The Offseason, The Draft, and Zim’s Future: An Interview with Ali Siddiqui

Recently, I asked Ali Siddiqui if he’d be willing to do an interview for The Vikings Gazette and he graciously accepted. You’ll find some great answers about his background as a fan & writer, the Vikings’ offseason, and Zim’s future with the Vikings. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and enjoy the interview!

1) Let’s start off with one about you. How did you arrive at Vikings fandom and then eventually to writing about the Vikings?

I’ve lived in MN my whole life. I actually didn’t care at all about sports until 1995 (I was eight years old) when Michael Jordan made his first return to the NBA. A year later I also started watching football and became a Vikings fan.

I’ve been writing about them now since 2014. I actually once posted on my Facebook that I was applying to some sports blogging sites and one of my former high school classmates saw it and told me that he writes for a football site about the Vikings (was called Pro Football Spot) and he talked to them for me.

2) What’s your overall impression of Minnesota’s approach to the offseason?

Overall I think they have had a very good offseason. The defense really struggled last season, so the additions of Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Woods will all really help.

They have not been very aggressive in trying to upgrade the offensive line, which is both shocking and disappointing. Mason Cole may end up being one of the starting guards or just used for depth. They could have signed Forrest Lamp or Austin Blythe. Neither were expensive and they currently have over $7 million in cap space. Neither are great, but would have helped. Dakota Dozier and Dru Samia were amongst the worst lineman in the league last season.

There are some guards available such as Nick Easton, Lane Taylor, Trai Turner and James Carpenter (Editor’s Note: Ali answered this question earlier in the week before Taylor was signed). Left tackle Eric Fisher is available too, but is coming off an Achilles injury.

Maybe they now want to wait until after the draft to add someone. They would then have a better idea whether to keep Ezra Cleveland at right guard or move him to left tackle to replace Riley Reiff.

Currently their line is in worse shape with Reiff gone. Even having an average line would do dividends for this team. They really need to upgrade it.

3) Is there a move the Vikings should have made in free agency but didn’t?

They should have signed Lamp or Blythe. Again, neither are great but would have helped. Both were cheap too. Blythe signed for the vet minimum with Kansas City. It is unknown how much the Vikings would have ponied up for him, but had they upped the offer, maybe he would’ve accepted. He gets to play center in KC and they are Super Bowl contenders, but had the Vikings offered him a certain amount, maybe he would have accepted. Who knows?

4) What does Mike Zimmer need to do to keep his job after the 2021 season? Is he the right person to lead the Vikings?

If the Vikings do not make a deep run this season, I could see them possibly moving on. He’s mostly been a good coach since coming on board in 2014, but they have missed the playoffs four times in that time frame. Is that all on him? No, but some of it is. His clock management has always been an issue too.

He’s a good head coach, not great but if they do not make a deep run I would move on. This will be his eighth season with the Vikings, which is a long time in this business.

5) The draft is fast approaching. Give us a name or two who make sense for the Vikings in the opening round.

Had they added another offensive lineman, I could have seen them drafting a defensive end, but I think now they will definitely go offensive line. Alijah Vera-Tucker should be available. He can play both left tackle and guard, which helps.

Tackles Christian Darrisaw and Teven Jenkins are possibilities too. I wouldn’t be surprised though if they trade down and take both an offensive and defensive lineman.

6) You cover the Vikings. Where can readers find you? Hit us with social media, sites that publish your work, and anywhere else we should know about.

I write for The Viking Age and Vikings Territory.

I enjoy writing a lot. Not just because I love sports, but I also like to share my thoughts and interact with other fans and writers on social media. I always love to hear what other people’s thoughts are as well.

Editor’s Note: I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to Ali for taking the time for an interview. Readers should check out his writing at The Viking Age and Vikings Territory, and be sure to follow him on Twitter. Skol.

**This post was originally published on April 16, 2021.