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The 2018 Minnesota Vikings seem to be the proverbial conundrum [url=http://www.thevikingsfootballauthentic.com/customized-authentic]Womens Customized Minnesota Vikings Jerseys[/url] , wrapped around a riddle, packaged in to a mystery. On paper, they have as much talent as anyone in the league. They’re strong on both sides of the ball, and when you look at their week to week matchups, more often than not they seem to be the better team.Yet, when they take the field, there seems to be an air of apathy, or lethargy, or something about them that makes me scratch my head, damn near every week. On Sunday in Foxboro, against the defending AFC Champion New England Patriots, it was more of the same. On a day when the Chicago Bears were upset by the Giants and the Packers literally fired their coach, Minnesota had a golden opportunity to get within half a game of the division lead and solidify their wildcard positioning. Yet after they pulled even at 10-10 early in the third quarter, the Vikes pretty much sleep walked through the rest of the game and lost 24-10. The offense insisted on a slow, plodding gameplan that didn’t get anywhere, the defense broke down when they couldn’t afford to, and at 6-5-1, this is a team that’s getting harder and harder to care about, because it seems like they don’t care anymore.Do they Mr. Collins?Well you can tell everyone I’m a down disgrace Drag my name all over the place I don’t care anymoreYou can tell everybody ‘bout the state I’m in You won’t catch me crying ‘cause I just can’t winI don’t care anymore, I don’t care anymoreThe SMR that’s fighting for a one and done in the wildcard round follows.Blue Chips:Anthony Harris, S. Since Andrew Sendejo went out several games back and Harris took over, Harris has played better than Sendejo, and I don’t see him relinquishing the job anytime soon. Today he had a huge pass break up on the goal line that forced New England to kick a field goal. Later, he had a huge stop on a short Rob Gronkowski catch that was initially ruled a first down, but on review Harris stood Gronk up and held him short. Dalvin Cook, RB: This is the Cook we’ve expected to see for most of the season, and the Vikings made some money with him on the edge running that ball. The Patriots showed zero ability to stop Cook running wide, so naturally, the Vikings quit running to the edge in the second half, especially when they got down to the red zone. It’s not Cook’s fault he only carried the ball nine times in a road game, outside, in bad weather. But more on that later. Solid Investments:Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudolph had some big catches today [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com]www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com[/url] , including a catch which was ruled a catch but no one could really be sure, because hey, what’s a catch in today’s NFL, amirite?Stefon Diggs, WR: Diggs was a gametime decision due to swelling in his knee overnight, but played. He ended up being the Vikings leading receiver today with 49 yards, and he had two big catches during the Vikings lone TD drive right before the end of the first half.Junk Bonds:Laquon Treadwell, WR: I’m good with pulling the plug on Treadwell as WR3 and putting in Aldrick Robinson if you are.Tom Compton, G: His nickname should be velcro becuase he holds on to everything.Dan Bailey, K: The second most accurate kicker in NFL history now has more shanks than a prison shakedown. If you want to tell me the Vikings should move on from Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer at the end of the season, because he’s the only common denominator in all these kicking issues, you have my attention.Kirk Cousins, QB: Cousins is not being paid 28 large a year to play like he did for about 50 of 60 game minutes today. There is no excuse that an offense with this much firepower struggles so badly. You can talk about the poor offensive line play, but this line is no worse than last year’s, and the offense didn’t struggle like this. Cousins just isn’t making a play when it needs to be made right now, flat out. When he does, this offense is a lot of fun to watch. When he doesn’t, this offense is like watching someone slowly drown.Buy/Sell:Buy: Running the ball with Dalvin Cook early. For the first time since the Lions game, which feels like it was about two seasons ago, Dalvin Cook and the running game got going early in the game. Cook had 32 and 18 yards on consecutive runs in the first half, and the Vikings really looked good running to the perimeter.Sell: Mostly ignoring Dalvin Cook on the ground. So, that 32 and 18 yard run? the 32 yard run came with 7:41 left in the first quarter, and the 18 yard run, the next time he carried it as a running back, came with 5:39 left…in the second quarter. In the meantime, Minnesota kept dumping off the Cook in the flat for a couple yards here and there (Cook ended up with 8 catches for 23 yards), and one would think after about the 37th dump off pass for three yards, one would try something else. One would be wrong, though. Buy: The two minute drive to end the first half. Cousins was crisp, throwing dimes down field to Diggs, Rudolph, Robinson, and managed the clock perfectly. He hit Adam Thielen on a perfect out route in the end zone [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-t-shirts]Minnesota Vikings Womens T-Shirt[/url] , and there was only :15 seconds left when the Vikings scored; too little time for Tom Brady. Hands down the best two minute drive the Vikings have orchestrated this year.Sell: The 28 minutes that opened the first half. Other than Cook running the ball, though, the Vikings offense looked flat out putrid for the rest of the first half. The offensive line had trouble protecting Cousins, which led to either designed short passes or checkdowns that went for minimal gains. The result was an offense that went punt, missed fg, punt, punt in their first four possessions before their lone TD drive.Buy: The Mike Zimmer challenge on the Gronkowski catch felt like a momentum shift. With 2:34 left in the first half, the Pats had a second and five from their own 22. Tom Brady completed a pass to Rob Gronkowski, which was ruled a first down. However, the spot was wrong, and Mike Zimmer challenged. He won, and instead of first and ten, it was third and one. On third down, the Vikings stuffed the Pats, they punted, and it felt like a seminal moment in the game.Sell: The Vikings seized the moment. Yes, the Vikings took the ball on their ensuing drive and scored a touchdown, and went into halftime down only 10-7. Last year, a moment like that felt like it would be a lunching pad to take over the game and win it. But the offense reverted to what they did much of the first half, and didn’t find the end zone again. The defense had trouble getting off the field on third down, and couldn’t get a stop when they needed it. It’s become a broken record at this point, but the complementary football that the Vikings talk about, and were so good at last year, isn’t there this year. Buy: The Vikings offense should be a top ten unit. They have a talented young running back, a good quarterback, a reliable tight end, and the best WR tandem in the NFL. I’m not saying this offense should be Oklahoma, but they’re built to score pointsSell: The Vikings offensive play calling. Honest to goodness, I have no idea what offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is thinking anymore. It feels like he tries to figure out what works, and then intentionally decides not do that thing. Look, when you have a running back that’s averaging 9.3 yards a carry, (and had two more good runs nullified because of penalties), why would you want to keep running the ball with him in bad weather? Silly cake eaters [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-hats]Minnesota Vikings Hats[/url] , what do we know? And once the Vikings do fall behind, there seems to be zero sense of urgency as time winds down. There is no quick huddle, the plays called are short dump offs that don’t stretch the field or get chunks of yards, and the clock bleeds time. By the time the Vikings do open it up, it’s much too little, too late. Nothing says ‘I don’t care anymore’ like a three yard slant on 4th and 11 down 14 with less than seven minutes to go.It’s incredibly frustrating to watch, and the reputation Flip brought with him seems to be based on a resume every bit as flimsy as George O’Leary’s was when he was the Notre Dame coach for about 20 minutes back in the day. Late in the game, after about the 27th three yard pass that felt like it ate up 40 minutes of game clock and produced no first downs, Fox commentator Troy Aikman mentioned that Flip would be a head coaching candidate for a lot of teams in the off-season. I thought to myself ‘good, he won’t be on the Vikings anymore’, which was a completely different feeling than when Pat Shurmur left for the Giants last year.Buy: Brian O’Neill has helped to fix the offensive line: When O’Neill was drafted, the general consensus was that he was going to have to sit for a year and bulk up, because he lacked upper body strength to be able to be effective in his rookie year. O’Neill has proven that narrative to be demonstrably false, and looks to be a fixture on the offensive line for a long time.Sell: Brian O’Neill fixed the offensive line. All that said, the Vikings offense is struggling, in large part, to another poorly constructed offensive line. For all the good Spielman has done in constructing a roster in all other areas, the offensive line has been an ongoing issue for almost every season since he’s been named full time GM in 2012. The interior of the line is very subpar, the backups inspire little to no confidence, and if it’s not a priority for GM Rick Spielman in the off-season it could all quickly unravel for the Vikings. Sorry, but no quote of the week this week. I didn’t really see any of the grandkids much, as I was in Indianapolis watching one of my other football teams not fill me with doom and gloom, and win a championship. It was refreshing.Vikings vs. Jaguars Preseason 2018: Five Game-Changing Plays Saturday’s preseason tilt between the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars was an ugly affair in every sense of the word. The first team offense that looked so efficient a week ago in Denver was sloppy and disorganized. Yellow flags littered the field while players and fans alike tried to figure out whether tackling was still legal in the NFL.And the injuries—oh, the injuries. Eric Sugarman was on the field more than the starting offense. There were more air casts than scoring plays for the Vikings. While none