PHILADELPHIA – The soothing talk sounded lovely. New vibes, new culture, new way of doing business. Don't worry, be happy.
And when the revamped Vikings smashed the Packers in Kevin O'Connell's coaching debut, well, who among us didn't wonder if maybe, just maybe, replacing cantankerous with chill might be the perfect medicine for a team stuck in mediocrity.
Then Monday night happens, old bad habits re-appear and you're reminded that a kinder, gentler approach by itself doesn't guarantee smooth sailing on the way to paradise.
The Vikings defense ruined the first half and Kirk Cousins doomed the second half in a sloppy, mistake-filled dud of a performance that stood as a direct opposite to their season opener.
The Philadelphia Eagles dictated terms on both sides of the ball in dismantling the Vikings 24-7 at Lincoln Financial Field. The margin of 17 points felt much larger.
Most reasonable fans would have taken a 1-1 start given the caliber of the first two opponents, but the way in which the Vikings followed up a crisp, spirited effort against the Packers was certainly deflating and raises concerns in several areas.
The pass defense was nonexistent in the first half. Cousins squandered multiple chances to make the game close in the second half by throwing three interceptions. And the Eagles coaching staff put together a solid, well-rounded game plan after gaining insight into O'Connell's operation last week.
The passer rating of the two starting quarterbacks underlined the one-sided outcome: Cousins 51.1, Jalen Hurts 108.7.
Hurts accounted for 390 total yards and three touchdowns, most of his heavy lifting coming in the first half when the game was decided.
One play served as the billboard for his dissection of Ed Donatell's defense.
Late in the half, Hurts faked a handoff and the Vikings defense cued up the circus music. Most of the defense bit on the fake, leaving Hurts an ocean of open turf around the edge.
Tight end Dallas Goedert took safety Harrison Smith out of the play by pushing him backwards down the field. Linebacker Jordan Hicks and safety Camryn Bynum tried to tackle Hurts but failed to bring him down or strip the ball out of his hands as he rumbled into the end zone for a 26-yard score.
That play, and the entire performance, was reminiscent of the 2021 Vikings defense that ranked among the NFL's worst.
Lost in the hoopla of Justin Jefferson's record-setting outing in O'Connell's debut against the Packers was a 180-degree showing by the defense. The Vikings surrendered only seven points and made Aaron Rodgers look miserable.
Their effort inspired hope that the defense had changed its fortunes. New scheme, new faces in personnel, the return of Danielle Hunter and voila, a broken defense was fixed. Or at least vastly improved.
This one landed with a thud.
Hurts completed his first 11 passes and finished the first half by completing 17 of 20 passes for 251 yards with one touchdown. He also rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns before halftime.
All the preseason questions about the Vikings secondary came to light as Philadelphia's receivers repeatedly found openings. A miscommunication between Bynum and cornerback Cameron Dantzler led to a busted coverage and a 53-yard touchdown catch by Quez Watkins.
Bynum ran forward with his sights on a different receiver and Watkins ran right past him for an easy pitch-and-catch.
The Eagles defense took an opposite approach from what the Packers used in the opener: They actually covered receivers and made Cousins uncomfortable with pressure.
The skittish Cousins re-emerged against an Eagles secondary that played physical and contested passes. Even when Cousins was on the mark, his receivers dropped the ball, quite literally.
Trailing 21-7, tight end Irv Smith Jr. got behind the secondary and Cousins hit him in stride on a deep ball for what should have been a walk-in touchdown. Smith dropped it.
Dropped passes kept coming. Cousins forced throws into coverage and got intercepted. The defense allowed 486 yards. The Eagles coaching staff had a better game plan.
Two weeks into the season, the Vikings have delivered a commanding win and a stinker. We will learn soon enough which one is closer to the truth.