and-4 against Dallas. Had six penalties, including costly holds against the Jets and Green Bay, the latter wiping out a 51-yard field goal. At age 33, Kleinsasser isn't going to impress anyone with athleticism, but he appears to have plenty of power and grit left entering a contract year.

Visanthe Shiancoe (C-): After racking up 10 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings' first two games, Shiancoe (700 snaps, 68.1%) fell off the map. Gave up a key strip-sack in the end zone against Miami in Week 2. Injured a hamstring the next week against Detroit and didn't exceed four catches or 66 yards again. Led all NFL tight ends with 12 penalties. Dropped four of 75 passes (5.3%); four others were intercepted. Robbed of a touchdown by a bad review at Green Bay and finished with only two -- down from 11 in 2009 -- among 47 receptions for 530 yards (11.3 average). Numbers could have been worse if not for checkdowns late in several losses. Registered four catches for 66 yards late against Arizona, scoring a 25-yard touchdown up the seam to force overtime with 27 seconds left. Couldn't get regular movement in the run game. Ceded more snaps to Kleinsasser once Leslie Frazier took over as interim coach and emphasized the run. Hoping to play his way into a rich contract extension, Shiancoe now must prove in a contract year he's not going the wrong way at age 30.

Jeff Dugan (D+): Always the last player off the practice field, Dugan (222 snaps, 21.6%) keeps finding ways to stay in the mix. Played in all 16 games, but got more than 16 snaps only three times. Used mostly as an inline blocker and H-back. Caught four of five passes thrown his way for 30 yards. Did not commit a penalty. Broke a tackle for a first down in the win over Detroit. Threw a big block on Harvin's TD run at Green Bay. Allowed a sack at Philadelphia. Also had notable blocking errors against Dallas, Arizona and Chicago. Got two carries at Washington and converted one for a first down. Dugan is as limited physically as ever, but he works so hard he always has a chance to hang around.

Offensive linemen

Steve Hutchinson (B-): Declining rapidly at age 33, Hutchinson (713 snaps, 69.4%) remained the Vikings' best offensive lineman until he broke down physically for a second straight season. Performance seemed to deteriorate in the Vikings' fifth game, when he allowed a sack on a bull rush, gave up three total QB hits and went the wrong way on a running play. Contributed to a sack the next week at Green Bay but also had two big blocks on run plays. Gave up the hit to Patriots DL Myron Pryor that sidelined Favre with a lacerated chin. Had a hand in another sack at Washington. Also led two touchdown runs there and finished the game despite breaking a thumb in the second quarter. Didn't play again. Allowed 14 total QB pressures. Took one penalty. Doesn't bend well anymore. Sometimes just sets thin blocks and gets thrown, which never happened in his prime. The Vikings have to give serious consideration to asking Hutchinson to take a pay cut in 2011. Above-average guards aren't worth $6.73 million.

Bryant McKinnie (C+): At age 31, McKinnie stayed healthy but nonetheless slipped down the stretch as his weight ballooned to around 360 pounds. Played 1,021 snaps (99.3%), missing seven with a dislocated finger in the opener. Gave up a hit at a bad time against Miami. Otherwise held up well overall until the Arizona game, in which he gave up five QB hits and a sack. Allowed six sacks and 34 total pressures, including hits that injured Favre at Green Bay (to OLB Brad Jones) and against Chicago (to DE Corey Wootton). At Chicago, gave up a pressure that led to a batted-ball interception and took one of his three penalties for a block in the back. Had a hand in two sacks against the Giants and was noticeably slow in the running game. McKinnie remains above-average and should be back for a 10th NFL season. But his age, inconsistency and weight all are reasons the Vikings should be looking for a long-term replacement at a core position.

Phil Loadholt (C-): A second-round draft pick in 2009 who battled a shoulder injury down the stretch as a rookie, Loadholt took a step back in his second season despite staying healthy. Played all 1,028 snaps on offense. Had a hand in only three sacks but allowed 40 total QB pressures. Led all NFL offensive players with 14 penalties, up from 11 in 2009. Opened the season with horrible games at New Orleans and Miami. Player better until the final drive at Green Bay, where he drew a critical flag for a facemask. Got walked back on fourth-and-goal at New England. Gutted it out after suffering a leg injury on the last play of regulation against Arizona. Didn't finish a run block at Washington, allowing the hit that felled Peterson. Got beat on counter against Giants, allowing the knockout blow on Jackson. Graded out as above-average only six times (37.5%). Still regarded as a possible left tackle down the line, Loadholt has to improve his feet, play more physically and learn how to handle speed rushes to solidify himself as a long-term starter anywhere.

