Even without Adrian Peterson, the centerpiece of the Vikings offense, the Vikings could be 4-4 at this point of the season and looking to build a more dominating defense that can carry the team into the future.
Second-guessing is part and parcel with fans and media. Players and coaches don’t have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight or forecasting the future. They’re like a combat unit. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. The present is a gift.
Should the Vikings be 4-4 right now? An unequivocal yes. Are they? Check the standings.
At 3-5, the Vikings are clinging to hope. They are not a Maserati. They are a Volkswagen van with the muffler being held up with a coat hanger. But, the Vikings of recent vintage would have folded like a card table when Tampa Bay scored the go-ahead touchdown. This Vikings team didn’t.
Had the Bucs won the game, there was the potential that the Vikings would start finger-pointing. It happens with competitors. For three quarters, the Vikings defense was oppressive. For 2½ quarters, the Vikings offense tripped over its own it feet before making critical plays from that point forward – to either score or win the field position battle in a low-scoring game.
As players are wont to say when they don’t want to give an honest answer, at the midway point of the season, 2014 “is what it is.” Should they be 4-4 and telling the rest of the division, let’s get it on! Yes? Are they? No.
Four the next five Vikings games will be at home. The only road game is at Chicago, where the Bears have found that, in 2014 anyway, there’s anyplace but home. Only three teams haven’t won at home – Oakland, which hasn’t won anywhere, Tampa Bay and Chicago.
When the season began back in early September, the plan was that the Vikings defense would be improved and the offense would ride the wide shoulders of A.P. Over the last three weeks, the Vikings haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points. The defense is doing its job, despite late-game gas-outs. The Teddy Bridgewater-based offense took a big step forward Sunday in panic-mode football – driving for a much-needed field goal in crunch time in both halves of Sunday’s game. For most of October, there was nothing but misery for the Vikings. The final game of month turned the page. TCF Bank Stadium will be abuzz for most of November and early December. Therein lies the 2014 season for the Vikings.
The fuse got lit on Sunday. What the team does from here will define the 2014 season. It still holds its future in its own hands. The worst of the 2014 schedule is behind them. If Mike Zimmer is going to light a fire under this team, the spark has already been supplied.