The Vikings won the last NFL Championship game, before the birth of the modern league. When the sixties died, so did the hopes and dreams of Purple and Gold faithful, creating decades of psychological distress.
Minnesota fielded some of the best teams to never win the Super Bowl, including the 15-1 squad lead by Cunningham and the Peterson-Favre club in 2008-09, along with a trio of losses during the Tarkenton era.
Cousins was the best QB on the market, so the Vikings packed longboats full of money and sailed them into Kirk’s bank account. This level of capital investment sent a clear message – Minnesota ownership expects to win a championship every season for the next three years.
Anything less than pigskin Valhalla will bring dishonor to the Cousins clan and all associated the franchise.
The $156,000,000 Connection Of Disrespect
Considering the shift towards pass production over the past few decades, the timing of the current quarterback drought couldn’t be worse for most NFL franchises. Still, Washington persisted in avoiding commitment to Cousins, disrespecting a Pro Bowl pivot in the prime of his career.
Someone needs to catch the ball, which should increase the value of elite receivers and hybrid backs with soft hands. Stefon Diggs was drafted by the Vikings during the fifth round of the 2015 draft, but he produces at the level of a top-ten pick. Similar to the Cousins scenario, Minnesota benefitted from the NFL disrespecting Stefon’s abilities.
Respect isn’t cheap in pro sports – Minnesota will pay up to $156,000,000 for this duo, including $72 million over five years for Stefon and $84 million over three years for Kirk. Expensive for any non-billionaire, but check out the potential ceiling for this battery:
No need to rub your eyes – that’s a perfect throw into a tight window from a quarterback in a Vikings uniform, along with an equally impressive route and reception from Diggs. This type of execution is nearly impossible to defend against, especially when Kirk lofts the football before Diggs turns his head to track the throw. Neither Stefon nor Kirk enjoyed this type of quality collaboration prior to this season.
Diggs isn’t even the top ranked wideout because of Adam Thielen earning his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro nod for the 2017 campaign. Guess what? Thielen’s another elite talent disrespected by the NFL, undrafted in 2013 and given a chance to grow by Minnesota.
Last year, Thielen and Diggs combined for a total of 155 receptions for 2,125 yards. Adam moved the chains with a larger volume of work, while Stefon was lights-out in the red zone, hauling 8 TD catches, matching Kyle Rudolph for the team lead.
Thought we were going to forget about Kyle? Nope – he’s part of this elite receiving corps as a Gronk-esque physical presence with unusually soft hands for a giant. Unlike the others, Rudolph hasn’t experienced the same level of disrespect.
Cousins Teammates Nearly Made The Super Bowl
Minnesota holds sky-high expectations for the arrival of Kirk because he adds to a club which featured terrific personnel at most positions other than quarterback – no disrespect to Keenum. The Vikings group of receivers could very well emerge as top three in the NFL if they mesh well with Cousins.
Incredibly, Minnesota’s backs might be as deep and dangerous as the receiving crew. Latavius Murray showed why he’s underrated as a former Pro Bowl running back, collecting 842 yards and 8 rushing TDs during his first season in the Twin Cities. He provided much-needed production when rookie sensation Dalvin Cook blew an ACL early in the 2017 season.
Speaking of whom, Cook showed bursts of amazing speed and skill last season, following up his successful stint with Florida State by bursting out of the gates in the NFL. Dalvin appeared in only four matches, but he averaged 88.5 yards per game on the rush and 22.5 yards per game in the air, gaining 4.8 yards per attempt on the ground.
Murray’s aware that Cook’s high ceiling will likely win Dalvin the starting position, but Latavius remains positive about the competition for playing time. This provides the Vikings with the potential of a quick, powerful ground game to supplement the pass.
Nearly every QB experiences a tough week or two during the season, which makes a strong run game even more vital for any club which expects to win the division, conference and a ring.
Sure, the new-look offense – including John DeFilippo as coordinator – promises an exciting season. But everyone knows that the defense still determines the success of this club. Last year, Minnesota allowed the fewest points per game during the regular season, giving up 10 or less in five of their last seven matches in 2017.
Without an NFL-best defense, the Vikings fell apart in the playoffs, requiring a miraculous brain fart from Marcus Williams to proceed to the conference finals. The Eagles would leverage turnovers and mediocre coverage to drop 38 points on the Vikings during the Super Bowl qualifier. This was most given up by Minnesota defenders since week five in 2014.
Time will tell whether Minnesota’s defensive swoon in the playoffs a genuine sign of decline, or an outlier after a long, difficult season. The good news revolves around a return of nearly every starter, save defensive tackle Tom Johnson. There’s no guarantee, but a Pro Bowl core should help the Vikings return to form as a top five unit.
Don’t forget – an offense with improved possession numbers could boost the defense, giving defenders an opportunity to rest instead of carrying the Vikings to victory.
Vikings Need To Conquer Front-Loaded Schedule
There’s no doubt that Minnesota employs the personnel necessary to compete against anyone in the NFL. The Vikings biggest challenge will be a front-loaded schedule, including games against the Packers, Rams and Eagles over the first five weeks. Minnesota must take no prisoners to avoid a slow start to the season.
If the Vikings manage to begin 2018 with a 3-2 or 4-1 record under the power of a few solid Cousins performances, the remainder of the schedule will allow Minnesota to ramp up and enter the playoffs with strong momentum. A 1-4 start for Minnesota would sink the Vikings into a dogfight for post season qualification for the rest of the year.
Viking warriors of yore could dine and drink at Valhalla only after an honorable death. If Kirk Cousins and the Vikings win their first Super Bowl, he’ll never pay for another meal or drink in Minnesota for the rest of his life. Skol, Cousins, skol.