EAGAN, Minn. – In a typical season, it's likely that players and coaches would lament a bye on the schedule's front end.
But this isn't a typical season.
The Vikings have fought and forged their way back to .500 after starting the campaign 1-3. With the exception of Week 3 against Seattle, all other games have been decided by a single score – including three games that have ended with a margin of three or fewer points.
Not to mention, Minnesota has won its past two games in walk-off fashion after losing grips on double-digit leads in consecutive weeks.
So while there's certainly a benefit to late-season bye weeks, the Vikings will appreciate this weekend's break.
"I know the first six games, I guess the best way to put it is 'exciting,' " Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday. "A lot of the positives coming out of the first six games, we've won three of the last four games, we're 3-1 in the (NFC), which is huge – especially as we get going in this playoff race – and 1-0 in the division.
"The bye week comes at a really good time for us. It'll give us an opportunity to get some guys healthy," Spielman added.
The Vikings put Patrick Peterson on Injured Reserve Monday due to a hamstring injury, but Spielman did note the team expects to "hopefully" have him back by the Packers game on Nov. 21.
Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, one of Minnesota's free agency additions, has stayed healthy throughout the first third of the season but echoed gratitude for the brief break.
"Always blessed to have the bye week, whether it's earlier or later. It's always good to get some time away just to recover and get your body right," Tomlinson explained. "You might be banged up or sore or something like that. I feel like it came at a pretty good time because everybody can get their legs and everything back after going from training camp into the season. I think it came at a pretty good time."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer concurred.
He noted that players and coaches alike have been nose-to-the-grindstone since late July when the team convened for Vikings Training Camp.
"We don't get to pick the byes, but we obviously have a tough stretch coming up," Zimmer said. "But, knock on wood, we've been fairly healthy. We should get [Michael] Pierce back here pretty quick. We lost Peterson but finally got [Anthony] Barr back, so we're hanging in there injury-wise, and I think that helps. So, we'll get these guys a little time to heal up and get back going."
Numerous players are thankful for the opportunity to recover, whether from specific injuries or day-to-day wear and tear. The bye is admittedly a bit of a bummer, though, to left tackle Christian Darrisaw.
The rookie missed the Vikings first four games, rotated in with Rashod Hill against the Lions Week 5 and made his first career start at Carolina.
"I definitely wish I could just keep it rolling for another game," Darrisaw said with a smile. "But we have a huge challenge in the Dallas Cowboys coming up, so I'll definitely be ready for that one in two weeks.
"If we had [a game] Sunday we'd be ready to go, for sure. I feel like we're rolling right now," he added. "But as a team, of course you need a bye week at some point in the season. Mentally, it's like a refresh."
Zimmer and his coaching staff also will embrace the chance to not only recharge but also to do some self-scouting before diving into the final 11 games of the 2021 season.
Spielman said coaches are looking at "things we're doing well and the things we definitely need to improve on and get better in certain areas."
"We're evaluating our personnel, as well, this week," Spielman said. "We have four critical games coming up out of the bye, starting next week at U.S. Bank Stadium. I can't imagine the energy and excitement to play the Dallas Cowboys to start this four-game stretch against some very good opponents [on Halloween] night in front of our home crowd. So really looking forward to that.
"I know everybody, coaches and players, are taking a couple days off here at the end of the week to try to get recovered and get ready to roll for the rest of the season," Spielman added.