The Vikings have had success in odd-numbered years in recent seasons, as evident by a 24-8 combined record and NFC North titles in 2015 and 2017 under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
The even years have been around .500, as Minnesota is 23-24-1 over three seasons.
Andy Benoit of the The Monday Morning Quarterback believes the Vikings are **ready to return to the form** of the 2017 season, when Minnesota went 13-3, won the division crown and was a win away from the Super Bowl.
The defensive personnel is still in its prime, while the offensive personnel (mostly) fits the zone-based system. This looks more like the Vikings club that reached the NFC Championship in 2017 than the one that missed the playoffs in 2018.
Benoit dove into his opinion by breaking down both sides of the ball. He started with the Vikings offense and said the hire of Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski, along with a handful of new offensive coaches, should held Minnesota thrive with the ball in their hands.
Its new Gary Kubiak-style outside zone system fits Kirk Cousins, who ran the scheme in Washington. Mobile rookie center Garrett Bradbury lives up to his first-round billing; unjustly maligned third-year pro Pat Elflein transitions well from center to left guard; ex-Titan Josh Kline brings adequacy to the right guard spot that so often ruined this team in 2018. Kubiak, hired in January as a senior offensive assistant, helps teach the details of the scheme, which expands when new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski injects more creative route combinations, particularly out of bunch and stack receiver alignments. This creates clearer reads that play to Cousins' gutsy anticipation throwing.
View photos of the Vikings during training camp practice at TCO Performance Center.
And while Benoit believes the run game should flourish in 2019, he also pegged wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to combine for more than 2,500 receiving yards.
Both are true No. 1 receivers. Thielen is an athletic master technician. Diggs is an explosive change-of-direction mover. Minnesota's lack of receiving depth entices defenses to double both wideouts, but Stefanski complicates this by often aligning his two stars on the same side, opposite tight ends Kyle Rudolph and second-round rookie Irv Smith, Jr.
As for Zimmer's defense, Benoit opined that a starting unit full of veterans who play fast and aggressive should keep Minnesota in the top tier of defenses across the league.
The Vikings have finished in the top 10 in points allowed per game in each of the past four seasons.
Built on an aggressive split-safety matchup zone coverage known as "quarters," Minnesota continues to aggressively challenge receivers and tight ends. Cornerbacks press, safeties play low. A stingy run defense, led by nose tackle Linval Joseph, makes for more third-and-long situations, where Zimmer selectively but efficiently employs his patented overloaded pressure looks and disguised blitzes. All-World safety Harrison Smith, with his shrewd pre-snap movements and post-snap instincts, remains the D's biggest key.
Verizon Vikings Training Camp is already underway at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, as rookies, quarterbacks and select veterans reported Monday. All other veterans will report today and practice for the first time on Friday. Click **here** to claim free general admission tickets or purchase reserved seats.
Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, Kyle Rudolph and Anthony Harris participated in a celebrity softball game at CHS Field. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited The Thielen Foundation.
Thielen Foundation partners with Valleyfair
Those looking for some thrilling summer fun can also give back to the community.
Valleyfair, the amusement park is Shakopee, is partnering with the Thielen Foundation, which was founded by Thielen and his family, for the Valleyfair Cares initiative.
For each ticket purchased during Valleyfair Cares, which runs until July 28, Valleyfair will donate $1 to the Thielen Foundation.
Thielen's foundation focuses on making an impact on the youth around the state of Minnesota.
"We're excited about the direction that it's going. When you first start it, you know the direction you want to accomplish and what you want to do, but you're not really sure how to do that," Thielen said earlier this offseason. "As time goes on, you get a clearer picture of the direction you want to go, and I think we're finally getting to that point that we feel like we're making an impact in certain areas. We want to continue to have that."