Anthony Herrera (C-): At age 30, Herrera (597 snaps, 58.1%) was as scrappy and aggressive as ever, with typically mediocre results. Contributed to three sacks in 10 games. Allowed 18 total QB pressures. Was better with a head of steam in the run game, especially pulling on power-left runs. Took one penalty. Injured a triceps at Chicago and blew out a knee the next week against Green Bay, ending his season. Faces a challenging rehabilitation timeline to be ready for the 2011 opener. Whether Herrera makes it back or not, the Vikings have to move forward with contingency plans.

John Sullivan (D+): Hampered by calf problems from training camp on, Sullivan (792 snaps, 77.0%) never got into a rhythm and neither did the offensive line. Allowed 16 total QB pressures and three sacks.  Couldn't generate consistent movement in the run game, save for one excellent performance at Washington. Misfired on six snaps. Had brutal performances against New Orleans and the Giants. Dropped out early in two games and missed two others completely because of the calf injuries. At times, looked like he couldn't push off the bad leg. Did not take a penalty. Continued to hold up well in the mental aspects of the position, but just didn't play with enough power. Entering the final season of his rookie contract, Sullivan has to stay healthy and get stronger. The Vikings have to consider their options regardless.

Ryan Cook (D+): The line's jack-of-all-trades backup ended up appearing in 13 games on offense, with mixed results in seven starts at two positions. Cook (531 plays, 51.7%) held up well in relief duty at center against Detroit. Started the next week and was benched because of two snap-related penalties, a bad exchange and protection declaration problems. Run blocking wasn't bad overall. Took over for good at right guard following Herrera's injury against Green Bay. Allowed 14 total QB pressures, including three sacks. Two of four penalties were false starts on third downs. Had lousy games late in the season against Chicago (two sacks, four total pressures) and Detroit (five pressures, one forcing interception). Another member of Childress' first draft class in 2006, Cook played the season under the $1.176 million restricted tender and seems unlikely to return, although his versatility would be missed.

Jon Cooper (D): An undrafted rookie in 2009, Cooper (147 snaps, 14.3%) appeared in three games on offense, beginning when he relieved Sullivan at halftime against the Jets. Walked back three times in that game but was OK overall. Made first NFL start six days later against Dallas, had one low snap and cost Harvin a touchdown by falling down in space. Probably played his best in Sullivan's place at Chicago. Allowed three total QB pressures. Was not penalized. Cooper doesn't appear to be starting-caliber, but he'll have to compete sooner or later. The shelf life isn't long for backup centers.

Chris DeGeare (D): The fifth-round draft pick who was inactive for eight of the season's first 10 games. Once he got his shot, DeGeare (315 snaps, 30.6%) showed progress and potential. Injured an ankle on special teams against the Jets on Oct. 11. Didn't suit up again until Nov. 28 at Washington, then moved into the starting lineup at left guard because of Hutchinson's injury. Got abused in his first NFL start against Buffalo and had a hand in two sacks the following week against the Giants. Seemed surer of himself and improved steadily over the final three games. Allowed seven total QB pressures. Had one penalty. If DeGeare finds the attitude to match his physical tools, he'd go to camp as the front-runner to play right guard until Herrera is ready -- if not longer.

Patrick Brown (I): Waived in final cuts on Sept. 4. Claimed by the Jets, who cut him on Sept. 23. Claimed by the Dolphins, who cut him on Nov. 9. Re-signed to the Vikings' practice squad on Nov. 11, then promoted to active roster on Nov. 24. Inactive for one game and did not play in five others. Figures to compete for a reserve role at tackle in 2011.

Thomas Welch (I): Signed to the practice squad on Sept. 6, two days after New England cut him. Promoted to the active roster on Dec. 14. Inactive for final three games. Has an uphill battle to make the team next season.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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