After losing Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson to injury, the Minnesota Vikings were left for dead in 2016. Then, to the shock of pretty much everyone, they started 5-0. It was perhaps the best story in the NFL. A team defying the odds and refusing to lose.
Well, that story has ended. Hard.
The Vikings (6-5) have lost five or six, they have statistically the worst offense in the NFL, and their once-bright playoff hopes are dwindling by the week. Yes, for a franchise with just one playoff win over the last decade, the would-be dream season has turned into a nightmare.
Are fans bitterly angry, or do they understand that injuries have finally taken their toll?
Mike Morris believes it’s the latter.
“They’re just so disappointed,” the former Viking and current Minnesota broadcaster said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “ It’s kind of the ‘Why us?’ thing, again, here in Minnesota. Everyone else seems to have that season from time to time where everything seems to go and click and they turn the corner and now look at them go – a team on the run to the Super Bowl. We started off the season that way.”
Indeed, the Vikings opened the season with five straight wins, including three against teams currently .500 or better (Titans, Giants and Texans). The other two wins, by the way, came against teams quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton.
“Even though we didn’t have Peterson or Bridgewater, it seems like we had a pretty nice thing going on,” Morris said. “Whether it was the offensive line having a little bit of trouble, it seemed like it was still the right offense to pull what used to be a really predictable offense with Adrian Peterson – eight in the box, nine in the box – and make them win with passing. Well, Adrian goes down and we’re mixing and matching with (Jerick) McKinnon and (Matt) Asiata, and then throwing the ball wherever we want to because Bradford is pretty dog-gone brilliant. And we have (Stefon) Diggs, we have some other people and Kyle Rudolph has emerged as a really good player. But it fell apart. It just fell apart.”
Diggs, 23, posted back-to-back 13-catch games in November losses to the Lions and Redskins. But then he hurt his knee, leaving Minnesota without its top receiver. Add that to the other injuries – not to mention Norv Turner’s resignation – and it’s no surprise why Minnesota ranks last in the league in total yards.
“We have an offensive coordinator that was ether released or resigned or asked to resign, and it just threw a kink into everything,” Morris said of Turner. “And here we go with injuries. Minnesota fans are like, ‘When do we get to have that one season where it’s magic and we turn things around?’”
A win over Dallas (10-1) would be a good place to start. The game, which is essentially must-win for Minnesota, kicks off Thursday at 8:25 p.m. ET.