Written by Rance Gardner
The Mike Zimmer era preseason dominance continues. The Vikings are 3-1, and after three weeks of watching the starters, I think it’s safe to say the preseason was a roller coaster. Who am I kidding- every time the Vikings step on the field, it's a roller coaster for most of us. The offense looked dominant during the first two weeks of the preseason, but other than an electric 85-yard TD run by Dalvin Cook in Week Three, the starters looked lethargic at best. This feels like no better time to debut my weekly segment called “Skols & Holes”. Just so we're clear, a "Skol" is a strength or positive impact. Conversely, a "Hole" is obviously a weakness or negative impact. Let's get started.
When given time, Kirk Cousins looked incredibly accurate and decisive the first two games of the preseason. In Week Three, however, the offense struggled overall due to poor protection, bad routes and dropped passes. Oh and no, Adam Thielen. I won't put the struggles solely on Cousins; the run game has looked much improved from what we saw last year. Alexander Mattison looked like he will help this team right away and provide good depth at RB, while Mike Boone looks like he can also make an impact in a pinch. First-round draft pick Garrett Bradbury has looked like a massive upgrade at center, and I can't wait to see the impact he has as the season progresses. On defense, the depth at DE and DT should keep guys fresh this season, as Jayron Kearse has looked like an absolute monster on the field making plays left and right.
I am still terrified of our situation at kicker. We have been plagued with missed field goals for years and, despite changing personnel and trading a 5th round pick for Kaare Vedvik, the situation still does not seem to be fixed. The Vikings are in close games often in the Zimmer era, and kicking success is absolutely crucial to our win/loss record. Last year couldn't make that any more obvious. The Vikings also appear to have a hole at WR3. Last year, Laquon Treadwell was getting hyped up in camp as the Vikings clear option behind our dynamic duo. However, that was far from the truth. It felt like Chad Beebe was getting that same hype this year, and through three games of the preseason, that hype is dead. I thought Beebe struggled when given opportunities this preseason. There were times he and Cousins looked on completely different pages. The chemistry we have heard about in camp so far hasn’t translated onto the field. The offensive line has looked better in the run game, but pass protection has been spotty. On defense, Xavier Rhodes has looked a step slow. He could be banged up a little or protecting himself for the season. Either way, it was clear he wasn’t at 100%.
The season is right around the corner and like you, I can't wait to see what 2019-20 has in store for the purple and gold. We have had moments of pure optimism and pure panic this preseason; it's the annual August dance we all yearn for. Cousins’ haters and the Cousins’ supporters are gearing up for a season-long Twitter skirmish, making that September 8th opener all the more enticing.