The expectations in Minnesota are sky high after the Vikings signed quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is roundly believed to be the missing piece to a Super Bowl-worthy roster. Coach Mike Zimmer's job is to temper those expectations.
While Minnesota believes Cousins is a long-term upgrade over Case Keenum, Zimmer understands his team as a whole must continue to improve in order to reclaim the NFC North and make a drive toward a Lombardi Trophy.
"I think it is completely fresh and Kirk is our guy," Zimmer said of his outlook after adding Cousins. "Hopefully we can continue to do some things we did last year. We played pretty good on defense most of the time. We have a good football team, we have a great organization, great owners, and if we can just continue to keep getting better, keep trying to get a little bit better every day, maybe we can finally get over that one last game that we didn't get done with last year. Everybody gets to start at 0-0 and we're the same way. I wish we could start out at 13-3 and have a bye the first round, but it doesn't happen. You have injuries, you have a lot of different things that go on throughout the season and we're going to have to manage it like everybody else."
Every team deals with unexpected speed bumps along the way of a long season. The goal of signing a player of Cousins' caliber was to help smooth out any of those rough patches the Vikings will face.
With teams like the L.A. Rams building a super squad, the Eagles restocking, and Aaron Rodgers returning healthy, the NFC will not be a cakewalk for anyone. Zimmer knows he must manage the outsized expectations before they get out of hand.