Should We Be Concerned About Dalvin Cook’s Slow Start?
Through two weeks, Vikings fans have gone through massive waves of emotions. Minnesota rode the high of dominating the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, and now the Vikings have come crashing down to Earth after a Week 2 shellacking at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Similarly, Dalvin Cook had a decent game against the Packers before getting completely shut down in Week 2 against the Eagles.
Because of these ups and downs, it’s hard to tell for sure what is truly real with this team right now. Either way, after two weeks, the question has been floated around: do we need to be worried about Dalvin Cook and his slow start?
Cook had relatively healthy yardage totals against the Packers, gathering 23 touches and 108 yards from scrimmage. That said, this was not the explosive Dalvin Cook that we’ve gotten used to. Per Stathead, among games in which Dalvin Cook has 20 or more carries, his 90 rushing yards on Sunday were the fifth fewest of his career.
Then on Monday night, the Eagles completely shut him down, and Cook was held to just six carries for 17 yards. He also had four catches for 19 yards, bringing his touch total to 10 for a measly 36 yards. Through two weeks, the veteran RB has 33 touches for 144 yards, an average of just 4.4 yards per touch.
Kevin O’Connell was asked about Cook’s rushing during his press conference on Wednesday, and the Vikings head coach is confident that he can turn the ship around. He stated that he believed Cook has been “close to breaking a couple runs.”
Cook also mentioned during his time at the podium that he would like to get a few more touches in order to get warmed up and into a rhythm. It certainly is difficult to establish a rhythm in the running game when your RBs only get five carries in the first half.
Two games might be too small of a sample to start flashing warning lights, but this situation only becomes more discouraging when you consider that guys like Derrick Henry and Joe Mixon have gotten off to rather slow starts this season too. Henry was drafted a year before Cook, and Mixon was part of Cook’s 2017 draft class. It’s a possibility that these guys may be beginning to slow down a touch.
That said, Dalvin Cook has not been entirely immune to slow starts in the past. In 2020, he recorded just 113 total rushing yards through the first two games. He then broke off 181 yards on the ground against the Tennessee Titans.
The Detroit Lions have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, allowing over five yards per carry, so perhaps Cook gets things turned around this weekend. If that is the case this will be for naught, but his involvement in the offense is certainly something to monitor on Sunday. Hopefully the three-time Pro Bowler gets off the snide and puts any doubts to rest.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh can often be found training for a marathon, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken