Let’s Face It: We’re in for a Long Season

I’m not one to overreact, but we need to be honest about what we saw last Thursday night. The Vikings won their first preseason game, but the final score was of course irrelevant; a preseason victory is worth about as much as a share of Green Bay Packers stock— valuable only if you’re willing to engage in some serious self-deception.

The win over the Bills was, as most preseason victories are, the result of the winning team’s third- and fourth-string players being slightly better than those of the losing team’s. And I suppose there is a pale silver lining in this, because, judging by recent history, those players will likely see the field at some point for the Vikings this season. But alas, my main takeaway from the first preseason game was the same as many Vikings fans’: the team was sloppy, and bad, and the starting units — most notably, the offense – gave us no reason to believe they’ve improved upon their many deficiencies from last year.

Here we go again.

First, the offense. In three drives, the starters scored zero points and looked generally hapless against the Buffalo defense. Sam Bradford (eyeroll) continued his quest for the NFL’s all-time completion record at the expense of the team, going five of seven for 35 yards. That’s an average of five yards a pass, gang, so it looks like Sammy Checkdown is back to his old tricks. We’re in for another season of three-yard dump-offs on third and nine. Yipee!

Highly touted rookie Dalvin Cook carried the ball five times for 13 yards — the team could’ve just kept Adrian Peterson and still gotten those kind of numbers — and showed none of the big play ability we were sold around draft time. It’s too early to label Cook a bust, but it’s hard to see how the running game is going to improve with a starter that averages 2.6 yards per carry. Not a fan of the Vikings’ new running back.

And of course, the offensive line. They were once again atrocious in pass protection, giving up two sacks in the first three drives, including a Clemmings-esque whiff by shiny new right tackle Mike Remmers. Speaking of Clemmings, did you see this gem? Good lord.

It’s hard to see the offensive line not being completely awful again this year, especially if Reilly Reiff can’t even get on the field. I know everyone likes Rashod Hill, but he isn’t saving the season at left tackle. And it simply doesn’t matter how good your skill positions are if you can’t block anyone up front. At least Pat Shurmur will be happy he gets to employ his patented dink and dunk scheme, because that’s all this team is going to be able to do.

And then there’s the defense. What am I missing here? This is supposed to be one of the top defenses in the NFL, and yet they gave up 5.3 yards per carry to the Bills. The vaunted Vikings defensive line got pushed three or four yards off the ball on numerous occasions, and the starters seemed to be on their heels all night. Danielle Hunter, everyone’s favorite breakout candidate, had zero sacks. Sure, the pass defense was okay, but it was against Tyrod Taylor, a man named after an auto part. Not exactly Hall-of-Fame level competition.

The injuries are happening already. Trae Waynes got hurt, and there’s no telling how long he’ll be out. Two of the team’s top three running backs didn’t even suit up for the game, and Bishop Sankey tore his ACL and is done for the year. It’s still a few weeks before the season begins, but that is just extra time for more injuries to pile up. I don’t know if it’s a problem with the training staff or something else, but we’re seeing the same old brittle Vikings.

Sure, there were bright spots against Buffalo. Pat Elfien looked solid, but he’s still playing behind Nick Easton, and forgive me if I’m not over the moon about a guy who can’t even beat out Nick Easton. Tashawn Bower was all over the place, which is good considering he’ll be the team’s starting defensive end by Week 6. Case Keenum led a touchdown drive, but if Case Keenum is playing at any point during the regular season, we’re screwed anyway. Don’t get me started on the door kicker.

The list of miscues goes on, by the way — maybe want to hold on to that football, Rodney Adams? — but there are too many to name here. I’ve been told not to read too much into one preseason game, but it’s all we have to read into at the moment, and quite frankly, I think we have enough information to make a call.

The Vikings are not a good team; that much was obvious last Thursday night, and I see no reason why it would change going forward.

Of course, things could improve, theoretically. Maybe every team is rusty in the first preseason game, and defenses are usually ahead of offenses at this point in the year, and it’s tough to get in a rhythm with only three series’. Maybe it truly wasn’t a big enough sample to glean anything meaningful. Yeah, maybe, but we know better than that, don’t we?

