Forum Friday: “Hello, Mediocrity” and Other Vikings Meanderings

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Over at Purple Pain Forums, there is a group of passionate Vikings fans who regularly participate in lively debates and conversations about the Minnesota Vikings. The “Forum Friday” piece on PurplePTSD captures a small portion of that passion.

Recently, the post titled “Hello Mediocrity, My Old Friend” got some attention. It’s a title that alludes to the classic Simon & Garfunkel song as a way of responding to Minnesota’s uninspiring effort against the Buccaneers in Week 1. No one — from the coaches all the way down to the fans — is satisfied with how things started. Just how bad was the performance, though? More importantly, what things should Minnesota be doing to avoid experiencing a similar fate?

Forum Friday: September 15th, 2023

Much of the argument gets built around EPA, a fancy stat that refers to Expected Points Added. Plenty of effort gets rolled into an assessment of how Kirk Cousins, Jordan Addison, Justin Jefferson, and other similarly notable Vikings players performed in this metric.

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) celebrates his first career touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Somewhat unsurprisingly, targeting Jefferson and Addison is a good strategy: “This will be an interesting stat to track throughout the season. It is not typically a stat attributed to a specific player, but it is fairly telling, in my opinion. Considering every play Addison or Jefferson was thrown the ball, the Vikings probability of winning the game went up 1.6%, I want to see how this continues.”

Toward the end, there’s a prophecy about how things could unfold should the Week 1 trends persist:

I don’t want to make a lot of conclusions from 1 game, especially when the Vikings easily outgained and overall outperformed the Bucs. You take away even just that INT at the goal line, this is a Vikings win and we feel a lot different today. That being said, this team needs to put lesser teams away. They cannot let teams keep it close. Considering all the offensive weapons at its disposal, this team should be putting up 24 points or more every single week.

Minnesota is a better team than Tampa. However, Minnesota was also the team that decided to commit gaffe after gaffe, thereby ruining their chance of climbing to 1-0 to begin their season.

Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The post continues:

When you only score 17 total points (against a team that gave up 21/game in 2022), and only 7 in the 2nd half, you cannot expect to win many games in the NFL in 2023. Especially if you are going to turn the ball over 3 times and have stupid untimely penalties. There are some easy things for this team to clean up, and they can turn this around and be competing for the division title with Detroit and Green Bay (sorry Bears, not you). However, if the offense continues to have these long stretches of ineptitude, they are in for a very long season and staring at a sub .500 record.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) catches a pass against Chicago Bears safety Elijah Hicks (37) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Hard to disagree: the Bears aren’t going anywhere quick, especially since they fully earned last year’s last-place finish. For the Vikings to get into the divisional race, a lot will need to change.

Unfortunately, the author at Purple Pain Forums didn’t anticipate a victory on Thursday Night Football: “This game could be bad and bad early. I don’t anticipate it will be as bad as last year in Philly, but I still do not think they win this game. The Philly defense is still pretty dang good, and they have just the right players to attack the Vikings weaknesses. A very aggressive DLine that will punish Ed Ingram and whoever plays at center is likely to spell doom. The best way for this team to pull off the upset is to run tempo and have Kirk get the ball out quick. Target Addison and TJ all day while they are worried about stopping JJ. Force them to rethink the plan of heavy pressure on Kirk and drop people into coverage to try and control JJ, Addison and TJ. When that happens, they can let those 3 do what they do and find the openings.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni meets with Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell after the game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The prophecy ended up being fulfilled as the Eagles pushed the Vikings down to 0-2.

Readers interested in reading more of the analysis can do so at Purple Pain Forums. The misguided souls who still have an affinity for social media can even find them on Twitter.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.