Lessons Learned: Managing Expectations

“Things would have to go very poorly for the Vikings in the first half of the season in order for us to feel fully eliminated from the playoffs heading into week 10. Of the last seven games of the season, five of those will be played against divisional opponents. Beating our NFC North foes is the best way to climb into playoff contention, so hope is likely to cling for quite some time this season.”

A very wise blogger wrote that paragraph back in April when the 2012 schedule was announced.  A very foolish blogger, however, forgot to heed his own warning and tossed the idea of a “rebuilding team” aside and fully embraced the idea that this Vikings team was (cliché alert!) “for real.”

It was far too easy to get swept away by the Vikings success after putting the week two loss to Indy in the rear view mirror and placing that unexpected beat down of the Niners on the forefront of our minds.

Say what you will about strength of schedule analysis and how inaccurate such thinking is, but there is no doubt that the Vikings were able to take advantage of a weak schedule early on, struggled against tougher opponents of late, and have yet to face their toughest opponents.

It duped some of us, including me.

The early success of the Vikings has created confusing feelings and opinions amongst the fanbase, as the team suddenly went from “project” to “contender” and are well on their way to being labeled “pretenders.”

The Vikings themselves are partially to blame, as their job is to sell their product, and they had no problems pointing out their successes on the field in order to generate some excitement.

The truth, as we have found out here lately, is that this team never actually became anything other than a project.  In the end, their win total is only going to be a gauge to measure how far this project has to go before they can legitimately be considered a contender.

Am I throwing in the towel?  Absolutley not.

I will still cheer and shout, curse and yell, as my team suits up on future Sundays.  However, I have had to give myself the reality check that many Vikings need and remind myself that this is a young team, with plenty of positives to point out, that is still in the process of growing into what will one day be a consistently dominant force.

Luckily for us Vikings fans, our expectations are now so low that they don’t really need to be managed, and Leslie Frazier’s team can really only overachieve from here on out in the eyes of their most critical observers.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. Lou Holtz: “Things are never as good as they seem, and things are never as bad as they seem.”

    Consider this about the performance of the defense Sunday (forgive my possible lapse in memory due to my age): The Vikings explode out of the gate with the AP run and score. The defense bends but finally forces a punt (thanks to two dropped Seattle passes), but the offense turns it over in the red zone. We need the defense to hold a struggling red zone offense to a FG, but they can’t do it. After the offense punts, the defense again allows Seattle to march down the field and score another TD. We have scored once in three possessions (pretty normal), but are trailing 14-7. The offense battles back to take the lead 17-14 and what happens? The defense promptly allows a methodical march down the field with time running out in the half, and again can’t even keep it to a FG. On to the second half where neither unit did anything to win this game.

    I’m not absolving the offense of their passing game failures. They needed to move the ball through the air, and just plain didn’t. Even so, the lack of resistance by the defense is STILL my greatest concern after this game.

  2. Sorry, I forgot, Adam, very nice piece. Perspective is hard to maintain on a week by week basis. I have really been surprised at our performance in the last 2 weeks after what I thought I was seeing in the first four weeks.

  3. i haven’t gulped down purple kool-aid this season, but i was duped by ponder for a while
    i expected an up and down year, and ponder to be at the heart of it, but i didn’t expect him to not rebound after his earlier successes. two games under 100 yds. in three weeks! i saw somewhere that that’s historically poor for vikings QBs

    he CAN do it, but WILL he?

  4. I know that questions (like Cal’s) remain about the future of Christian Ponder, but this is no time to be switching QB’s. You open up all sorts of issues with that move right now. If you want to find out whether or not he is the guy of the future (apologies to some who already say no, he isn’t), you’ve got to keep him on the field, demand that he be part of the solution, and address the issues that surround him. In spite of what we have seen recently, he has been the QB of a 5-4 team, and should be expected to bring us out of this slump. I truly don’t think any starting QB change should occur unless and until you arrive at the belief that we have to look elsewhere for our future QB.

    1. Okay, so I understand the whole QB of the future thing. Thing that bothers me is that this team needs a kick in the ass. Nothing would say that louder than to bench your supposedly QBof. When a guy is not getting the job done…he just isn’t. It is what it is.

      I am not saying that Ponder is, or is not, the QBof. I hope he is. When you have a guy run for 180 yards and you can’t complete nothing more than check downs on play action, something is really wrong. When your offense is constantly going 3 and out, how the hell is your defense supposed to keep stopping the other team? I think the D could’ve played better, no doubt. But they got no help from the offense, with the exception of AP. That dude is not of this world.
      I just watched the rest of the game (2nd half). I’ll say this, Ponder did get a lot of pressure, the pass blocking was not that good. But good grief dude! There were people open, I’m not sure he is getting it. That 4th quarter was very hard to watch. I can’t blame the play calling on what I saw. He wasn’t even giving his guys a chance to catch the ball. His pocket presence is very poor, and that is something that you have or you don’t. Very hard to teach something like that.
      My thinking is that this season is not over, and it’s not fair to the rest of the players, or coaches to keep a man in there that is not doing his job. It would be different if this were a one time thing. Plus it might be a good thing for him to sit. Webb is probably not the QB of the future, but I think starting him this week sends a message. To Ponder and the whole team. And it gives your team a better chance to win! This week. And isn’t that what really matters? I don’t agree that keeping him on the field, at this point, will solve his issues. Right now, I believe, Webb gives you the best chance to win.
      Rant over.
      I know Ponder will start, I hope he kicks ass, and proves me wrong. I am 100% behind him. C’mon kid!

    2. Hah coach I’m with you for the most part. I think we go with ponder the rest of the year no matter what, but I still don’t think he’s out qbotf. In my previous posts I’m sorry if you got the idea I think he should be benched, I don’t at all. I simply think he’s Tjax2 and we need to be prepared for that at seasons end. We do need to give him every chance to succeed but if he can’t we can’t be afraid to dump him and move on.

      1. Yup, I’m with ya on that Skol. And you don’t have to apologize for the ideas I get from reading things. Those are fully my responsiblity, and I can miss a point with the best of ’em.