Unanswered Questions: RB Rotation, Kicking Confidence, & an Excellent O-Line

Is a Better Kirk Coming for Vikings?
Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

For a little while, Dustin has done a series on Purple PTSD called “Questions Answered.” He regularly takes on questions related to the Vikings. In this version, I’ll be turning to topics that still present some uncertainty. The current iteration considers the RB rotation, kicking confidence, and the excellent o-line as we head into Week 4.

Question #1: What Will the RB Rotation Look Like?

Dalvin Cook left the Lions game after hurting his shoulder. He ran into Ezra Cleveland’s backside, leading to the injury that forced him out of the game.

The injury report explains that he didn’t practice on Wednesday, but he doesn’t have an injury designation in Week 4.

Coming into the season, we knew that losing Cook for some time was a possibility. The talented RB has never played in a full season since entering the league in 2017.

Thankfully, Alexander Mattison is a talented backup. He has 17 carries for 72 yards for the season, a 4.2 yards-per-carry average (shout out to PFR for helping with the stats in this piece). He also scored a sensational touchdown against Detroit.

We’ll see what happens on Sunday morning. It looks like Cook will play, but I’m expecting more work for Mattison.

Question #2: Will Kevin O’Connell have Confidence in Greg Joseph?

Coming into the season, there was a ton of positivity surrounding Greg Joseph’s play.

Unfortunately, a couple long field goal attempts in Week 3 didn’t materialize for Joseph. He’s thus 3/5 on his FGs in 2022. He’s 7/7 for his XPs.

It’ll be fascinating to see what O’Connell decides to do if the team finds itself with another long field goal opportunity. O’Connell has been consistently outspoken about his confidence in his kicker. Take a peak at what he said after the game: “My confidence will not waver in Greg, and everybody in that locker room feels the same way.”

When the actual opportunity arises, though, what does the coach do? Joseph has bounced back from less-than-stellar performances before. I’m still confident in him and so is his coach. Until we see him drill a long kick, though, there may be some lingering doubts.

Question #3: An Excellent O-Line?

There has been a lot of chatter about the Vikings’ offensive line playing very well so far this season. Take a look at some of the tweets:

And this one:

For those wondering, Kevin Seifert goes on to include another tweet that praises Brian O’Neill: “I hope people are also paying attention to what Vikings RT Brian O’Neill is doing. He currently has the NFL’s best Pass Block Win Rate (96.6%), based on ESPN’s formula. Not taking anything from Darrisaw. Just (deservedly) adding O’Neill to the discussion.”

And one more:

I could go on, but you get the point. There has been plenty of chatter about the OL playing well. Bradbury is having a nice start to the season.

The key, of course, will rest in continuing to be good. New Orleans has a talented defense, and that includes some strong players up front. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport are perhaps the first two names to come to mind. One also thinks of David Onyemata, a player who finished 7th overall in the PFF rankings for DTs in both 2020 and 2021.

In other words, the Week 4 game will present another test for the o-line. How will the front five respond?