The sky is falling in Minnesota and fans are coming for the jobs of the head coach and general manager. After booting the Saints out of the playoffs, the 1-5 start to the 2020 season comes at a surprise to many. How exactly did it get so bad, so fast?
The Vikings extended Kirk Cousins after his heroics in New Orleans last season. Management knew this was a risky move given his past as a .500 quarterback. Cleverly they created an out in his contract for the 2021 season, but then the globe experienced a pandemic. The COVID-19 virus put a significant strain on the NFL’s cap space and threw a wrench in the Vikings backup plan for Cousins.
The Vikings could afford to take on Cousins’ dead cap number before COVID-19 happened, but now they are left with approximately $30 million less in cap than what was originally anticipated. It wouldn’t hurt the team as badly if Cousins was at least playing at a high level. He has followed up the best season of his career with his worst performance through six games as a starting quarterback.
Minnesota let go of several older players who played key roles on their defense in 2019. Smartly, they went out and acquired players to help bridge the gap for the younger players coming into big roles very early in their careers. It was a great idea, but as time would eventually tell, it did not work out.
Michael Pierce is at high risk for hospitalization for COVID-19, so he opted out. Anthony Barr also suffered a season ending injury, and Anthony Harris regressed. To try to mitigate the losses the Vikings traded for Yannick Ngakoue to pair with Danielle Hunter to create a formidable pass rushing duo. Hunter ended up on season ending IR, and Ngakoue struggled to make a splash by himself on the defensive line. This defense was left to be carried by an offense that had struggled on their own.
A series of unfortunate events have led the Vikings to the no man’s land of the NFL, and now they have to decide whether to tear it all down or continue trucking along. Thankfully they get both Pierce, Barr, and Hunter back next season to try to right the many wrongs of the 2020 season.