The Vikings missed the playoffs in 2018-19, allowing the fans and the Twitter Mob to get a head start on playing GM. While there are too many to include, here are a few of the common trends I’ve seen, and why they’re wrong:
“Kirk Cousins is Awful and We Will Never Win with Him”
At his press-conference at the NFL Combine, Rick Spielman gave an example of Brett Favre’s down year with the Jets before coming to a scheme with the Vikings that better suited his strengths. That Vikings team, as we know, lost in the NFC Championship game. Another example is when the Bears traded for Jay Cutler in a similar high-profile acquisition. The Bears went 7-9 in Cutler’s first season, replaced their offensive coordinator, and proceeded to go 11-5 on their way to the NFC Championship in Year 2. Does any of this sound familiar?
Kirk Cousins also wasn’t that bad. We had good Kirk in Lambeau (cue the touchdowns to Diggs and Thielen) and we had bad Kirk vs Buffalo and under the bright lights. There are causes for concern but there’s no reason to give up after one year. While everyone worries about roster moves, it’s possible the Vikings have already made the most crucial decision of the offseason in hiring offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and offensive advisor Gary Kubiak, as the scheme they draw up will likely determine Cousins (and the Vikings) success. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end with losing in the NFC Championship game.
“Rick Spielman Has Ignored the Offensive Line”
4/5 of the Vikings offensive line consists of:
- Brian O’Neill (2017 2nd round pick)
- Pat Elflein (2016 3rd round pick)
- Riley Reiff (11th highest paid tackle by AAV)
- Mike Remmers (22nd highest paid guard by AAV)
Yes, none of them are first-round picks, but the last first-round pick he selected (Matt Kalil) didn’t turn out so hot, either. Spielman poured money into Reiff and Remmers two years ago to solidify the line and complimented that with two high draft-picks. It hasn’t worked out, so the evaluation process might need work, but ignore isn’t the correct word.
“The Vikings Need to Take an Offensive Lineman with Their First-Round Pick”
No, no, no, no, no, no and no. While the Vikings need to revamp their offensive line, it doesn’t’need to be in the first round unless the value presents itself. Everyone wants instant gratification, but should the Vikings not take a position of need, there is no use in getting mad until you see that player perform. Every team is one injury away from a need at every position. Teams win with good football players, not hopeful improvements.
In 2016, the Vikings were set at linebacker with Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. As a result, they passed on Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack in order to draft Laquon Treadwell. Fast-forward to 2019… Raise your hand if you would rather have Jaylon Smith or Myles Jack over Laquon Treadwell? I rest my case.
“I’d Rather Have Sheldon Richardson than Anthony Barr”
I am pro-Sheldon Richardson. He had a great season and solidified the defensive line, filling the void that was left by Sharrif Floyd’s unfortunate exit. That said, if I had to decide between Richardson and Barr for next season, the answer is Barr and it’s not close.
First off, Barr is good, which some people tend to forget. I’ll admit he hasn’t been consistent, but he is still a top linebacker in the league, not to mention one of the most versatile, forcing teams to game-plan specifically for him. Zimmer previously said that in blitz packages, teams automatically assume for Barr is the ‘fifth rusher.’ This allows Zimmer to design exotic blitz packages with a leg up on the competition solely based on the fact that Barr is on the field. Lastly, he wears the play-calling mic and is a leader on defense. Having a player with a strong understanding of how Zimmer’s defense operates is something that will be difficult to replace.
“The Vikings Need to Ditch [Insert Successful Vikings Player Here] for Cap Space/Draft Picks”
There’s a laundry list of Vikings players that fans seemingly want off the team. Trade Xavier Rhodes. Trade Trae Waynes. Cut Everson Griffen. Cut Kyle Rudolph. Yes, the Vikings are strapped for cap space, but there’s no point in cutting people unless there’s an answer. You can’t put “Cap Space” on the field.
The Vikings have a surplus of cornerbacks, so I can at least entertain the idea of moving one of their studs. It makes them more well-rounded on paper, but what do you do if Rhodes or Waynes gets injured? What if Mike Hughes isn’t good? What if Mack Alexander was a one-year wonder? Xavier Rhodes was named First-Team All-Pro in 2017 (aka one of the top two cornerbacks in the league) and Trae Waynes would be the top cornerback on most other teams. Combined, they provide the Vikings with arguably the league’s best cornerback duo, why break that up if you don’t have to?
As for Rudolph and Griffen, leadership aside, cutting Rudolph would create a massive need at tight-end, so whatever resources you gained would be poured back into the position. As for Griffen, you can never have enough pass rushers, and while it’s likely his best years are behind him, he is one-year removed from a 13-sack season. Anybody who replaces Griffen at defensive-end would have far less potential than an Everson Griffen back in 2017 form. All of that said, I’m not opposed to some tweaking, but don’t make like Prince and go crazy. There’s a reason we have high expectations for the Vikings, let’s not cut all the players that created us to have them in the first place.