Last year, external expectations were unreasonably high for the Vikings. This year, external expectations for the franchise have dropped.
Internal expectations remain high.
“We expect a lot better season, and we’re working hard every day,” Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf told Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I know our coaches, and staff, and players are working hard and getting ready for the season.”
The most important player to the team’s 2019 season also is the highest paid: Quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“I think a year under his belt here in Minnesota and his familiarity with everything is going to bode well,” Wilf told Hartman. “He’s doing great. We expect a lot out of him as well as our whole team.”
Last year, the Vikings followed an NFC title game appearance with a failure to make it to the playoffs.
“Well, it was a disappointing season,” Wilf said regarding a campaign that ended with a win-and-in home loss to the Bears, who weren’t playing for anything. “We didn’t like the way it ended and it was a bitter taste in all of our [mouths] and we got right to work the day after that game. Coach Zimmer, Rick Spielman, the whole organization has had a plan, and we’re executing it and we like the changes, so far.”
Not many changes were possible in free agency due to cap constraints, but the Vikings added plenty of rookies via the draft and the post-draft land rush.
“The draft, very pleased with it,” Wilf said. “We got 12 good players in the draft. As always, we were very active in the free-agency part after the draft, so on all fronts we shored up a lot of areas that needed improvement and we have some really good people, good athletes, that we brought in.”
The Vikings have made it to the playoffs in alternating years under Zimmer, qualifying in 2015 and 2017 and failing to make it in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Whether they make it this year depends on plenty of factors, including whether Cousins and the rest of the team will be able to deliver in five prime-time games.