Season in Review – Minnesota Vikings

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Next in our series, we take a look at Captain Kirk and the Minnesota Vikings. Was this season a success? Vikings fans, let us know your thoughts – @full10yards on the Social!


Entering the Season


The Vikings have always had the end goal of reaching a Super Bowl the moment they signed Kirk Cousins to that huge fully guaranteed contract. With pretty much the same pieces on the team, the pressure was the same as last year, the expectations were the same as last year, get to the big one.

Garrett Bradbury was the new anchor at Center and they also brought in Irv Smith to deploy some 2 tight end sets to help #establishtherun.

Kirk Cousins was entering his 2nd season as a Viking with no more excuses, no more mulligans and certainly nowhere to hide. The team was built to reach a Super Bowl and Kirk Cousins was assigned the role to lead them there. Simple.


DURING THE SEASON


If you put the last 2 seasons of the Vikings back to back, it pretty much was groundhog day;

Struggled in the division, with 3 of their 6 losses coming in the division and swept by the Bears for the 2nd straight season. A top 10 defence in terms of points per game and Kirk Cousins stinking it up on Prime Time/island games when it matters. Oh and Dalvin Cook not being fully healthy for a stretch.

They kicked off their season with home wins against the Falcons and Raiders, but away losses in Lambeau and Soldier Field.

Adam Thielen, who would later go on an miss some time through injury, along with Stefon Diggs kicked up a fuss about the offence and their involvement in it led to a lot of unrest in the VIkings camp, including Diggs being fined for missing practice.

Image result for stefon diggs unhappy
Image Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

They seemingly managed to kiss and make up as Kirk Cousins then went hell for leather with the rock and a relatively easy stretch saw them improve to 8-3 with their only loss before the bye coming to the Kansas City Chiefs (the Matt Moore led one, not the Patrick Mahomes one).

Losses against Green Bay and Chicago meant that they entered the playoffs as a wildcard and a 10-3 record.

Perhaps their most dominant display of the season came in the wildcard round, where they absolutely dominated the red hot Saints andVikings fans thinking maybe, just maybe, Kirk Cousins has turned a corner.

Unfortunately, around that corner was step 1 as a dismal performance against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round saw them go out with a whimper amidst more rumours of unrest with Stefon Diggs, who visibly threw his helmet to the ground during that Wildcard game.

Image result for minnesota vs san francisco
Image Credit: Adam Bettcher/Getty

With no NFC title game being played, you have to grade the season as that the Vikings underachieved and Kirk Cousins really hasn’t gone to prove that he was worth that guaranteed contract or that he is the guy to take this team to the holy land.


offseason outlook


Kevin Stefanski has agreed to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Mike Zimmer is likely to be retained by the Vikings.

It’s hard to put a finger on what to do with Minnesota to help them take the next step, though many will still point to the Quarterback position, as they have done for the past several years. There are a lot of well paid players on both sides of the ball and some creativity with the salary cap will be required. It’s hard to pinpoint where they’ll bolster in the draft as one week they look complete and another they have more holes than a cheese grater (NFC North Green Bay Packers joke there). You have to feel that they’ll add something to the offensive line due to the way they want to run their offence, and they’ll probably focus on defence, Xavier Rhodes did not have a pro bowl worthy season.

Come next season, will it be Groundhog day once again for the Vikings in 2020? Probably.

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Where Do They Go From Here? Vikings

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Minnesota Vikings.

Don’t forget to check out the NFC North podcast where we talked to Paul Berryman who plays for the Dunfermline Kings and asked for his thoughts.

How Did Last Season Go?

Comparing to most recent previous seasons, this season was nothing short of a disaster.

After getting to the Championship game in the 2017 season and “upgrading” at the QB position, the Vikings fell well short of expectations which would’ve been to appear in the Super Bowl. Dalvin Cook could not stay healthy again and there were more holes in the o line than a extra large cheese grater. There were more than eyebrows raised when Buffalo came in to town in week 3 and annihilated them in the first half.

Firing their OC John DeFillippo midway through the season, which showed how happy they were with the way the team were playing on offence.

That said, apart from that, not really any surprising results in the season, with all their other losses coming to teams who made the playoffs so it’s fair to say the winners’s schedule could be as much to blame as any other excuses.

Bottom line is that there was no January football for Minnesota thus, a failure of a season.

Housekeeping

Minnesota pick at 18, 50 and 81 within the top 100 and are 2nd worst in terms of cap space available at the time of writing.

Outgoings

Anthony Barr, Sheldon Richardson and Latavius Murray are the most notable names on the Free Agency market. Oh, and Trevor Siemian. Silly me.

Incomings

Due to the lack of cap space, I’m not sure we’ll be troubled too much by the Entrance door apart from the draft. Depth on the offensive line is an obvious need as well as a bit or two on defence to cover the departures. They will need to replace Latavius Murray due to Cook’s unreliability in terms of staying on the field too.

Wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota take a Tight End in the draft considering the talent in the 2019 class.

Outlook for Next Year

Looking at the landscape of the division, the outlook is a murky one.

The schedule will ease up slightly but have a difficult away schedule including visits to Dallas, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City and Seattle to add on top to their divisional away trips to Lambeau and Soldier Field. As always, a lot will come down to the divisional games, where the Vikings went 3-2-1 last season.

I’m not sure how much more Cousins can improve from last season after passing for over 4000 yards, 30 TDs and 10INT.

Prediction

They will need to be more effective on the ground behind an improved Offensive line and have a healthy Dalvin Cook to play January football next season. That said, I’m not convinced Green Bay are totally right at the moment so the chances are there for 2 teams to come from the North for the playoffs next season. Minnesota Vikings to be one of those teams. If they can sort out their line issues, they could quite easily take the division title back.

Fantasy Football

Kirk Cousins – later round QB, low QB 1/QB2

Dalvin Cook – 2nd Round , mid/low RB1

Adam Thielen – 3rd Round, WR2/ WR1 upside

Stefon Diggs – 3rd Round, WR2 / WR1 upside

Kyle Rudolph – just no.