Vikings Aren’t Regressing from 2022. They’re Finding New Ways to Lose
A popular narrative for the Minnesota Vikings coming into the 2023 NFL season was that they would be in for a world of hurt following a season that was deemed to be reflective of good luck. Some of the 2022 performance may have been luck, and some of 2023 may have been a lack of luck, but there are many more problems going on.
Through three games, all losses, the Vikings have found new ways to lose. Their turnovers, and specifically the lost fumbles, have been beyond insanity. An inability to hang onto the football, and some loose balls coming on fluky happenings, has been nothing short of maddening for Kevin O’Connell’s squad. The totality of the problem goes beyond the turnover situation though.
Through three weeks, the Vikings have found ways to lose games. A season ago O’Connell appeared to be the leader making all of the difference on the sidelines. A year removed from Mike Zimmer’s dated ways, O’Connel was bringing a more progressive approach to the sidelines. Fast forward a season and his decisions have been largely responsible for at least one of Minnesota’s losses.
A mediocre Buccaneers team came to U.S. Bank Stadium for Week 1 and inconsistency doomed the Vikings. Baker Mayfield wasn’t spectacular, but he was more consistent than the Vikings defense, and Minnesota’s offense couldn’t get it going. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, as real underdogs, Minnesota’s skill position players coughed up ample opportunity to take leads. Jalen Hurts and crew ultimately won by just a touchdown, but the game should have gone a substantially different way had the Vikings capitalized even once.
Then there is the Chargers loss.
Brian Flores’ defense made no adjustments as they allowed Keenan Allen to surpass 200 yards on 18 catches. With Mike Williams eventually out for the game, the secondary still couldn’t shut down the one option Los Angeles continued to target. O’Connell was given a golden opportunity with right around two minutes remaining, and he showed terrible clock management en route to a loss. The Vikings head coach had called poor plays at the goal line previously on the day, and Minnesota left points on the board more than once.
It would be one thing to suggest luck had run out if Minnesota was simply finding themselves on the wrong side of coin flips week-over-week. The problem is that they aren’t getting unlucky, they are being out coached and out disciplined on a weekly basis. This Vikings team has the talent to be respectable, and they’ve capitalized on every chance to have that taken from them.
A path forward isn’t easy for this group. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and even in a bad NFC North division, there still has to be a team that brings up the rear. Chicago is a rudderless ship with less talent, but they were expected to be categorized as such. Minnesota wasn’t a juggernaut, but seeing these sort of results is disheartening in every sense of the emotion.
O’Connell has little time remaining to turn things around for this Vikings collection, and the players in the locker room have some soul searching to do on their own.
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.