Monday Impressions: Vikings on a Winning Streak

With their victory against the perpetually-pathetic Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings have a mini winning streak. True, beating the hapless Lions is no reason for rejoicing in the streets. Let’s not forget, though, how ugly things looked after getting demolished by the then-winless Falcons in Week 6. In the past two weeks, Mike Zimmer has established an identity for his team: solid, albeit unspectacular defense, Dalvin Cook brilliance, and manageable situations for Kirk Cousins.

The Offense

  1. Talk of Cousins being a mere game-manager is misguided. While it’s true that he isn’t an elite franchise QB, Cousins is better than game-manager status. It’s possible that Cousins will need his own category. Nothing is ever straightforward with our Vikings.
  2. Pat Elflein may be healthy, but there’s simply no way the Vikings can pull Ezra Cleveland. At this stage, it’s likelier that the Vikings try putting Elflein at LG instead of Dakota Dozier.
  3. A quiet day for Adam Thielen. We expected the Lions to at least pretend like they were interested in slowing Cook. With Cook dominating the game, Thielen only had two catches for 38 yards.
  4. Justin Jefferson continues to be incredible. His impact goes beyond his three catch, 64-yard performance. Take a look at him getting a big PI call.
  5. Irv Smith Jr. is just getting started. He is a strong blocker and moves incredibly well. I imagine he creates a ton of stress for the opposing team’s defensive-coordinator.

The Defense

  1. Before the game, we highlighted Eric Wilson and Eric Kendricks as being key to victory. Wilson and Kendricks each had an interception, and Harrison Smith joined the fun shortly thereafter. With their bend-but-don’t-break style, the Vikings will need to be opportunistic.
  2. Jeff Gladney is making progress. He played well yesterday. He is an excellent tackler and is improving in coverage.
  3. Shamar Stephen is the most underrated player on Minnesota’s roster. Also, it was good to see Jaleel Johnson have a nice game. At various points, Johnson demonstrated good power, perhaps most evident in his TFL on Adrian Peterson on a critical goal line play.
  4. Smith got another penalty yesterday. Both he and Zimmer were upset. No one can argue that player safety isn’t important; it’s incredibly important to keep players safe. The NFL ought to do their utmost to ensure their players can have long, healthy lives after their careers are done. It’s also difficult to know what a defensive player should do on a lot of these penalties.
  5. If Cameron Dantzler, Holton Hill, Harrison Hand, and Mark Fields II get healthy, will the Vikings have an above-average defense in the second half of the season? The rumors are that Mike Hughes may be done for the year.

Special Teams

  1. It’s going to be a rough week for Marwan Maalouf. Two blocked punts, a missed PAT, and some underwhelming returns. We’ve been pretty consistent in our K.J. Osborn praise over here at TVG. He made a nice tackle in coverage and was his usual poised self when returning, but he lacked explosiveness and vision yesterday.
  2. Back to back weeks of bad snaps from Austin Cutting. Two weeks ago, Britton Colquitt saved it and the Vikings still converted. Yesterday, the low snap contributed to Dan Bailey’s missed PAT.

Plenty to work on. Nevertheless, fans should spend their Monday enjoying the fact that our Vikings are on a winning streak.

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