Morale is at an all-time low, fellow Skoldiers. It’s about that time of year where the good teams start to make some real headway on the bad ones. The Minnesota Vikings are stuck in limbo right now. If they want any chance at a playoff berth, they need to start changing the game plan.
It’s time to start playing to win instead of “trying not to lose,” as co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson put it.
It’s complicated to look back on the Dallas Cowboys game. The context has changed since early in the year. It was a game that was sure to be a loss because the Cowboys are a good team. But along the way, they chose to sit a nearly healthy Dak Prescott and start Cooper Rush, a quarterback who’s never started an NFL game.
Either the Cowboys were willing to roll the dice last week for the long-term good of their team, or they were confident they’d be able to handle the Vikings. Either way, the Cowboys are still better than the Vikings right now, so it doesn’t matter.
So why did the Halloween night game sting so much?
I think this game was so hard to accept for several reasons. The offense fell into their habit of running on early downs and passing in front of the sticks. The clock management reverted to some of the worst in the league. And the defense performed poorly on every level. It was a culmination of all the things the Vikings have suffered from this year.
Most of their games only had one or two glaring flaws. I remember thinking after every game that they’d be fine if they could only put one game together without any of these issues arising. Well, in the most Vikings way possible, they did the opposite and played a game that included all the flaws I was hoping they’d eliminate — many of which are entirely avoidable.
Maybe it’s that Kirk Cousins needs to go off-script. Perhaps Klint Kubiak needs to make adjustments more quickly. Or it might be that Mike Zimmer needs to accept that they aren’t winning with the game plan he’s preparing each week. Whatever the answer, they need to act fast. We’re already in the middle of the season.
It’s frustrating that they haven’t already done it. But there’s time, and thankfully Patterson and Adam Thielen have addressed the issue. It’s no guarantee that they change, but they’d be foolish not to at this point because jobs are at stake.
It may feel like the season is already too far gone, but the Vikings are still second in the NFC North, and every team on their schedule has its flaws. The Baltimore Ravens got stomped by the Cincinnati Bengals and only beat the Detroit Lions by hitting the longest field goal in NFL history. Why shouldn’t the Vikings beat them? It’s the NFL, baby. Any given week.
After traveling to Baltimore, they will play the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay Packers. Both are challenging games, but Justin Herbert has struggled, and the Chargers have lost two straight. And Jordan Love is Green Bay’s only quarterback who is actually vaccinated.
Vikings fans must sound like a broken record filled with denial and hope. But what else is there for us? The Vikes have a chance to make the playoffs. Things look grim after a bad loss and the season-ending injury to Danielle Hunter. Anything can happen with the expanded playoff seeding. And, if all else is lost, at least you can take solace in the new Aaron Rodgers drama.