With the Vikings, when it looks bad, it is bad, and when it looks good…well, that’s when it’s about to get bad. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be excited about the season, nor am I saying you shouldn’t root for the team to get better. I’m just saying I think we’ve seen enough to know what’s ahead of us. And that is, at best, a 7-9 season — probably 5-11, realistically — so we all need to prepare ourselves accordingly.

Someday, maybe this godforsaken team will sign the right free agents, instead of the wrong ones, and draft the good players, rather than the bad ones. Someday maybe they’ll actually get better in the offseason, rather than staying stagnant or getting worse. Someday, maybe. But I’m afraid that day isn’t here yet, and we’re in for another long year in Minnesota. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

In case you somehow haven’t realized it at this point, this post is satire. Let’s all take a deep breath and relax. It’s going to be fine.

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Sam Neumann

Sam Neumann is a freelance writer and lifelong Vikings apologist. He has seen his share of Vikings-related heartbreak, but believes we are united by the hope that one day that norse ship will come in. Sam is the author of three books, including the New York Times Bestseller Memoirs of a Gas Station. He lives in Denver, Colorado, and has had it with Broncos fans. You can follow him on twitter @NeumSamN.

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  1. My god man you sound like a democrat on November 8 when they found out Trump won. Man get a coke and a smile it’s the first PRE SEASON game!

    1. Yes he does sound like a crying little snowflake
      ……waaaaaaaa the Vikings didn’t score 60 in their 1st PRESEASON game, the sky is falling, the end is near, might as well not even play the season, trade everyone, fire all the coaches.
      I bet he’s the type who screams at the TV when he’s playing Madden if the video game doesn’t play nice.

      1. As a forty year Vikings fan I am guaranteed one “right” that no one can take away from me, the right of self deprecation. I have done my time and no one gets to tell me the sky isn’t falling. It’s been falling for years and quite literally fell at the Metrodome. Its every Viking fans right to hedge there bets emotionally. Earned through years of Gary Anderson’s missed kick and Darrin Nelson’s dropped pass in the endzone to drew Pearson’s push off. If you don’t want to be a bitter old man like me I suggest getting out now, save yourself it’s too late for me. But don’t tell me I don’t have the right wallow in my misery. / Also slightly satirical

    2. Just like our teachers told us, “You gotta read the whole thing.” Except you shouldn’t say “gotta”.

    3. Or a Trump fan every time they try to defend him. It is a problem that we still can’t block with a starter out, but there is always hope. Unlike what Trump has brought to us.

      1. Gotta say, Trump has brought riches to my IRA. Just saying’. . .I don’t dig the hair but the guy has got big business skills.

  2. Well aren’t you just the little overreaction clown, sounds to me like you’re more a fan of that inbred team to the east.
    Maybe you should take your pathetic hatred of the Vikings and GFY with a deflated football.

  3. Terrible terrible article. “Your not one to overreact!?” It’s PRESEASON!! The teams don’t even study each other!

    1. I also love that off of five minutes of game tape you know that our highly complimented RB is a bust! #goofball

  4. Wow, I usually don’t get this negative till around Thanksgiving and I thought I was the lead Vike buzz kill!

  5. Sam Neumann, you need to understand how the Vikings are built. We are NOT going to be an offensive juggernaut, nor did we expect to be. We are built to play defense, and win close contests. Our offense should be improved enough to compliment our defense (which will be championship level despite your critiques), but it is a work in progress. Cook had 5 carries. Bradford is only expected NOT to lose games. Murray will be good in Red zone. Offensive line should be middle of the pack this year, and our wide receivers and tight ends will be very good. The team did everything they could to retool this team and make upgrades. Give them a chance to put it all together. I’m not a fan or Shurmur or Bradford, but I think we have enough to have a winning record, maybe ten games. Last year is last year. Sure anything can happen, but I believe in Zim and this staff. They have shown they know how to build a winner and improve, even in desperate circumstances.

  6. I’m thinking most commentors did not quite finish reading your article Sam? I too was already forming my hate-filled comment to you. . .but that last sentence sort of changed my mind.

