The desperate masses of Minnesota have crowned a new king. As Kirk Cousins rode in on a purple-peppered stallion, an opal-encrusted tiara was placed upon his charming cranium. September can’t come soon enough for the Minnesota Vikings, for whom the expectations are at their capacity. The NFC runners up open camp with a much-improved offense, an equally stifling defense and an infinite amount of intrigue. As the season approaches, here’s a rundown of how their year could go.
Ground and pound
Most of the talk has been about the Vikings’ improved passing game. I’m here to say their rushing game is the real winner this summer. Kirk Cousins will demand more respect from opposing defenses than Case Keenum ever did, allowing more room for running lanes. Keenum rarely threw the long-ball, meaning opposing secondaries could hang out closer to the line of scrimmage. Cousins should change things, so expect draw plays and end-arounds to have more success. Add on the addition of Dalvin Cook and the Vikes are really rolling. Cook and Latavius Murray project as a formidable one-two punch behind an offensive line that’ll be healthy for the first time in a while. The ground-attack is back in Minnesota.
The Vikings improved, but so did all their main rivals. Aaron Rodgers has a collar bone shaped reason to destroy Minnesota, while the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions made significant improvements over the offseason. Tack on some challenging out of division matchups and the Vikings are looking at some competitive games. They open against the Jimmy Garoppolo show before heading straight to Lambeau field. If they’re not careful, they could start off in a 0-2 hole.
Top defense (again) ?
The Vikings led the league in total defense last season and there’s no reason they shouldn’t repeat. They return all their key players with the addition of rookie stud Mike Hughes. The running game will be equally as ferocious. The secondary should be excellent, with all Vikings fans hoping for Trae Wayne’s ascension. All that said, the linebackers should still be the best part of Minnesota’s purple people eaters.
I’ve already mentioned a ground-and-pound resurgence, and that offensive strategy should boost the defense as well. The offense will be on the field longer, with drawn out drives becoming the norm. That means more rest time for a defense that doesn’t even need it.
There’s a lot of talk around Minnesota regarding who the better wideout is: Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen? Here’s a hot take: it doesn’t matter. They have different roles within the offense, so naturally they don’t step on each others toes much. Thielen is used on quick routes and screens, while Diggs is more of a threat down-field. Both will be equally vital to the team this season.
We don’t want another Blair Walsh situation where hopes are brought up just to be crushed. But it’s hard not to expect big things from the team this year. As 2018 approaches, Minnesotans expect nothing less than a super bowl ring.