Leber: Vikings Have "Room For Optimism"

The Vikings have not met expectations this season, but they could still win the NFC North, Ben Leber says

Taz and the Moose
November 20, 2018 - 9:58 am

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After going 13-3 and advancing to the NFC Championship last season, the Minnesota Vikings entered the year with high expectations – especially after adding quarterback Kirk Cousins and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

Well, the Vikings are 5-4-1 and don’t look anything like the team from last season. 

What happened? 

“I understand that (they added) a lot of good pieces, but you also have to make it gel,” former NFL linebacker Ben Leber said on Taz & The Moose. “You have to make it work. I think the offensive line has been way too inconsistent. Not having Dalvin Cook for the majority of the season has really hurt this offense. He can be a very dynamic player. And not having a third wide receiver that they can really count on – when you look at the scope of how offenses are these days, you need (several) receivers – not just one or two guys. So offensively, there were some pieces there, but they just haven’t put everything together.”

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been highly productive for Minnesota, combining for 156 catches, 1,726 yards, and 12 touchdowns. However, the No. 3 receiver, Laquon Treadwell, has been quiet. He has 28 catch for 260 yards and hasn’t scored since Week 2.

Defensively, meanwhile, Minnesota has gone from being No. 1 in scoring defense (15.8 points per game allowed) to No. 11 (22.9).

“Defensively, that was the star of the whole team (last year),” Leber said. “They get beat by the Bills, they get whooped up on by the Rams, they sort of had to refocus themselves and deal with some injuries – so it’s been a lot. It’s been a lot to deal with. But they still have a great chance here the next few games to take control of their destiny and have a huge showdown with Chicago at the end of the season.”

While the Vikings’ next three games look tough – against Green Bay (4-5-1), at New England (7-3), at Seattle (5-5) – Leber believes they’re manageable.

“I think there’s a great chance to get right against some of these teams,” he said. “I don’t think (the Patriots’) defense is all that great. Same thing with Seattle. It is on the road, and it’s a name, it’s a brand name, and it seems like it’s going to be a much tougher out. But I think that they actually stack up pretty well against them when you start looking at the X’s and O’s. So I think there is room for optimism. As bad as they played, they were still in it in the game at Chicago. Given all the mistakes, they still had a chance at the end of the game.”

The Vikings host the Packers on Sunday Night Football. Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.