2021 — The season that could have been

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2021 — The season that could have been

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Sat Dec 25, 2021 9:47 pm

As we enter the last 3 weeks of the regular season, needing at least two wins to have any realistic chance of making the playoffs, I can’t help but look back at a season that could have been special.

The Vikings are 7-7. As I recount some key games, I’ll adjust the Vikings’ hypothetical record if things had gone differently.

Week 1 at Cincinnati — Despite playing like complete idiots, the Vikings are driving in overtime to win the game when Dalvin Cook fumbles(?). 8-6.

Week 2 at Arizona — The Vikings play an excellent game on the road against a playoff team and have the game won … until Greg Joseph blows a 37-yard field goal as time expires. 9-5.

Week 4 vs. Cleveland — The Vikings play great defense against a Cleveland team that was thought to be a Super Bowl contender, but Klint Kubiak’s ultra-conservative, unimaginative playcalling leads to just 7 points. A game we could have won. 10-4.

Week 8 vs. Dallas — The Vikings lose to Cooper Rush. Enough said. 11-3.

Week 9 at Baltimore — The Vikings blow a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lose in overtime in a game missed by unvaccinated Harrison Smith due to Covid. 12-2.

Week 13 at Detroit — We lose to the damn winless Lions. 13-1.

Now before you get all up in arms, please note — I AM NOT SAYING THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS SHOULD BE 13-1. I’m not saying they’re a good enough team to have such a record, should have won all those games, or anything of the sort.

But look at the WAY the Vikings lost all SIX of those games. In many cases, they beat themselves. They gave up last-second TDs to Cooper Rush and Jared Goff. They biffed a field goal that would’ve beaten the Cardinals. They fumbled away a win in the season opener.

They played poorly on offense against Cleveland and likely should have lost. They fell flat in the second half against San Francisco. They weren’t going to win that game. But it’s not hard to imagine this team having at least 2-3 more wins and fighting for the 5 seed instead of the 7. With better coaching, it’s not a stretch to think this team could be in the division race. But they’re not. Instead, they’ve gravitated to .500.

And again, the worst part is that they have nobody to blame but themselves. The six games I highlighted, the Vikings didn’t get significantly outplayed. In at least 3 of them, maybe 4, they handed away games they should have won.

It’s truly sad.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by VikingsVictorious » Sat Dec 25, 2021 10:15 pm

The Vikings have many could have been seasons. The Pearson Hail Mary against Dallas and the first missed FG of the year for Gary Anderson are seasons we could have won the Superbowl. This could go down as one of huge regret. On the other hand if we make the playoffs anything can happen. .
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by Maelstrom88 » Sun Dec 26, 2021 12:02 am

I look at it like if you didn't win you didn't deserve to win. Every play in the game is important not just a field goal or penalty at the end. Don't let it come down to that. They are what the record says they are.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by 808vikingsfan » Sun Dec 26, 2021 12:57 am

Maelstrom88 wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 12:02 am
I look at it like if you didn't win you didn't deserve to win. Every play in the game is important not just a field goal or penalty at the end. Don't let it come down to that. They are what the record says they are.
I don't know about "deserve" but I agree with you, you are what your record is. Good teams find a way to win. They convert on 3rd down to run out the clock. They break up a pass to force a turnover on downs.. Every play is important.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by Foreman44 » Sun Dec 26, 2021 6:29 am

808vikingsfan wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 12:57 am
Maelstrom88 wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 12:02 am
I look at it like if you didn't win you didn't deserve to win. Every play in the game is important not just a field goal or penalty at the end. Don't let it come down to that. They are what the record says they are.
I don't know about "deserve" but I agree with you, you are what your record is. Good teams find a way to win. They convert on 3rd down to run out the clock. They break up a pass to force a turnover on downs.. Every play is important.
I agree every play is as important. Good teams win those games.

Like the year we lost to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. With Keenum as our QB I am not saying he sucked. But he really only had that one great year. He was no Brady, Rodgers, or big named QB not even cousins. But we won.

My question... If this team made it to the playoffs. Are they really going to win against the supposedly best teams in the NFL..? Yes they lost some games they could have won, but they also won games they could have lost. They probably are what they are a 500 win/loss team
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by Cliff » Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:00 am

I think there's no doubt that 2 of those games should have gone differently. The others you can make an argument against.

Even so, at 9-5 how differently would we feel about the team?
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:06 am

I hope you all understand ... my original post was not meant to say the Vikings are better than their record. They're not.

