‘Dantzler Drama’ a Strange Occurrence after Vikings Win

Vikings Players to watch Steelers
Aug 14, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (27) reacts with teammates against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings second-year cornerback Cameron Dantzler isn’t happy about something.

The Mississippi State alumnus played just nine snaps in the Vikings win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3 — all special teams assignments. In all likelihood, Dantzler is peeved about a lack of playing time. But based on some of his words as of late, it seems like the strife with his team is deeper than that, although that is purely speculative.

While the Vikings were celebrating their first win over the Seahawks since 2009, Dantzler was tweeting-then-deleting this:

After that, Dantzler fell in line, tweeting a sentence with a totally opposite theme to his “biting my tongue” musings from the hour before.

Ergo, something is odd. Dantzler either feels maligned by his role on the current Vikings depth chart, completely changed his mind while endorsing the team win — or somewhere in between.

The timing of his now-deleted tweet was suspect. Minnesota just authored its first win of the season, a resounding feat because the franchise had previously failed to defeat Russell Wilson on seven straight occasions. Yes, seven. That changed on Sunday as the Vikings rallied from a 17-7 deficit, suffocating the Seahawks in the second half en route to a 30-17 win.

Minnesota’s defense was awful through a quarter and a half. Wilson, D.K. Metcalf, and Chris Carson sliced and diced Mike Zimmer’s defense, jumping out to a two-score lead and creating “here we go again” dread from Vikings fans. Yet, Seattle then simply stopped scoring. Zimmer — famously known for the defensive clamps — enacted adjustments, and that was it for the Seahawks’ points.

The Vikings scored 23 unanswered points.

Making the resentment even more palpable for Dantzler, his counterpart, Bashuad Breeland, was not exactly shutting down pass-catchers. Wilson was targeting Breeland specifically as Seattle waltzed down the field, tossing 17 points on the scoreboard early on.

For perspective on the Dantzler situation, the cornerback was marvelous during his rookie season. In 2020, he was the NFL’s top-graded rookie cornerback per Pro Football Focus. The man certifiably deserves to build on his successful maiden voyage. But the Vikings are not allowing it (for the most part) right now, drawing the ire of Dantzler via social media.

Winning cures nearly everything. That’s why the timing of the Dantzler tweet was so head-scratching. Players, coaches, and fans were exalting an off-the-schneid victory. Meanwhile, Dantzler evidently bemoaned his playing time — even when the team was triumphant.

Perhaps more details on the matter will trickle out, illuminating something more significant than “playing time animosity.” Without context, though, Dantzler seems like a player lamenting his individual scope of work, whereas his team is conducting a season rejuvenation after an 0-2 start. Those two elements do not normally coexist in a locker room.

When Dantzler did play on defense in Week 2, he recorded a 70.5 PFF grade. So, he has it in him to be a fantastic player.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).