I’d like to start this week’s Stock Market Report with an apology.
I’m sorry, America. Most neutral fans probably found the Vikings’ 24-10 victory over the New York Giants rather boring. Minnesota’s methodical disassembly of their opponents probably came across as tedious for anyone that wasn’t a Vikings fan. Oh look, Eli Manning felt the pressure and fired the ball into the ground again. Oh hey, would you look at that? Another screen pass. Wow! Another Brad Wing punt. The victory was nearly as uneventful as it was efficient.
I’d also like to offer my condolences to anyone that started any Giants player in fantasy football. You were probably banking on at least a handful of points from your players to finish off the week and turn the tide of your fantasy matchup; alas, you probably fell short if you were depending on anything from the outcome of Monday’s game.
Finally, I’d like to say sorry to poor Odell Beckham. He was held to a career low 23 yards and earned his weekly personal misconduct penalty while Xavier Rhodes covered him like they were sharing a phone booth all night.
If only pouting was an official stat, eh OBJ?
Don’t cry, Odell. It’ll probably get better. You don’t have to go against Rhodes every week.
Give me a whisper
And give me a sigh
Give me a kiss before you
tell me goodbye
Don't you take it so hard now
And please don't take it so bad
I'll still be thinkin' of you
And the times we had...
Let’s get to the “Perfect at the Quarter Pole” stocks.
Blue Chip Stocks
Linval Joseph. The Vikings’ big man in the middle is an absolute grenade on nearly every play. The Giants tried time and again to establish the run in the first half. The only thing established was the former Giant’s dominance. If Joseph doesn’t make the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams with this kind of play, something is very wrong with how they choose those teams.
Jerick McKinnon. Jet is truly a back of all trades. McKinnon had 21 touches for 95 yards from scrimmage Monday, which is 38 more yards than Adrian Peterson had in over six quarters before getting hurt. McKinnon showed incredible patience and quickness as he waited for blocks to develop to bounce to the outside. He even found the end zone, which is a delicacy that is far too rare for a player of his caliber. If the Vikings can get that kind of production from Jet going forward, it will open up all sorts of options for the offense.
Xavier Rhodes. It’s hard to have a better start to the season than Rhodes is having. Over the past two weeks, Rhodes has faced two very formidable wide receivers with two very different skill sets. All Rhodes has done against Kelvin Benjamin and Beckham is allow a Blutarsky quarterback rating. That’s right—zero point zero. His health remains a concern, but as long as Xavier is on the field, it means Rhodes closed.
Sam Bradford: If he keeps ending up in this section of the Stock Market Report, the Vikings are in great shape. Bradford missed a couple throws but once again avoided mistakes and kept the offense moving for most of the night. Is he 1999 Kurt Warner? No. But he’s a hell of a lot better than 2000 Trent Dilfer, and that’s all the 2016 Vikings currently need.
Cordarrelle Patterson: He’s inducing fumbles as a punt gunner! He’s drawing pass interference in the end zone! He’s running end arounds and reverses! He’s still returning kicks! He’s catching (...no, that can’t be right...wow, it is!) FIVE passes! In one game!! Patterson didn’t make any huge plays but I absolutely love how hard he ran every time he got the ball in his hands. Flash is doing everything the coaches ask of him, which is literally just about everything these days. Patterson’s mini-resurgence has to give Laquon Treadwell hope that he too can make meaningful contributions to the offense in three years.
Kyle Rudolph: Another game, another TD for the Vikings’ most consistent pass catcher this season. Four of his five catches resulted in first downs, three of which came on third down. Rudolph is on pace to set personal bests in every receiving category this season. He finally looks like the player we were hoping he would be over the past five years.
T.J. Clemmings: Was Clemmings a worrisome part of the offense on Monday? Did you think about him for most of the game? Chances are you didn’t. That’s a great sign. He definitely got shoved back a handful of times but it wasn’t in a destructive manner. I really thought the injury to Matt Kalil might have been the straw to break the camel’s back, but Clemmings is acquitting himself well enough to avoid the self-destruction of the offense.
Alex Boone: Now THAT was the player the Vikings were hoping for when they signed Boone in the offseason. Boone was mauling the Giants at the line of scrimmage and finally creating some consistent space on the left side of the line. I especially loved how he and Clemmings got downfield on the 25-yard run by McKinnon:
More of that please!
Jeremiah Sirles: For the second straight week, Sirles was asked to step in for an injured lineman. Last week it was left guard; this time it was right tackle after Andre Smith went down. Sirles has been the adhesive that has kept a very thin offensive line hanging on over the past two weeks.
Terence Newman: I should probably stop being surprised at how well the 38-year-old corner is performing this season. Sorry, I just can’t. What Newman is doing at his advanced age remains unfathomable to me. At this rate he might still be doing this kind of stuff well into his 40’s.
