Mike Zimmer promised this week to stop using silly motivational tactics, like “Everyone says we can’t win a division game on the road,” and: “Everyone says purple makes us look fat.”
That’s too bad. I can easily give him another motivational point to inspire his team to prove wrong the haters, the doubters, the critics, the millions of Russians and Asians who foolishly ignore his team.
The 2015 Vikings have been, to use a word never before associated with the franchise, lucky.
They are 5-2. They have yet to beat a good team. On opening night, they lost to a terrible team that has since benched its “franchise” quarterback.
Their best performance to date came in a loss at Denver. The guy who has made the key plays in their three straight victories is a fifth-round draft pick who, had they really known how good he was, they would have taken much earlier.
I think this is a good team but I can’t prove it, not until the Vikings beat someone that has some chance of making the playoffs this season.
Enter, bizarrely, the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams haven’t finished a season above .500 since 2003. The franchise probably is headed back to Los Angeles. The Rams have averaged less than five victories a season over the past eight seasons.
They would be a running joke if they hadn’t drafted someone for whom running does not resemble a joke. Todd Gurley is allowing Rams coach Jeff Fisher, whose greatest success came with strong defensive teams and diligent runner Eddie George, to play the only style that has ever won for him.
Gurley and the aggressive Rams defense make them stronger at the two aspects of football that the Vikings rely most on — a persistent running game and a playmaking defense.
With three challenging games ahead, Zimmer this week explained the four steps to becoming a champion.
The man has credibility. He worked with Bill Parcells, who might be the greatest coach in NFL history when it comes to winning with players of limited ability. Remember, Parcells won a Super Bowl with Jeff Hostetler as his quarterback and an aged Ottis Anderson as his running back.
To repurpose his blueprint, here are the four stages of the Vikings getting to 5-2:
Step 1: Play the Detroit Lions. Twice.
Two of the Vikings’ five victories this season have come against the Lions, who have fired their president, general manager and offensive coordinator and who have won one playoff game since 1957.
Step 2: Play the Chicago Bears. This year.
The Bears are 2-5. They have been outscored by 62 points. They are in the midst of a reformation under John Fox, the most boring fixer you will ever encounter.
The Vikings won in Chicago for the first time since 2007, but perhaps only because Bears star Matt Forte was injured in the second half, and his replacement, Jeremy Langford, dropped a key pass in the fourth quarter.
Beating a bad team missing its star running back. If that sounds familiar …
Step 3: Play the Kansas City Chiefs when Jamaal Charles is hurt.
Charles is the only Kansas City offensive player willing to defy coach Andy Reid’s rule against running toward the opposing team’s end zone.
The Chiefs are 3-5. The Vikings beat them, with no Charles, 16-10 at home. If the Vikings were a college football team, that result would have caused them to drop in the rankings.
Step 4: Play the Chargers at home.
The Chargers are 2-6. They are 0-4 on the road.
How bad are the Chargers on the road? They are the last team the Vikings beat without Stefon Diggs in the lineup.
If Zimmer needs a motivational speech on Sunday morning, all he will need is the truth: They haven’t beaten anyone yet.