Souhan: Vikings winning on many fronts

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 1, 2012 - 6:12 PM

This is an overachieving team, edging toward competence, and nice guys, too. Don't brood, fans.

I've covered the Minnesota Vikings on and off since 1990. For much of that time, the team has underachieved and sometimes simply choked while wearing a snarl on its collective face. Those who spent copious time in the locker room were right to think of a 41-0 loss in the NFC Championship Game as a function of karma.

This year's team is different. This year's team is the most likeable set of overachievers to wear purple since 1992, when Tony Dungy was just starting to try to prove he could be an NFL defensive coordinator.

So why do so many Vikings fans view this season the way economists view the Fiscal Cliff?

"You're right, the people around you can sometimes drain the energy, and make you feel like things are worse than they are," coach Leslie Frazier said.

With the Vikings at 6-5 and heading to Green Bay for a renewal of the best rivalry in Minnesota sports, Minnesota fans should feel they're playing with house money instead of holding losing lottery tickets.

Before we get to perception, let's give full weight to the key fact of any NFL season: the team's record. The Vikings being 6-5 means they've already met or surpassed rational expectations for victories in a year dedicated to developing young talent. They are contending for the playoffs one year after finishing 3-13 and while testing a young quarterback, their star player's reconstructed knee, a new defensive coordinator, a revamped offensive line and a host of young players.

This season the franchise seems to be edging toward competence with a rational plan and a generally admirable cast of competitors. They have lost only to playoff contenders, the weakest of which, Washington, is 5-6 and features the league's most dynamic player in quarterback Robert Griffin III. They have beaten San Francisco, perhaps the team with the strongest top-to-bottom roster in the NFL. They have swept Detroit, a team loaded with talent that went 10-6 and made the playoffs last year.

This team is ahead of schedule while employing a bunch of people who don't make you hold your nose during interviews.

Frazier is so likeable and honest he may get kicked out of the NFL coaches' union. Zygi Wilf has developed into the best owner in town. Christian Ponder, although an erratic quarterback, is refreshingly down-to-earth. The core players, from Adrian Peterson to Chad Greenway, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen and Percy Harvin, compete with maximum effort. Peterson is a candidate for comeback player of the year if not MVP, an award that Harvin may have been considered for had he remained healthy.

When the scandal of the season is your star player oversleeping and making it to a game only 1 1/2 hours early, you're living right. Most NFL scandals involve DNA tests.

Of course, for Vikings fans, history blocks optimism.

Recent Vikings history is filled with talented teams who underachieved on the field and embarrassed themselves in the court of public opinion -- and sometimes on party boats, -- while losing most of the games that define a franchise's reputation.

Vikings history encourages pessimism, and so has the team's play over the past four games. Since Tampa Bay handed out that thrashing in the Metrodome, the Vikings are 1-3, and Ponder's struggles are troubling for those familiar with the franchise's inability to develop a homegrown starting quarterback with star and staying power.

This year, though, pessimism has outpaced reality. Frazier noted that if the Vikings win this weekend, they'll be tied with the Packers in the standings while holding at least a temporary tie-breaking advantage.

So, yes, this is a team with problems and challenges, a team that may fall on its face down the stretch. But there's no reason to call for Frazier's firing, as so many fans seem willing to do.

One victory over the next two weeks would leave the Vikings well ahead of expectations with a chance to make the playoffs.

This is no time to brood.

Longtime fans know that's what January is for.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

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Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Top 2nd Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 0 Top 2nd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Miami 0
NY Mets 1 Top 2nd Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Cleveland 0 Delayed
Minnesota 0
Seattle 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Houston 4
Cincinnati 0 Top 2nd Inning
St. Louis 0
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
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Cincinnati
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Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
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Jacksonville
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New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
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Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 4th Qtr 12:21
FIU 3
San Jose St 7 Delayed 11:38
Minnesota 17
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Texas State 21 3rd Qtr
Illinois 13
Indiana 31 4th Qtr 0:22
(18) Missouri 27
Georgia State 14 3rd Qtr
Washington 0
Ball State 0 Delayed 9:30
Toledo 6
Appalachian St 0 1st Qtr 6:18
Southern Miss 7
Miss State 7 1st Qtr 6:08
(8) LSU 0
Northern Ill 0 1st Qtr 8:07
Arkansas 14
Middle Tennessee 0 1st Qtr 6:13
Memphis 9
Utah State 7 1st Qtr 7:37
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 7 1st Qtr 6:32
Cincinnati 0
Idaho 0 1st Qtr 4:17
Ohio U 7
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
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California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
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Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
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Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 1st Half 25:00
Philadelphia 0
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 0 1st Half 44:55
Red Bull New York 0
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 0 5:10
Hamilton 0
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Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
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Winnipeg
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Calgary
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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