Mike Zimmer’s Vikings have proven to be a lot of things already this season, but many of us are still waiting for them to become something that they are not.
This is not a dynamic offense. This is not a team that should be taking a ton of risks. This is not a team built to blow you out.
Zimmer’s team is unflinchingly solid, a style that can be both maddening and beautiful to watch. If you’re still waiting for them to race out to a big lead and bury a team, you might be waiting a while. This is a steady application of gas; this is not a zero-to-60 sports car. This machine feeds off of all the moving parts. The ball control offense keeps the defense rested. The rested defense keeps making plays. The special teams usually supplement both facets.
Plenty of us looked at specific moments of Sunday’s most recent textbook Zimmer road victory, a 20-10 asphyxiation of Atlanta, and still wanted more. Why run Matt Asiata on 3rd-and-5 deep in Falcons territory when a touchdown might have given the Vikings more breathing room in a quicker fashion? I suspect because as much as some of us have a disdain for field goals, Zimmer looked at the chance to make it 10-3, looked at how well his defense was playing, thought a little about the interception Teddy Bridgewater had already thrown in a similar spot Sunday and saw value in making sure the Vikings got some points.
Some of us looked at Bridgewater’s raw numbers (174 yards on 28 attempts) and wondered why not throw more after having early success and certainly why not throw the ball down the field more. Mike Wallace, the NFL’s most expensive decoy, didn’t catch a pass again and has just two grabs in his past five games. But still, the logic is solid: Adrian Peterson was magnificent on Sunday. This is a running team. The offensive line is miles ahead as a run blocking unit of where it is as a pass blocking unit. So the Vikings are playing to their strengths, even if it sometimes looks boring.
The Vikings might need to do more than this — even if it’s just a little more — to beat the likes of Arizona, Green Bay and maybe Seattle down the stretch. Then again, we keep saying that and the Vikings keep winning. Even after last week’s disappointment against Green Bay, they’re 8-3 and right back atop the NFC North thanks to the Packers’ Thanksgiving meltdown and Sunday’s businesslike effort.
At this point, I’m inclined to say the Vikings’ methods are sound. Don’t fight it. This is what they are, and it’s working.