What a difference a week can make.
Last Wednesday, the tone of the Vikings locker room was one of simmering anger. It was palpable.
This week, there isn’t a swagger in the locker room, but there is a significantly more positive outlook. One of those who is feeling much better about the atmosphere in the workplace is center Joe Berger.
In the opener, the Vikings offensive line was overrun by San Francisco, an uncharacteristic domination from what the Vikings had shown during the preseason. Against the Lions, the Vikings seemed to find themselves and a line that set the tone, learning from their early mistakes and poor play.
“We got our nose bloodied a little bit and we had a chance to sit back and think about what we want to be as an O-line,” center Joe Berger. “It wasn’t perfect last week, but we played better. That’s what we wanted.”
The turnaround was pretty shocking as the line went from being unable to protect Teddy Bridgewater and open holes for Adrian Peterson to standing up strong and allowing both Bridgewater and Peterson to have their way with the Lions.
Sometimes it’s something as simple as getting back to the basics that can make all the difference.
“We played better, but, as for the reason, I don’t really know,” Berger said. “Maybe it was a renewed focus. We wanted to play better as a group.”
Although the line showed dramatic improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, the Vikings aren’t proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” just yet. Their improvement was significant, but it wasn’t enough to get cocky or overconfident.
The line remains a work in progress with new players at new positions and the goal now is to continue doing what they did in last week’s preparation period and not get too confident that they suddenly got everything figured out.
“You have to be careful with a win just like you do with a loss of thinking about it too long,” Berger said. “You can get yourself in the same trouble with a win as you do with a loss. We’re trying to come in today just like we did last Wednesday – hungry and ready to go.”
The difference between the offensive line that struggled mightily against the 49ers to the one that overpowered the Lions was pronounced. The Vikings weren’t as bad as they looked against San Francisco. Then again, they may not consistently be as good as they appeared against Detroit. Somewhere in between lays the fate of the 2015 Vikings. Consistency will go a long way to determining the level of success the team will have this season.
Berger believes the real Vikings showed themselves last week and the goal is to maintain that confidence moving forward and being the group the sets the tone with physicality and outmuscling their opponent.
The line is far from a finished product, but, as long as they keep minimizing their mistakes and winning each individual battle, the group as whole will be benefit and wins will follow.
“You always want to keep moving forward and getting into a flow and a rhythm. That helps,” Berger said. “There are still mistakes that need to be corrected, but learning off a win is way better than learning off a loss.”