I'm not sure there's been a steep decline in the offense. Its pretty much been lousy for his entire tenure.Mothman wrote: Yes, it is but nobody is making an argument to the contrary so while that point IS accurate, the fact remains that a good defense doesn't constitute a good team and it shouldn't immunize Spielman against legitimate criticism. While the defense has improved, we've seen a steep decline in the quality of the offense. Ultimately, it's the quality of the whole team that matters.
Spielman has made a number good decisions over the years but the point has never been that he doesn't make good decisions, it's been that he never seems to make enough of them. The fact remains, in his decade with the team, they've won just a single playoff game (under Childress) and in his 5 years as GM, their overall record is a mediocre 41-40.
Generally speaking, I think its a mistake to take skill position players when you don't have your core together. I like the traditional approach of building from the inside out, but I also recognize that the game has changed, and that's probably not as essential as it used to be. Hell, its not even as possible as it used to be.
There haven't been a ton of great college OL in a while. We're not seeing guys ready to play NFL football, even if they are "top of the class" in a lot of cases. This brings up the whole square peg, round hole subject again...if you can't get the offensive linemen to build an NFL calibur OL (and there aren't enough of them to go around) do you start running a college offense? I think we're starting to see more of that, and it might even be part of the compromise the Vikings are now making, and part of the whole Norv/Shurmur divide.
I think Spielman tried to get ahead of the curve on his approach to OL, and it was a real failure! Was it a strategic failure or was it a scouting failure? I mean, if TJ Clemmings, Brandon Fusco, Willie Beavers and David Yankey were competent contributors in the upcoming season (Not to mention Easton and Sirles, Harris and Hill), the strategy would look a lot different. I think it was a strategic failure and a scouting failure, but I don't entirely mind the attempt at getting ahead of the game there. Still, I think Trading up for Patterson was a mistake, and I think not trading up for a tackle last year was a mistake...those are probably the two draft decisions that cost them the best chance to improve the OL in Spielman's tenure via the draft. Trading a first for Sam Bradford when he would likely have been available for a late rounder this year was probably another gaffe in that regard.
So, what do they do now? I am scared they are going to continue mortgaging future for present. I see that becoming a pattern and it really doesn't bode well. Do they end up costing themselves a Xavier Rhodes, a Linval Joseph, an Eric Kendricks by going crazy for Okung or Whitworh and Wagner?
One thing the Vikings have been great at, is managing the cap...that might be partly because they haven't had rosters talented enough to force them into a lot of hard decisions, but i do think there is some reason for optimism that they'll construct things with enough escape hatches to cover their hind parts financially.