About 82% of Minnesota Vikings fans, or at least readers of VikingsTerritory, believe the 2022 team is a shoo-in to reach the postseason.
The Vikings have not reached the playoffs since 2019 and have not had a winning record in the regular season for 919 days.
VikingsTerritory posted a poll that has run for a couple of weeks, and an overwhelming number of respondents think the team will win 10 games or more.
Vikings fans are a cynical breed by trade, as the franchise has lost in its last four Super Bowl trips and six consecutive NFC Championship games. Ten straight times the Vikings were a whisker from the apex of the sport — and lost.
This year will evidently be different, though, because the poll results indicate another 7-9 or 8-9 season is unlikely. From 2014 to 2019, the first six seasons of the Mike Zimmer era, the Vikings ranked seventh in the NFL for win percentage (.599). Yet, as Zimmer’s defense effectively died in 2020 and 2021, Minnesota won 45.5% percent of games — or 20th-best in the NFL.
The 7th-to-20th dip is why Minnesota fired Zimmer and his boss, Rick Spielman, in January. While inaniloquent voices in the Vikings social media orbit have blamed the team’s quarterback for a mediocre record, Minnesota’s defense over the last two years simply fizzled.
Particularly, the 2nd-Half defense since 2020 dipped and never recovered.
Therefore, those are the statistics to explain the why for organizational change.
But what about the why for newfound optimism? Well, Minnesota hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell to change the culture in a youthful and numbers-based manner. O’Connell is the second-youngest coach in the NFL and brings an “offense-first” mindset to the organization for the first time since 2010.
After that, Adofo-Mensah re-signed the controversial Kirk Cousins, who played under O’Connell in 2017, while rebuilding the Vikings dying defense on the fly. All told, the new boss signed these free agents:
Jesse Davis, OL (MIA)
Jordan Hicks, LB (ARI)
Nate Hairston, CB (DEN)
Andre Mintze, EDGE (DEN)
Johnny Mundt, TE (LAR)
Harrison Phillips, DT (BUF)
Chris Reed, RG (IND)
Austin Schlottmann, G/C (DEN)
Za’Darius Smith, EDGE (GB)
Chandon Sullivan, CB (GB)
Jullian Taylor, DT (TEN)
Then, in the 2022 NFL Draft, Adofo-Mensah again prioritized defense, using five of the first six selections to bolster new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s personnel.
R1: Lewis Cine, S (Georgia)
R2: Andrew Booth Jr., CB (Clemson)
R2: Ed Ingram, G (LSU)
R3: Brian Asamoah, LB (Oklahoma)
R4: Akayleb Evans, CB (Missouri)
R5: Esezi Otomewo, DE (Minnesota)
R5: Ty Chandler, RB (North Carolina)
R6: Vederian Lowe, OT (Illinois)
R6: Jalen Nailor, WR (Michigan State)
R7: Nick Muse, TE (South Carolina)
And that’s enough new faces — both leadership and on-the-field — for fans to experience rejuvenation. Otherwise, the unscientific poll would be flipped, panning the team’s chances of reaching the playoffs.
You can vote in the poll here.
Oddsmakers believe the Vikings will win eight or nine games in 2022.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).