It's meant to point out that they have lost at least 6 games they could have won, and at least 3-4 of those were of the "shoot yourself in the foot" variety. It's a lament of what could have been, not an argument that we're somehow better than a .500 team.

If anything, this indicates a lack of quality coaching to me.

Good teams execute in crucial moments. The Vikings don't, at least not consistently. My conclusion with all of this is that if we'd had good coaching, we might be sitting here with 10 wins and a playoff spot secured. As it is, we're barely hanging on, and if we're honest, making the playoffs doesn't look promising.

And no ... if the Vikings make the playoffs, I do not believe they can seriously compete. Certainly not the way they've been playing since the Packers game. Probably about the best we fans can hope for is that they'll keep the game close.

That brings me to another point ... close games. Specifically, Mike Zimmer and his messages to the media and his players following close wins. I am so sick of this guy's "woe is me" attitude about close games. It's some of the worst leadership I've ever seen.

Go to any of his postgame speech videos and watch. The FIRST thing he talks about is everything the team did wrong. Then he'll say, "But that was a helluva win." It's like he's saying, "Yeah, I guess we won, but the main thing is you sucked." Who is that going to motivate? He finishes with "Vikes on 3 ... 1,2,3" — and the team gives a half-hearted "Vikes." It's exactly the reason, I believe, that this is a joyless team that doesn't particularly like to play.

And when he speaks to the press after games, he makes me want to smash something. Zimmer always starts with his typical sad-sack attitude about having to suffer through another close game. "Why, oh why do we always have to be in close games? It's not fair. I'm tired. Boo hoo."

You know what, Zimmer? Why don't you try using these close games to your advantage? Why don't you turn a close win into a positive? Instead of crying about another one-score game, tell your team, "Guys, we did it again." Instead of whining to the media about always having to play every game to the last whistle, tell them, "Y'know what? All this means to me is that we know how to play in close games. When we get to the playoffs, that's going to be important because everybody's good. Every game is going to be close."

Maybe if you had that kind of attitude, this "season that could have been" would be "a season to remember." Instead, most of us just want to forget.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by CharVike » Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:23 am

This entire could've, should've and would've means nothing. We had no business beating the Bears last week. They kicked our teams a$$. The only thing that saved us is they are developing some stiff rookie QB. From the moment the 2021 season begin it looked like a wash out. I'll start with the draft which I hated and I don't think we got anything close to what we should have. That was a total failure. We cut the previous years round 1 CB. We have a Swiss cheese OL that didn't get any immediate improvements. I'm not talking rookies. The Chiefs went for the immediate. We took the long haul rebuild route. That takes years. I felt going into the season we needed 14 wins to have a chance. That means every game is a must win. Go in an attack and look to put up as many points as possible. Make it a one dimensional game for our defense. We didn't do that. We played patty cake football and let teams hang around. Letting teams stay in the game allows for some late game BS to beat you. We all seen that this year. Here we sit trying to hang on being a 500 team at this point in time. It don't get any worse than that. Beyond all that if I knew Zim was a sugar daddy before the season I would have said we are toast. Our HC is focused on the wrong task at/in hand for the position he is in on our team. If he was the defensive coordinator then sure you have plenty of free time to troll the waters.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by Maelstrom88 » Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:56 am

Zimmer has been here a long time. He has he'd the opportunity to build his team how he wants to. These players wouldn't be here if he didn't want them. It's on him.

Most coaches get three years to turn a team around tops. He has had some success sure. The defense early on was very fun to watch. Since the height of his success we have progressively gotten worse. We constantly lose to good teams unless they are the Saints or the Packers. It's just not good enough. If they win out and make the playoffs I'm all for him staying but that won't happen.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Sun Dec 26, 2021 11:05 am

CharVike wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:23 am
This entire could've, should've and would've means nothing. We had no business beating the Bears last week. They kicked our teams a$$. The only thing that saved us is they are developing some stiff rookie QB. From the moment the 2021 season begin it looked like a wash out. I'll start with the draft which I hated and I don't think we got anything close to what we should have. That was a total failure. We cut the previous years round 1 CB. We have a Swiss cheese OL that didn't get any immediate improvements. I'm not talking rookies. The Chiefs went for the immediate. We took the long haul rebuild route. That takes years. I felt going into the season we needed 14 wins to have a chance. That means every game is a must win. Go in an attack and look to put up as many points as possible. Make it a one dimensional game for our defense. We didn't do that. We played patty cake football and let teams hang around. Letting teams stay in the game allows for some late game BS to beat you. We all seen that this year. Here we sit trying to hang on being a 500 team at this point in time. It don't get any worse than that. Beyond all that if I knew Zim was a sugar daddy before the season I would have said we are toast. Our HC is focused on the wrong task at/in hand for the position he is in on our team. If he was the defensive coordinator then sure you have plenty of free time to troll the waters.
Again, you're missing the premise.

