Dalvin Cook: Making The First Falcon Miss

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Now two seasons removed from his ACL surgery, Dalvin Cook is ready to be the “straw that stirs the drink” for the Minnesota Vikings’ 2019 offense.

In a deliberately light preseason load, Vikings’ running back Dalvin Cook had two carries in four exhibition games.

The first went for 3 yards, the second went for 85, ending with an electrifying touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals starting defense.

Thank you, good night.

As the Vikings engage in final preparations to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon, Cook is also preparing to return to form on the national gamestage.

That form was 2017, when he was a rookie for the Minnesota Vikings. In four games to start the season, Cook tore off 444 yards from scrimmage, a 4.8 yard rushing average and the impact of a game-breaker.

In prime health, Cook has point-guard quickness, veteran savvy, and a decent blast at impact when being tackled. He is excellent in a “wash” of defenders, sets up his gaps with expert body movement, and can blow past any player even slightly out of position.

If the 2019 Minnesota Vikings have found the right players for the new playbook and zone-run scheme brought in by assistant offensive head coach Gary Kubiak, they have, without much question, the back in Dalvin Cook to open up options in a potentially dangerous offense.

Cooking Up The ‘Zone-Run’

NFL run defenses are almost always designed to have one more defender in the “box” (3-5 yards north of the line of scrimmage) than the offense can block.

That usually means, put simply, that a successful running offense is one whose running back can make the first defender miss, thereby gaining the mathematical advantage.

Winning at this math often creates big yardage. After big rushing gains, a defense can get tense and edge it’s framework closer to that “box”, erstwhile becoming vulnerable to several play designs that are set up by a simple run look.

We all know that an NFL offensive line, whether it is being employed in a “zone”run scheme (where the linemen move or pull) or an “angle”scheme (where they push), has to have the talent to work, and thereby deploy a running back who can crack the code of the defense.

Beating The Bird

Against Atlanta, Cook and his reassembled offensive line have the advantage of facing a defensive front that ranked 28th in the NFL against the run in 2018.

Considering the Vikings rushed for a mere 1493 yards in the same season, ranking 30th in the league, both teams have their work cut out for them in week one.

Coming off an ACL tear to play pro football is no mean feat. Last season, Dalvin Cook, far from dependable himself, was put behind an undependable offensive line and inside an undependable stratagem.

To say the Vikings’ have clearly made major acquisitions and adjustments regarding the dependability and depth of their football team–most notably their offensive line–is now certainly appropriate.

They look fit and prepared to execute an offensive scheme that gives a good running back the chance to do more than hit a wall week in and out.

For his part, Cook played to his ability last in 2018, which was clearly far from one hundred percent. If the preseason means anything, Cook looks like his body and mind are tuned into the same frequency.

That’s a radio station we’re all going to enjoy listening to this year.