Minnesota Vikings: 1980
Many people think Bud Grant was a coach who took advantage of a loaded roster in the late 1960s and rode it to four Super Bowl appearances. In actuality, the man never gets enough credit for how good he was at his job. That team probably would’ve petered out in the early 1970s without Grant’s firm direction, but anybody looking for a true sign of his prowess should look no further than the 1980 season.
This wasn’t the same team anymore. Greats like Fran Tarkenton, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, and Paul Krause were gone. This was a team of unproven youths like Tommy Kramer, Ted Brown, and John Turner. Not exactly a stellar lineup like the days of old. So it’s little wonder the team got off to such a rough start, limping to a 3-5 record by the halfway point.
Grant though didn’t change his approach. He kept calm, coaching them up and pushing forward. Before too long they started to string together some strong performances. Leading the way was veteran receiver Ahmad Rashad who made his third Pro Bowl. Minnesota won six of their final eight games to make the playoffs at 9-7.