Give Him Time

Rumors swirling of Daunte Culpepper being traded or even the ridiculous suggestions of being released to relieve cap expenses are absurd. Sure the handful of games Culpepper played in last year were horrendous, but don’t forget the conditions of change he was facing. He lost a valuable offensive coordinator that is now the St. Louis Rams head coach in Scott Linehan, and lost his main go to guy in Randy Moss. Added to that the Vikings were trying to patch together a running back situation that was comparable to the Arizona Cardinals last season.

So before people go crazy in trying to write off Culpepper’s career, let’s give him Joey Harrington or Rob Johnson type time.

Quarterbacks have to face an unreal amount of adjustments and when they’re as major as Culpepper’s were: there should be a complete understanding of his early struggles last season. Teams no longer had to gear back for deep bombs to Randy Moss. Instead they played to the strong weaknesses that Culpepper has had exposed often in his short career.

He gets flustered rather quickly, and his pocket presence under pressure has yet to adapt the way it needs to. If you wanted to make a checklist of all the bad things going against Culpepper it would be full. The offensive line wasn’t intact and healthy, and the same points as aforementioned without Scott Linehan, Moss, and a suitable running back. What can a quarterback do?

Why not simply expect Nate Burelson or Marcus Robinson to step up as elite receivers? Gosh, if it were only that easy.

It didn’t help that when Brad Johnson stepped in, wins started to happen. A big part of that was the team coming together. The defense started to play a lot better, and that complemented perfectly with the conservative style of Brad Johnson. He is one of the best at getting a team enough points to win a game without being clumsy with the football.

Mewelde Moore and Michael Bennett late in the season also helped keep the pressure off of Brad Johnson’s arm. If you want to get picky, the Vikings schedule wasn’t exactly “difficult” either, and they somehow did manage to blow their playoff chances down the stretch.

So anyone thinking Johnson is a better fit than Culpepper is insane. He did his job well, and that job will remain a backup. It would have to take Culpepper coming out the start of the season, and playing two straight months of horrible football for us to change our opinions on that.

An athlete just doesn’t go from the prowess that Culpepper displayed in 2004, to being considered trade bait after a serious injury. He needs the right tools to be successful around his ability. If the Vikings want to keep the players in the organization more suited for Brad Johnson’s style, than go ahead and deal Culpepper.

He’d flourish on just about eight percent of the teams in the league right now. For fantasy football purposes, Culpepper shouldn’t be drafted less than the third round; if that.

If anyone watched Culpepper’s, Beyond The Glory, on Fox Sports; you’ll know that Culpepper’s determination to succeed isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be a wrecking force on the football field until he hangs it up. Last season’s Minnesota Vikings was in disarray before it even happened. It’s done and everyone should be ready to move on and shed serious light on who is their star.


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