Christian Ponder

Better be a quick study.

There isn’t much good news to come out of this blight of an offseason, also known as the 2011 NFL lockout, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s this: the [intlink id=”35″ type=”category”]Minnesota Vikings[/intlink] are likely to be most affected by it.

And when we say affected, we mean negatively.

The labor dispute will likely drag into late June, if not July, which means the cancellation of organized team activities, rookie camps and minicamps, which coaches use to integrate players into their system. That shouldn’t be much of a problem for a stable, largely battle-tested team like the Green Bay Packers, but it could be a huge problem for a team like the Vikings.

The Vikings are entering the 2011 season with a new head coach, albeit one who served as interim head coach for the final six games of the 2010 season, a new offensive coordinator and a rookie quarterback they would like to start in week one.

Head coach [intlink id=”1342″ type=”category”]Leslie Frazier[/intlink] — the defensive coordinator for most of 2010 — will handle the defense, but the rest of the team has a lot of question marks. The coaching staff wants to feature first-round pick Christian Ponder at quarterback. He’ll be paired with first-year offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

Darrell Bevell, the team’s offensive coordinator from 2006-10, was kicked to the curb when Frazier had the interim removed from his title.

Here’s ESPN’s John Clayton’s take.

Ponder had only a brief meeting with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and is having to learn the playbook on his own. He’s thinking of getting a couple of his wide receivers together for some throwing sessions in Florida, but there is another problem. Minneapolis, like Green Bay and Buffalo, is not an offseason home for most of the players.

Training in Houston, Adrian Peterson, for example, has spent more time with Vince Young — who won’t be a Viking — than Ponder. Trying to pull all of this together without an offseason program will be tough. The longer this lockout goes, the more the Vikings will suffer.

The Vikings defense will be game. They’re a veteran unit that will play the same system as 2010. Offense, on the other hand, will be an uphill battle and that could make for comical results and quite a few early-season losses.

The longer this drags on, the less likely Ponder will be able to take the reins week one, which brings us to the veteran quarterback the Vikings currently do not have.

We’ve discussed the possibility of Donovan McNabb, who will be released by the Washington Redskins, being the Vikings starter in 2011.

McNabb is almost perfect for the situation because he makes plays on the move. He doesn’t need a robust, structured offense like the one he had in Washington. So, unlike Ponder, who’s going to need to learn the system to have success, McNabb could probably have some drawing up plays in the dirt.

Still, success is a relative term here. The Vikings won’t be challenging the Packers and Bears for NFC North supremacy.

This is a team that’s probably going to look disjointed and confused for at least the first few weeks of the season, unless the owners and players come to their senses and hammer out a deal in the next few weeks.

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