I see a few jumping off the bandwagon or piling on to criticize. No one wants to be 0-2 so it is somewhat understandable. And there is room for improvement.
But this is not the disaster some make it out to be or due to incompetence. There is actually a lot more good than bad.
I think it is important to put it in perspective. After Week 2 of last year, we were 1-1. Now we are 0-2. We are down one game versus last year. Week 2 of last year we were blown out and humiliated in Philadelphia. After Week 2 of this year we lost a close game in Philadelphia and only lost due to unusual events.
People criticized the Vikings for winning close games last year and now criticize them for losing close games this year. Sheesh! You just can't make some people happy!
We are one game worse than last year and no one expected us to repeat last year's record even if we improved. Which... we have!
Our offense is better than last year. Our defense is better than last year. Our special teams is better than last year.
We went into Philly, a tough place to play, on a short week, and faced likely the 2nd best team in the NFL. And we held our own and only lost due to ourselves, not the competition. Yes, winning is the goal and we wished we had. But we have nothing to be ashamed over.
It is a long season with 15 more games. Hopefully more than that.
Our run D looked terrible. Guess what? I'm not surprised. We have no run D difference makers on the D-line and our middle linebackers are built to defend the pass game more than the run. We have a pedestrian at best D-line and faced arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Our run D faced up against their strength. The results were predictable.
Yes, it's true, we have a weakness. More than one! True of all teams.
We had 4 unusual fumbles. We lost them all. The Eagles had one fumble and did not lose it. What are the odds?
Mattison is not a fumbler, but fumbled.
Cousins on the sack fumble had no chance. Well, there you go, back up tackle at LT.
Powell is an experienced reliable punt returner, but fumbled away.
JJ lost the fumble at the inch line. Minus 7 points for us, then +3 points for them as well. Just a terribly freakish thing.
I know a lot of games have a single play that you can say, "If I could change the results of that one play...." Yes, but this game had about 7 or 8 of those plays against the Vikings.
Here is another way of looking at our situation: Let's assume that the Packers and Lions win this weekend making them each 2-0. Okay, we are two games back! But, guess what? They each need to play us twice. If we beat them, then we have the tie breaker. So, incredibly, if they are both 2-0 and we are 0-2, then we still control our destiny!
Two things I looked for and hoped for this year:
1. Improved defense. It had to be. We were 6th or 7th after Game 1 but I knew that was too good to be true. I think now, before the other games played in Week 2, we are 22nd in defense. From 31st to 22nd was about the amount of improvement I hoped for and expected. Hunter looks fantastic! Keep him as a Viking, whatever the cost!
I will say it is now starkly obvious what we should have done in the draft last year. Yes, toot my own horn, the very thing I wanted us to do. We should have stayed put in Round 1 and selected Jordan Davis. We'd have a much better run D. Kwesi likes to claim the trade back netted Cine and Booth. Somewhat deceptive as the trade back did not give us two 2nd round picks. But, okay, fine, Kwesi. However, the two of them together have done virtually nothing. I still have faith in Cine for one day but he is currently, kid you not, our 5th safety! It's true. Smith and Bynum start. Metellus basically starts. Who came off the bench versus Philly and made some great plays and one bad one? Theo Jackson. Cine is 5th. Assuming he is ahead of Ward.
Can you imagine how much better we'd be if we had gigantic super fast super strong Jordan Davis in the middle of our D-line?
Whatever. That trade back was a mistake. Mistakes happen. Hindsight is 20/20.
At least it looks like we got the correct Jordan this year.
On offense, I looked to see if the O'Connell mastermind could actually help Cousins succeed and help make our offense better. Because last year under O'Connell Cousins and the O were worse than the year before. Yes, worse than under Zimmer. Just a fact. Though I will say last year's Dalvin Cook and last year's Adam Thielen were shells of their 2021 selves.
Our offense is better. It is electric. Even missing 2/5ths of our offensive line, including our top OL, and then a top backup, and facing one of the NFL's best DL on a short week at an away game, we only allowed 2 sacks. Cousins was mint perfect. Over 8 yards a pass, no interceptions, 4 touchdowns. Amazing.
O'Connell is also utilizing JJ just right. Incredibly, JJ is well ahead of last year's stupendous pace. Last year after two games he had 15 catches for 232 yards. This year he has 20 for 309. He did that last year on 23 targets. This year he's been targeted 25 times. 2 more targets for 5 more catches and 77 more yards. Wow!
Last year, after two games, Kirk Cousins had 498 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INT.
This year, after two games, Kirk Cousins has 708 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT. After 2 games he is already +210 yards, + 3 TDs, - 2 INTs!
So, we see our QB and our top overall player both further blossoming in Year 2 under O'Connell. He is helping them succeed and putting them in a position to succeed. O'Connell and the rest of the staff. Behind a damaged offensive line as well.
Hockenson is worth every penny and that trade was a total win for the Vikings.
Take heart and stay confident. All will be well.