Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium will officially mark Everson Griffen’s return to Minnesota after parting ways with the Vikings this past offseason.
When the two sides couldn’t come to terms that would have kept Everson in purple, Griffen signed on with the Dallas Cowboys. In seven games with the Cowboys, Everson tallied 2.5 sacks and 30 tackles, then Dallas’ plans changed. Dak Prescott got hurt, the team’s slow start worsened and the Cowboys became sellers with the trade deadline on the horizon. So they shipped Griffen off to the Detroit Lions where he’s been quarantining due to COVID related restrictions for the past week. But now he’s back, his Detroit Lions debut will come this weekend against his former team at his former home stadium.
This is where things started to get weird.
Earlier this week Mike Zimmer was asked about Everson’s return and his time in Minnesota. Never the most talkative guy in the room, Zimmer complimented Griffen saying, “Everson was a good player for us. I wish him well, just not this week.”
Apparently that wasn’t enough for Everson who proved his standing as a Sensitive New-Age Guy (S.N.A.G.) when he spouted off to the media later this week claiming that he was hurt by Zimmer’s comments about him being a “good” player.
“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Everson shared. “I got a little frustrated when I read that comment what Zimmer said, ‘Oh, Everson was a good player…Like, Coach Zimmer just wasn’t a good coach, he was a great coach to me, so for him to call me a good player, that kind of hurts my feelings.”
But that wasn’t it, Griffen continued…
“On Sunday I’m really looking forward to playing the Vikings and showing them that I am a great player. I’m excited, I’m ready to execute, my mental health is strong, my physical health is strong, my mind is strong, and I’m ready to go out there and dominate. I’m ready to create, adapt and go out there and win.”
And wait, there’s more…this time via Twitter where Griffen spent the next few days responding to comments from people puzzling over his reaction…
“I gave everything for that team. So yes I expect more.”
Zimmer responded later in the week after the story blew up. Asked if he saw Griffen’s comments, the head coach said, “I did. I don’t know, I wasn’t trying to be derogatory. I think Everson. I think I made him a captain my first or second year here. He’s always been a terrific leader for us, always done everything we tried to ask him to do.”
And then, knowing him like we all do, Mike Zimmer went back into his office and began scheming a game plan that would most certainly exploit all of Everson Griffen’s weaknesses. Weaknesses that Mike Zimmer probably knows better than anybody in the league.
How many times this weekend do you think that Kirk is going to hard count in an effort to get Griffen to jump off the line inexplicably and give the Vikings a free 5-yards? I expect to see it on the first play of the game! Any tendencies that Kirk and the Vikings offense might have had in the past when it comes to snap counts will be changed up this week as Everson sees himself as an expert at guessing the snap count. In fairness, he was good at this…also in fairness, he was good for at least one offsides penalty a game where he guessed incorrectly.
I’d also venture to guess we’ll see plenty of Dalvin Cook running off tackle and in through the b-gap on the left side as Everson speed rushes right around the corner and out of the play. We all remember seeing that as a Viking fan in the past.
We’re also probably going to see play-actions and screen passes that exploit that side of the field where Everson is coming in hot.
Mike Zimmer is not a mean person at his core, Everson has even eluded to the father-like figure the head coach has been for him in the past. But just like any one of us, Mike doesn’t like to be shown up, especially when there’s no issue there in the first place. Everson Griffen created an issue this week. He started fire where there wasn’t even a spark and Mike Zimmer has the better part of this week scheming the Lions, a scheme that you can bet will now focus on exploiting Everson Griffen as the good, not great player that he has been for the past handful of years.