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Updated: September 4th, 2013 3:52pm
Mackey: Vikings must brace for inevitable decline of Peterson, Walsh

Mackey: Vikings must brace for inevitable decline of Peterson, Walsh

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

The Seattle Mariners followed up three miserable seasons in 2004, 2005 and 2006 by finishing 88-74 in 2007, hanging around in the American League West deep into the summer and missing the playoffs by just a handful of games.

On the surface, it looked as if Seattle was on the cusp of playoff contention heading into 2008. After all, going from 63 wins to 69 to 78 to 88 over the course of four seasons is a crescendo that would, in theory, signify that 90-plus wins was just over the horizon.

Sensing this, the Mariners went out and traded six prospects - including Adam Jones - to the Baltimore Orioles for left-hander Erik Bedard, who was expected to anchor the starting rotation. Seattle also went out and signed Carlos Silva to a massive four-year contract, hoping to add immediate depth to the middle of the rotation.

As it turned out, the Mariners - due to a number of implosions, including both Bedard and Silva - won only 61 games in 2008. The aggressive offseason maneuvers blew up in their faces, and to this day they still haven't recovered.

The Mariners would probably love to have Adam Jones back at this point too.

All of this could have been prevented with some better self-analysis. A closer look in the mirror.

Digging deeper into the 2007 Mariners' 88-win season, opponents actually outscored them by 19 runs. Now, there have been rare occasions of teams being outscored - or narrowly breaking even - in the run differential department and still going deep into the playoffs. But historically, teams that are outscored by 20 runs in baseball finish 79-83.

In essence, the Mariners thought they were an 88-win team on the verge of 90, which is why they went all-in for Silva and Bedard. In reality, they were a 79-win team that was lucky to win 88.

Poor self-evaluation.

The 2013 Minnesota Vikings can learn a lesson from the 2008 Mariners.

Yes, the Vikings went 10-6 last season after winning only three games in 2011, and it appears they are a team on the rise. But they won those 10 games thanks in large part to Adrian Peterson having the second-best season of any running back in NFL history, and Blair Walsh going 10-for-10 from beyond 50 yards - a new NFL record. 

Only those with blind faith believe Peterson and Walsh will duplicate or surpass those performances.

In other words, the Vikings must brace for Peterson and Walsh to come back to earth a little bit. If that's the case, somebody - or some collection of multiple players - must make up for the gap in production.

And that's where Christian Ponder and the passing game come in.

To Rick Spielman's credit, he continued to build toward the future this offseason by trading Percy Harvin for a first-round draft pick and by cutting Antoine Winfield to make room for rookie Xavier Rhodes and money that went to extending right tackle Phil Loadholt.

Spielman just needs to hope Greg Jennings' contract doesn't turn out like Silva's in Seattle. 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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