Ex-Vikings Star Is Struggling with New Team

The Team That Should Sign Dalvin Cook
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Two weeks into the 2023 NFL season, the Vikings sit at the bottom of the league with a 0-2 record. After a couple of defeats mainly caused by giving up a bunch of turnovers, the team might actually be better than the record suggests, a welcome change to 2022. That season was titled by many as fluky, and media folks expected a rebuild.

Ex-Vikings Star Is Struggling with New Team

Struggling with New
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As a part of that rebuild, the Vikings got rid of some veterans. Adam Thielen was released after spending a decade with his hometown team and breaking some of the records his idols set, along with linebacker Eric Kendricks, who joined the upcoming Vikings opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers.

The two were staples in the organization for almost a decade, and so was running back Dalvin Cook. After general manager Rick Spielman drafted him with his top pick in 2017 (in the second round, the first-rounder was traded to Philadelphia for Sam Bradford), he took over as the lead back and the focal point of the offense. Only injuries slowed him down.

In the last few seasons, however, Cook slowed down, just like all running backs do at some point. He was no longer an efficient runner, which is why Kwesi Adofo-Mensah released him, ate plenty of dead cap in 2023 but cleared the books in the following years.

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A long free agency saga ended with Cook signing with the New York Jets, a team he envisioned to compete for the Super Bowl. Star running back Breece Hall is coming off a torn ACL, so Cook would be perfect to shoulder a heavy load early on in the season, at least in theory. Two games later, that hasn’t worked out one bit.

The former Florida State prospect rushed 17 times for 40 yards in two games and also lost a fumble in the blowout loss against the Dallas Cowboys. Cook rushed for -1.7 yards over expected, the second-lowest mark in the NFL. For comparison, Alexander Mattison, who took over as Minnesota’s starter, rushed for -1.16 yards over expected through two games, and that rushing game is a disaster.

Cook turned into an inefficient runner in the last two seasons, but his ability to make guys miss was still much better than Mattison’s, so he perhaps would have created some more yards for the Vikings. Nevertheless, he hasn’t shown it in 2023.

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Mattison, meanwhile rushed for a total of 62 yards on 19 carries while also fumbling once. The former Vikings duo has been fairly unimpressive through two games. It remains to be seen if they can turn it around.

Most pundits viewed the Jets as a potential Super Bowl contender with the addition of Aaron Rodgers, surrounded by young and explosive weapons and a strong defense overseen by former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator and now head coach in New York, Robert Saleh.

That’s why Cook chose the Jets — to win a Super Bowl with Rodgers. He tore his Achilles tendon in Week 1 and is out for the season. It is hard to envision a team led by Zach Wilson in Super Bowl contention.

So far, the Vikings have been right to part ways with their longtime star running back and go cheaper at the position. But still, some fans certainly miss prime Cook when they watch the current state of the running game.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt