In a way, there’s almost a sad comfort in being a Vikings fan. At some point, you know the inevitable gut punch is going to come, like an old friend who’s been away from home for awhile. You begin to miss your friend, and think fondly of your friendship. And just when you think that maybe, just maybe, your buddy has left for greener pastures, he comes knocking. Whether it’s a Hail Mary throw, a mind bogglingly dumb penalty, a field goal that goes wide left at the most inopportune time, or one of 312 knee injuries, he’s there, knocking on your door with a smile and a six pack. Just like he has been for the past 57 years.
Constant, unyielding, and omnipresent.
Hello darkness, my old friend. This may be a Disturbed relationship, but it’s our relationship. Isn’t it, Mr. Draiman? I hope you and Messrs Simon and Garfunkel will pardon my artistic license, as I changed the lyrics a bit to reflect the knee to the groin mood we’re all feeling today.
Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because another knee blew out
Left my hopes just strewn about
And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
On hobbled knees with bone on bone
With a very pro-nounced limp
Dura-bil-i-ty of a shrimp
When my eyes were stabbed by the pain of torn A-C-L’s
What the Hell
My screams they broke the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People walking without limping
People running without gimping
People making runs that Vikings never dare
It’s just not fair
Embrace the sound of silence
“Fools” said I, “You do not know
bad knees like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence
Your SMR that’s checking Craig’s List for a good knee follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Dalvin Cook Until ISIS Attacked His Knee: Can this franchise just get one freaking break, man? Just one? Cook was really looking good before his knee injury. He had 66 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown before he clutched his knee and fumbled the ball early in the third quarter. On a day when it looked like Cook was going to be the difference between the Vikings winning and losing, his loss is potentially devastating for an offense trying to tread water until they get Sam Bradford back.
Stefon Diggs, WR: Diggs posted another 98 yards today, and kept a couple of drives alive with some big grabs. He’s the second fastest player in Vikings history to get to 2,000 yards behind only Randy Moss. This kid is special, and with what looks to be a significant injury to Dalvin Cook, he’ll have to step up even more for this offense.
Danielle Hunter: The Vikings defensive line set the tone on the very first play for the Lions as Danielle Hunter broke through and sacked Matthew Stafford. They hit Stafford all afternoon, sacking him a total of six times, and Hunter led the way with two. After a fairly quiet early season, Hunter is making some noise, and that’s nothing but positive for the Vikings moving forward. So I’m sure he’ll tear his ACL in Chicago, because Vikings.
Linval Joseph, DT: Joseph has been an oversight mention the first three games, but no longer. He had another strong game on the inside with 9 tackles, and he also notched his first sack of the year.
Eric Kendricks, LB: Kendricks had another good game, registering five tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, and was solid in coverage all day.
Anthony Barr, LB: Barr seems to be rounding back into his 2015 form, as he made a couple of head turning plays today. Kendricks and Barr are arguably the best LB tandem in the NFL, and if Cook’s injury is as bad as feared, the defense will have to carry the load again this year. Barr and Kendricks will be the one’s to lead the defense if that’s the case.
Andrew Sendejo, S: Sendejo led the Vikings with 11 tackles, and was once again solid on coverage today. I know a lot of people aren’t on the Sendejo bandwagon, but it feels like he’s turned a corner. He might not be an All Pro, but he doesn’t feel like a liability anymore, either.
Kai Forbath, K: I am legit done with anyone the Vikings sign to be their kicker. First they can’t make extra points, then they can’t make field goals, then they can’t make extra points, then they can’t make field goals. Just got for it on 4th down in plus territory, and go for two after every touchdown. Done. Finito. Dead to me. ‘Bye, Felicia.
Knees: The only thing that disgusts me more than Vikings kickers is Vikings knee injuries. From Teddy Bridgewater, to Shariff Floyd, to Sam Bradford, and now Dalvin Cook, I want the Vikings to do one of two things: Either set up an organic knee farm and grow them in the rich, fertile grounds of the Red River Valley, or hire prostitutes in Thailand and the Phillippines to drug men with healthy knees, cut them out, and send them to Winter Park while throwing the john into an ice filled bathtub. Because I am sick and freaking tired of this crap, man. Sick. And. Tired.
