Wow. It’s been three days since the Vikings beat the Falcons, and I still haven’t been able to fully grasp what happened on Sunday. Josh Dobbs, without taking a single practice rep with the Vikings, was able to lead the Vikings to one of the most improbable victories you’ll ever see. I mean, come on, the guy didn’t even know his teammate’s names yet! In my opinion, this is the grittiest, gutsiest win I have ever seen the Vikings pull off. No Kirk, no JJ, no Darrisaw, no KJ for a good chunk of the game... no problem. The players on the field pulled off an amazing feat on Sunday, but Kevin O’Connell deserves so much credit for what transpired in Atlanta. He’s built a culture around this team that refuses to give up, no matter what circumstances are thrown their way. Josh Dobbs said that KOC was basically telling him what routes everyone would be running through the headset as he stood in the backfield. What a masterpiece.
This is an exciting time to be a Vikings fan! We have a head coach that has bought fully into this team, and the team has bought fully into his process. They have enough talent on the roster to keep winning games, so we should be optimistic for what is to come of this season. The quarterback future may be cloudy, but after seeing what O’Connell is truly capable of, I feel a lot more at ease in trusting the Vikings to make the right decision for the quarterback of the future this offseason. But for now, let’s enjoy the ride and see where this iteration of the Vikings will take us!
Blue Chip Stocks
Kevin O’Connell - As mentioned above, KOC painted a masterpiece on Sunday. Imagine what he can do with a whole week of practice with Josh Dobbs? I’ve heard some buzz lately that O’Connell is getting some consideration for the coach of the year award. After what we saw on Sunday, I can’t think of anyone else more worthy of that award at this point.
Brian Flores - Flores’ defense kept the Vikings in the game when it could have easily gotten out of hand once Hall went down. They only allowed six total points off of two turnovers, including a drive that started at their own three yard line. They also produced two turnovers of their own, in the form of a forced fumble and an interception. The defense was on the field a lot in this game, and they did their part by keeping the score within reach while the offense figured itself out.
Josh Dobbs - Was his game perfect? Definitely not. But, given the circumstances, I think Dobbs put on a blue chip worthy performance. Dobbs finished the game with two fumbles and a safety taken, but also accumulated 158 yards passing with two touchdowns, 66 yards rushing with another touchdown, his first career game winning drive, and a team-best 82.5 overall PFF grade. All of that without being on the team long enough to learn names... yep, blue chip.
Jordan Addison - Addison’s stats didn’t leap off the page like they have been lately, but he was there when he was needed the most. Addison reeled in a spectacular sideline grab on the Viking’s game winning touchdown drive that gained a much-needed 24 yards. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; Once Jefferson gets back, this will be one of the two or three best wide receiver duos in the NFL.
TJ Hockenson - Much like Jordan Addison, TJ didn’t have the craziest of statistical performances, but shone through when he needed to. My favorite highlight from Hock came right after Chris Myers so kindly stated that Hockenson only had one catch up to that point in the game... As soon as the sentence left his mouth, TJ proceeded to not only catch his second pass of the day, but rumbled for about 25 more yards, breaking multiple tackles along the way. Glorious.
Brandon Powell and Trishton Jackson - I was going to put Powell in the Penny Stock spot, but I’m just going to go ahead and give him and Jackson a combined solid investment today. Powell has been used sparingly as a gadget player through the first part of the season, and Jackson had only gotten one touch on the season before Sunday. But, when KJ went down on Sunday, Brandon and Trishton were the next men up, and they did their part, both catching pivotal balls in the end zone. Jackson’s moment came on the Vikings’ two point conversion attempt to tie the game at 21. Dobbs was scrambling around, and Jackson perfectly reacted to what his quarterback was doing, adjusted his route, found an opening, and made a great catch. Powell’s moment came to be the game winning touchdown, as he ran a nice route to get open so Dobbs could send the ball his way.
Cam Akers - Akers earns this spot because of the nasty block he threw on Dobbs’ rushing touchdown. And, of course, we lost Akers to an achilles injury, too.
David Quessenberry - My guy came in at the last minute and played a great game, finishing with the best pass blocking grade of the day at 86.6 per PFF’s scale. Hopefully we don’t have to see any more of Quessenberry, but if Darrisaw sits out again, we now we have a serviceable replacement to lean on.
Byron Murphy Jr. - Murphy had one of his best performances of the season, in my opinion. Not only did he grab a crucial interception, he also had another near INT and a tackle for loss. PFF graded him at 81.2 overall, his best grade of the season.
By my count, I didn’t notice any junk bond worthy performances. It was an all around solid day for the whole team.
Buy / Sell
Buy - There is some serious depth on offense. As I highlighted in the likes of Trishton Jackson, Brandon Powell, and David Quessenberry, this team showed off it’s quality depth at some important positions on Sunday. I have to say, I’m quite impressed. Usually, with the Vikings, it seems that once a starter goes down, they can’t even come close to filling the void. This season, that is not the case. And that’s a good thing, considering how many injuries we’ve sustained over the past couple of weeks.
Buy - This team will make the playoffs. A combination of the Vikings’ relentless culture and the NFC having a lot of crappy teams both will contribute to the Viking’s making a playoff appearance come January. Heck, the NFC North division crown might still be in play. The final three games of the season will influence the Viking’s playoff positioning significantly... they just need to make it that far.
Sell - The Vikings will win the NFC North. That being said, the Lions are still very good, are playing like a top ten team, and have a decently soft schedule down the stretch. I could see them faltering in the last three weeks of the season, with two matchups with the Vikings and a road game against the Cowboys on the schedule. But for now, I’m anticipating the Lions winning their first division title since 1993 (yikes).
Thanks for tuning in this week! We’ll see you again next week after the Vikings take on the Saints at home.