EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — So here we are.

The Minnesota Vikings head into their bye week in the thick of a division title race, and finally looking much more like the contender we assumed they would be. Namely, they’re back to playing the kind of defense we’ve grown accustomed to.

WCCO’s David McCoy takes a look at how we got here, and where we go from here.

The first half of this Vikings season can just about be broken in half: First four games, just one win. Now four wins in their last five. The biggest difference: Defense.

There was no defining… light-bulb enlightening… come to Jesus moment.

But somewhere along the way — maybe after this? — Mike Zimmer realized that the schemes he’d been using so successfully for decades weren’t working anymore, and it was time to make some changes.

“Every Monday we come in. We’ll sit down and we’ll look at plays that hurt us, and we’ll look back through the season and look at play that hurt us, and kind of see if there’s a pattern going on,” Zimmer said.

And there was a pattern.

“And they’re all attacking with basically the same combination of route combinations and things,” Zimmer said. “Because you see everybody game planning the same coverage every single week. That’s why we’ve had to change.”

The results have spoken for themselves ever since. Even their loss to the Saints was the result of offensive mistakes, not defense.

“Defensively we didn’t start out well. Every year is a new year, but I do feel like we’re starting to look a lot more like I kind of expect us to,” Zimmer said.

The season is more than halfway behind them — just seven games left after coming back from the bye week. And the next four are especially critical: At Chicago, home against the Packers, at New England and at Seattle.

Four teams in the hunt. Three on the road. Two in the division. It’s about to make a big difference on the rest of this Vikings season.

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