The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-14 on Saturday night at JerryWorld on Saturday night. Mike Zimmer is now 8-0 in the preseason as a head coach. Some players looked good, some players looked bad, and some players are already looking for new jobs less than 24 hours after the game.
I'm sorry. That introduction wasn't very good. To be honest, I'm just mailing it in right now. And can you blame me? This preseason has gone on forever. Trying to sort through the performance of 90 players, many of whom won't be with the team in a short time, for the fourth consecutive week feels a little needless.
It's just silly at this point. Speaking of silly and Cowboys, enjoy this classic Saturday Night Live sketch about Cowboys!
(Warning: there's some offensive language in the song. But it's Phil Hartman, Woody Harrelson, and Dana Carvey riding fake horses and saying things you probably couldn't get away with these days, so you should watch it anyway.)
Whoopie-tie-yi-yi-yipee-yi-yo we're glad God made us Cowboys
Whoopie-tie-yi-yi-yipee-yi-yo we're Cowboys and we're proud
Time for our fourth Stock Market Report of the preseason.
Blue Chip Stocks
Teddy Bridgewater. You can't ask for much more than what Teddy accomplished in his 15 snaps on Saturday. Bridgewater went 7/7 for 76 yards. He may have missed an open Jarius Wright once or twice, but just look at this pass:
So maybe Teddy can throw a deep ball every now and then after all. Forty-five yards in the air, dropping it right over Mike Wallace's shoulder on the sideline, while getting clocked no less. More of this in the regular season please!
Gerald Hodges. Nobody on the defensive side of the ball has done more to help his case than Hodges this preseason. He definitely made the most out of his opportunity to start at middle linebacker. His vision and pursuit stood out again in Dallas.
But Hodges wasn't the only stud in the middle of the defense last night.
Eric Kendricks. Another good show from the rookie. Time after time, he can navigate his way through traffic and find the ball carrier.
If the linebacker rotation is Barr/Hodges/Greenway and Barr/Kendricks in nickel to start the season, I think the Vikings will be in pretty good shape at a position that was fairly weak last season.
Taylor Heinicke. If the Vikings keep three quarterbacks on the roster, we know who the third will be after last night. Heinicke completed all 11 passes he threw and looked very comfortable running the offense. He also showed some good improvisational skills when the pocket broke down. I personally think Heinicke is one of the most improved players on the roster since camp began. The former Old Dominion signal caller might end up on the practice squad if Minnesota keeps only Bridgewater and Shaun Hill on the active roster. But as Chris already pointed out, there's a chance he might not stay long if that happens.
Anthony Barr. That "other" linebacker from UCLA looked much more like himself last night. He was credited with only one tackle on 17 snaps but also had a sack negated by defensive holding. Barr looks to be moving well without any semblance of the injury that slowed him at the beginning of camp. That is excellent news for the Vikings defense and bad news for anyone carrying the ball on the other team.
Joe Banyard. He got cut today but at least he went out in style. Banyard, a Texas native, looked solid against Dallas, garnering 26 yards on five carries. And this will likely go down as his last touch as a Minnesota Viking:
Not a bad way to go out, Joe. Best of luck.
Blair Walsh. No offense to Meatloaf, but two out of three is actually bad when you have already missed four field goals and an extra point heading into this game. A miss from 43 yards isn't egregious on its own, but this accumulation of shanks is making 2015 Blair Walsh look an awful lot like 2012 Mason Crosby. Walsh needs to sort out the mess between his ears before it ends up costing his team a game that counts.
David Yankey. Remember when Yankey was supposed to be a "steal" in last year's draft? It isn't panning out like that yet. Yankey earned a -3.0 rating from Pro Football Focus on Saturday in 48 snaps thanks in large part to "blocks" like this at left tackle:
If Matt Kalil goes down for any time this season (or plays anything like he did in 2014) the Vikings are in trouble because there doesn't seem to be a viable Plan B. Let's hope Yankey gets another look at guard because tackle isn't looking too great for him.
Mike Kafka. Three snaps, one incompletion, one rush for one yard, and one pink slip sure to be waiting for him by Tuesday. Thanks for all the obscure literary references while you were here, Mike!
Brandon Bostick, Jalil Carter, Justin Coleman, DaVaris Daniels, Stephen Goodin, Josh Kaddu, Jordan Leslie, Caesar Rayford, Chrishon Rose, and DeMarcus Van Dyke. These were the other ten players that the Vikings cut on Sunday besides Banyard, bringing the roster down to 78. Still three more to add to this list by September 1. #ItsABusiness.
Buy: Cordarrelle Patterson is Josh Cribbs 2.0. Our pal Andy Carlson from the Purple FTW! Podcast has been saying this for nearly two years--Flash is simply an updated version of special teams ace Josh Cribbs. Patterson didn't have a catch but that 107-yard kickoff return touchdown sure was nice. If the preseason is any indication, special teams is the only way the former first round pick is going to make a significant impact this year. It's better than nothing, but the "Cordarrelle Patterson, impact wide receiver" ship may have already started to sail.
Sell: The "third" preseason game being the most important. It turns out that none of the preseason games count these days because everyone is petrified of their star players getting hurt. Just look at our division rivals in Wisconsin. Throughout the league, most starters are playing just a few series in a game where they traditionally played at least a half. Just get rid of (at least half of) these games already, NFL.
Buy: Another game of Preseason Injury Bug Roulette where we didn't eat the bullet. Only one more to go before the devastating injuries happen in games that count!
Sell: The Vikings run game being magically fixed as soon as Adrian Peterson starts playing. There are some significant problems with how this team has run blocked throughout the preseason. The Vikings opened a few holes on Saturday but averaged under three yards per rush again. Even the best need some help to succeed.
Buy: Mike Wallace making an impact on the offense. Hopefully the 39-yard reception and two other catches showed nervous Vikings fans that the new acquisition will indeed stretch the field this year. (I still think Charles Johnson will lead the team in receptions and yards but Wallace will have a solid season.)
Sell: Bridgewater's issues with throwing the deep ball are "fixed". One great deep throw is a good start, but it's not a trend until he does it a few more times. The threat of the deep ball could open up all sorts of options underneath, so let's hope connections like that aren't too sparse going forward.
Gemma Thompson Quote of the Day
We were in the car traveling home for the second half last night and listening to the game on the radio. As Paul Allen called Joe Banyard's game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter, my daughter glanced up from her...um, farm animal counting game, I think?...on the iPad and blurted:
"Touch-dah! Did you hear it mommy?! TOUCH DAHHH!"
It's official: Gemma is already the second biggest football fan in the family.