Last December, we shared some hard truths about the state of the Vikings in recent years. The franchise exudes a sense that being “just good enough” is more than good enough to stave off major changes that may be critical to lifting the team out of a perpetual purple purgatory, where it can’t win a Super Bowl but also won’t sink so far to justifying pressing the reset button.
After last night’s ugly loss to a team without its starting quarterback, ownership needs to start considering the reset button.
Currently, it’s not working. Offensively or defensively. Special-teams are no great shakes either; a missed 37-yard field goal prevented a win over the Cardinals, and an inexplicably short 49-yard field goal opened the door for a fourth-quarter, double-digit comeback by the lowly Lions.
The current Vikings are operating like the pre-Favre Brad Childress teams. Keep it close and hope for a late break. That’s a recipe for .500 or something close to it. It’s a recipe for getting to the playoffs every other year. It’s a recipe for keeping the fan base engaged by the possibility that the team eventually will deliver a Super Bowl win without ever taking the aggressive and necessary steps toward doing so.
It’s Big Shield’s version of the Big Lie. All teams spout off the notion that the goal is to win the Super Bowl, this year and every year. But they all know that it’s not a realistic goal. The real Super Bowl victory comes on the balance sheet, where they get brand-new Lombardi Trophies each and every year, even in the pandemic.
That’s part of the grift, frankly. Plenty of teams don’t make winning a Super Bowl a priority. Instead, they simply act like they’re trying to win a Super Bowl because fans wouldn’t buy tickets or watch the games or funnel various forms of money and attention to the team if they knew the football gods’-honest truth.
And here it is. Just good enough is more than good enough to make many millions in profit, year after year.
In Minnesota, just good enough may no longer be good enough. Especially since last night’s effort was not nearly good enough. The offense had no rhythm or urgency. The defense seemed woefully unprepared to deal with Cooper Freaking Rush. And coach Mike Zimmer may have begun the process of signing his own pink slip with a Fahu Tahi-stye f–kup by calling two straight timeouts, triggering a penalty that shrank third and 16 to third and 11, and then watching his defense be out-efforted by Ezekiel Elliott for the third-down conversion that set up the game-winning touchdown.
Zimmer, to his credit, took the blame for taking back-to-back timeouts. Then again, it’s not like it was anyone else’s fault. Zimmer became so caught up in his role as de facto defensive coordinator that he lost sight of his head-coaching responsibilities. And if a head coach who tries to wear both hats can’t do it, he shouldn’t try.
“I screwed up,” Zimmer said, because what else was he going to say in that moment? The last thing he could have done was repeat his preseason bravado about being “still ahead of the curve” and about landing on his feet as the head coach of another NFL team if the Vikings don’t want him. Seven games in, the best-case scenario is 9-8 or 10-7 and a one-and-done playoff appearance or something like 7-10 or 8-9 and no postseason for the second straight year.
Either way, it’s time for ownership to say “enough” when it comes to the team’s perpetual “just good enough” vibe.