5 Things to be Thankful for As a Vikings Fan

Nov 14, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) flexes to the crowd after hanging on to a complete pass for a first down in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Thanksgiving – at least the American version – is here. As a result, I’m offering a list of 5 reasons why Vikings fans can feel thankful. We can be a cynical bunch, so this holiday hopefully allows for a touch more optimism. The team is, after all, 5-5 and in control of its own playoff destiny. Let optimism reign (at least for a day or two).

1) Justin Jefferson is Elite

22 years old. Somehow, nearly forgotten for multiple weeks following the bye. Still on pace for remarkable numbers. If the current pace continues, Jefferson will finish the year with 107 catches, 1605 yards, and 10 TDs. Not bad at all.

He is currently making a modest $3 million, providing the Vikes with one of the biggest bargains in the NFL. If he continues playing like he has been, he’ll one day be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.

2) The Klint/Kirk Marriage is Growing Stronger

Look, at some point you gotta give credit where it’s due.

I’ve been as critical as the next guy or gal when it comes to Klint Kubiak’s game plans. The young OC still has room to go. Nevertheless, I’m thankful that he has been getting the most out of the Vikings offense lately. A large part of that equation has been increased bootlegs and play action for Captain Kirk. There has also been more of an effort to feature Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

The offense has returned to common sense football by leaning into their strengths. The hope is that this trend will continue.

3) Greg Joseph Has a Steady Boot

Recently, I wrote about how Greg Joseph has quietly been having a strong season. Vikings fans ought to be thankful for this reality.

Look, I’ll admit the XPs have been a little lackluster. I always feel like the team loses a little momentum when a kicker doesn’t snag the single; it drives me crazy as I look at the 6 on the scoreboard rather than a full 7. Alas, we must set aside these relatively minor quibbles.

Mr. Joseph is 21/25 on FGs. He hasn’t missed a FG since the bye. He is 6/7 from 50+. In short, I’m thankful.

4) The Rookies Are Showing Promise

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth earlier in the year when it came to the lack of contribution from the rookies. That discouraging trend has since been overturned.

Though he obviously still has room to improve, Christian Darrisaw is showing promise. Kene Nwangwu is a legit weapon on special teams. Cam Bynum did a great job filling in for Harrison Smith (the best safety in the game). Patrick Jones II has looked strong in run defense.

Has every pick looked like a slam dunk so far? By no means, but that rarely ever happens. K.J. Osborn looked like a total bust in his rookie season. He now looks like a tremendous WR3 who could one day be a WR2. Have patience and enjoy the solid contributions from the rookies who are playing.

5) Zim Is Very Stubborn

In life, people’s greatest strengths are often their greatest weaknesses. That’s as true for an NFL head coach as it is for the average John or Jane Doe.

Zim sometimes struggles to secure a Vikings victory because he’s so stubbornly committed to a vision for his team. A fantastic run game and elite defense won’t work if, well, the run game isn’t fantastic and the defense isn’t elite. Nevertheless, what can work is a stubborn commitment to continuing to work and grind out victories.

Vikings fans far and wide have been thankful for how Zim has adjusted to being more aggressive on offense. Let us not forget, though, that the adjustment flows from the same attributes that allowed him to get this far: hard work, toughness, resilience. All these words describe Mike Zimmer; all these words describe how the Vikes have played these past two weeks.

I, for one, will be thankful if the Vikings continue following their stubborn head coach, making an unlikely push toward the playoffs.