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Viking Fans are Looking Toward the Future with Blurred Lenses.

Viking Fans are Looking Toward the Future with Blurred Lenses.

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UGH.

The Bears game played out exactly how I predicted it would. I can’t stand when I’m watching the Vikings in the middle of the first quarter and it’s already extremely obvious how the game is going to play out…Knowing I have to sit there for three more quarters in pain.

I hate the lack of pass rush, the bland defensive looks, the predictable offensive play calls, the time it takes for Cousins to drop back and actually get ready to pass on play action, and the fact they can always make a quarterback everyone in the league generally considers a bust look like Joe Montana.

But most of all I hate any/all post game thoughts from anybody, anywhere.

It’s funny, I remember why I generally can’t stand Vikings fans. Im usually reminded of that two or three times a year.

This year I thank Twitter for my remembrance.

Twitter is overflowing with fans talking about the valuable experience these young corners and defensive lineman are getting this year. And how that experience will no doubt translate into big things for next year’s team.

I must be on another planet.

All the talented promising young guys on the defensive line have produced exactly zero sacks the last four weeks.

All the talented promising young guys in the secondary have been burned by the likes of Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater, Mike Glennon, and Mitch Trubisky the last few weeks.

Other than Dantzler (even though his durability will be a question mark going forward) none of these talented promising young guys will translate to anything productive next year.

I admit it, I was hopeful at first. I thought they’ll play out the rest of this season getting all these young guys some much needed experience, they’d make mistakes, but they’ll show some flashes, build confidence, and be that much better for it by the start of next year.

The thing they forgot to do was show flashes. Make a play here or there every once in awhile for gosh sakes. Give me something.

Nope, all the defensive line does is fill space and all the secondary has learned how to do this year is dance. They’d definitely be the best secondary in the league this year in a dance contest.

Sadly, despite what you’ll read from local media, this year has done absolutely nothing to improve the team towards next year. The reasons are simple:

They have no nfl caliber players on their defensive line right now

This is a fact. The team leader in sacks is Yannick Ngakoue with 5. He was traded to the Ravens after week 6. Linebacker Eric Wilson leads all players on the active roster with 3. Key word there being Linebacker.

And that doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s not like they are getting close. They never put any pressure on the quarterback at all.

I hear the echos already, well next year we get Hunter and Pierce back…

Will we? That’s debatable. Word out of Hunter’s camp is he wants his contract ripped up and to be paid like the league’s best. I wrote about this issue in detail earlier this year. That stance couldn’t have worked out better for him this year…sitting at home, smiling, while watching all that lack of productivity. His contract demands could very easily lead to a holdout or trade.

Pierce is a big guy brought in to clog up the middle and stop the run. Getting him back will do little to nothing to help the pass rush.

The secondary hasn’t improved, they’ve overachieved

When looking towards next year you don’t assess how the team played on defense as a whole, you look at the individual.

As a unit, the secondary has oddly overachieved in many games this year. That’s a testament to Mike Zimmer being a former defensive backs coach.

Individually they have one potential future player in Cam Dantzler. He has shown flashes and made a couple big plays, which is what you’re looking for if you’re in building for the future mode.

He’s also been the tail on the dog several times and has shown that durability will be his biggest issue in the league. He’ll need to add some muscle in the offseason to his 6’2″, 188 lb frame to improve in that area.

Everyone else is expendable. They used a first round pick on Jeff Gladney so he’ll definitely be back next year. He has been truly awful this year. Tackling and being physical were supposed to be the strong points of his game. Every time I see him he’s waiving at somebody or picking himself up off the dirt.

I don’t know…Maybe he’s extremely physical away from the ball and a good tackler in practice.

They’ve played musical chairs with everyone else at the corner and nickel positions. The revolving door of Mark Fields, Harrison Hand, Chris Jones, Dylan Mabin, Holten Hill, Kris Boyd, Nate Meadors, and Mike Hughes was both exhausting and devastatingly unproductive all year.

Who the hell are all these guys?

I’ve never watched a Vikings game and said “who is that?” so much in my life. Seems to happen 20% of the time a corner makes a tackle these days.

