The Vikings Season Has 4 Glass Half-Full Items
Not many expected the Minnesota Vikings to start into the season with a 0-3 record. The franchise lost two home games against beatable opponents, something playoff teams don’t do. Self-inflicted wounds led to the three defeats, and all three of them could’ve been avoided. But still, not everything is bad in Minnesota right now.
The Vikings Season Has 4 Glass Half-Full Items
Of course, it is easy after another heartbreak to look at all the negative things surrounding the Vikings, and every fan has a right to do that. However, amid all those issues, some items give hope for the remainder of the season and the organization’s future.
1. Tank Season?
The NFL is built on the principle that the worst teams get the first shots at the best players in the draft. Minnesota hasn’t had a first-overall pick in over 50 years when they chose eventual Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Yary.
If a team is bad enough for the season to be over early, the silver lining is that the high draft pick could lead the franchise to the promised land. A shiny new quarterback with the theoretical chance to be great could be just what the Vikes need. Although Kirk Cousins has been playing remarkably well in 2023, some fresh juice could and would be an exciting change.
Losses always seem bad in the fan’s eyes, and they certainly are short-term, but they are happy about the draft position in April when the commissioner opens the first round of the draft, and instead of 14th, the team picks 8th overall because of a single added loss. If you want to consider the future prospects of having a rookie quarterback, this is the time to do it.
2. The Rookies Shine
This point is not as abstract and theoretical. Two of the youngest Vikings shine on the field and look like future stars. First-round pick Jordan Addison continues to be a valuable weapon on offense. It was his first game without a score, but he still caught six passes for 52 yards and became the go-to guy for a while when the defense was focusing on Justin Jefferson, and that is exactly why the Vikings drafted him and what the plan is for years to come.
He cost a valuable first-round pick, but he seems to be a hit three games into his career. 13 receptions, 185 yards, and 2 touchdowns are a solid stat line, and his usage will increase. Addison is about to become the next excellent wideout in Minnesota’s storied history of wideouts.
The other rookie who is a baller is linebacker Ivan Pace. Coming in as an undrafted player, he is excellent against the run and has shown outstanding ability to rush the passer. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah found a player who fits perfectly into the system of his defensive coordinator. There are precisely 31 teams in the NFL that regret not spending a draft pick on him. He has logged 20 tackles and 0.5 sacks in his debut season, and his impact even exceeds those numbers.
3. Record Watch
Jefferson is the face of the franchise, and his production is absurd. The wideout leads the league with 458 receiving yards, the most ever in the first three weeks of a season, tied with Wes Welker. He is on pace for 2,595 receiving yards, which blows out the record of 1,964 set by former Lions WR Calvin Johnson and puts both the record and the 2,000-yard mark in reach.
But he is not the only one with crazy numbers. Pass-rusher Danielle Hunter produced five sacks in the three contests and is on pace for 28 sacks in the 2023 campaign. That number will likely regress quickly, but he still leads the league, tied with T.J. Watt.
Cousins has also been stellar in the numbers department, firing up 1,075 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. If he continued at his pace, he would rack up over 6,000 yards and 51 touchdowns. Unfortunately, his sharp play hasn’t resulted in any wins.
On-pace statistics are likely to drop sooner rather than later, but they are still a good thought exercise to put those numbers in perspective.
4. Close Games
No longer situational masters, the Vikings are masters at shooting themselves in the foot, hence the losing streak. Still, the half-full approach is that the team is competitive in every game. Last year, the doubters claimed that the purple team wasn’t as good as the record implied because of the close wins, and they surely had a point. Well, the opposite can be said now. The Vikings aren’t as bad as the record suggests.
Cleaning up the mistakes must be the focus to save the season. One area of the offense was improved. The Vikings had an effective running game this time after only collecting 69 rushing yards total in Weeks 1 and 2. Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler gained 120 yards on the ground, and Cousins added another ten. Showing the ability to improve in emphasized areas is a good sign.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt