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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

Hired Guns
To get a better grip on why this franchise has lost its way, you need to look no further than its hired guns.  Just think back to Brett Favre's revelation that all he would have to do is hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson ... throw the defense off ... and the rest would be gravy.  It didn't happen and soon we saw Brett tossing a miracle in the back of the end zone to secure a victory versus the 49ers back in that 2009 season.  Today's hired guns must have expected the same because the cohesiveness, bonding & continuity is severely lacking where we are inappropriately looking at the coaches & Rick Spielman, whereas we should be looking at the hired guns.

In addition, we've lost some incredible contributors to that 2017 success that represent the glue that held it all together.  How much do we miss:

Teddy Bridgewater might have played no direct role upon the field but in regard to this teams chemistry, he was a proven winner, and he was battling an incredible fight every day that he took the field & it all still just might be for absolutely nothing.  Tell me, how much respect did you have for this man.  

Flip just might be the next NFL genius ... gun slinging us to defeat after defeat ... making for great fantasy entertainment but Pat Shurmur found a way to bring the absolute most out of just about everything he had at his fingertips.  That was apparent the moment that Norv Turner was replaced by Shurmur.

Jarius Wright was on the perimeter of everything but he was so much more than that.  In baseball, we'd call him a clutch player, because Keenum could rely upon him to convert just about any 3rd down.

Jerrick McKinnon got his money & his chance at being a #1 running back in this league but his impact to this team was immeasurable.  Not only could he run delayed action, he was also a vertical threat out of the backfield.  In total he could actually be measured by his impact on Murray who expected the lead role to be handed to him when Cook went down.  Today, who is pushing Murray's performance on the field knowing that only 1/2 a Cook is in front of him.  2 or more additional yards on each carry should have been achieved but instead he just glides through the process and talks about what we could have achieved.  Talk doesn't beget anything but more talk.  Boone or Thomas just might have something to say about this.
Even though Marcus Sherels is on the roster, his impact not being on the field due to injury is immeasurable.  Now compound all of this with the loss of Newman & you get a recipe for disaster.  You see both of these gentlemen rarely missed their assignment & were almost never out of position even though neither one were considered world beating athletes in that 2017 season.  It was their cerebral presences that confounded the offense where today we are reliant upon players like
Mike Hughes, Jayron Kearse, Holton Hill & MacKensie Alexander, none of which has proven to be cohesive within Zimmer's defense.  Hughes has had his moments but he is a rookie where he is prone to jumping the gun thereby immersing the defensive system into chaos.  Hughes doesn't yet understand that he is a pivotal cog rather than having to achieve that Primetime status.  When we see both Kearse & Hill in simultaneous coverage ... we must accept the fact that we are in desperate trouble.  That lack of cohesiveness, on the back end, was & still is ... incalculable.

Many believe that the impact of Everson Griffen was paramount to our defense but in my opinion ... not so much.  After his foot injury in 2017, his impact was only a shadow of its former self where in our opening games of the 2018 season I found myself asking ... exactly what is he doing because he was off script allowing the QB to attack his vacated zone.

The loss of Nick Easton in 2017 should go along way in explaining how much we miss his presence in 2018.  The problem compounds itself with the retirement of that flexibility profile of represented by Berger.
 Not having Elflein also proved to be quite problematic as your starting center is like not having your right arm in a street fight.  

In 2017, it was clear that Robison's skill set was waning however when we did have the lead, the addition of a seasoned 3rd defensive end on that four man front was formidable in that no opposing quarterback could trust that front especially with a double "A" gap pressure.

Now in consideration of the newly acquired hired guns:

Due in part to his enormous numbers, some have compared Kirk Cousins with Daunte Culpepper's production.  Well that might be true if we're talking about his small hands trying to handle an NFL ball on a wet feild.  Probably a more accurate comparison would be to compare Kirk Cousins with Jeff George.  He was both entertaining & a gun slinger but he was also prone to inconceivable disasters.  The nightmare of having to play the Rams when they were the greatest show on turf immediately comes to mind where George had the unexplained lapses and always during critical moments.  It became so prevalent that for Dennis Green ... he'd be through with Jeff George ... secretly pining for his scout quarterback (Culpepper) the following year 2000 season.
For some unexplained reason there is this belief that Kirk Cousins will break that mold by cleaning up his act.  Of course that will only happen when he takes responsibility by looking into the mirror and admits that he's has a "major league" problem.  If Dennis Green was at the helm, it wouldn't surprise me that he'd have Kirk Cousins take the bench similar to how he handled Robert Smiths fumbling issues.  To be direct, you don't fumble Denny's ball because someone that lays that ball on Denny's carpet is going to learn humility & you're going to need a tweezer to pull splinters from your ass .... cause your going to be there for a while.  Will this happen ... probably not, but somehow Kirk Cousins is going to have to simulate that demotion in the hopes that he can get back into the game.  For a loser can be both stellar and wretchedly absurd simultaneously and if you look closely at his overall record you could say that it was his prior organizations fault ... or you could say it was all of his own doing.  There is no question that he has everything to be the elite of the elite in this league but there is also one undeniable fact that your record says exactly what you are.  Kirk ... it's time to put the disaster of Cousin's NFL economics to bed in favor of the ebb & flow of simplicity.  There wasn't one thing that the LA Rams possessed that you now also posses especially with the addition of Robinson Aldrick.  Were the Vikings exposed or were they given the blue print & the ability to throw it right back into the LA Rams faces.  It might not be ready today, with Cook at limited capabilities,  Do we wonder how Herb Brooks would respond to the thought of taking that game & throwing it right back into their face?  Learn from it.

Richardson has proven to be quite effective as expected but the recent breakdowns have obscured his eventual impact.

At some point, we would all expect Head Coach Mike Zimmer to come to the conclusion that a three safeties combination just might be a future possibility but at present Iloka just might be in the process of being broken down.  It's one thing to have elite players but it is an entirely different situation to have an elite player sacrifice what he might know to what might work.  Allow me to explain.  Well we all remember the days of Bo Jackson but we forget that Marcus Allen was moved to full back where his role was to block for Bo.  This was a Hall of Fame running back taking a back seat ... because he wanted to help his team of mates.  Well Mr. Iloka you can't help your team unless your on that field & that just aint going to happen unless you can diversify your loads.

For some reason Coach Zimmer believes that you can not stop the run rushing five (two defensive ends (Weatherly/Hunter), with Richardson & Joseph jamming up the middle by run blitzing Anthony Barr, using three seasoned safeties (Smith, Iloka & Sendejo) with one covering the tight end, thereby covering a three receiver sets with Waynes, Rhodes & Hughes.  In base defense, which is designed to counter heavy run support, you have three line backers.  In the past Coach Zimmer has found success using two line backers but that has become ineffective when the offense spreads the field.  The counter just might be a five man rush using Barr leaving zero backers in reserve covering the back end with six (three corners & three safeties).  The thought that you need a linebacker to counter the run, or better said, to tackle the runner is a fallacy and you need to look no further than the legacy of Winfield.

The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: October 3,  2018