Bleacher Report High on 2021 Vikings Offense
The 2020 Minnesota Vikings team rankings in the “biggie” categories are as follows:
- 3rd in Yards Gained
- 11th in Points Scored
- 27th in Yards Allowed
- 29th in Points Allowed
Does that look a football team that is deficient in offense? It does not. The defense, on the other hand, was abysmal, gashed by injuries and opt-outs of Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Michael Pierce, Mike Hughes, and Eric Kendricks.
The offense had no notable, persistent injuries.
The Vikings did little to monkey with the offense this offseason. General Manager Rick Spielman allowed long-time tight end, Kyle Rudolph, to walk out the door, forging a path to New York to wear a Giants uniform. Left tackle Riley Reiff was also released, ending up in Ohio with the Cincinnati Bengals. Irv Smith Jr. is forecasted to take his proverbial next step — especially with Rudolph “out of the way.” As for Reiff, the ex-Viking was a decent pass-protector, but his contract was too lofty to keep around in 2021. So, Spielman drafted Christian Darrisaw — badda bing, the Vikings should have their keynote left tackle for the next decade.
And Bleacher Report is high on the Vikings offense, too. The sports-reporting entity calls Minnesota the league’s eighth-best offense, notably ranking Minnesota higher than Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, and even the Arizona Cardinals. Bleacher Report‘s Kristopher Knox says on the Vikings 2021 offense:
“Much of the Minnesota Vikings’ success will depend on the play of quarterback Kirk Cousins, which has tended to vary during his time in the Twin Cities. He tied his career high with 13 interceptions last season and had his lowest completion percentage as a Viking (67.6). While Minnesota did use a third-round pick on quarterback Kellen Mond, though, Cousins is unlikely to cede the starting gig this season. From a skill-position standpoint, Minnesota is relatively loaded. It has a superstar running back in Dalvin Cook, two high-end receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and an emerging tight end in Irv Smith Jr. The Vikings also used a first-round pick on offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw to help replace the departed Riley Reiff, so there shouldn’t be much drop-off along the line. Any doubts about this unit are in regard to whether Cook can stay healthy for a full 17-game slate—he’s never appeared in all 16 games—and whether Cousins can be more than a borderline above-average quarterback. Those are legitimate concerns about arguably their two most important players, but Minnesota should have a top-10 offense at worst in 2021.“
Here, all the bases are covered. Dalvin Cook will still be sauntering through his athletic prime with Alexander Mattison in the wings should Cook encounter injury. The Vikings also drafted a speed goblin in Kene Nwangwu from Iowa State. Nwangwu should be classified as depth, exploring the possibility of taking over for Mattison in a couple of years. All in all, the running back trio is upper-echelon.
The pass-catchers are robust, especially from the twosome perspective of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. One might shudder to think what Jefferson has in store for the league during his sophomore campaign. Smith Jr. was mentioned above — he’ll be assisted by the upstart TE2 acumen of Tyler Conklin, who came on strong at the end of 2020.
After that, it’s up to Kirk Cousins and his offensive line. Cousins has thrown the fifth-most touchdowns leaguewide since joining the Vikings in 2018 — with nauseating pass-protection in front of him. After four consecutive drafts choosing offensive linemen, Minnesota’s trenches will finally have a homegrown product in Christian Darrisaw, Wyatt Davis, Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, and Brian O’Neill.
Imagine what Cousins can pull off with an offensive line that is not scrpaing the bottom of the league from a performance standpoint.
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