There was a lot of disappointment in the Twin Cities a year ago. But here may be the way the Minnesota Vikings can win their first Super Bowl in 2019.
They would have to rank as one of the bigger disappointments of the 2018 NFL season. Off at 13-3 campaign and an appearance in the NFC title game, the Minnesota Vikings figured to be a Super Bowl contender once again.
The organization felt that he had bolstered the quarterback position by signing free agent Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal that was fully guaranteed. It made sense that the team, surrounded by a lot of talent at all positions, figured it was ready to make a leap and make the franchise’s first Super Sunday appearance since 1976.
But not only did Vikings fail to even reach the NFC title game, Mike Zimmer’s club didn’t even qualify for the playoffs. Despite an uneven season, the team had a chance on the final Sunday of the year at home against the Chicago Bears. But the division champions disposed of Cousins and the Purple Gang rather easily.
Still, this team is very capable of taking home a Lombardi Trophy in February. So what will it take for Zimmer and company to win Super Bowl LIV?
5. Better special teams play
What was it with NFC North teams and their kicking games a year ago? Two games into 2018, Vikings’ specialist Daniel Carlson was out of a job after missing three field goals in what proved to be a 29-all tie with the Packers at Lambeau Field. He sent three boots wide right in the game, including a pair in overtime.
Enter Dan Bailey, once one of the most accurate kickers in the league. He would connect on 21-of-28 field goal attempts (1 missed PAT). But six of his seven misses would come from under 50 yards. Elsewhere, Punter Matt Wile averaged 45.2 yards per boot and put 27 kicks inside-the-20. The longest return allowed by the punt coverage teams was just 23 yards. And to make matters more interesting, the Vikings recently orchestrated a trade with the Baltimore Ravens (via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley) for talented placekicker/punter Kaare Vedvik.
Meanwhile, perhaps the bigger question is finding a suitable replacement for Marcus Sherels – now with the Saints – who returned five punts for scores in his nine seasons with the Vikings.