Under first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensan and first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell, the Vikings do extensive research before making all sorts of decisions. And that was the case before the team decided when it would leave for next Sunday’s game in London against New Orleans.
When the Vikings played in London in 2013, they left Monday night and arrived Tuesday morning. When they played there in 2017, they left Wednesday night and arrived Thursday morning. For the game against the Saints, they will depart Thursday night and arrive Friday morning.
“I do rely heavily on the sports performance side of things,’’ O’Connell said. “I have not made the trip to London, so this will be my first. I will say that we spent a lot of time talking about how we’re going to handle it, (including) consulting with the players of which have made two or three of those kind of trips. So we do feel good about our plan.”
While the Vikings left at different times for their previous two Sunday games in London, they won both. They defeated Pittsburgh 34-27 in 2013 under head coach Leslie Frazier and Cleveland 33-16 in 2017 under Mike Zimmer.
The Vikings were the home team in 2013, the road team in 2017, and again will be the road team against the Saints. The Saints will fly to London after their game Sunday at Carolina and arrive Monday morning.
“It’s a heck of a travel no matter how you do it and I think there are a lot of philosophies to it,’’ O’Connell said.
The Vikings will fly home immediately after the game. Unlike after their two previous games in London, they will not have a bye the following week. They will return to face Chicago at home on Oct. 9.
O’Connell said the Vikings will plunge quickly into preparation for the game against New Orleans after they face Detroit on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings will practice at the TCO Performance Center on Wednesday and Thursday and O’Connell said they will “condense some meeting times a little bit” during the week.
Equipment manager Dennis Ryan said he has been working diligently on getting ready for the trip since it was officially announced May 4 that the Vikings would play in London. He said the team long has been assembling a list of items for a manifest that must be turned into customs in the United Kingdom.
“It’s quite a lengthy document and right away we started going through it,’’ said Ryan, saying the Vikings must include the value of everything they bring and in what country items were made.
Ryan said the Vikings will bring about 20,000 pounds of equipment, a similar amount to their last two trips to London and more than the roughly 17,000 pounds taken for a typical regular-season game. The difference in going overseas is the Vikings need equipment for practices and the traveling party is larger.
Ryan, who has been with Minnesota since 1975, has accompanied the team on all its international trips. Prior to their first regular-season game abroad in 2013, the Vikings played preseason games in London in 1983, in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1988, in Berlin in 1993 and in Tokyo in 1994.
For the London game in 1983, Ryan said the traveling party was much smaller and the Vikings only took about 7,500 pounds of equipment.
The Vikings will face the Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the fourth different stadium used in four trips to London. They played at the old Wembley Stadium in 1983, the new Wembley Stadium in 2013 and at Twickenham Stadium in 2017.
Ryan hasn’t yet been to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but has “heard it’s impressive as far as an NFL facility” and that it has a big locker room. The surface is Turf Master, which will make it the first time Minnesota has played on artificial turf in Europe.
IT’S THE OTHER NO. 45
Vikings linebacker Troy Dye got a kick out of announcer Joe Buck saying on ABC’s Monday Night Football last Monday in Philadelphia that a tackle he made on a punt return was by long snapper Rick Lovato. Lovato wears No. 45 for the Eagles and Dye wears No. 45 for the Vikings, who lost the game 24-7.
“That’s pretty funny,’’ Dye said. “You can’t get really mad at somebody for making an honest mistake. As long as the people who tally up the tackles get it right. As long as they put it down as a tackle for Troy Dye.”