Quite possibly the four best defenses in the nearly 50 year history of the Super Bowl era. Each ended with their teams hoisting the Lombardi then with a celebration at mid field and in the locker room after. After the 5 - 0 start some writers and radio jockeys were comparing the Vikings to those units.
At that point it was sincerely merited. The destruction crew was making play after play in each game. The highlight reel plays have diminished in subsequent weeks but statistically the unit is still playing at a high level. Just not as high of a level as those three all time great groups did. I think the comparison can be made to an even more recent unit then the 014 Hawks.
Last years representatives in the Super Bowl from the NFC - the Carolina Panthers.
They had one of the best defensive lines, if not THE best one in the league over the 16 games. Add to that a couple special Linebackers and one of the best Corners in the league. It was a pretty rockstar group all told. Add to that a great season by Cam Newton and they were a lethal outfit, but the 15 - 1 record says all that.
As I said, the 2016 Vikings have a great defense on ever level. The offense could have been similar to last years Carolina but injuries obliterated that opportunity weeks ago. It could still be a playoff year but short of some miracles the Super Bowl is a distant fantasy. A championship level defense has been derailed and short changed by the injuries to the offense. Injuries are unavoidable in the game, heck they're to be expected but that doesn't excuse the handling of the offensive line through the draft.
I've said it before & I'll say it again, it's the scouts and Rick Spielmans fault that the offensive line is what is today. Past drafting for the group has been down right awful. The attempts to bring in veterans was nice but more time on the field can only mean more wear on the body which leads to injuries more often. It's now by far the biggest need going into the off season yet I don't think it's realistic to imagine that it can be fixed in one draft or even one OS. Some guys will get healthy but with the way the attempts to resolve what was the biggest weakness last season have gone, no one should have confidence in it. It's worse then a year ago, way worse.
So maybe you want to take the long view and say that three years from now it'll be a Cowboys like offensive line. That would be a dream but also a nightmare. I have no interest in the destruction crew having to wait years for the o - line to catch up because they won't. Guys will leave. Guys will retire. If we're lucky the minds in charge will be able to string the talent along like the have in the coffee capital. But in the mean time, what do we do?
That brings me back to the comparison I made at the top. The best team from the NFC last year just got trucked by Seattle to the tune of 40 - 7. The Panther defense lost some good players from last year but the way they've fallen off is scary. The Vikings scraped along to a .500 record, a far cry from the 15 - 1 of the Kitties.
So, let's say the Vikings offense is better next year. Dear God, please it be better! IF it is, the defense is almost assured to take a step back. For a team, a franchise and a fan base that is desperate for a championship, the window shutting on a Super Bowl caliber defense, even for a middle of the pack offense is as close to the worst scenario that it can get.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope that they're able to get the offense right with minimal losses to the defense and an even better coaching staff. But with recent history in mind, I'm not confident. Tell me wrong. Tell me why I'm wrong. Help to believe the window has not yet closed!