It’s chutes and ladders for the Minnesota Vikings in this week’s roundup of what the NFL’s ‘experts’ have to say about the purple and gold after the loss of fearless leader Kirk Cousins.
The only thing that is consistent in these rankings is the inconsistency. One has the Vikes ranked as high as 15th. One has them as low as 24. One had them jump 4, one had them drop 9.
This seems to represent what we have known all along about the Vikings... We all just don’t know what the heck they are going to do or what is going to happen to them.
The winds are chaotic. One second they're blowing the ship one direction, the next they're going the opposite way. This is a team that is not in smooth seas, but with a stellar defense and a solid and improving offense (outside of the QB situation, that is), one can hardly call them an objectively bad team.
These Vikings are not playing football. Like the New York Jets, the other team to suffer a top/veteran QB lost to a non-contact ruptured achilles, football is happening to them. I, like most of the ‘experts’, don’t think it’s done happening to them either, for better and for worse.
ESPN: #17 (up 4 from #21)
Kirk Cousins tore his right Achilles tendon Sunday — which has thrown the QB position into shambles, especially considering that veteran backup Nick Mullens is on injured reserve because of a back ailment. Mullens is eligible to return as early as Week 10, but it’s not clear if he will be ready. The Vikings’ best bet at the moment might be rookie Jaren Hall, a fifth-round pick who had his share of struggles during extensive preseason action. The only other quarterback on the roster is veteran Sean Mannion, who was signed to the practice squad when Mullens was hurt. — Kevin Seifert
The Vikings find themselves in a similar place to the Jets: nominally in contention, but facing some hard questions at quarterback. Kirk Cousins’ devastating Achilles injuryopens up the possibility that he’s played his final game for the club, and it puts the Vikings into a fascinating short-term quandary, as they currently sit in the No. 7 playoff spot in the NFC. It doesn’t feel like there’s a Brett Favre-like answer just waiting for the phone to ring, even if everyone knows whom Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell once backed up as a Patriots player. More likely, it’s Jaren Hall or Sean Mannion or Nick Mullens, or some combination of them. If this is it for Cousins in Minnesota, it’s a cruel twist of fate. He’d been playing some really good football. Neither he nor Vikings fans deserved this.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that the Vikings are trading for Cardinals QB Josh Dobbs.
Yahoo Sports: Frank Schwab #24 (down 9 from #15)
We have to judge the Vikings for what they are now, and without Kirk Cousinsthe rest of the season they are probably going to struggle. Next up is probably fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall. They could sign someone like Carson Wentz. But the truth is that nobody available at the start of November is going to turn the Vikings into a contender. It’s a brutal break for a team that was starting to ascend.
USA Today: Nate Davis #23 (down 4 from 19)
Bleacher Report: #21 (no change)
This should have been a week for celebrating in Minnesota—the Vikings not only beat the rival Packers at Lambeau Field, but after an 0-3 start to the season, they have peeled off four wins in five games to get back to .500.
Instead, there’s despair in the Twin Cities—because any chance the Vikings have of a playoff run likely just went up in smoke.
After throwing a pair of touchdown passes against the Packers, Kirk Cousins limped off the field in the second half. And as head coach Kevin O’Connell told reporters after the win, it was believed that Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles tear,
“The severity of that, I do not know at this point, but I do know that’s what our fear is at the moment,” O’Connell said. “Just some of my dialogue with Kirk, it seems like maybe his cleat might have gotten stuck in the ground or whatever it was. It’s not probably right for me to speculate. I just know that [it was] incredibly, incredibly unfortunate in that moment.”
The injury was confirmed on Monday, and “unfortunate” doesn’t begin to cover it. The cold, hard truth is that with Cousins done for the season, the Vikings are done right along with him.
And it’s fair to wonder if Cousins’ time in Minnesota could be done along with it.
“Minnesota might technically be in the thick of things with a 4-4 record and three straight victories,” Sobleski wrote. “But the team isn’t in position to build on its recent success after Cousins suffered a torn Achilles tendon. With Cousins out for the season, Minnesota will turn to fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall. Maybe general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah tries to swing a trade and bring in another veteran quarterback. In either case, the Vikings will experience a significant downgrade at the game’s most important position and the season could quickly spiral out of control.”
Sporting News, Vinnie Iyler: #15 (up 3 from #18)
The Vikings have rallied to win three consecutive games to erase an 0-3 start and get right back into the NFC wild-card race. But losing Justin Jefferson is one thing when they have receiving depth. Losing Kirk Cousins with nothing behind him to inspire too much confidence in Nick Mullens and rookie Jaren Hall.
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: #23 (down 4 from #19)
With Kirk Cousins out for the year, they are done, which is why they are down this far. He was playing outstanding football before tearing his Achilles against the Packers. There is no quarterback who can save them now who would be available or who is on the roster.
The Ringer: #20 (down 3 from #17)
Minnesota’s season was upended on Sunday by Kirk Cousins’s torn Achilles. Not only is Cousins’s injury season-ending, but considering that Cousins will be a free agent come February, it may mean that he has played his last down as a Viking. Minnesota is 4-4, leaving it stuck in no-man’s-land as it approaches the second half of the season. The Vikings can either tear down a team that has won four of its past five games or continue competing for an NFC North title with some combination of rookie fifth-rounder Jaren Hall, Nick Mullens, and Sean Mannion at quarterback. —Danny Heifetz
Pro Football Network, Dallas Robinson #21 (down 4 from #17)
The Vikings won the battle, but they lost the war. They outplayed the Packers and have been playing good football over the past five weeks, even after losing Justin Jefferson.
Kirk Cousins will miss the rest of the season, but a move for Joshua Dobbs might be enough to keep Minnesota competitive.