Hey, kids! Yours truly has the Stock Market Report for this week, as Ted is off on a camping trip playing Grandpa for his grandson’s birthday and Eric is in Las Vegas doing. . .stuff. So, I get the opportunity to step in and provide some thoughts on the All-Important Third Preseason Game™. And, boy, let me tell you, of all the preseason NFL games I’ve ever watched. . .that sure was one of them!
Speaking of Vegas, yours truly actually made the trip to Sin City a couple of weeks ago while on leave, and finally fulfilled a lifelong goal. Yes, after many, many years of trying, I was finally able to see the greatest musical talent of my or any other generation live in concert.
I speak, of course, of “Weird Al” Yankovic. I’ve been listening to “Weird Al” for a very long time, and have had tickets to see him in the past, but things have always fallen through for various reasons. However, I finally got to see him on the “Strings Attached” tour at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, performing with the Las Vegas Symphony. And, I’m not afraid to tell you. . .it was awesome.
Unlike this third preseason game, which for the most part was awful. And since Ted likes to do a musical tie-in for this and I already bored everyone with my “Weird Al” story, I thought I’d include one of his songs, but I wasn’t sure if there was one that really fit. However, I did find a part of one song that kind of equated to the experience of having to watch this particular preseason contest, and it comes from a magical place. . .
. . .called ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLBUQUERQUE!
So I got in my car and I drove over to the donut shop
And I walked on up to the guy behind the counter
And he says, “Yeah, what do ya want?”
I said, “You got any glazed donuts?”
He said, “No, we’re outta glazed donuts.”
I said, “You got any jelly donuts?”
He said, “No, we’re outta jelly donuts.”
I said, “You got any Bavarian cream-filled donuts?”
He said, “No, we’re outta Bavarian cream-filled donuts.”
I said, “You got any cinnamon rolls?”
He said, “No, we’re outta cinnamon rolls.”
I said, “You got any apple fritters?”
He said, “No, we’re outta apple fritters.”
I said, “You got any bear claws?”
He said, “Wait a minute, I’ll go check
”NO, we’re outta bear claws.”
I said, “Well, in that case - in that case, what do you have?”
He says, “All I got right now is this box of one dozen starving, crazed weasels”
I said, “Okay, I’ll take that.”
Your Stock Market Report, which will hopefully be better than a box of one dozen starving, crazed weasels, follows.
Dalvin Cook, difference maker: Hey, remember how good Dalvin Cook is? Well, if you had forgotten, he only needed a couple of carries to remind everyone.
Running is inefficient pic.twitter.com/6jRgGbJNxD— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) August 24, 2019
What a thing of beauty that was. A penalty put the Vikings behind the chains, and Cook stepped up like Pedro Cerrano and said, “Eff you, Jobu, I’ll do it myself.” And he did, with the help of some pretty solid blocking. Like we’ve consistently said, this offense is just different with Dalvin Cook on the field, and runs like that one are the reason why.
Everson Griffen, DE: He may not have recorded any sacks, but Griffen was all over the place when the first-team defense was on the field, making life generally miserable for Kyler Murray and the rest of the Cardinals’ offense. He’s really starting to look like 2017 Griff again, and that’s an incredible sign for this Vikings’ defense, who sorely missed that guy last season.
Kyle Sloter, QB2: Look. . .I don’t watch practices every day. I wasn’t at Training Camp this year or anything like that. I don’t know what the meetings in the Vikings’ quarterback room look like or sound like. All I know is that this guy gets out on the football field and does stuff, pretty much all of it good, and a lot of it with guys that are going to get cut in about a week. I’d certainly like to see him get an opportunity to go against guys that aren’t going to be selling insurance in Des Moines in a few weeks, but I’m fairly certain that won’t happen. More on that later.
Ifeadi Odenigbo, DL: Ifeadi Odenigbo should have made this team last season. Ifeadi Odenigbo is going to make this team this season. Watching him chase down the very fast Kyler Murray on a read option for a two-yard loss was a thing of beauty, and he has the ability to play both inside or outside on the defensive line. It’s taken a couple of seasons, but he appears to have developed pretty nicely.
Mike Boone, RB3: Boone is another guy that just goes out and produces. I think he’s pretty clearly locked up the #3 running back spot for this team, and I don’t think the gap between him and Ameer Abdullah is a particularly narrow one. He’s just been more productive in every facet of the game, even getting an opportunity on returns on Saturday afternoon. He’s earned his spot, in my opinion.
Bisi Johnson, WR: The seventh-rounder had a solid first preseason game, kind of disappeared in the second game, and re-emerged on Saturday afternoon. He led the Vikings in receiving with three catches for 52 yards, and also got an opportunity to return a kickoff. For all the fascination with players like Chad Beebe and Brandon Zylstra so far this offseason, I’m not sure if Johnson isn’t already the third-best receiver on this team.