    1. Haha. Glad you didn’t have to send it, Fran. I was trying to be ridiculous enough to get the point across before the last line–about Dalvin Cook potentially being a bust, Danielle Hunter having zero sacks, etc.–but I’m not sure it quite landed. Maybe that just says something about our collective psyche.

  7. If you know even a little bit about offensive line play you would know that with at least 3 new starters that is takes time for a line to gel and get used to playing together. The defense will be fine and Sankey would likely not have made the team. Go back to knitting or whatever it is you do.

  8. Satire? Tell me how the Clemmings clip is satire. Or the Bradford sacks. Or the “holes” for the new prize RB. This line is still bad. Cook made his hay in college running counter plays behind pulling linemen. Haven’t seen it yet. Need to. This team will threaten for a playoff spot because that’s what the NFL is now – a parity league. But that’s it. We will not be playing the SB in our own stadium. Put away the pre-season kool aid.

  9. It’s not even that you’re overreacting or that you have a poor sense for satire, it’s that your all-too-common negativity is exhausting. Reading this article is like indulging in any incendiary media product that takes good unexplained questions and makes fantastic leaps to state that everyone’s worst fears are true already. It’s like listening to a teenager throw a tantrum about how they can’t go to the concert on Friday and their whole life is over. No wonder the Vikings always choke. In spite of their best efforts, there are always enough reporters that don’t have the football knowledge to write good analysis and/or don’t have the confidence/chops to rest on their well-written and balanced perspectives. It’s like having someone in your ear all season saying, “You’re gonna choke aren’t you!!?? If not today then tomorrow! You’re successes are illusions and your worst has not yet been shown. You must be waiting for a special moment to show us all of your terribleness as we hopelessly look on in horror!!!!” I guess the high-road must be pretty crowded if you’re already attempting to get extra readers by being a dirty bridge troll. Must Stephen A. Smith be your image of perfection? My dear dear friend…

      1. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe satire troll fusion is the wave of the future, just saying that you brought up a lot of good questions that should be explored, didn’t explore them, and ended up with a confusing piece. Maybe it’s personal preference, but I read the whole thing only to find out that you were just saying don’t overreact but it read more like a legit overreaction. It exhausted me like a real overreaction. I ended up with no new information or perspective. Clearly I also have a passion for dramatics and it’s difficult to find new ways to write similar points interestingly but you outlined all of the major questions that should be part of the good analysis I haven’t been able to find yet and threw them away. You’re also wrong…we’re going 2-11 this year and then everyone’s just gonna quit and get cocktails with norv.

      2. I wouldn’t have cared if they played a flawless game because “here we go again” should be saved for when it really hurts, towards the end of the season when time management becomes foreign to all those involved

  10. meh, a weak satire piece. Effective satire sells the proverbial kitchen sink. Why not propose trading next year’s first round pick when Kyle Rudolph goes down? Got to get a little more over the top next time.

    1. Fair point. Effective humor always goes over the top, which is why my favorite actors are Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry. Subtlety is for borings and old people.

      1. I still can’t believe I bought it hook, line and sinker. I guess I’m so used to the negativity that is out there that I actually believed you. It certainly struck a chord or 2.

  11. 31 comments and counting! Satire! That’s the ticket! Maybe those guys who do the podcasts should throw in a little satire? (Minnesota ‘Fightin’ Vikings my ass. 0 comments and counting)

  12. I think the author needs a good therapist and some Prozac stat. . . . It works for millions of American’s including long suffering Vikings Fans and it can work for you to.

    Wait until at least the 4th game of the regular season before posting an article about a lost season

  13. Mr Neuman, you certainly don’t lack negativity. You would probably complain if the Vikings won by 30.

  14. Here is the thing, this piece rang so true to me that I actually now think we might suck even though I know the piece was satire. Usually around this time I am so hyped up about our teams chances that I put a $1k bet up on their win/loss total for the season (burned me last year). This article served to temper that hope so i thank you for saving me $1k (potentially).

    1. Haha, Austin! This was basically my response, too. I know it’s a joke, yet it resonates so loudly with me that now I’m actually afraid everything here is destined to be true…