of the injuries were to players that looked to be getting a ton of playing time during the regular season, many of them were to players that have “blocking” in their job description. The Vikings have already made several roster moves related to the MASH unit that was Week 2 of the preseason.However, there were still a few rays of light among the storm clouds, and there is still some time to clean up what went wrong before the games start to count. Until then, let’s review the five game-changing plays from the 14-10 loss to the Jaguars.Play 1: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Jacksonville 26. First quarter, 8:49 remaining. K.Cousins pass incomplete short right to A.Thielen.After Kirk Cousins nearly had his first attempt to Adam Thielen intercepted, his second pass to Thielen didn’t fare any better.Overall this was a pretty innocuous play in a preseason game that was riddled with mistakes. It was still indicative of just how of out of sync the Vikings first team offense looked throughout the first quarter. After the play, Cousins seemed to acknowledge that the pass was his fault. Which means he missed badly, misjudged where Thielen was going to be on the field [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-hoodie]Minnesota Vikings Womens Hoodie[/url] , or a little of both.The Jaguars undoubtedly have one of the best defenses in the league, but plays like this show that there’s still lots of work to do before Cousins gets on the same page with all of his pass catchers.(All while a makeshift offensive line tries to keep him upright, of course.)Play 2: Jaguars ball. 2nd & 1 at the Jacksonville 26. First quarter, 6:40 remaining. (Shotgun) B.Bortles pass short middle intended for D.Westbrook INTERCEPTED by H.Smith at JAX 32. H.Smith to JAX 23 for 9 yards (J.O’Shaughnessy).The Vikings defense made Blake Bortles look…well, a lot like Blake Bortles for most of the week. During Wednesday’s joint practice, Minnesota defenders dropped no fewer than five potential interceptions. Harrison Smith had two that definitely should have been caught. At the end of Jacksonville’s first drive on Saturday, Mackensie Alexander and a host of other Vikings let a pick fall to the turf.Finally, Smith said “enough is enough” on the Jaguars’ second drive.On a day where the offense didn’t do much of anything, it was nice to see so many standout performances on the defense. There could be a couple of games early on where the defense is relied upon to make big plays like this. It looks like the best safety in the league is ready to step up.Play 3: Jaguars ball, 1st & Goal at the Minnesota 10. First quarter, 1:12 remaining. B.Bortles sacked at MIN 15 for -5 yards (D.Hunter).Earlier in this drive, Danielle Hunter obliterated Cam Robinson and had Bortles dead to rights for an easy sack. Bortles was able to escape Hunter’s clutches with a quick shoulder fake and get the pass away unscathed.On this play, all Hunter needed was one hand to take down the 235-pound quarterback.Hunter answered the disrespect of being blocked by only a tight end with some disrespect of his own, dragging down Bortles with only his right hand. The Jaguars still scored on the drive, but plays like this are why the Vikings gave Hunter his big contract extension before the season. If he keeps finishing off pass rushes like this, watch out.Play 4: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Minnesota 41. Second quarter, 12:25 remaining. M.Boone right guard pushed ob at JAX 40 for 19 yards (R.Harrison).So yeah, looks like we shouldn’t call that competition for the third running back spot just yet. On his very first touch of the game, Mike Boone let everyone know that he wasn’t going down without a fight. While Boone was proficient with catching passes in Training Camp, he hadn’t shown as much running the ball until Saturday. Boone finished the game with 91 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. The competition between Boone and Roc Thomas over the final two preseason games should be fascinating. Mack Brown better get healthy in a hurry if he hopes to have any chance at making a dent in this race.Play 5: Jaguars ball, 1 & 10 at the Jacksonville 49. Fourth quarter, 5:18 remaining. C.Kessler sacked at JAX 42 for -7 yards (A.Williams). PENALTY on MIN-A.Williams, Roughing the Passer, 15 yards, enforced at JAX 49 – No Play.If we’re going to call this roughing the passer, just switch to two-hand touch.I honestly don’t know what Antwione Williams should have done differently there. It was an expertly timed blitz and a textbook form tackle to sack Cody Kessler. The NFL can harp on player safety all they want, and making improvements in that area should be welcome. But calling penalties like this threatens changing how defenders can play the game. Let’s hope the league and its referees can figure these things out in the coming weeks.Vote for the play you thought was most impactful in the poll below. If you think we missed a few others that should have been included, please add them in the comments. Some of the “honorable mention” plays that could have easily made this list were Kai Forbath’s fate-sealing 41-yard field goal miss, the usually sure-handed Latavius Murray fumbling twice, and special teams allowing yet another long punt return to set up the game-winning score.



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