The Vikings have made it clear – from Head Coach Mike Zimmer and throughout the locker room – that their work is not finished.
Currently riding a seven-game win streak, teammates Kyle Rudolph and Terence Newman at separate times this week reminded media members that all Minnesota's 9-2 record means is that the Vikings are guaranteed to finish no worse than 9-7. In other words? Keep your eyes on the week ahead, and only on the week ahead.
NFL.com's Nick Shook, however, recently broke down the current NFC standings, with Philadelphia (10-1), Minnesota and Los Angeles (8-3) at the top. Shook wrote the following of the Vikings current situation and outlook:
*I believe in these Vikings. I believe because, even with Case Keenum under center (who is excelling, I might add), this team hasn't given me a reason to think otherwise. Minnesota has endured the loss of Dalvin Cook, while making Adam Thielen a top-three receiver in the league in 2017. The Vikings ride their fantastic defense to wins by small and large margin. Their victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11 was as convincing as they come in a game between two contending teams. This is the best Vikings team since Brett Favre was still slinging it in a purple, horned helmet. *
Shook worked his way down the list of teams, placing the squads in various categories. One team stood alone in the "Coming in Hot" designation: the Atlanta Falcons. The Vikings will face off against the Falcons at noon (CT) Sunday, and it's likely to be a tough contest.
Shook opined that the NFC South division could produce both Wild Card teams, one of them being Atlanta.
Well, for the first time since very early this season, Atlanta looks like the team we saw last season. The Falcons finally awoke Julio Jones from his schematic slumber on Sunday in a win over the Buccaneers, with the freak wideout eclipsing 250 yards receiving and notching a couple scores. The trickle-down from there made Atlanta's offense pretty again. Pairing that with a sneaky-good defensive front, the Falcons are trending upward at the perfect time.
Vikings legend and current ESPN analyst Randy Moss sat down at Winter Park with Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen this week for a interview that will appear on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown.
Randy Moss on Thielen, Keenum in 'scary' Vikings passing game
This weekend, ESPN's *Sunday Night Countdown *will air an interview with Adam Thielen by one of Thielen's favorite players and Vikings all-time great, Randy Moss.
Moss, who now works as an analyst with ESPN, visited Winter Park earlier this week to sit down with Thielen. Following the interview, ESPN beat reporter Courtney Cronin spoke to the former receiver to get his take on the Vikings current receiver. Moss spoke a great deal about Thielen but capped off the Q&A with Cronin by emphasizing what impresses him overall with Minnesota's offense.
Moss pointed out "everything that they've had to overcome" this season, from losing Sam Bradford after Week 1 and Dalvin Cook in Week 4 to building a new offensive line during the offseason.
"And then Stefon [Diggs] going down for a short period of time," Moss told Cronin. "And then this man [Thielen] is picking up like – 'Hey man, we did have two, but we don't need two. I can be the man to carry us down the stretch.' He hasn't disappointed yet."
Moss also spoke highly of Keenum's performance and said that his ability to face pressure with confidence and extend plays.
"A lot of quarterbacks see a defensive lineman coming at them, a lot of them throw it and cringe. Where's the accuracy? Keenum — boom! — is taking it right in his mouth," Moss told Cronin. "If those guys were dropping those balls, all of that would hurt. But for the fact that you have guys scoring, making big third-down catches, that doesn't hurt. Y'all keep bringing it. I know this story is about Thielen, but Keenum's doing some good things, too. When you look at the overall production from the passing game, that's scary."
Former QB Rosenfels on Vikings QBs coach Stefanski
Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been with the Vikings for 12 seasons and is in his second round of coaching signal callers.
Stefanski, who now leads the group, started as an assistant with the quarterbacks in 2009. The position room that season was led by Brett Favre, followed by Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty. In a recent article for The Athletic, *Rosenfels weighed in on his former coach and the career journey he's observed. *Rosenfels wrote the following:
Stefanski is a football guy. He knows the value of good quarterbacks, as he has been working directly with them in some capacity for seven NFL seasons. He has also had the opportunity to lead the tight ends and running backs rooms in Minnesota. He has coached Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and Brett Favre. He has worked for four Vikings offensive coordinators: [Darrell] Bevell, Bill Musgrave, Norv Turner and now Pat Shurmur.
Stefanski told Rosenfels during a phone interview that he's gleaned a lot from the coordinators' various coaching styles and that Shurmur is no exception.
"Shurm' really molds his system around his players," Stefanski said. "Right now, we have players who can get open and a quarterback who is getting them the ball. Pat is finding ways to use everyone's strengths."
Rosenfels highlighted the talented quarterbacks Stefanski currently oversees – including experienced passers Bradford, Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater – and said he wouldn't be surprised to see Stefanski one day in a role similar to Shurmur's.
*Stefanski has slowly climbed the coaching ranks the old-fashioned way, which leads me to believe he will be an offensive coordinator or head coach someday. He's smart, organized, pragmatic, creative, confident and the type of guy players would want to play for. *