I'm not saying SHOULD HAVE. I'm saying could have. The Vikings have been in every game. They've shot themselves in the foot, and they deserve the record they have.

And I have to say ... you are probably the ONLY Vikings fan who thinks the team has taken the long-haul rebuild mode. For what it's worth, I believe it's the exact opposite. Zimmer and Spielman tried for quick fixes to save their jobs, and they failed spectacularly. They were just good enough to be close. Hence this entire post.

Finally, no NFL team goes into every game actually believing they're going to get out to a big lead, then let the defense tee off against a one-dimensional offense trying to make up the difference. You're not just going to walk all over everybody you play, even if you're the better team. If the league has proven anything this year, it's that such an approach is absolutely, categorically impossible. Not one team in the NFL, including the great and glorious Chiefs, have consistently been able to whip their opponents. Every game is a dogfight, and if you don't expect it to be that way, then you're going to get clipped. That's what the Vikings AND the Cardinals found out against the lowly Lions. It's what the Bills found out against Jacksonville. Even the Chiefs have had to play from behind quite a bit, and the Packers have had plenty of close calls. This isn't college, where you follow up the four cupcakes on your non-conference schedule with 3 or 4 more bottom feeders in conference. It's the NFL. Everybody gets paid.

If you're going to win and make the playoffs and do something, then you have to win close games. That's the whole point of the post.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by CharVike » Sun Dec 26, 2021 12:27 pm

J. Kapp 11 wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 11:05 am
CharVike wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:23 am
This entire could've, should've and would've means nothing. We had no business beating the Bears last week. They kicked our teams a$$. The only thing that saved us is they are developing some stiff rookie QB. From the moment the 2021 season begin it looked like a wash out. I'll start with the draft which I hated and I don't think we got anything close to what we should have. That was a total failure. We cut the previous years round 1 CB. We have a Swiss cheese OL that didn't get any immediate improvements. I'm not talking rookies. The Chiefs went for the immediate. We took the long haul rebuild route. That takes years. I felt going into the season we needed 14 wins to have a chance. That means every game is a must win. Go in an attack and look to put up as many points as possible. Make it a one dimensional game for our defense. We didn't do that. We played patty cake football and let teams hang around. Letting teams stay in the game allows for some late game BS to beat you. We all seen that this year. Here we sit trying to hang on being a 500 team at this point in time. It don't get any worse than that. Beyond all that if I knew Zim was a sugar daddy before the season I would have said we are toast. Our HC is focused on the wrong task at/in hand for the position he is in on our team. If he was the defensive coordinator then sure you have plenty of free time to troll the waters.
Again, you're missing the premise.

I'm not saying SHOULD HAVE. I'm saying could have. The Vikings have been in every game. They've shot themselves in the foot, and they deserve the record they have.

And I have to say ... you are probably the ONLY Vikings fan who thinks the team has taken the long-haul rebuild mode. For what it's worth, I believe it's the exact opposite. Zimmer and Spielman tried for quick fixes to save their jobs, and they failed spectacularly. They were just good enough to be close. Hence this entire post.

Finally, no NFL team goes into every game actually believing they're going to get out to a big lead, then let the defense tee off against a one-dimensional offense trying to make up the difference. You're not just going to walk all over everybody you play, even if you're the better team. If the league has proven anything this year, it's that such an approach is absolutely, categorically impossible. Not one team in the NFL, including the great and glorious Chiefs, have consistently been able to whip their opponents. Every game is a dogfight, and if you don't expect it to be that way, then you're going to get clipped. That's what the Vikings AND the Cardinals found out against the lowly Lions. It's what the Bills found out against Jacksonville. Even the Chiefs have had to play from behind quite a bit, and the Packers have had plenty of close calls. This isn't college, where you follow up the four cupcakes on your non-conference schedule with 3 or 4 more bottom feeders in conference. It's the NFL. Everybody gets paid.