Jayron Kearse, S: We know how great Harrison Smith is, and Kearse got a start in his spot when Mike Zimmer decided to sit the Hitman down on Saturday. As he’s done all preseason so far, Kearse just went out there on Saturday and kept making plays. He had two passes defended, and should have had an interception when Murray tried to throw one right to him in the first quarter. I’m not sure what kind of role is planned for Kearse this season, but he’s making it clear that he needs to be on the field somewhere.
Every damn player on the first team offense not named Dalvin Cook: Holy hell, was that ever ugly. I’m not sure what the Cardinals were doing that the Vikings just had no answer for, but outside of the 85-yard touchdown, the entire offense looked like hot garbage in the first half. The offensive line wasn’t blocking worth a damn, Kirk Cousins was off on his throws, and the throws that were getting to the receivers were being dropped. Add it all up, and you get a 3-of-13 for 35 yard performance, and 29 of those yards came on one play with under two minutes left in the half. Obviously, I don’t think the Vikings’ offense is going to be this bad going forward, but the coaching staff and the players have two weeks to figure out what the hell happened on Saturday afternoon and take steps to fix it.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: I don’t know if Rhodes is hurt or if he was just completely disinterested in being out there or what the issue was, but something about him today was just off. He was getting smoked by guys that have no business beating a guy of Rhodes’ caliber, and missed at least one tackle that could have stopped a Cardinals’ scoring drive. This defense needs Rhodes to be in form, and much like the offense, there’s two weeks between now and the opener to figure it out.
Kaare Vedvik, whatever he’s doing: So, it would appear as though the Vikings’ kicker curse has gotten to the young Norwegian, as he got two field goal attempts on Saturday, and missed them both. One went wide left from 43, and one went wide right from 54. Matt Wile was the holder on both kicks, which was a change from last week when Chad Beebe was doing the holding. I still have no idea what the heck the Vikings are doing with Vedvik, Wile, and Dan Bailey, but. . .say it along with me, folks. . .they damn sure need to figure it out.
Walt Anderson and his officiating crew: Seriously. . .
This was ruled not a fumble...— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) August 24, 2019
...AFTER IT WAS REVIEWED pic.twitter.com/57qWYgYZ59
If you’re going to blow a call that badly with the benefit of instant replay and review, then what the hell is even the point of having it?
Buy: Kyle Sloter is the second-best quarterback on this football team. I said when the Sean Mannion signing took place that I really didn’t understand it and wasn’t sure why the Vikings didn’t just go with Sloter. . .who they obviously like. . .as the backup to Kirk Cousins. I honestly don’t think that there’s a facet of the game, at least from my observations, where Mannion is clearly the superior quarterback.
Sell: Kyle Sloter is going to get a chance to be the backup QB. That said, I have a feeling that Mike Zimmer has already made his mind up on the backup quarterback situation, and neither you nor I nor anyone else is going to make him change his mind about it. Sloter will probably get most of the snaps in the preseason finale in Buffalo, and he’ll probably perform well again, and he’s going to stay as the #3 quarterback. Like I said earlier in the piece, I’m not sure what the Vikings coaches see every day in practices or in film sessions, but it’s obviously something I’m not seeing. That’s their job, after all.
Buy: Playing without Adam Thielen has an effect on the offense. The Vikings decided to keep Adam Thielen on the bench for Saturday’s game, and as you’d expect when you play without a player of that caliber, the offense was diminished. Thielen’s presence opens things up quite a bit, and the Vikings played without that luxury on Saturday.
Sell: Thielen’s absence is the reason the offense was terrible in the first half. Having said that, there is no reason or excuse for the first-team offense to look as bad as they looked for the entire first half. Every single level and personnel group on the offense was just awful, and the absence of one guy. . .no matter how spectacular. . .is not a justification for that level of futility.
Buy: The Vikings could actually carry two fullbacks. We know that the Vikings like C.J. Ham, but I would like to think that there’s a place on this roster for Khari Blasingame, depending on how the Vikings want to configure things. Blasingame is a freakish athlete and a very good blocker, in addition to finding the end zone in each of the Vikings’ three preseason games thus far.
Sell: The Vikings actually carrying two fullbacks. That said, I’m not sure if the Vikings would actually do that. That means that, in all likelihood, either Ham or Blasingame is going to meet the Turk next week. The one scenario that I could see it happening is one where David Morgan starts the season on the PUP list (missing the first six games) and the Vikings think they can use their fullbacks in some sort of hybrid/H-back role. Otherwise, though, there’s going to be a hard cut to be made at the fullback position.
And that’s your Stock Market Report for this week, kids! Thank you for indulging me on this, and Ted will be back in control of things the next time one of these goes up.