The Minnesota Vikings are off to a 4-1 start. However, they could also very easily be 1-4. Last season at this time, they started 2-3 and easily could have been 4-1. Perhaps even 5-0.
So far, Minnesota has been winning games the way they were losing some last season. Last season their first three losses were by seven points or less. Overall eight of their nine losses were by eight points or less. This year three of their four wins have been by seven points or less.
In week one last season, Dalvin Cook fumbled in overtime, and they eventually lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. The very next week, they lost to the Arizona Cardinals when Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal as time expired.
Two weeks ago, Minnesota beat the New Orleans Saints 25-22. Will Lutz missed a 61-yard field goal. It was a double doink. New Orleans was also missing Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas.
Sometimes you have to be lucky to win in this league. The Vikings have been receiving some luck, but also have been making plays when it has mattered most and have been better coached overall. Mike Zimmer did a good job overall in his eight seasons with the organization, but it was time to move on, and first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell has been doing an outstanding job so far.
Sometimes even a slight change can make a difference in how a team plays. Changing offensive line coaches or your starting left tackle can make a huge difference sometimes. The Vikings made many changes this offseason — front office, coaching, and new players. So far, those decisions have helped them move in the right direction.
This Sunday, the Vikings face the Miami Dolphins on the road. They will be facing third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson. It will be a disappointment if they do not win this game to improve to 5-1.
Kirk Cousins, throughout his career, has never been known for being very clutch. Since the start of last season, he has been more so than usual. This year he has received some more help, though — some of it being extra luck with his team. Before this season, he had never been on a team that started 4-1.
Since Minnesota won the North in 2009 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game, they have won the division only twice and have won only two playoff games. This team is not looking like a Super Bowl contender at the moment and is not expected to be one, but maybe they could still end up making it further than many expected.
Winning the division or a playoff game under a first-year head coach is definitely something that would be a step in the right direction. Will either happen, or maybe both? Still too early to say, but once again, this new regime is off to a nice start.
Some felt and expected that this team would blow it up and rebuild, given they missed the playoffs last season for the second straight season and then hired a new head coach and general manager. The organization, however, decided to bank on the new regime to turn things around with mostly the same players and some new faces. So far, that decision is looking good. It will be fascinating to see not only how the rest of this season goes but also the next 2-3 years.
So far, fans are loving the new regime and certainly have more hope right now than they did last season.