Case Keenum: We all knew that 369 yards, 3 TD’s and no picks wasn’t a realistic option from Case Keenum week in and week out. I mean if it was, he wouldn’t be a journeyman backup in the NFL. But when Cook went down, we saw Keenum’s limitations exposed. He missed a wide open Adam Thielen on the goal line on what turned out to be a huge second half play. It was third and 9, Keenum checked down to McKinnon, and the Vikes were short by a couple yards. They had to kick a field goal, Forbath doinked it, and instead of 14-14, it was still 14-7, and it turned out to be a huge non-play of the game. Does Bradford make that throw? Or Teddy? I don’t know, but in a close game I’ll take Bradford or Bridgewater over Keenum 14 times out of six, and let the chips fall where they may.
Buy: The Vikings will have a legitimate quarterback debate when both Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are healthy. With Bradford’s lingering knee injury, and Bridgewater poised to return from a knee injury, it feels like there will be a lot of decisions that will have to be made, long term, regarding the quarterback position for the Vikings. Possibly in 2017, and definitely after the season is over. I’m not going to use this space here to debate it, but like Winter, it’s coming.
Sell: Case Keenum will be part of that debate. After last week, there was some talk starting to circulate that Keenum might be an option at QB for the Vikings. He isn’t. If they want to sign him to be the backup again, that’s fine. But if folks think he’s the answer, I shudder to think what the question might be.
Buy: Case Keenum is a decent backup quarterback. It’s important to remember he isn’t the starter, though, and that’s an important distinction. He wasn’t brought in here to be ‘the guy’, he was brought in here to play in case the ‘the guy’ got hurt. Keenum can hold down the spot and do okay for a few games if the rest of the offense is doing their job, and we saw that last week against the Buccaneers. But if it falls on him to shoulder the offensive load, he simply can’t.
Sell: The Vikings will be competitive with Keenum at the helm for an extended time. I gave him the benefit of the doubt after the Steelers game, because I still maintain he was pressed in to duty and the game plan wasn’t an optimal one for him. But after today, Keenum is what he is: a guy that can do okay for a little bit, but gets exposed due to his limitations after 2-3 games. And if you absolutely, positively, need a drive to win a game...I don’t think Keenum can do it on a regular basis.
Buy: 2-2 isn’t the end of the world, and 3-2 will be okay. All things considered, 2-2 isn’t the end of the world. This is a loss that could come back to haunt the Vikings at the end of the year if we have to get into tiebreakers and head to head matchups, but there’s still a lot of football to play, and anything can happen. The Vikings play a bad Bears team next, with a kid that’s never taken a snap in the NFL running the show for them. The Vikings defense should eat next week. A win next week will give the Vikings some momentum heading into the packers game.
Sell: 2-3 Might be time to panic. But that team is the Bears, in Soldier Field, for a Monday Night tilt. Soldier Field and prime time have been Gordian knots the Vikings have been largely unable to untie separately in recent years. Put them together, with Mitch Trubisky getting his first career start for the Bears, and this has the makings of a classic Vikings sack punch game. The positive side of me says that with Latavius Murray getting all the first team reps this coming week, he’ll start rounding in to shape, and hopefully Sam Bradford will be back. The pessimist in me says lol man Keenum starts, Murray sucks, and Trubisky begins his Hall of Fame career Monday night. And then 2-3 can become 2-4, and then yeah, it is time to panic.
Moment Of The Week:
So my newest grandson Joshua was over, and I held him for a better part of the game today. He’s only six weeks old, so he has yet to give me any words of wisdom, but the little guy has impeccable timing. Late in the game, the Vikings were driving, and looked to tie the game up. They were deep in Lions territory, and had a third and goal from the Detroit three. Case Keenum promptly took a sack, losing 11 yards. On 4th and goal from the 14, Keenum overthrew a well covered Adam Thielen, and even if he had caught it, a holding call would have nullified things anyway.
As soon as the pass was called incomplete, Joshua pooped his diaper. It was perfect timing, and a much better commentary on this game than anything else I can think of.