Vikings Still Perceived as ‘Stuck in Mediocrity’
Despite massive changes, folks who cover the NFL on a national level aren’t convinced that the team can get over the hump anytime soon and is stuck in mediocrity. The whole regime, more than half of the defense, and the problematic right guard were replaced, and in power rankings, the Vikings are still stuck in no-man’s-land.
In the latest edition of the PFF power rankings, written by Sam Monson, the purple and gold franchise ranked 22nd. He put the Vikings in a tier with “stuck in limbo.”
Part of the full story is that the organization didn’t reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons. A few clubs are rated higher than the Vikings and didn’t play a postseason game either.
Other Teams that Missed Playoffs
The Los Angeles Chargers are fifth in the tier of “true contenders.” Their young star quarterback Justin Herbert has the potential to be something special, and they invested heavily into their struggling defense.
In the next tier, “Could be their year,” which is highlighted by the division rival Green Bay Packers, are multiple 2021 non-playoff teams. Seventh is the Denver Broncos. Their biggest change is, of course, trading for Russell Wilson. In addition to that, Nathaniel Hackett was hired as the head coach. Most teams that add Wilson to the roster immediately get better.
The other two teams that missed the playoffs and are in that tier are two AFC North teams. The Baltimore Ravens are 11th and the Cleveland Browns 10th. The Browns acquired star quarterback Deshaun Watson. His legal matters still put his availability in 2022 in jeopardy. The Ravens didn’t make many changes but had a great draft. If the players hit, they could be a threat in the AFC. Both franchises play in a tough division with four almost equally good teams. In any given year, all four of those teams could realistically make a deep postseason run.
The next tier is called “Eyes on the playoffs.” It is probably the tier where realistic Vikings fans would place their organization. The Dolphins, who traded for Tyreke Hill, signed star left tackle Terron Armstead, and hired new head coach Mike McDaniel are primed for a better season. Last year, they had a rough start to the season and therefore missed the playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints are part of that group as well. Their head coach Sean Payton is no longer their leader. Drew Brees is sitting in the NBC studio. They still went all-in during the offseason. However, it’s tough to predict a good season from them. The last team is the Indianapolis Colts. Supposedly upgrading Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan was their top move in the offseason. A good defense, offensive line, and the offense carried by Jonathan Taylor is their Identity.
The Vikings Rank 22nd
Now we’ll take a look at the Minnesota franchise. The explanation of Sam Monson for his ranking:
“The Vikings have won between seven and 10 games for the last four seasons, prompting ownership to make a change and hire a new general manager and head coach. The moves this offseason have been all about maintaining course though, which leaves the team stuck in the same narrow band of outcomes as before. Unless Kevin O’Connell does a fantastic job as head coach in Year 1 or Kirk Cousins has an equally inspired season at quarterback, this team likely wins between seven and 10 games again.”Sam Monson, doesn’t like the Vikings offseason
An interesting way to look at the moves of the organization. Replacing the whole regime, including the general manager and coaching staff, is not ‘maintaining course.’ The team was average in the last two seasons, despite a historically bad defense in 2020. In some games, backups played almost exclusively, followed by bad situational performances, including some bad luck in key moments, in 2021.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah talked about a competitive rebuild. He got rid of some cap problems while keeping the important parts of the team together. This way, the team is the most competitive it can be in 2022 while still having the future in mind.
The additions are countless. More than half of the 2021 defensive starters are no longer on the team. Za’Darius Smith, Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr, Jordan Hicks, Harrison Phillips, and Chandon Sullivan are new on the defensive side of the ball and will be contributing early. The offense is about the same as last year. A different scheme and improved play calling are expected to unlock some potential. The problematic right guard position was filled with multiple competitors for the starting job.
In addition to that, the most important offseason move was to acquire the new head coach of the franchise, Kevin O’Connell. His coaching style gave the Vikings a different vibe — something they desperately needed, considering the comments some players made just recently.
Even though the national media does not believe in the Vikings, there are a lot of reasons to think that the future is bright for the organization. 2022 could be a great year if Kevin O’Connell is as advertised and can flip some switches to unlock the offense’s full potential and improve the camaraderie of the group.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who has a fable for numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Arguing about the Vikings on Twitter is one of his favorite things to do. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt