3 Things To Watch For In Minnesota’s Final Preseason Game

It’s hard to believe, but the preseason is about to reach its conclusion. Three games go pretty quick. Minnesota’s final preseason game takes place tonight at 7 p.m. CT against the Kansas City Chiefs. Vikings fans, by and large, will have a long list of things they’re hoping to see. For the sake of time, I’m boiling it down to three things (something I did in both the Denver and Indy games). Against KC, I want to see some offensive rhythm, some Everson Griffen burst, and some Greg Joseph steadiness.

Offensive Rhythm

Things have been really, really ugly. Through two games, Minnesota has scored a collective 16 points. We got those points through a pick-six and field goals. The offense still hasn’t scored a TD.

Will it be the end of the world if the offense craps the bed yet again? Not really. The preseason means essentially nothing. It’s not the most encouraging, though, to see our offense appear so incompetent, especially given all the controversy surrounding our QB1 and the inexperience of first-year OC Klint “Lil’Kub” Kubiak.

I don’t imagine our top skill players will get very many reps. The limited opportunity, as Cousins suggested earlier this week, makes an evaluation tough. If the team starts slow, it doesn’t have the time to get back on track: “The name of the game is points, so touchdowns, preferably.” He goes on to discuss explosive plays, converting on third downs, avoiding turnovers, and several other important factors for a successful offense.

Things look even more dire for the second-team offense. The early delusions about Kellen Mond being ready to replace Cousins in 2021 were precisely that: delusions. Gone are the calls for our rookie third-rounder to be the man under center in Week 1. Instead, we’re just hoping that he can put together some nice plays against KC’s backups. Ditto for Jake Browning. All we’re looking for is some basic competence.

Everson Griffen Burst

Almost every Vikings fan loves Everson Griffen. He brings amazing energy to the team, an enthusiasm that carries over into his play on the field. I’m expecting this energy to be apparent in Minnesota’s final preseason game.

Last season, the defense just wasn’t the same. Was Griffen’s absence the main reason? I don’t think so, but it sure didn’t help. It’s hard to say how many reps he’ll get, but I’m looking for Griffen to show burst on obvious passing plays. Zimmer confirmed that Griff has been brought in as a rotational pass rusher. His job description, then, primarily involves being disruptive when the opposition wants to throw. In the past, he did so by exploding off the line of scrimmage.

Griffen, at least according to PFF‘s rankings, didn’t play too bad last season. He finished 62nd out of 108 edge rushers with a 63.2 score. His pass rush score was easily the strongest part of his overall grade: a very healthy 73.6 (the 25th-best in the NFL). In Minnesota, Griffen will be able to play to his strengths. I’m hopeful.

Greg Joseph Steadiness

Look, I was as disappointed as anyone when Joseph missed that 51-yarder. I’ve lived through my fair share of Vikings kicking disaster, so every missed kick brings up all-too-common feelings of despair.

To his credit, Joseph responded. His next kick wasn’t an easy one – it was from 49 yards – and he nailed it. I’m probably more enthused about Joseph than most. Now, the ideal scenario is that Joseph won’t have to hit too many field goals. The first thing on my wish list, after all, is more offensive rhythm. As Cousins explained, the goal for the offense is to score a lot of points. That means touchdowns. The XPs, as any Vikings fan will tell you, are far from a sure thing, so he can impress us with some solid reps here.

Nevertheless, it would be nice to see Joseph get a couple field goal opportunities. I’m looking for him to demonstrate both poise and confidence. He hit a small snag last week; this week, Joseph needs to show he can overcome his own mistakes.

Enjoy Minnesota’s Final Preseason Game

Enjoy the game tonight, Vikings fans. Minnesota’s final preseason game is our last chance to see some purple football until the Vikings visit the Bengals on Sunday, Sept. 12.

After the game, expect the roster cuts to be fast and furious. The Vikings need to get down to 53 men by the end of August.