Hopefully these guys are not coming back, two of them are already gone, and if a couple do make it back onto the roster next year they certainly shouldn’t be counted on.

This is why I can’t stand fans talking about how well the Vikings are building for the future with all their young promising corners. Well, you’re half right…they are young…

Some of the veterans on this team are hitting their downward swing

It’s sad to say, if it makes sense contract-wise, it might be time to move on from Kyle Rudolph. I love the guy, the team loves him, the community loves him, but him being out with an injury the past two weeks has shown the Vikings they have two cheaper more productive options in Irv Smith Jr. and Tyler Conklin.

Anthony Barr was on injured reserve all year and will be 29 next season making a ton of money against the salary cap. At the very least they’ll need to restructure his contract or he could find himself elsewhere. Eric Wilson has had a monster year filling in for Barr and will no doubt make a lot of money as a free agent, either in Minnesota or, more likely, somewhere else.

Safety Anthony Harris has done next to nothing this year and will be a free agent at season’s end. There is little doubt the team will move on from him. Harrison Smith has been solid again this year, but there is no ignoring he will be 32 and in the final year of his contract next year.

See Also

The Vikings will be in salary cap hell again this offseason

There is no way around it. The Vikings can restructure and cut all the guys they want, they still won’t have much wiggle room. The Contract of Kirk Cousin’s doesn’t help much. For a team that needs to improve dramatically in so many areas (offensive line, defensive everything, and kicker) it means once again they’ll probably do very little in free agency and have to look towards the draft. Which will just bring in a bigger plethora of young, promising, talented…

What are we gonna do about special teams? Just ignore it?

The Vikings special teams unit is one of the worst in NFL history. They can’t possibly start next season without a new kicker, possibly a new punter, long snapper, and coach. And don’t get me started on punt returns. 49 total punt return yards this year? That’s it? Unbelievable. How is that even possible? I guess when your young, promising, talented defense doesn’t force many punts…

The offensive line is average at best

They’ll need to upgrade at both guard positions and hope Ezra Cleveland develops into the tackle they think he’ll be. Veteran Riley Reiff, who is durable and dependable, will not be back with the team next year. The Vikings have been merely hoping an average O-line can overachieve game to game since 2016. Maybe it’s time to change that philosophy. It doesn’t work against teams like the Bears, who have strong pass rushes. Not to mention more is expected of the Vikings offensive line than any other team in the league’s, given the mobility of their quarterback and the slow moving, play action, zone running attack style they’ve been using since bringing in Gary Kubiak to oversee things on that side of the ball.

The Positives

The whole thing is a mess. This isn’t some ‘year before the year’ or ‘we are one year away’ bullshit I keep reading on twitter. This was not a year to build on. This was a year of extreme overachievement. Most teams overachieving this much in a year make the playoffs. The experience the corners and defensive lineman gained this year means nothing. If it tells us anything, it’s that neither of those units have any NFL caliber players. Dantzler? Yes. Wonnum? Maybe. Everyone else is absolutely dreadful and showed no flashes of any future success in anyway imaginable.

Now, the foundation of Jefferson and Cook is there. These are two already great players, both locked up for four more years on team-friendly contracts. The offensive skill players in general are the strength of the unit. Say what you want about Kirk Cousins, but he is not the weak spot on this team. He’s gonna have his hiccups and stupid plays. He’s shown us, at age 32, that’s who he is. But he’s also been very very effective in the red zone and solid in his ability to get the ball to whoever’s open. With all the other glaring weaknesses going into next season I’m not willing to focus any negativity on Cousins, unless you strictly want to talk about his contract.

With Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks captaining the other side of the ball, you’re always gonna have a chance to make some big plays that change the outcome of a game. I wish Smith was about three or four years younger, but these are two guys you can continue to build around.

Other than that, get outta my life with your non-sensical, garbage, fools gold mentality of looking at this team, seeing that they’ve started 7 rookies on defense, 9 total, and thinking that means the Vikings are automatically set for the future. Given the make-up of this team, nothing could be further from the truth.

Whether it’s 6-10, 7-9, or 8-8, this season was a miracle.

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