The game got off to a roaring start, as the Jaren Hall-led Vikings stormed down the field on a 10-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a touchdown. Then, it was the defense’s turn. On their third play of the game, Brian Flores dialed up a blitz disguised with a loaded defensive front. As the linebackers bailed back into coverage, Jay Ward came cruising around the edge, slamming into Clayton Tune and forcing a fumble, recovered by the Vikings. The very next play, the Vikings punch it in for a touchdown, leaping out to a 14-nothing lead on the Cardinals. Finally, some exciting preseason football! Everything is going the Vikings’ way, and we’re finally looking at our first preseason victory since before that whole COVID thing!
And then... Well, then the preseason happened. Once the rush of celebration wore off, Vikings fans were faced with the ensuing two-and-a-half hours of tasteless, ugly, very poor pass-blocked, lame, preseason football.
But alas, the cup has finally passed from us. In two short weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town and take on our very own Minnesota Vikings. And what a great day that will be! The final preseason Stock Market Report follows.
Blue Chip Stocks
Jaren Hall - Hall actually looked pretty solid in this game, and having improved in each of his three games, I think he’s deserving of this preseason-blue chip status. My favorite Jaren Hall play of the afternoon came right before halftime, as he stepped up in the pocket and threw an absolute dot to a well-covered Proehl. It wasn’t his only tight window throw of the day, either. Hopefully, we get to continue to see Hall develop either on the roster or practice squad.
Jay Ward - Ward had a heck of a game. Here’s his stat line - eight tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, one QB hit. His sack and forced fumble came on the Cardinals’ third play from scrimmage and directly resulted in a 14-point lead. How many safeties are they going to keep?
The “First Team” Offense - On the opening drive, these guys were clicking. Hall was dishing the ball appropriately, Reagor looked like a man among boys (weird, it's almost like he was a first-round pick or something), and McBride had some burst. Throw in a catch by Nick Muse, and we’re rolling. Once these players left the game, it was a different story.
The Defensive Line - There seemed to be pretty good pressure and run defense by the D-line. Combined, the defensive line had one sack, four QB hits, a pass defended, and two tackles for loss. And, most of that came from the interior, which will need some help from rotational guys this season. I thought it was a pretty encouraging performance from the defensive line.
It was the final preseason game, guys are just trying to make a team. I’m not going to give out any Junk Bonds on this one. (But gosh darn it Greg, you’re tempting me)
DeWayne McBride - McBride showed real promise for the first time this preseason, but he was playing against a bunch of third-stringers. Just the fact that he played today means that his roster spot is in jeopardy, yet he only played a couple of series. He also had a tackle on special teams, which is what he would likely be doing if he makes the roster. Right now, I see McBride as a practice squad player, but he did have a solid game on Saturday.
Buy - The first series on both sides of the ball are indicative of what we’ll see in the regular season. It was fun to watch the first few minutes of this game, and I think we can expect to see more of this on an advanced level in a couple of weeks. The offense was well planned and moved the ball at will. The defense was creative and got home on a disguised blitz. And that, folks, is why this team will be a good watch this season.
Sell - The rest of the game is indicative of what we’ll see in the regular season. Aaaand then it all went away, in typical Vikings fashion. Just when things were going right, the Vikings (the offense especially) disappeared. While last year was that same story over and over, I don’t think that will be the case this season. Kevin O’Connell’s offseason focus has been creative offensive play calling. He said this back in June:
I think anytime you have personnel versatility, it’s a way you can apply pressure, and what I mean by that is, how many different guys in different roles, in the run and pass game, can we apply pressure to the defense in different types of ways that you’ve gotta defend us?
If he can achieve this, the defense will have a harder time adjusting to what the offense is throwing at them, leading to more sustained drives. I’m going to get my heart broken again this season, aren’t I?
Buy - This is going to be another fun season. I’m really looking forward to this season. There are so many different ways it could go, but I’m here for it, and you should be too. We can only hope to be as spoiled as we were last year with so many close games.
Sell - The Vikings will be worse than last year. They may have a worse record, but I don’t see them regressing as a team. The offense added Addison and Oliver, and we should expect them to excel in Kevin O’Connell’s second year. The defense got younger and is led by an unarguably better coordinator. It's reasonable to think that the Vikings will be a better team with a worse record this season than last.
And that’s it for preseason Stock Market Reports! I’ll see you again in two weeks. Don’t forget to add your own stock assessments in the comments below.