Is it me, or does the off-season seem to get longer every year? Sure, we’ve got free agency, then the draft, but it sure felt like it took forever for us to get some real, live, ‘football that doesn’t count but kind of does count’ back in our lives.
Having NFL games back is kind of like seeing an old friend, or favorite uncle, after a far too long period of time since you saw them last. So let’s welcome back real but fake football with a video that was about as fake a singing job you’ll see this side of Milli Vanilli. Still...welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, isn’t that right, Mr. Sebastian?
Your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back to that same old place that you laughed about
Well, the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around
Who’d have thought they’d lead you (Who’d have thought they’d lead you)
Back here where we need you (Back here where we need you)
Yeah, we tease him a lot
‘Cause we got him on the spot
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
The incredibly simplistic over reaction SMR follows. AND YOU CAN’T WAIT FOR IT DON’T LIE!
Blue Chip Stocks
Kirk Cousins, QB: Granitejaw McDreamy had everyone swooning after his one drive. He was poised, accurate, and threw some darts, including a 28 yard ‘wow did you see THAT’ throw and catch down the sideline to Stefon Diggs. Yeah, this is what $124 million guaranteed looks like:
Stefon Diggs, WR: Diggs was electric. Besides the 28 yard fingertip beauty, he also had a one yard TD reception on a slant pattern that was an absolute laser by Cousins. It’s easy to over react to the first football we’ve seen since January, but Cousins and Diggs look like they’re going to make a lot of plays this year based on what we’ve seen.
Roc Thomas, RB: The RB3 job was one of the big battles heading into camp this year, and Thomas is one of the guys trying to grab it. He really added to his resume tonight, and may have taken the lead. He had over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including and 78 yard catch and run on a screen pass. He had a couple issues on pass protection, but there was a lot to like from Thomas tonight.
Daniel Carlson, K: The early reports from training camp had Carlson and Kai Forbath performing pretty even so far. But when given an opportunity, Carlson was money. He was 3/3 on extra points (WHEEEEEE) and 2/2 on field goals, including a 57 yarder that could have gone another 15 yards. THin air at altitude and all that, but Carlson crushed that kick. He had the inside track on the job since the Vikings traded up in the fifth round to get him in the draft. Barring something really dramatic, he won the job tonight.
Latavius Murray, RB: With Dalvin Cook a healthy scratch, Murray was the starter on the first drive and ripped off runs of 20 and 21 yards on consecutive plays. But when the Vikings got down to the goal line, the usually reliable goal line runner got stuffed on two plays.
Eric Wilson, LB: Wilson really flashed tonight. He always seemed around the ball, and had a big QB hit early in the game.
Mike Hughes, CB: Hughes looked solid. He dropped an interception in the end zone, but overall I thought he acquitted himself well.
Mack Brown, RB: He didn’t put up Thomas like numbers, but he ran the ball well, and looked good in the second half of the game.
Chad Beebe and Stacy Coley, WR: WR4 is another heated battle, and Coley made a couple of grabs early. But in the fourth quarter Chad Beebe made a couple plays, to include a nice nine yard TD from Kyle Sloter.
Josh Andrews, Storm Norton, Cedric Lang, OL: Yikes, were these guys collectively pretty bad.
Kentrell Brothers, LB: Brothers just did not have a good night. He seemed to be late on a tackle, late in to coverage, just...not his best performance.
Jack Tocho, CB: Tocho had a really nice interception, and it was a great play...but yeah, he had a rough night otherwise, getting burned for two TD’s. Overall, it was a bad night for him. For a guy trying to make the roster as a CB and not a safety, he did himself no favors.
Holton Hill, CB: For a guy that really looked good early in camp, it didn’t translate in to a game situation. He was poor in coverage, not a great tackler, and gave up chunks of yards.
Buy or Sell
Buy: The offensive line on the first drive. Riley Reiff only played one series but looked the best of everyone. I think Danny Isidora was the best of the rest, and as far as run blocking goes, the front five, to include Yukon Cornelius Edison, opened some gigantic holes for Murray, and established a great pocket for Cousins to set up and throw.
Sell: All the questions about the offensive line have been answered. After the first drive, the line had some ups and downs. Tom Compton, Isidora, Cornelius, Aviante Collins...they all made some great blocks, and they all had some bad whiffs. And as the Vikings went farther down the roster, the performance was decidedly worse. I think it’s fair to say that the first drive was very encouraging, but there’s also a fair amount of work to be done. I will say that assuming Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers come back, and they should, I’m feeling a lot less anxiety about this line than I was a couple days ago, all things considered.
Buy: Trevor Siemian had a good stat line. If you didn’t watch the game and just looked at the stat line you’d think ‘wow, what a good game’. SIemian went 11-17 for 165 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. And based on that statline you’d think Siemian as QB2 was a foregone conclusion.
Sell: Trevor Siemian had a good game. All that said, I don’t believe he had a very good game. He had one really nice back shoulder throw to Coley, but of his 165 yards 91 were screens or dump offs to Roc Thomas (which, to be fair, were on two throws that both turned into touchdowns). The rest of his downfield throws were not accurate, and kind of all over the place. For example, his interception was on a throw to TE Tyler Conklin that was high and a bit behind him, and yes, it should have been caught. But it went off Conklin’s hands, and it became an easy pick. Yet, a good throw that hits Conklin in stride there, and it’s a huge gain.
Buy: Kyle Sloter for QB2. Sloter, on the other hand, looked really good. He went 9/11 for 69 (nice) yards, and a pretty back corner end zone throw to Beebe for a TD. He also had a nice bootleg TD run that put the game in ice late in the fourth quarter.
Sell: Kyle Sloter for QB2. Still it’s way too early to say Sloter should supplant Siemian as the primary backup. The overall accuracy was better, but the level of competition he was going against compared to Siemian wasn’t as good. It was encouraging, for sure, but I still think that Siemian till has the backup job...for now.