Football season is over in Minnesota, as the Vikings went 8-7-1 in 2018 and did not qualify for the postseason.
As the page has now turned to 2019, the Vikings front office and coaching staff will soon look ahead to the offseason and moves that can be made to help bolster a roster that was inconsistent over the past few months.
Yet from a big-picture perspective, experts with the NFL Network are still high on the Vikings long-term chances. Daniel Jeremiah, Mike Silver and Jim Trotter were part of a roundtable discussion and said they were bullish on Minnesota’s odds to rebound in 2019.
“I’m not giving up on the Vikings long-term,” Jeremiah said. “It did not work out this year, and I can make the case they need to get much better on the offensive line … that’s the No. 1 area they have to address with this football team.
“Kirk [Cousins] didn’t play great … you can’t argue he played up to the contract he was given,” Jeremiah added. “But it was a three-year contract and not a one-year contract, and this team has to figure some things out going into the offseason.”
Silver agreed with Jeremiah, saying that he has belief in Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
“I promise you, however upset a Vikings fan is … Mike Zimmer is 5,000 times more upset. He’s very hard on himself, and he cares a lot. He did an exceptional coaching job in 2017 … I’m not giving up on the Vikings long-term either.”
As Jeremiah mentioned above, the Vikings could choose to focus on the offensive line this offseason. Minnesota’s offense allowed 40 sacks in 2018.
Trotter said changes to the run-game scheme could be on the horizon.
“The critical hire for Zimmer is going to be that offensive line coach,” Trotter said. “In my opinion, he’s got to get someone who can install a capable running game, and then have a creative coordinator who can work the passing game.”
Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko were co-offensive line coaches in 2018 after the sudden and tragic passing of Tony Sparano just days before training camp opened in July.
The full roundtable video can be found here.
Cronin: Vikings had ‘average’ season in 2018
During the Vikings 2018 season, the team was never more than two games above .500 and was also just a game under. 500 just once.
It was a roller-coaster season as the Vikings scratched and clawed to try and make the playoffs but couldn’t get it done.
ESPN Vikings beat writer Courtney Cronin labeled the season as “average” and said Minnesota was unable to get a signature win in 2018.
The Super Bowl-or-bust expectation was set the moment quarterback Kirk Cousins signed his three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings in free agency. A commitment of that magnitude put pressure on a team coming off a deep postseason run in 2017 with one of the most talented rosters in the NFC. The Vikings believed with their stout defense, an upgrade at quarterback would help propel them into uncharted territory. While Minnesota finished above .500, there was no marquee victory. The Vikings struggled against superior opponents and weren’t able to pull everything together until late in the season.
The Vikings were 5-3-1 entering a Week 10 bye, and were 8-6-1 entering a Week 17 regular-season finale at home. Minnesota could have made the playoffs with a win this past Sunday against the Bears, but the Vikings lost 24-10.