Blair Walsh: Enough already. Watching Walsh kick is a bigger roller coaster than anything Valleyfair has to offer. On its own, there isn’t a lot of shame in missing a 46-yard field goal, but the cumulative effects of Walsh’s misses are getting too large to ignore. It had me wondering aloud about the status of another former NFC North kicker:
Zimmer passed on attempting a 54-yard field goal late in the third quarter that would have made the contest a three-score game. Indoors. With a kicker that definitely has the leg to make it from that kind of distance. I think that’s pretty telling of where Walsh currently stands in the mind of his head coach.
Eric Kendricks: I know. I can’t believe he’s in this section either. But Kendricks’ tackling was really awful tonight. Pro Football Focus had Kendricks responsible for four of the Vikings’ nine missed tackles on Monday night. The dropped interception at the end of the game was the icing on the cake and indicative of his off night. Are we 100% sure that wasn’t actually Jasper Brinkley out there wearing a wig with his old uniform number?
Buy: The wide receiver snap count. I won’t have the final numbers until the game book publishes them on Tuesday, but the trend was definitely in a better direction. More Thielen and Patterson, less Johnson. I know CJ had two nice plays, but the playing time was much more reflective of the overall merits of the wide receivers’ seasons thus far.
Sell: That first touchdown drive being counted as a “99-yard drive” by the offense. The biggest play of the drive was a punt! It was impressive, especially with how the offense has looked in first halves this season, but that doesn’t count.
Buy: The Adam Thielen Story. Remember Vince Papale, the Eagles wide receiver portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the movie Invincible? Well, sorry Vinnie, but your story is trash compared to Thielen’s. From open tryout to practice squad to special teams to consistent all-around contributor...THAT kind of stuff is worthy of a Hollywood script. Speaking of great contributions from unexpected players...
Buy: This ball boy.
I think I found where Odell has been hiding. https://t.co/E3lc0nyUOE— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 4, 2016
And thanks to the power of Twitter, we already know that his name is EJ Johnson. What a grab, EJ!
Sell: All those Matt Asiata runs out of the shotgun. If they weren’t working with Peterson, they sure as hell aren’t going to work with Asiata. I get handing the ball off a time or two to keep the defense honest, but c’mon. Let McKinnon do his thing and let Asiata keep vulturing touchdowns.
Buy: The variety of Norv Turner’s play calling. Sure the shotgun runs didn’t work, but I appreciated the wide array of looks the offense showed New York throughout the game. Not everything was successful but Turner certainly seemed to keep the Giants guessing enough to set up some big plays.
Sell: Laquon Treadwell seeing more of the field anytime soon. With Patterson, Thielen, and even Charles Johnson getting into the mix with Stefon Diggs and Rudolph, it’s going to be hard for Quon to earn a lot of snaps. But just like Trae Waynes last year, benching a first round rookie that might not be all the way ready is a luxury the Vikings can actually afford.
Buy: Sacks aren’t always the true measure of getting pressure. The Vikings didn’t get a sack and barely touched Eli Manning, but that doesn’t mean he was anywhere near comfortable for most of the night. Everson Griffen was thisclose to at least three sacks from his wide position (Arif did a great job of explaining why Griff lined up out wide so often on Monday). The Vikings defense got enough consistent pressure to disrupt the Giants’ game plan even if they didn’t finish any of the plays in the backfield.
Sell: ESPN running a First Take segment about the Patriots at halftime. What in the blue hell was that all about? I have done a great job of avoiding all things Stephen A. Smith for the past several years, so I did not appreciate the ambush. Especially since what they were talking about had absolutely nothing to do with the game being played that evening.*
(* I assume all they talked about was the Patriots. I changed the channel after 30 seconds.)
Buy: Winning like this is sustainable. After the win at Carolina, lots of folks were pointing to the gaudy turnover ratio and defensive/special teams scoring as reasons the Vikings would eventually come crashing down to earth. The Vikings were +2 in the turnover battle again. But guess what? Turns out that taking care of the ball on offense and attacking the ball on defense are things you are allowed to do over the course of 16 games. As for the scoring? The offense put up the points all by themselves on Monday. No touchdowns, no sacks, no problem—this defense is just that good, even without the outlier plays.
No matter what happens next week, the Vikings will enter their bye week in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
Gemma Thompson Quote of the Day
Like any good parent, I decked out my daughters in their Vikings gear before shipping them off to daycare Monday morning. My older daughter seemed genuinely interested in watching the game as we talked about it while getting ready in the morning. So around 7:15 while she was chasing her little sister around the front room, I asked her to join me.
“Gemma, want to watch the game with Daddy for a while before bedtime?”
“Sure Daddy. How about I watch the Vikings with you for five minutes?”
[Hops up on couch, puts her arm around me. My heart is melting.]
“One, two, three, four, five. OK that’s good. Have fun Daddy!”
[Hops down, heads back into the other room to play]
Well Gemma, I did have fun. Maybe I can convince you to stick around for six minutes of the next Vikings win.