Vikings Undisciplined — Not Unlucky

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings finished with a 13-4 record last season. They went 11-0 in games decided by one score or less. Looking back at that season, it was routinely accepted that Kevin O’Connell’s team was lucky in his first year. I’m not sure luck was the root factor, but they aren’t just unlucky in 2023.

Vikings Undisciplined — Not Unlucky

Facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the Vikings got the ball on the opening possession. On the first play from scrimmage, Kirk Cousins connected with Josh Oliver for a 15-yard gain that ended with a fumble. This team, this year, another turnover.

Minnesota has surrendered 12 giveaways in five games, leading the National Football League. They are averaging more than two giveaways a game, and the problems have come everywhere. Alexander Mattison has fumbled. Justin Jefferson dropped a ball over the pylon. Kirk Cousins has thrown four interceptions. Kicking off a game with yet another giveaway isn’t unlucky. Simply put, the Vikings are undisciplined.

Vikings Undisciplined
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

We have now seen the same problems from this Minnesota squad for multiple weeks. Cousins is going to throw interceptions. That’s part of the game. Multiple players continuing to fail to hang onto the football is more than just a physical issue. Being locked in enough to avoid the pursuits of defenders is also a mental battle, and the Vikings have failed miserably.

It’s not just the turnovers any more, either. Minnesota has seen multiple games in which pass catchers have had hands that would make stone look ideal. Whether the ball was put on the money or not, the Vikings have not been locked in. Tight end T.J. Hockenson couldn’t come up with a winning catch against the Chargers. K.J. Osborn didn’t know who Cousins was throwing to against the Chiefs. It’s been a problem across the board and doesn’t appear to be getting better.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

Last season, the Vikings stood to perform better as the change in leadership took hold. O’Connell established himself as a new voice and, in doing so, helped push his team to the better side of many coin flips. It’s not as though that leadership has all of a sudden fallen apart this year, but it’s beyond clear something is missing.

Maybe the locker room doesn’t have the right voices. Patrick Peterson was a vocal leader and is no longer around to galvanize his teammates. Za’Darius Smith did bring a presence to him, and though it quickly turned out to be about him after the season ended, he held a team focus during the year. Veterans like Eric Kendricks and Adam Thielen were ushered out as their talents waned, but it can’t be overstated how much their presence likely impacted the group as a whole.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s certainly fair to place some level of luck on the outcomes that Minnesota saw last season, but there is a threshold where it stops. It might have been unlucky for the Vikings to see Jefferson fumble through the side of the end zone, but we have now reached a point where things have become a consistent house of horrors. This team isn’t just bad or unlucky, but they are also extremely undisciplined and appear mentally unprepared on a weekly basis.

That’s not a great reality to be facing.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.