Fall is around the corner, and football is officially back. Not like back and around anymore, this time, shit counts for real. Sunday, it’s Welcome to the Jungle time in Cincinnati for the purple and gold and many fans like myself are anxious and eager to see how this team looks after a weird and dramatic preseason. The drama part might have been magnified by Viking’s Twitter, but that’s what they do. Injuries, surprises, and who could forget those hilarious riddles from after Training Camp practices?
The Achilles HeelMany things are in the conversation when talking about how far the Vikings can go this season. Number one is, has, and will always be the offensive line. Because finding big boys to block is a problem, apparently. The O-Line has had some weird combinations early on, seeing who gels and who can hold their own.
Ezra Cleveland making the switch from right to left guard should help. Oli Udoh makes his debut in the rotation at RG, and his physical tools and knowledge of the system hopefully will pay off. Christian Darrisaw has been MIA for most of training camp and practices up to this point as he’s dealing with an injury to his core..? Sounds very not fun. Excited to hear he’s back practicing again, but you have to wonder how long it will take for him to get up to speed.Well-known backup Rashod Hill mans the blind spot in the meantime. All this adds up to some uncertainty, and Mike Zimmer’s quote from practice Monday echoes that.
Health is Wealth
There’s a saying that exists: the best ability is availability. Injuries, they’re gonna happen no matter what. The Vikings were snakebitten early on with Irv Smith Jr. tearing his meniscus in a meaningless preseason game. You hate to see it honestly. He was due for a big breakout year, finally getting the chance to be TE1. The bigger talking point this offseason leading into the start of real action has been the COVID protocols and who and who doesn’t have the jab. News this weekend revealed 5 starters in the Vikings lineup are still Unvaccinated, and will most likely keep it that way. Listen y’all I’m not here to make this political or have a discussion on vaccines. Looking at what happened with Kirk Cousins after his brush-up with COVID in the QB room, and the fact that a positive test a Friday before a game means you miss 2 full weeks makes me wonder what this is really about. It would be a damn nightmare to see Kellen Mond out there 2 years too soon and running for his life. Or worse, Sean Mannion. Also… it seems like the part of Vikings Twitter who hates Kirk the most has actually no idea what he looks like. Look at this parody video we did of “Kirk Cousins at the State Fair” and look at all the people who think it’s actually Kirk in the replies. It makes me lose hope in society.
Age of PredictionsAs I eluded to earlier in the summer, this season mostly depends on how well the defense does this year. Last season’s unit was close to the bottom in nearly all of the important statistics. You could always count on whatever running back that was up against us was going to have a field day, remember Alvin Kamara going all “Alvin and the Chipmunks” on us and scoring 6 TDs on Christmas day? I do. Fortunately, this year already is shaping up to be better than last, positive thoughts brought to you by this Mike Zimmer quote:
My prediction for the season: we will be fine. If the defense is vastly improved and the offense looks 50-75% what it did last year, we’re going to the playoffs. Don’t ask me to predict the record though, I’m not that psychic. And looking at the records with the 17th game added is giving my OCD fits, though most “experts” believe we won’t be any better than 8-9 (ew).
And if things aren’t fine, Zim and Spielman will lose their jobs and we start this whole thing all over again. Everything that has happened since Kirk Cousins was brought in, his whole era feels like it comes to a head this year. Not just for him, but for the team in general. All in all, the teardown process is always painful and usually comes with a rebuild, but it would be reassuring to know that things moved on before it was too late. As long as you don’t let him down, you understood the assignment.
Professional Driver. Lover of all things sports. I once cut meat for Paul Allen and Mark Rosen. I talk on a podcast about men hugging each other aggressively.