Brad Childress (Jamie Squire/Getty)
The Vikings wouldn’t be in unprecedented territory if they made the playoffs after an 0-2 start. In fact, they are one of many teams to pull it off in the last decade. Plus, Percy Harvin returned to practice and Brett Favre was limited with a newly reported elbow injury.
The Vikings know their lot in Week 3. They are winless so far, but their push for the playoffs doesn’t come to a premature end just yet.
There are a few statistics the team should know. First, since the NFL realigned divisions in 2002, 55 of the 96 playoff teams (57.3 percent) began the year either 1-1 or 0-2.
“There’s a lot of teams that were 0-2, so we ain’t stressin’ about it,” veteran defensive tackle Pat Williams said.
“It’s all on us. We ain’t worried about what nobody says, what the outside world says. It’s just all about us, so we’re going back to the drawing board. We ain’t stressing, we ain’t breaking down.”
Players say there is a sense of urgency, but not panic, and there is good reason for that. The Vikings were 0-2 in 2008 and still made the playoffs. It’s a talking point head coach Brad Childress said he would reference this week.
“We’re certainly not folding up the (tent). Yeah, I imagine I will (talk about the 2008 season) at some point,” he said earlier this week. “You just have to look at these things as one-game wars, that’s it. You can’t talk about in the division, NFC, conference. I’m sure we’ll go back to how many 0-2 teams have done this. We can’t worry about any of that. We’ve got to worry about our football team and how we can get better in all three phases.”
“There is a lot of work to be done. No panic,” running back Adrian Peterson said. “There is a sense of urgency. I know this group. We got a lot of different guys. We’ll come together and get on track.”
The Vikings are hardly alone in their winless feeling, and their 2008 club isn’t as much of a rarity as people might think.
Since 1990, 22 teams have started 0-2 and still made the postseason. Three of those teams won the Super Bowl, as recently as 2007. That’s when the New York Giants started 0-2 and rebounded to win Super Bowl XLII, joining the 1993 Dallas Cowboys and 2001 New England Patriots as teams since 1990 to win the Super Bowl after an 0-2 start.
“We’re going to correct it. It’s a veteran-loaded team and nobody’s going to point fingers,” guard Anthony Herrera said. “Everybody knows we win and lose as a team. We’re just going to go out there and keep fighting, from the top man down to the 53rd man. We’re going to keep fighting, keep working and it’s going to take care of itself.”
On the other end of the spectrum, eight teams are 2-0. Of those, six of them – Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay – did not make the playoffs last year. Four of them – Chicago, Kansas City, Miami and Tampa Bay – finished 2009 with a sub-.500 record.
Much can change in the NFL – from one season to the next and even within a few weeks. The Vikings are favored by 11 points Sunday and could use the bye week to get some of their injured players healed.
“It’s a little frustrating, but we’ve still got to play football. No matter what goes on, we’ve still got to show up on Sunday and try to get the train going and get a win,” defensive tackle Kevin Williams said.
If that happens, the Vikings could get on a roll and join the ranks of other teams that overcame a slow start and still made it to the playoffs. Last year, no team started 0-2 and qualified for the postseason, but six of the last 10 postseasons have featured at least one team pulling off the feat.
“It’s a 14-game season now and we’re sitting at the bottom of it,” Brett Favre said. “What we do from here remains to be seen.”
FAVRE’S ELBOW ADDED TO INJURY REPORT
The Vikings took one step forward with Percy Harvin returning to practice on Thursday on a limited basis, but they also took at least a precautionary step back with Favre being limited and listed with ankle and right elbow injuries. The right elbow portion of the injury is new, but he was throwing before practice on Thursday without any noticeable pain.
Favre spent part of practice working with the receivers in an effort to get on the same page with them and postponed his normal Wednesday press conference until Thursday so he wouldn’t be late for a meeting with his receivers.
The rest of the injury report remained the same for the Vikings on Thursday. Bernard Berrian continued to be limited Thursday with a knee injury, joining cornerback Cedric Griffin (knee) and linebacker Ben Leber (back) as limited participants.
Rookie cornerback Chris Cook (knee) was a full participant, as were defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (knee), offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie (finger) and center John Sullivan (calf).
The Lions had two changes to their injury report on Thursday. Safety Louis Delmas was limited after missing Wednesday with a groin, biceps and calf injuries, and LB Ashlee Palmer was limited with an ankle injury after practicing on Wednesday.
Wide receiver Nate Burleson (ankle) continued to sit out, as did linebacker Zack Follett (concussion), guard Stephen Peterman (foot) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder). Defensive end Cliff Avril (knee/finger), safety C.C. Brown (forearm) and linebacker DeAndre Levy (groin) were limited for Detroit.
The Vikings’ pursuit of Vincent Jackson is even clearer with the San Diego Union-Tribune reporting that the Vikings increased their offer “every three days over the past several days” in a failed effort to get the Chargers to trade the big-bodied receiver. If the Chargers really weren’t intent on trading Jackson – and it appears as if that’s the case after seeing how the whole thing played out – no realistic offer was going to get it done.
“The Chargers’ price started as two second-round draft picks and ended up being a second-rounder in 2011 and a fourth-rounder in 2012,” the Union-Tribune reported. “That scenario was based on a one-year deal. The Chargers would have expected more if Jackson had signed a multi-year contract. Chargers sources said that to their knowledge no such multi-year deal existed.”
SHULER IS CLAIMED
The Miami Dolphins claimed former Vikings tight end Mickey Shuler off waivers. The Vikings waived Shuler to make room on their roster for receiver Hank Baskett.
The Colts and Giants also put in claims on Shuler, who likely would have been re-signed to the Vikings practice squad if had cleared waivers.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.