Rand:  Vikings' volatility is on display

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 9, 2013 - 10:53 PM

The Vikings ran onto the field before Sunday’s game against the Lions in Detroit. Minnesota has gone 12-4, 6-10, 3-13 and 10-6 the past four years. Will the Vikings break the inconsistent year-to-year pattern this season?

Photo: Duane Burleson, Associated Press

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The Vikings have a chance to do something this year that has never been accomplished in franchise history.

If you said “watch Christian Ponder hit a downfield receiver in stride,” you are entirely too negative already.

That said, this is probably a negative opportunity.

The Vikings never have had four consecutive seasons in which their win total was at least three games different from the previous season. The 2010 Vikings won six games (minus-6 from the 12-4 2009 season), the 2011 squad won three (minus-3) and the 2012 squad won 10 (plus-7). If this year’s team goes 7-9 or worse (or, you know 13-3 or better), they will have accomplished the feat.

In the process, this stretch of Vikings teams might cement its place in franchise history as the most volatile, at least from year to year. Adding to that label: From 2009 through this season, it was nearly impossible to predict how the season would go at the start.

The first year of Brett Favre could have been an utter failure instead of a near-championship. The second year of Favre could have been a repeat of the first but instead was a disaster. The 2011 Vikings bottomed out, but to such a spectacular degree that few imagined. Likewise, the 2012 Vikings stunned many who thought even doubling their victory total from 2011 would be an accomplishment.

This season? Five victories wouldn’t be stunning. Neither would 10. It’s just that wide open.

Maybe some of it has to do with the era we’re in. After all, a team has gone from last in a division one year to first the next in 10 consecutive NFL seasons.

But it does make one appreciate, or at least re-evaluate, the relative calm of the early Dennis Green years (between eight and 11 victories each of his first six seasons) or even the incremental progress of the first four Brad Childress seasons (six to eight to 10 to 12 victories). Even the 1977-87 Vikings won between seven and nine games all but two seasons — the 1982 strike year and the Year of Steckel (1984), neither of which should count for their own reasons.

This recent volatility is entirely new, but maybe the Vikings will settle into a season that resembles last year. At this point, most fans would gladly take it.

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