Another Sad Game for Beloved Former Viking

New York Jets fans did not have much to smile about Monday, November 6, 2023 as their team lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 27-6. © Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Some Minnesota Vikings fans and NFL media members insisted the team’s decision to part ways with running back Dalvin Cook last offseason was unwise.

ESPN’s Pat McAfee said in June, “Dalvin Cook was their offense, like the reason why I think Justin Jefferson has all the things is because Dalvin Cook is in the backfield.”

Another Sad Game for Beloved Former Viking

Cook ripped off some large memorable runs in 2022, but on the whole, ranked as one of the league’s worst halfbacks per EPA/Play. So, Minnesota’s front office cut ties with Cook and his $14 million cap hit, and he landed with the New York Jets in August.

Another Sad Game
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

Then, the 2023 regular season kicked off, Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured right away, and New York’s running game struggled. Cook, in particular, hit a performance wall, so much so that his workload was totally downgraded once Breece Hall returned to full health.

Cook hasn’t found any momentum in 2023, and Sunday against the Houston Texans served as another example. His team won — rather impressively by a score of 30-6 — but Cook tallied 8 yards from scrimmage on 8 touches.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook told ESPN last week, “For any guy that has produced in this league, it’s frustrating. You want to be productive. I was hoping just to be in the right situation for me. Like I said, I want an opportunity. I feel great. My body is ready to roll. I was just hoping for a great opportunity.”

His yards-from-scrimmage high this season is 35 yards, tabulated in Week 13 during a loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Cook has also scored no touchdowns in 2023.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports.

“Honestly, I feel like if you put my tape on, I proved myself in this league. I don’t go beg for carries. I feel like I was brought here for a reason,” Cook added before New York’s win over Houston.

The former Viking will turn 29 next summer and is almost certain to sign somewhere in free agency not named the New York Jets. Cook rushed for 1,179 yards as a Viking, and his 210 rushing yards after 14 weeks is quite mind-blowing.

Cook departed the Vikings as the franchise’s third-leading rusher in franchise history (5,993 yards) behind Adrian Peterson (11,747) and Robert Smith (6,818). His 47 rushing touchdowns rank fourth behind Peterson (97), Chuck Foreman (52), and Bill Brown (52). And his rushing yards per game (82.1) are second, only trailing Peterson (95.5).

Another Nugget Enters
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He fought injury demons in his freshman and sophomore seasons of 2017 and 2018, but after that, he somehow morphed into one of the most durable running backs in the business — and nobody really talks about it. From 2019 to 2022, Cook played in 58 of 66 games, the 11th-most in the NFL among tailbacks, while tallying the third-most rushing yards (5,024) in the timeframe. Only Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans) and Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns) tabulated more yards on the ground in those four seasons.

In 2022, his final year in purple, Cook remained totally upright, missing zero games. He also had offseason surgery to clear up a lingering shoulder malady.

But his feared wall arrived and certainly wasn’t helped by Rodgers’ absence.

We shall see if Cook ever regains RB1 status.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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