5 Things We LOVE About the Vikings Pre-Bye Week Performance
The Minnesota Vikings are presently in the midst of their BYE week after opening the season with a 5-1 record. Better yet, their only loss has come at the hands of the last remaining undefeated team, the Philadelphia Eagles. We’re now seeing the is Vikings performance reflected positively in power rankings around the league with many including the purple as one of the top teams in the NFC and nearly Top-5 throughout the entirety of the NFL.
While there have been a number of puzzling scenarios and frustrations that have surfaced through the first six weeks of the season, there have also been a lot of positives to draw out.
Today, we’ll highlight 5 Things That We “LOVE” from what we’ve seen from the 2022 Minnesota Vikings.
- Despite imperfect performances, they’re finding ways to win…
Five times in 2021 the Minnesota Vikings found a way to lose games within the final two minutes of the 4th quarter. Knowing how to hold leads down the stretch was something that last year’s squad could not figure out. Worse yet, the issues that led to the late game failures were plentiful. Some came at the hands of poor clock management, others were victims of special teams failures and more yet saw defensive lapses lead to increased opportunities for opponents
Fast forward to 2022 and while not all of those issues are fully rectified, much of the mess has been cleaned up. The role of “Game Management Coordinator” was added to the staff as Pass Game Specialist Ryan Cordell also monitors all game scenarios relaying best options to Kevin O’Connell on the sideline to help with clock management and decision making down the stretch. While not perfect, Greg Joseph and Ryan Wright have largely solidified the teams special teams with the coverage teams also stepping up their games. And the defense, while still leaky at times, has found ways to come up with big late game stops or forced turnovers down the stretch. In turn, four of the teams five wins this season have come with a decision culminating on the final drive of the game.
- The vibe around the team has totally changed…
Things weren’t always sour under the Mike Zimmer regime, there were many good seasons. But down the stretch, things were not well behind the scenes and that heaviness bled through in the form of sloppy performances on the football field.
If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard a player, coach, client or front office member mention how different the vibe is around TCO Performance Center in 2022, we’d certainly have a lot of nickels! Having learned from the demise of the previous regime, a heavy emphasis was placed on “collaboration” and “communication” within the organization. Those attributes did not immediately turn this team into a perfect football club, but it changed the tone around the building into one where players are excited to participate within. They feel open to communicate ideas, concerns or observations to the coaching staff, and vice versa. This about face from year to year has a lot of people happy inside the building.
- The Division seems ripe for the picking…
While the Vikings still have their best football ahead of them, they’ve arrived at 5-1 with a 3-0 record against divisional opponents. Presently that has them two games up, with a head-to-head tie-breaker over every team in the NFC North. That doesn’t guarantee anything when it comes to the rest of the season, but it does put them comfortably in the driver’s seat heading the rest of the way. Better yet, with Detroit and Chicago still apparently a step or two away from consistently being a threat for the division, the Green Bay Packers are riding the struggle bus right now with two straight losses, some problems to fix and their own BYE week still seven games from now. If ever the NFC North was there to be had, this might be the season for the Vikings to snatch it.
- We’re seeing important contributions from different players and groups each week…
On one hand, you could look at the Vikings performances through three games and see inconsistencies for almost all players and all phases of their game. On the other hand, you could take the optimistic view of that and see that they’ve received contributions from each player. Consistency can still be achieved as the team better familiarizes themselves with the playbooks and the groupings have more and more reps with each other as the year goes on, but this is confirmation of talent which might be more important. If you’re team isn’t talented enough to win, consistency or inconsistency don’t really matter. If the talent is confirmed you might win some games you should have lost and should be able to find more regular success based on talent alone. And then, when the consistency clicks…watch out everybody!
- It’s incredibly clear that as a team their best football is ahead of them…
Eeking out victories may not be the recipe for sustained success, but we can tell you from experience that it is in fact better than eeking out losses. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell will be the first to tell you that the team has a lot of room to grow from where they are today. He’s mentioned “consistency” often in his press conferences and continues to stress better execution across the board. With 5-1 as your base level and a week to self-scout your team this week, the hope is that coming back together after the BYE will allow the team to continue taking steps in a positive direction. The hope then being, that further down the stretch and in preparation for the playoffs the team will be playing it’s best football of the season.
Check back tomorrow for an extended look at the season so far as we dive into “5 Things That We DON’T LOVE” about the Vikings Pre-Bye Week Performances.
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