At this point last year, the Minnesota Vikings were 2-2, having just beat the Atlanta Falcons behind an eye-opening performance from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. In his first NFL start, Bridgewater completed 19 passes for 317 yards and even scored a touchdown with his legs. The elation in Minnesota would quickly end, though, as the franchise’s newfound quarterback missed the next game and watched as his team fell to the Green Bay Packers.
Suffering from the humiliation at Lambeau Field, the Vikings continued their losing streak against the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills to fall to 2-5. Bridgewater struggled, the running game sputtered without Adrian Peterson, and the defense was a sieve at best against the run. Their 2-2 start, kicked off by a drubbing of the St. Louis Rams, wasn’t enough to keep pace with the NFC’s playoff contenders.
This year, the Vikings find themselves in a familiar, yet much different position. Though they enter the Week 5 bye at 2-2, this is a team that’s deeper, more talented, and playing at a higher level than their 2014 counterparts through four games. The record doesn’t necessarily reflect this, and an ugly Week 1 loss to the 49ers swayed expectations early, but three strong performances against the Lions, Chargers, and Broncos put the Vikings in excellent position to compete for an NFC playoff spot this season.
The Vikings won’t return to the field until Week 6, when they host the Kansas City Chiefs at TCF Bank Stadium in a crucial inter-conference matchup. Until then, head coach Mike Zimmer will have much to assess in his time off, including a few ugly trends in his team’s two losses. After the jump, we’ll dive into the game film from the Vikings’ Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos and try to figure out what went wrong. As the famous saying goes, “The eye in the sky never lies…”