The Vikings are a great soccer staff…on paper. simply taking a look at their roster, you’d assume this staff was a perennial playoff staff with large Bowl aspirations, in the event that they might solely get previous these pesky Packers. They haven’t been that although. They haven’t obtained their division since 2017 and have reached the playoffs solely as quickly as in that span as properly.
a terrific deal of the blame for this staff’s lack of manufacturing over these years has been pinned on quarterback Kirk Cousins. all people, whether or not you be an off-the-cuff NFL fan, diehard Vikings fan, or author for Deadspin, has taken a shot at Cousins in some unspecified time finally or one other. Hell, even NFL gamers can’t assist however underrate the man. How do you rank him beneath Mac Jones?
whereas I don’t think about he’s a glorious Bowl-caliber quarterback, opposite to what most people appear to think about, Cousins simply is not the motive his staff has missed the playoffs every of the final two years. His protection is. whereas I’ve defended the Vikings’ protection as a outcome of it pertains to Cousins’ skill to win a glorious Bowl to this level, there’s no defending how horrendous the Vikings’ protection was in 2021. Not solely did they permit the fifth-most passing yard and seventh-most dashing yards, however they have been arguably the least clutch protection inside the NFL this century. Don’t think about me?
Since 2000, the 2021 Minnesota Vikings allowed extra factors inside the closing two minutes of the 2nd and 4th quarters than one other staff. In Week 1 alone final yr, the Vikings surrendered 14 factors after the two-minute warning inside the major half, then allowed a sport-tying area purpose late on the clock inside the fourth. That’s 17 factors in a 4-minute span, arguably essential 4 minutes of a whole sport. of their second sport, it was ten factors. sport No. 4, eleven factors. Then it was eleven factors, eight factors, seven factors, seven factors, seven factors, seven factors, seven factors, 12 factors, zero factors (by some means), 9 factors, three factors, seven factors, and eight factors to finish the season. That’s a whole of 131 factors in sixty eight minutes over the course of your whole 2021 season. That’s almost two factors per minute performed. That’s embarrassing.
there have been solely two weeks all of final yr the place the Vikings’ protection managed to maintain their opponents to zero factors inside the closing two minutes of the major and second half — Week three versus Seattle and Week 14 on Thursday evening time soccer in opposition to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I don’t know what it was that enabled such horrendous play in the direction of the prime of every half for the Vikes, however that’s in all probability an enormous motive why each head coach Mike Zimmer and thought of one of many staff’s co-defensive coordinators, Adam Zimmer, have been fired this offseason.
whereas i do know former co-head coach and defensive coordinator Andre Patterson was properly-revered contained in the Vikings’ group, I truly assume it’s good that he’s not with the staff. Patterson was related to Zimmer and scattered after Zimmer was fired. Now, new head coach Kevin O’Connell will get to usher in all of his personal guys and implement his system immediately with none remnants of Zimmer.
New defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has always been properly-revered by opposing staffs and quarterbacks alike. He’s acquired two large Bowl rings, and his Broncos’ ranked third in factors per sport allowed (18.9) and second in opponent purple zone scoring share (50 p.c) in 2021. If Minnesota’s protection had these numbers final yr…they might’ve been a glorious Bowl contender. We shouldn’t anticipate them to place up these numbers in 2022, however even after they enhance barely, they’ll be vying for a playoff spot. Oh, the Broncos additionally solely allowed forty eight factors inside the closing two minutes of both half in 2021. That’s 36.6 p.c of the factors that Minnesota allowed.
in any case, you almost certainly can argue that is as a outcome of Denver performed a neater schedule. sure, Minnesota did have some sturdy video games, however a minimal of they don’t play inside the AFC West. you almost certainly can argue that Denver’s protection is simply extra gifted. I’d whole-heartedly agree with that, however you don’t see the style of disparity between level totals like I simply defined with the Vikings and Broncos primarily based on simply expertise. The teaching almost assuredly performed a exercise.
Kirk Cousins isn’t going to be an elite quarterback anytime quickly. He’ll enhance with Kevin O’Connell and Wes Phillips calling the performs, however I extremely doubt we’ll see him take an analogous leap to what Stafford did in 2021. That said, even when Cousins doesn’t enhance in any respect, the Vikings’ offense simply is not the draw again. Cousins can solely carry the staff to this point, and he typically does larger than enough to get a win. Hopefully, with the additions of Donatell, Za’Darius Smith, and Jordan Hicks, as properly as to the absence of Anthony Barr, the Vikes can enhance their protection and thus, attain the playoffs as quickly as as quickly as extra. I wouldn’t be shocked in the event that they competed for the NFC title till late inside the season. Don’t anticipate a glorious Bowl run, although.