Hi. My name is Joe. I started PurpleTERRITORY Media in 2015, after I … Full disclosure, was run out of most every Minnesota Vikings message board for my combination of unpopular opinions and the fact that I aggressively pushed those opinions as fact.
I know, gigantic surprise. If these articles prove anything it’s that going from social media to owning the largest Vikings news network proves that a change in location changes/fixes nothing and that apparently also time also can’t fix location issues.
That’s not to say that sport is without objective truth, but part of this industry is making predictions based on available information and an uncertain future in arguably the most uncertain professional league. Sometimes, especially back in 2015, when analytics were still new enough to insufferable NFL “debates”, a large contingent of the fan-base gets convinced that some unknowable future outcome is one of those objective truths.
Like people claiming that Teddy Bridgewater was “elite” after his rookie season and it’s 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. He had a couple good games, but he also struggled to make every throw on the field and that hasn’t changed as everyone in Carolina now knows.
Am I subtly trying to get credit for my 2015 take, and 2016 HELL?
Yeah. But I’m also introducing the fact that I’ve still got a lot of unpopular beliefs that … I’m aggressively present as fact.
Conclusion; I’m as hypocritical as I am unable of personal/professional growth!
Anyway, long set up for a simple article/overcomplex premise.
Resolution #1 – Finally Invest in the O-Line of the Future
One of the silver-linings that has come from the rapid improvement in Vikings rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler’s play in the second-half of 2020 was the fact that it lowered the probability that the Vikings would lose their 2021 first-round pick on another corner (from 100 to about 75, consideringthe combo of MikeS Zimmer and Hughes).
I say that because it’s about time this team got real about their guard play. Instead of sticking to the shuffle of Pat Elflein from the left to his “natural” right side (the old ‘Fool Me Once…’ philosophy of team building), the Vikings… Shuffled a rookie who had never player guard and was also a left tackle in college.
Strangely enough? It may have worked.
Rookie Ezra Cleveland was a vast improvement on the right side of the line, although that doesn’t, by itself, mean a lot when you compare his play to Dru Samia or guys like Mike Remmers.
The issue is that Cleveland’s opposite, Dru Samia, has been as bad as the above far too often in 2020. So, instead of moving Cleveland to the left side in 2021, unless they plan to bring back Josh Kline, they could invest in their left guard of the next decade in Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis.
Davis has been called one of the best Big Ten players (not just line players) of the last decade and could end up as the new Steve Hutchinson for the Vikings. While taking a guard in the first-round isn’t super sexy, it’s safe and would have the largest positive impact of ANY single pick for this Vikings team.
The Vikings offense was the bright spot in 2020, with quarterback Kirk Cousins distributing the ball to the wide array of talented receivers and tight ends on this roster while Dalvin Cook took yet another huge step forward on the ground.
Imagine what they could do with a good-to-great line? Sure, the Vikings line “run blocks well” according to the individual performance indicators, but they could be A LOT better as a unit in both run and pass blocking situations.
One of the many/former Vikings linemen I get my line based takes/info from literally described the line play as disjointed from player-to-player as it is bad… Really bad. That having been said? It was still a marked improvement from what we’ve been used to.
And somehow people still blame Cousins for everything?
That brings up the second resolution… Which will get into tomorrow. But, that having been said, Davis does well in a zone scheme (which the Vikings are married to regardless of it’s ability to create a consistently clean pocket to throw from), and Riley Reiff has had his best year (again, which as we know also doesn’t by itself mean everything) and with Davis next to him could have an even better one.
Let’s hope then, the Vikings’ resolution is to finally make this line a priority. Before the defensive turnover of 2020 came courtesy of free agency, COVID and injury, the line had been what kept this team from reaching it’s potential. While it still isn’t there, this team seemingly has other issues that time will mostly sort out.
This time, in Zimmer-Spielman 2.0- This time it kinda looks exactly the same so far, let’s hope they actually learn from those previous limitations and give this offense the line it needs to be elite enough to overcome the other limitations Zimmer’s defenses have always had.
That’s a preview for resolution number three!
Tune in for tomorrow’s resolution, and let us know your 2021 Vikings resolutions!