Vikings

The Vikings Aren't Dead Yet

Photo credit: @Vikings on Twitter

There are many faithful Skoldiers out there who are looking to bury their team alive. Familiarity breeds contempt, and Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, and Kirk Cousins have been in our lives for a long time now. Fans of other teams usually are looking for ways to keep the faith alive. But there’s a faction here that wants to excommunicate a few men in the holy order. We’ve seen this movie before.

There’s a growing part of the fanbase that has become the guy yelling “Bring out your dead!” in Monty Python, and the Vikings are insisting, “We’re not dead yet.” All I’m asking here is that you put away your shovel until we see what happens against the Dallas Cowboys in two weeks.

I know, I know. They’re about to play a 5-1 team on Halloween. Things could get ugly. But this team has the same record as the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns right now. They were a gimme kick away from beating the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale and beat the Seattle Seahawks for the first time since Brett Favre was under center.

I’m not here to provide false hope. I’m trying to level-set here.

Yes, they have a tough schedule coming out of the bye. No, they didn’t look good against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, or against the Panthers this Sunday. And yeah, it’s the Vikings. Weird things happen to the Vikings.

But let’s have an honest conversation about what an in-season overhaul would look like. Firing Spielman doesn’t do a lot after he’s already been through the draft and the offseason roster overhaul.

Who’s the interim coach if Zimmer takes over? It’s not going to be Klint Kubiak or Adam Zimmer. It’s likely Andre Patterson, the 61-year-old co-defensive coordinator. He’s a wonderful mentor and coach, but he’s not exactly Sean McVay 2.0.

And are they going to trade Cousins before the deadline? There’s probably a couple of desperate teams who could use an upgrade at quarterback, but the Vikings would have to attach an asset in order to move his contract. He’s been good this year, but not Patrick Mahomes good, and he’s owed $45 million next year. Plus, if he’s gone, does that mean Sean Mannion is starting? Kellen Mond? Mannion, 29, has made two career starts. Mond is a project quarterback who hasn’t been on the active roster yet this year.

There may be some value in seeing if Patterson, a football lifer, is head coach material. And, yeah, at some point they need to see what they have in Mond so they have some direction going into next year’s draft. But is that really what you want? Probably not. You want McVay and Mac Jones or Justin Fields, and they’re not walking through the doors at the TCO Performance Center anytime soon.

If you want Eric Bienemy or Joe Brady and a young quarterback to take up residency in Eagan, you’ve gotta wait until next season. Them’s the rules. And because you’re stuck with who the Vikings have in power right now, why not see how things play out this season? Save your contempt for after the season, when real change can happen. Don’t let familiarity with Minnesota’s power brokers fuel a blind rage.

Spielman was hired by the Vikings in 2006, emerged from the “triangle of power” to become the general manager in 2012. He hired Zimmer in 2014, and Cousins was brought in in 2018. Two-thousand-and-eighteen wasn’t that long ago, but anything pre-pandemic feels like it happened 10 years ago, and this team is making everyone age in dog years. Hell, even the principles in this equation are exhausted after a marathon 34-28 win over the Carolina Panthers going into the bye week.

“I’m worn out,” admitted Zimmer.

“I’m spent,” echoed Cousins.

Spielman didn’t offer insight into his energy level, but nobody would blame him if he took a nap in the press box after the final whistle. Everyone in Vikings land needs the bye week.

That triumvirate was in trouble with the fans after the Minnesota Vikings beat themselves in Cincinnati and Greg Joseph missed the 37-yarder in Glendale. Things started to reach a boiling point after they followed up a win over the Seattle Seahawks with an abysmal offensive performance against the Cleveland Browns and then nearly let the Detroit Lions come back and beat them the next week.

That the Panthers mounted a late comeback and took the Vikings to overtime hardly helped put fans at ease.

But take a breath before going Ray Finkle on Spielman, Zimmer, and Cousins. Enjoy the bye week, because we’ll know how good the Vikings are immediately after it. They’re a good team if they can hang with the Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, and Green Bay Packers in their next four games. If not, change is coming.

Maybe they get out of the wheelbarrow and go on their merry way. Perhaps they don’t. But for the love of everything holy, don’t get your shovels out. It’s fall and the Vikings aren’t out of it yet.

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