The Minnesota Vikings are currently 4-1 and sitting atop the NFC North standings.
But with their past three games coming down to the final plays, the Vikings know there's a lot to improve.
Jeffri Chadiha of NFL.com visited Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center recently for an up-close look at Minnesota focusing on its mistakes and inconsistencies through the first quarter of the season rather than its successes. He wrote:
The collective mindset around the team's facility is that this team will be even better once it starts meeting its own lofty expectations.
"We've won but I don't know if, outside of the first game, that we've played all that great," quarterback Kirk Cousins told Chadiha. "We've left a lot out there. So the record is great, but we all feel like we need to play better and there's a lot of room for improvement. It's great to be in this position and there's a sense of urgency that comes with that. But you're also grateful to be having these conversations in this situation than dealing with something much worse."
Offensively, the Vikings want to continue the strong start they saw on Sunday against the Bears. Minnesota scored three touchdowns on its first three drives, claiming an early 21-3 lead.
"It's just a matter of consistency," Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said. "Guys doing their job, Kirk running the show and making sure we put a lot on his plate. He's done a really good job of handling all that, but at the same time, we want to get that comfort where — as he said to me — there's no thinking anymore and he's just playing. We're getting close. How we put together plans helps us do that and I have a ton of confidence that we'll find that rhythm and consistency. And when we do, the results will speak for themselves."
Chadiha said in his first year at the helm, O'Connell has brought fresh energy and an aggressive mentality on offense.
"You can tell on the field, especially in that first game (a 23-7 win over Green Bay)," wide receiver Adam Thielen said. "It was noticeable when we started getting a little bit of a lead and we were still aggressive in calling all the plays we were game-planning for."
Chadhia said after trying to answer for close losses the past couple of years, the Vikings are locked in this season on the road ahead of them and the benefits that could arise.
O'Connell summed it up best when he said, "It's nice knowing that we've got a couple wins in our back pocket, including some games where we had to come from behind to get the win."
That ultimately is a mark of good team, having the ability to succeed even when you're not at your best. The Vikings can see that there's plenty of growth still ahead of them. That realistic nature likely will be the major reason they're still playing meaningful games come January.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.
CBS Sports Skeptical of Vikings Through Week 5
The Vikings maintained their hot start to the season with their third consecutive comeback victory on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports recently analyzed every NFL team that has three or more wins so far this season. Dajani ranked the Vikings 10th of the 14 teams on the list. He wrote:
This will be a controversial ranking, but I don't like that the Vikings allowed Justin Fields and the lowly Chicago Bears to score 22 points on them in Week 5 and allowed a New Orleans Saints team that was missing Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to hang around with them in London. Minnesota is on a three-game winning streak, but it has trailed in the fourth quarter of each game and has failed to cover the spread in each contest.
I like this Vikings offense, as Kirk Cousins has been solid, Dalvin Cook is a bonafide stud and Justin Jefferson may be the best wide receiver in the NFL. However, I want to see a bit more from the defense, as they rank No. 24 in yards allowed per game (369.8 yds). Don't get me wrong, they have stepped up in the fourth quarter in clutch spots. But they could be better overall. The Vikings have a clear road to the playoffs, but it remains to be seen if they are a contender.
Dajani also ranked the Vikings next opponent, the Miami Dolphins, eighth on the list. He wrote:
Injuries have hurt Miami, but Tua Tagovailoa could be back relatively soon. We all saw how special this offense could be through the first few games of the regular season. Tagovailoa was leading comebacks, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle were running wild in the secondary and first-year Head Coach Mike McDaniel was identifying mismatches that he was able to exploit. The past few weeks haven't looked good for the Dolphins but keep an eye on the run game. McDaniel made his name known as a talented run-schemer, and we saw a little bit of that last Sunday, as Raheem Mostert finally broke loose for 113 rushing yards and a touchdown.