4 Downs to 0-2: Better--But Worse

1st Down: In 2022, the Minnesota Vikings had a charmed season. Despite an atrocious defense and an offensive line that got Cousins pummeled on a weekly basis, every bounce went their way and every comeback came up roses to the tune of a 13-4 record. But everyone also kinda-sorta knew that the team wasn't all that great--and it was exposed in the playoffs. This year, the exact opposite is transpiring. Seemingly every Cousins sack sees the ball squirt away, the exceedingly rare "fumble into the end zone for a touchback" has already occurred, and the comeback efforts have been for naught. The strange thing is, I honestly think this looks like a potentially better team than last year. When not putting the ball on the ground or when giving Cousins any sort of time, they look like a solid offense, and defensively it is a night-and-day difference. What still remains the biggest problem: I don't care if prime Randy Moss and Cris Carter are lining up with Justin Jefferson--a team cannot continue to turn the ball over at this rate and win football games. I know that turnovers--especially fumbles--are often due to random chance and thus bad luck may have a lot to do with things at the moment, but the simple fact remains: losing the turnover margin every game WILL result in a lost season.

2nd Down: Say what you want about the defense allowing 259 rushing yards, but it was the turnover-prone offense that precipitated such an approach. Brian Flores' unit had Hurts & Co. so stymied that Philly fans were booing at the end of the first quarter. That is exactly what Minnesota brought him in to do. In just two games, he has completely transformed the look and feel of the defense. Not even to say that they'll be world-beaters, but they do not look to be the sieve they were in '22. The only reason the Eagles went so rush-heavy was because MN's inability to put points on the board allowed it to happen.

3rd Down: Offensively, this honestly might be the best set of receiving weapons this franchise has had since 3 Deep in 1998. Jefferson is unreal, Jordan Addison has jumped right into the fray and will soon eclipse the inconsistent K.J. Osborn, while T.J. Hockenson is dangerous from any part of the field. A legitimate smorgasbord of options for Cousins. But if: A. the o-line continues to be a rotation of bodies; and/or B. the rushing totals never crack triple digits (or even half that, thus far), none of that firepower will matter. Sad, because of all the potential that resides in Kevin O'Connell's play chart.

4th Down: I know that 0-2 starts are panic-inducing and the stats on playoff odds do not favor such an opening salvo--but I'm not giving up on this team yet. Even with the o-line woes and running stalemate, I truly believe the Vikings would have beaten both Tampa Bay and Philadelphia by turning the ball over even 1 or 2 less times each contest. Because of the defensive turnaround, I see great things for this unit and am not willing to pull the plug quite yet. I think they can--and will--get in the win column back at the Bank after a mini-bye next Sunday versus the Chargers. I wish that contest didn't already carry a "must win" tag, but here we are and that's what it will take to claw back into the NFC North conversation.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.