For the fourth time in Mike Zimmer’s six seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, his team finds itself Even Steven one quarter into the regular season.
What does that tell us?
Everything. And nothing.
A 2-2 mark after four games is a Zimmer trend. They were 2-2 in 2014, 2015, 2017 and this year. In the previous three seasons in which Zimmer’s Vikings started 2-2, Minnesota made the playoffs twice and in 2017, lost in the NFC championship game. So there’s that.
In his first season in 2014, the Vikings’ 2-2 mark after four games ended at 7-9.
In the only season Zimmer’s team won fewer than two games to start the season—last year—they finished 8-7-1 and were knocked out of the playoffs on the last game of the regular season.
In the year Zimmer’s team jetted to a 4-0 record, his club finished 8-8. So there’s that, too.
So what to make of the Vikings 2-2 record?
This: It’s not atypical for Zimmer’s clubs to come out of the chute and be middle-of-the-pack after four games. On the face of their fourth, 2-2 record under Zimmer, one could debate that 2-2 is a sort of reliable predictor that the Vikings will make the playoffs.
However, after witnessing what we saw Sunday against the Bears, and given their 0-2 division record, I could not soberly (or drunkenly) argue that the Vikings will prove to be a playoff team down the stretch of their last dozen games.
- The Vikings started 2-2 twice in the previous 15 years before Zimmer: Denny Green’s 1999 Vikings finished 10-6 and made the playoffs. Mike Tice’s 2006 team finished 6-10.
- Those of us who remember the 1985 Bears defense recall that unit dominating offenses. I can’t remember an offense being so thoroughly whipped as the Vikings were on Sunday in their 16-6 loss at Chicago. The Purple were overrun and outmuscled on nearly every play.
- With reports that Stefon Diggs had been unhappy with the number of times he’s been targeted by Kirk Cousins this season, one wonders if that prompted Cousins to throw a bad ball up to Diggs on a 1st-and-goal from the Green Bay 8 with the Vikings poised to take the lead in Week 2. It’s a question.
- Why does Cousins always extend the ball away from his body when the pocket collapses and he begins to leave the pocket? His first response should be to hold the ball close to his body. He fumbled twice against the Bears—fumbles Nos. 6 and 7 this year—further cementing his reputation as a turnover machine. His mark against teams with winning records now stands at 5-27. I won’t ask if you’re still happy Rick Spielman signed him.
- Looking Ahead: Assuming a 9-7 record will get the Vikings in the playoffs, they need to win all of their home games. Those home opponents are Philadelphia, Washington, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay and Chicago. Given the physical and coaching mismatches in the Bears’ favor, I cannot see the Vikings beating the Bears this season. If they finish 7-1 at home, the Vikings need to win two road games to finish 9-7 and contend for a playoff berth. The Vikings remaining road opponents are the Giants, Detroit, Kansas City, Dallas, Seattle and the Chargers.
Success on Sunday is critical.
Roger Dier is a Wisconsin-based contributor to PurplePTSD.com