Stock Market Report 2.0: Vikings-Lions
Well, the Vikings dominated the Lions on Sunday to get back on track, okay actually the Vikings escaped the Lions with a win to keep the season alive. While a division win is still a division win, I listened on the radio then watched the game on replay tonight and it felt draining to be honest. The Vikings have the pieces at least on offense to be a good team but they continue to play down to opponents. The next three weeks will determine whether the Vikes are pretenders or have a shot this year.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Kirk Cousins: Yes, Cousins is a blue chip this week. While Kirk had an interception late in the game, he led a game winning and coach saving drive to finish the game off. Then he went to try and pep Mike Zimmer up after the field goal and gave us a brilliant video and the possibility of a Kirk Zim throwdown. Cousins was accurate and solid where it counts. Its also a good sign that his teammates are speaking up in support of his leadership, something that has been missing even when he was in Washington.
Danielle Hunter: Hunter is back! Getting a sack and causing havoc on the opposing offense it is good to get Danielle back on the field and lifting the Vikings pass rush. While other parts of the Dline are still a work in progress Hunter has already made the pass rush worlds better than it was last year.
Greg Joseph: Greg Joseph missed an FG in the 2nd half but came through with a clutch kick at the buzzer. In a strange twist Joseph may have saved Mike Zimmer’s job for now. Its very rare that a Vikings kicker makes a game winning FG but Joseph helped cap off a needed game winning drive.
Justin Jefferson: Jefferson had a monster day with 7 catches and 124 yds. Most of this came in the 1st half but after a slower start to the season JJ seems to be hitting his stride. Jefferson was beating the Lions secondary all day and may have continued his streak in the second half if it were not for some suspect play calling.
Patrick Peterson: Peterson had a solid game for the Vikings with a few good pass break ups. He is not the all-pro guy he was in Arizona but he is a stable presences and solid corner back for the Vikings secondary.
Erik Kendricks: Kendricks had an interception in the game and has looked better this week than earlier in the season. The Vikings are still struggling in the run defense but Kendricks is coming through in coverage.
Alexander Mattison: Mattison put the ball in the dirt and the Lions capitalized by scoring a TD and almost winning on a 2pt conversion. Otherwise, he had a very good day filling in for Cook. Mattison is not the explosive runner that Dalvin is but he was serviceable against a bad Lions team. He scored the only Vikings touchdown of the game.
Everson Griffen: Everson got two more sacks and is a solid rotational piece. He is probably one of the best offseason signings the Vikings had this year. While he did get a roughing the passer penalty, he has shown he still has some gas left in the tank and could see more of a starting role as the season goes on.
Adam Thielen: Thielen was quiet most of the game but came through in the gaming winning drive when the Vikings needed something. Thielen did have a very uncharacteristic drop early in the game and another catch called back by penalty, but remains part of the best 1-2 wide receiver punch in the NFL, if the head coach would use them more.
Christian Darrisaw: Yes! The Vikings 1st round draft pick saw the field today and was part of the only Vikings TD drive of the game. He looked better than Hill in relief even though he only had a few series. There were a couple of missed blocks but Darrisaw should get some more playing time as the season goes on.
DJ Wonnum: Wonnum has been towards the bottom of the league as far as defensive ends in pressures and quarterback hurries but today he got his first sack of the season on a crucial 4th down play by the Lions. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Zimmer Ball: The 1990s called and they want their offense back. Play calling for the Vikings offense was awful for large chunks of the game. The Vikings got the lead then it seems like they fell back on the play not to lose the game philosophy. This is a hallmark of Zimmer teams and while some of it is on Klint Kubiak its mostly a reflection of the head coach. The offense got booed going into the half because they had 2-time outs and almost a minute left and ran twice then went to the locker room. The Lions have been one of the worst teams in the NFL and the Vikings offense seemed stuck in neutral for most of the 2nd half receiving more boos and failing to score a TD. Zimmer’s offensive philosophy needs to change if the Vikings are going to have any shot at a deep post season run.
The Run Defense: The Vikings gave up 108 rushing yards. And there were plays where the Lions were running at will over the Dline. Hunter and Griffen remain solid pieces but the interior of the line is more suspect. Sheldon Richardson has been a non-factor the first few games and so far, the free agency money spent on the run defense looks like a waste.
Chris Herndon: Herndon was brought in to help replace Irv Smith and all he has done is caused penalties and dropped passes. There is still time for Herndon to turn it around but right now the Jets have gotten the better end of this deal.
Bashaud Breeland: Breeland had a fairly rough game again While the lions did go towards Peterson as well, Breeland had a few glaring misses and not enough good plays to make up. Breeland also took a leaf out of Dantzler’s book but instead of tweeting a cryptic I should be playing tweet he told all the fans to suck his Johnson for complaining about his terrible play. In the end this might be the best tweet the Vikings could have had because while Dantzler’s was ill advised, even though he had a good point, Breeland’s is a pr nightmare and if Dantzler is healthy next week Breeland should be riding the pine.
Buy: Mike Zimmer will finish the year winning today means Zim will probably finish out the year as head coach. Had the Vikings lost to the Lions I think it was a distinct possibility that Zimmer would have been fired at the bye week with the potential for Rick to follow him out the door. Indeed, Zim might have been fired tomorrow and only missed being the 1st coaching change of the season by Jon Gruden resigning this evening.
Sell: Mike Zimmer will finish out his contract. Given the way the season has started and the reports that Zim and Rick were told the Wilfs expect a deep playoff run this year its likely that one or both of these guys will be gone at the end of the season. This could change but unless the Vikings get red hot the Zimmer era probably ends with 2021.
Buy: The season is still alive. Beating the Lions means there is still hope for the season even though the game was ugly. A loss to Detroit would have most likely sent the Vikes into a death spiral.
Sell: This was a good win. That being said while a win is a win the Vikings should have blown out the Lions if they were a contender. The fact that Minnesota was unable to dagger the Lions at the start of the 2nd half is a huge concern. Fans on both sides have good points about why this is a win to celebrate and why it’s a win that feels like a loss because this team still hasn’t shown it can hang with winning teams. This was the easy part of the schedule and the Vikings will now face Carolina, Dallas, Green Bay and Baltimore with a bye week mixed in. The margin for error is 0 and losing any of these games could put the Vikings playoff hopes on ice.
Honestly some of the Viking’s antics would be getting more attention and even some of Zim’s comments might be bigger stories in a normal NFL year. An awkward celebration with Kirk that looked like a fight would have been gold but Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden have basically set everything on fire. I will watch the Vikings no matter what if they go 2 and 15 so be it ill enjoy the ride. But we are 5 games into the season and the Vikings have no identity. It feels like a repeat of 2020 and something has to change if the Vikes want to make the playoffs.