If you're going to win and make the playoffs and do something, then you have to win close games. That's the whole point of the post.
I understood what you were getting at. I never said we should walk all over teams because that's impossible in the NFL unless you play complete garbage our the opponent is having a horrible day. But don't go out there every game with the main goal being to eat the clock up and pound the ball. Try to light them up right off the bat. Don't wait around until you attack out of necessity. Many scores can make a game look much closer than it was. The recent Packer game was like that. The finale scored made it look like a dog fight. They controlled that game from the start. Building through the draft is never an immediate fix. I didn't expect Darrisaw or Davis to come in day one and be great players. That's basically impossible. We are in the long haul fix on the OL regardless of what anyone thinks. We won't even know until after 3 years if these guys are even any good. Plus we changed our approach from smaller athletic to bigger more physical. IMO our OL blows and will be our downfall. The Bears destroyed them in the most recent example. I know Speilman went for the quick fix in the secondary. PP, Breeland, Woods and whoever else was scooped up from free agency and was an immediate fix. But I don't consider it a very good fix by any stretch. All these guys were dumped for a reason. More than likely there play slipped our there was some other stuff going on. Teams keep the guys they want to keep. A few good players hit FA but the cost will be through the roof because teams will fight each other for that player. This year it was the G from the Pats. We did it with Cousins. The NFL has always been about close games. It never was and never will be the college nonsense where teams win or get beat 50-0.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by Cliff » Sun Dec 26, 2021 1:16 pm

I get the premise and you're definitely right. If they wete most other teams they've had the "game in hand" as it were.

I'll go further and say the Vikings ARE better than their record but not anything crazy. They're 1-2 games better and solidly a wildcard team expected to go out in round one.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by psjordan » Sun Dec 26, 2021 4:17 pm

J. Kapp 11 wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:06 am
That brings me to another point ... close games. Specifically, Mike Zimmer and his messages to the media and his players following close wins. I am so sick of this guy's "woe is me" attitude about close games. It's some of the worst leadership I've ever seen.
Funny you should mention this. I've always judged? rated? both myself and other coaches in several categories. At the highest level the evaluations are "bad/good/great game coach?", "bad/good/great practice coach?". I've gone against coaches that are CLEARLY great practice coaches but crappy game coaches, and vice versa. I've coached against brothers (HC's on different teams) where one was clearly a practice coach and the other clearly a game coach. Not all coaches are good at both sides of that fence.

"Practice coach" and "game coach" can be broken down further of course, many ways to evaluate the minutiae of coaching. Going down that rabbit hole is pretty easy.

In my sport (lacrosse), one of the telltale barometers of a coach is "what is their record in one-goal games?". The football equivalent might be 2, 3 or 4 point games.

What do you do, what do your players do, what does your staff do when the game is close down to the wire? How do your preparations pay off? How does everyone act and react?

Assuming I added correctly, Zimmer and staff are 14-19-1 in games of four points or less. For comparison I checked Belichick, and over the same timeframe he's 16-7 in four point games.

I'm not saying Zimmer and staff are football idiots, but they are clearly mediocre at the NFL level.

Simply, this staff is not equipped to be winners in the NFL. I'm pretty confident the Wilfs have seen all they need to see.
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Re: 2021 — The season that could have been

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Sun Dec 26, 2021 5:50 pm

psjordan wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 4:17 pm
J. Kapp 11 wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:06 am
That brings me to another point ... close games. Specifically, Mike Zimmer and his messages to the media and his players following close wins. I am so sick of this guy's "woe is me" attitude about close games. It's some of the worst leadership I've ever seen.
Funny you should mention this. I've always judged? rated? both myself and other coaches in several categories. At the highest level the evaluations are "bad/good/great game coach?", "bad/good/great practice coach?". I've gone against coaches that are CLEARLY great practice coaches but crappy game coaches, and vice versa. I've coached against brothers (HC's on different teams) where one was clearly a practice coach and the other clearly a game coach. Not all coaches are good at both sides of that fence.

"Practice coach" and "game coach" can be broken down further of course, many ways to evaluate the minutiae of coaching. Going down that rabbit hole is pretty easy.

In my sport (lacrosse), one of the telltale barometers of a coach is "what is their record in one-goal games?". The football equivalent might be 2, 3 or 4 point games.

What do you do, what do your players do, what does your staff do when the game is close down to the wire? How do your preparations pay off? How does everyone act and react?

Assuming I added correctly, Zimmer and staff are 14-19-1 in games of four points or less. For comparison I checked Belichick, and over the same timeframe he's 16-7 in four point games.

I'm not saying Zimmer and staff are football idiots, but they are clearly mediocre at the NFL level.

Simply, this staff is not equipped to be winners in the NFL. I'm pretty confident the Wilfs have seen all they need to see.
Man, I truly hope you’re right.
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