The start of a new football season brings new hopes not only for optimistic Minnesota Vikings fans, but for the team as well.
“That bitter taste is still in your mouth, and we’re ready to go out there and just compete, and just show the hard work we’re putting in right now," said Vikings running back Dalvin Cook.
After being one win away from the Super Bowl in 2017, Mike Zimmer’s squad followed up with an 8-7-1 finish. The Vikings missed the playoffs for the second time since 2015.
“In this league, it's hard to maintain consistency year in and year out. And if you think because you had a good year the year before, that you can just roll the ball out there next year and win football games, you’re wrong, With that being said, if you have a down year the year before that has nothing to do with the 2019 Minnesota Vikings," said Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Minnesota’s offense finished in the middle of the pack in nearly every statistical category in 2018, with big names like Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen returning, that’s fueling them for a fresh start.
“We’ve got guys that want to work. Kirk wants to be great, he has a thing about his craft, he’s serious about it. Same with me, same with the receivers in our room, so just trying to build off of last year. A lot of bad things happen, but we can learn from them and grow," said Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
After finishing the last three games of 2018 as the offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski enters in full control this season, becoming the fourth offensive coordinator for the Vikings since 2016. He's the most tenured coach on the Vikings staff, entering his 14th season. After having four different offensive coordinators since 2016, the players are liking what Stefanski has brought to the table so far.
“I like his demeanor, his presence, he wants to win. He wants to do what it takes to help this team win. He’s not going to be stubborn or stuck on certain things, he’s just going to try and help get his play makers the ball and really not even that, he’s trying to help this offense feel as comfortable as possible," said Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen.
In what is being called a pivotal season for the future of this team, Minnesota returns all but three starters on offense, all coming on the offensive line. With so many returners the players say that the staff sees potential with what the group has to offer.
“I think we learned from last year. We learned that we created an identity in 2017, part of the reason we went 13-3 and were one game away from the Super Bowl, and we got away from that identify last year. We know what we have to do to get back, and the good thing about this team is that we’re willing to work for it," said Rudolph.
The Vikings begin their preseason schedule Friday, August 9th in New Orleans.