It’s officially the holiday season, and per usual, we get to kick it off with a Thanksgiving dinner and some football. Amidst this festive time of year, I thought it’d be a fun opportunity to mix up the content a little bit to talk about what we’ve seen from the Vikings this season–with a little holiday twist. While you are preparing whatever you will be enjoying this Turkey Day, let’s take a look at what coach Mike Zimmer has been cooking up for Vikings fans this season.
Turkey: Dalvin Cook
The turkey is the show stopper, the main event of any Thanksgiving dinner. If the turkey is dry and underwhelming, the dinner is going to have a much lower chance of satisfying guests. Likewise, there isn’t quite anything like carving a freshly cooked bird to find that it’s cooked perfectly.
Dalvin Cook has been the main event of the Vikings’ offense all season, and boy, it has not been underwhelming. Fans from all over the NFL tune in on a weekly basis just to see him carve up a defense. His ability to evade defenders and find the end zone has sent Vikings fans to the sofa full and happy, especially during the recent winning streak.
Mashed Potatoes: Harrison Smith
Old reliable. As long as you don’t dreadfully overcook them, it’s tough to screw up the mashed potatoes. All you need to do is throw enough butter and salt in there, and you’re pretty much set. If you aren’t enjoying much of what’s available, you can always just load your plate up with some mashed potatoes and gravy, and you’ll be happy.
Similarly, Harrison Smith has been just that while filling in the cracks for the Vikings secondary. Even while the young corners have struggled at times, Vikings fans have been able to count on consistency out of Smith. He makes plays when they are needed, and he sets the tone for the defense.
Stuffing: Adam Thielen
The perfect complement to the turkey is stuffing. They feed off each other to make a great pairing on any plate. Just as the Vikings offense gets run through Dalvin Cook, the perfect complement is Adam Thielen. Cook takes the show, but Thielen’s presence in the passing game makes everything work together in harmony. A bite of turkey gets followed up by a bite of stuffing. Running lanes are opened up for Cook, and Thielen gets open on passing routes.
Cranberry Sauce: Kirk Cousins
Everyone’s got an opinion, and no one is budging an inch. Cranberry sauce has to be the most controversial dish that you’ll find on a Thanksgiving plate. Some people love its tangy bite, and others can’t even smell the stuff without gagging. Some of my own friend groups have gotten into legitimate arguments over whether or not it deserves to be invited to the party. Personally, I’m on team cranberry sauce.
It’s a pretty similar phenomenon surrounding Kirk Cousins. He is an analytical darling to some fans, and they appreciate his consistently high completion numbers and efficiency stats. Others turn to his less-than-remarkable playoff resume and become skeptical.
Green Bean Casserole: Eric Kendricks
Look, green bean casserole is not the most glamorous thing you’ll find on the Thanksgiving menu. It oftentimes gets overlooked when put amongst the rest of the spread. However, it’s still a key addition to any meal. If your Thanksgiving dinner is anything like mine usually is, there aren’t that many options that can pass as healthy. You need the green beans to add a little balance.
In the same way, Eric Kendricks is not the most glamorous guy on the Vikings roster. He often gets lost when talking about key contributors like Cook, Cousins, Thielen or Smith, but he still plays a vital role.
He has been the consistent leader of the Vikings defense, and he has done it when the team has needed him most. The season-ending injury to Anthony Barr left a void at the position, and Kendricks has filled that void and more, piling up the third most solo tackles in the league.
Sweet Potatoes/Yams: Justin Jefferson
Sweet potatoes (or yams, whichever you’re enjoying on Thursday), are probably the brightest dish on your Thanksgiving plate. They are also the indulgence that we get to enjoy with our dinners because, let’s be honest, they are probably loaded up with enough butter and sugar to be considered a dessert. But hey, if you don’t say anything, I won’t, either.
Likewise, Justin Jefferson is the bright, exciting spot in the Vikings offense. He brings the flash and energy that any team needs to win.He’s kind of been the little indulgence of the Vikings’ season, too, if you think about it.
No one expected this level of production from him this year, especially considering he was put behind Olabisi Johnson in the depth chart to start the season. Even so, he’s burst onto the scene in a big way. Anything that Vikings fans get from him now is just that bite of silky sweet potato and brown sugar that leaves them doing “the griddy” and wanting more.
Dinner Roll: Dan Bailey
Your entire dinner can’t consist of dinner rolls, just like a team’s production can’t solely come from the kicker if they expect to be successful. But when you get a good one, you should appreciate every warm, doughy bite.
Correspondingly, Vikings fans have to appreciate the kicking performances from Dan Bailey this season. Out of 35 kicks, Bailey has made 32. It’s easy for the performance of a good kicker to be forgotten or taken for granted, until you experience a bad one. Just like it’s easy for a good roll to go under appreciated, until you taste a week-old one while going through the leftovers.