Can the Vikings succeed with Kirk Cousins at QB

The NFL’s 2012 QB draft class was headlined by Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, and Kirk Cousins. 2012 was a very good QB class, that had several guys that many thought could takeover a game anytime at all. At one point, Cousins was looked at, as a pretty good QB coming out of Michigan State with 3316 YDs and 25 TD passes – as his tools were all there, as he has shown over his 7 seasons in the NFL.
The 6-3 QB took the league by surprise during his 2015 season, when he was given the keys to the car – becoming an instant eye opener and exciting guy to watch, with a 70% completion rate, while throwing 29 TD passes – Cousins looked like he would be around for quite a while in Washington.
But, it wasn’t to be.
Cousins has had a history of not winning on a consistent basis with a poor 26-30-1 record in his 6 years in Washington. The Skins gave up on Kirk after the 2017 season, after his 3rd straight 4000+ YD passing season – but, Cousins was not out of NFL chances. As the Minnesota Vikings decided to land him for 84 million….guaranteed.
Kirk Cousins has been criticized for his rancid play during the season, with just 3 TD passes and just 183 YPG. Seemingly with a fear to push the ball down the field, has been a problem this season, with just 27 first down throws this season. Cousins is placing his imprint on the Vikings, in an unimpressive way. Cousins has not responded this season after his good inaugural Vikings season in 2018 – to the tune of just an 18th ranked offense in the NFL. Cousins is currently on pace for under 3000 yards over 16 games, which easily would be the lowest for his up and down career as a starter.
Minnesota has had some rough patches in their early games this season, and if we are going to be honest, Cousins has not fought his way through with great showings – and their weakest level of play has been their reeking passing game. A team that had gone from 13-3 and looking at a “soon to be” Super Bowl push in 2017 toppling down to a middling struggling team in 2019.
The Vikings have 2 top notch WR options, with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, throw in TE, Kyle Rudolph, and the rookie TE Irv Smith Jr. – their passing game should be something to be coveted by the majority of teams. In 16 games last year, Thielen had 113 catches for 1373 YDs and 9 TDs on 153 targets. This year, he has bumbled along on 13 catches, on 22 targets, and under 45 YPG. If you project that over a full season – Thielen could be looking at just 52 catches for about 700 yards, He has not benefitted from Kirk this year – and has just not gotten the opportunity to explode, like the NFL knows he can do. Kirk’s deep passing has not been good, hitting 20+ yard throws with dominance and mastery has not been his strength – and if we are being honest, he has not been as good as advertised for the Vikes. Lacking calmness in the pocket to find his guys on the field, is reflective of how poor Cousins has been.
There’s no doubt that even with a slightly better game-plan – would dramatically improve this Minnesota Vikings team and make them a winner. Zimmer wants to push the team to be a run first team with Dalvin Cook pounding the rock – but the whole point is to be able to pull the D in and then have a QB who can rip it for 300 and lead his team if the running game is ineffective. Seattle has been successful with a similar game plan – and Russell Wilson is still putting up 281 YPG and a league leading 12 TDs. The Vikings can succeed with Kirk Cousins leading their team, right now – but their passing game has to get way better. It has been nothing less than a huge disappointment for Vikings fans. If Minnesota plans on getting better, they need to get their heads straight, and get work done with their passing attack and sometimes hopeless looking offense that has had a problem putting up points vs the better teams this season.
Kirk Cousins is one of their biggest problems on the field – and for what they paid for him – they should be expecting a much better return – he was hired to be their franchise QB not an 84 million dollar game manager

​Which NFL team has the best WR tandem in 2017

In Green Bay – when healthy, anyone with eyes and common sense could say Adams & Jordy can easily be called the best when they are on the field. 26 TDs and 2254 YDs between them in 2016 certainly makes a strong case for them to be called the best WR tandem. But, this season, under some extenuating circumstances, they have just an avg of around 48 YD/game between them and only a handful of combined big plays so far, for Green Bay takes them quickly out of the discussion for this season.
In 2016 everyone was all about Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. A couple of players who have both shown their awesome skills when playing. In 2017 – Crabtree has put up only 601 yards receiving and Cooper is adding just 42 YDs/game. Not great numbers to me. TE Jared Cook is leading the team in receiving yards, 1st downs, and YDs/catch for any player with 25 or more for the team.
What happened? The Oakland OC Todd Downing – messed up the Raiders offense up in a strange way this year. Cooper can play like a man against boys, at times on the field, with his skills and speed. For fans who don’t like Crabtree – will always find a low end flaw – but honestly they are ignoring his skillset. Solid, it is not even close how steady he has been, and you can’t ignore the 30 year old’s career numbers.
How about mentioning DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller? Hopkins is getting 94 YDs/game.  And Fuller is chipping in with 16/YPC. The huge advantage that Hopkins has over many top WRs is really very obvious to me. As we all have seen this WR play with 10+ different QBs in 5 seasons, and continue to put up 1000 YD seasons and produce TDs. One genuinely could argue the case that Hopkins isnt truly one of the top 3 WRs in the league. He is the biggest and the most serious difference maker on a Houston team when it comes to wide receivers. Hopkins always makes his QBs better, and Fuller is that 15+ YPC guy that every team needs.
Philly has a pretty nasty combo in Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Yes – it was just 1 year ago, no one cared about Agholor. When he came out of USC, he was watched with very lofty expectations, including by myself. After only 36 receptions and just a pitiful 10.1 YD/catch – along with a huge dropsy problem – it was getting easy to toss him by the wayside thinking he was just yet another WR bust. Not so fast. In 2017 – Agholor has gotten the Eagles a 52 YDs /game, and Jeffery has been nothing but excellent with his nose for the end zone. And if we are being honest – no team has really stopped them. Maybe not the biggest numerical WRs in the game, but they have been unstoppable as a tandem so far. Alshon is one of the strongest WRs in the league, at 6-4 and 230lbs, he seems to find a way to catch the ball at the 10 and can drag it along another 3-4 more yards, with DBs draped on him.
But, Minnesota has some special things going on up North, in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. They have a few guys who have been nothing but a blessing for OC Pat Shurmur. With 9 games of 90 YDs receiving or more between them, they both have awesome and precise route running and loading up a hefty total average of about 145 YPG – how can it be possible to look passed these deadly Minnesota WRs?
Thielen has been more productive in yards than the high priced Jeffery, and Diggs has been far more productive than big prospect Cooper this season. We are looking about play production. On a back to the wall situation, 3rd and long, :05 seconds left – your going to want Diggs and Thielen getting open for your team. No disrespect to any of the other WRs listed and many other excellent players, but I am going with these 2 based on their ability to split DBs, and find the pockets to get the ball. They are also really good blockers. They are guys that are playing with a QB in Case Keenum who before this 2017 season, was averaging just 6.7 YPA and around 205 YDs passing/game. One could argue he has turned the game around and the game has finally slowed down for him after 6 seasons, yes. But, for the sake of argument, lets also consider the fact that in 2017 – Keenum is throwing for 20 TDs and around 248 YPG, based on his WR threats.
When Diggs is in the game – it allows Adam to get more one on one coverage – which means more opportunity. Thielen is a true student of the game (which is always a great respectful thing to see) and seems to also be very well liked by his teammates. Which says a lot for his personality to go along with the “Great Adam Thielen story”.Thielen has the best hands in the league, in my opinion – and he is an unbelievable route runner and clutch performer.  With 12 games with 5 or more catches and 7 games of 10+ targets this season for the Vikes. As well as Diggs running great routes, which are always crisp and clean. When Diggs came out of Maryland – he was not seen as a genuine WR1 but he has shown with hard work and determination, a player can succeed. No one has been able to really shut down this combination. As they have stacked up a total of 10 games of averaging 15+ YDs/catch between them.
After so many recent years of 2 yard swing passes and running the ball for what seemed like 40 carries/game – Minnesota has something very special going on Diggs and Thielen have arrived, at just 24 and 27 years old, their assault on DBs should stay around for many, many seasons to come, bringing many happy seasons to Minnesota fans. As long as they stay healthy, and the Vikes keep the play calling as good as it has been, these guys are the beast of the NFL.

Does Sam Bradford help the Vikes win their division

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When Minnesota pulled the itchy trigger and traded away a 1st rd and a flexible 4th round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles – many fans were left either happy, sad, shocked, or angry. It was a trade that left some shaking their heads in surprise or relief. And it left others shaking their heads and pumping their fists thinking “we have a chance!”

Teddy Bridgewater looked really good during the preseason – and behind that new and massively improved Oline – it was stirring up quite the buzz. Teddy had the demeanor and the leadership to be ready to lead the team to their division title defense. Then the unthinkable happened – a non contact knee injury. Always what any fan dreads to hear about a player on their team – especially a popular player that is so well loved as Teddy says our top sports expert.

When Bridgewater went down with his horrific knee injury Vikings fans hearts dropped into the dark, shadowy space on the cellar. It was a cold and damp place – that held no thoughts of any light coming in to save the situation that was quickly dropping on what was expected to be a promising season. Teddy was a QB bringing future and hope. He brought a coolness and charisma which alone gave many fans a calming feeling when he took the field. But, if realistically looking at things strictly numerically and production value, after 2 seasons and 28 starts – he still hadn’t thrown the games that some fans waited for and still hadn’t had that defining game yet. In a world where everything is so quickly judged by a judgmental and forgetful eye – these are number that have to be dissected in regards to the move that took place.

The Sam Bradford trade suddenly comes into play and some are hesitant to say it was a good move.

Really?

Any fan who looks at the Minnesota Vikings team and thinks that 36 yr old Shaun Hill was going to lead this team was going to bring any semblance of fear to opponents in 2016 – they are living in a world of jellybeans and root beer. It’s simply not reality. Shaun Hill with his career 49 TDs passes – has been reliable, and a serviceable backup, at best over his long and lengthy career. And he played serviceable in his last game vs the Titans. But Hill was never thought of as being the guy who was going to take the reigns as the commander on the field for Minnesota. names popped up, Sanchez, McCarron, Vick were all names in the rumormill. Sanchez is a turnover waiting to happen, McCarron is good, but still learning, Vick’s legend is bigger than his actual QB play.

Bradford may not have been the monster QB during his 5 year career, after his 88 passing TD career coming out of Oklahoma. But let’s play with the numbers that he brings to a team that was desperate to keep their team alive. Over his first 2 seasons, Bradford had thrown for 24 TDs and had thrown for over around 218 YDs / game. Teddy in the same time-span of his first 2 season has thrown 28 TDs and around 212 / game. As well as the fact, that both have been accurate passers, Teddy a bit more so – but Teddy also doesn’t shove the ball downfield as much as Sam does. Over the last 2 seasons – Sam has put up 33 TDs and around 255 YDs/game in the air. Isn’t that kind of what Vikings fans have wanted to see? The ball moving downfield more? They will see that in 2016 – to what extent of success we don’t know but it will get downfield.

The brass in Minnesota made some big time plays to make sure this team stays relevant. And to me, that shows more courage and fight than just accepting defeat and having their aging future HoF’er taking on 10 in the box every week – like it would have been – with Shaun Hill behind center. No one, absolutely no one was ever going to be concerned about Hill throwing for 300 YDs on them, Bradford has a dozen games of 300 or more. He has the arm to toss it around some – he will keep defenses honest. And will force them to cheat in the secondary. Adrian Peterson is going to have more room to run again.

The Vikings may not have quite the exact team they had been waiting for, this 2016 season. Heading into the new US Bank Stadium – but they still have a top notch defense, which showed up big time when playing Tennessee, that allowed only 18.9 ppg and had excellent Dline play across the board in 2015. And they have a QB who numerically only has to fill in 14 passing TDs and 210 YDs on the field, to play equivalent to Teddy last season. Sam Bradford can and will do just that – and more. Minnesota is going to be ok with this hold-over for, when and if, Teddy returns.

Minnesota showed numerous things with this move. Firstly, they showed they aren’t folding and giving up because of their loss. Secondly, they are wisely not banking on Teddy’s return so quickly as some may have been hoping for. Thirdly, they cannot just expect that Teddy can let alone return, but still evolve into the player that Minnesota was projecting him to become. Can it all fall into place in a few years?

Absolutely.

But Minnesota is ready for the now – and they cannot sit by idly and let time flow run by.

Written by Mike Anthony

Don’t Count The Vikings Out

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs the ball in the fourth quarter as the Minnesota Vikings play the Cleveland Browns at the Metrodome in Minneapolis Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, September 22, 2013. Browns won 31-27. (Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)

Anybody writing off the Minnesota Vikings because they lost Teddy Bridgewater for the season is making a mistake.

Unlike most NFL teams, the Vikings are ground-oriented. Their MVP is Adrian Peterson not their quarterback. Peterson led the NFL in rushing last season. He’s a top-four runner again this season, one of only three franchise running backs with the others being Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott.

The Vikings, Rams and Cowboys can survive without their starting quarterback because of a stud running back. Other teams can’t.

Fantasy-wise, I had Bridgewater ranked 28th out of the 32 starting quarterbacks. I get that Bridgewater has a number of intangibles and is better in real football than fantasy. He was likely to improve this season, although I don’t think it would have been by leaps and bounds. He still would have been far more game-manager than attacker.

The oddsmaker seems to usually underrate the Vikings especially when it comes to their defensive personnel, which has elite talent that is still peaking. Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff are way above average, too.

The Vikings addressed their major weakness by upgrading their offensive line during the off-season. Their line is good enough now that the team recently released John Sullivan, who had been one of their better players before getting injured last season.

Keep in mind, too, that Shaun Hill is one of the better backup quarterbacks. He’s a savvy veteran who is more downfield-oriented than the usual, scatter-arm, dump-off passing backup quarterbacks littering the NFL landscape.

Most contending teams would be totally screwed if their starting quarterback went down. Not Minnesota. The Vikings surround their quarterback with talent – not the other way around where the quarterback has to carry the team. Bridgewater had 10 games last season when he threw for less than 188 yards. The Vikings still won eight of those games.

Minnesota is a top-five NFC team with or without Bridgewater.

Written by Stephen Nover for VegasTopDogs.com

Should the Vikings bring back Adrian Peterson in 2015?

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The Adrian Peterson ordeal has been nothing short of astonishing, disappointing, and frustrating for fans, in particular Vikings fans across the sports world. With a heavy heart and a “shaking my head” view I look into what the Vikings should do with their phenomenal RB and the situation at hand.
 
No one would question as to what AP did was wrong. But the NFL overreached here wanting to push this to the extreme for PR purposes. Sadly, if you really look into the numbers, there are figured 20% of players with criminal history playing currently in the league. That’s a fact, so to judge him and banish him as the worst outlaw of them all, is unfair and unjustifiable.
 
He could be coming back with a vengeance and putting up insane numbers again, with a team around him that could possibly not need him to run for 140. I also think that with his health, and heart AP could possibly last another 3-4 years as a starter in the NFL. He is in way better shape then other aging running backs out there.
 
I don’t think anyone would consider AP to be the typical “almost 30 year old” RB in the NFL. The dreaded 30 year old history, has averted some players, like Emmitt Smith and Jerome Bettis who still played productively after the big 3-0. Not great, but capably. AP certainly has defied the odds with other things as well, after tearing his ACL.
 
I am sure he has spent a season off the field taking top class care of his body, obviously free from the hits and injuries. A healthy and hungry Peterson in 2015 with a much improved defense and a new schemed offensive could call for a double digit win season. If the Vikings plan on keeping Peterson wearing the purple and gold, I feel in surely puts them back into the post-season next year.
 
Is it a genuine consideration that the Peterson era has concluded? If this plays out, then the best the Vikes could hope for, is to trade him for a mid round pick to a place he is going to willing to take less money. And the money they could save would be able to let them address other needs, like getting the abominable O-line fixed, adding another strong DB opposite Xavier Rhodes.
 
This is in fact Teddy’s team now, it is time to move on. They can definitely draft a RB in the 2nd or 3rd rounds of the draft, perfectly a Gurley, or even Jay Ajayi would be there for their 2nd round pick. Proof is, anyone is replaceable, and RB position is one of those positions, that when coming out of college, they can hit promptly, it’s not the enduring growing position like the QB or possibly WR spot.
 
I feel that some of it, drops back on his shoulders, depending on whether or not he feels the organization really had his back throughout this experience. Has he questioned their faithfulness throughout this? I am sure he has asked himself that a multitude of times, and we may or may not ever know the real answer to it all.
 
Keeping Peterson obviously makes the team even better than they were this year, and they were for certain a team on the rise, and would be expected to be only climbing after their successful campaign with their renewed team. But, he is a 30 yr old RB, due for a huge paycheck of around 14 million next season.
 
The possibility of putting any other RB on the field that matches his quality and style of play for half the amount of money, then they should consider that option.
 
The Vikings should renegotiate his contract, firstly. I don’t believe there will be too many teams willing to pay him as much as he is currently due to be making. Looking back at teams that have had to make the tough decision to let their franchise players go, the Favre and Rodgers situation, the Manning to Luck moves, they all ended up working out pretty well for those teams in the end. Especially for the Packers.
 
So it does make sense to let Adrian Peterson go.
Written by Mike Anthony for VegasTopDogs.com