Vikings Starter Demands More Respect
All kinds of disrespect have transpired in the last few weeks in the world of the Minnesota Vikings. Justin Jefferson didn’t crack Keyshawn Johnson’s top-five list of wide receivers in the NFL, and just a few days later, Pat McAfee mentioned that Dalvin Cook was the main focus for defenses when facing Kevin O’Connell’s offense.
Vikings Starter Demands More Respect
Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, is viewed by many analysts and fans as an underwhelming option at QB when in reality, he has been consistently solid.
Besides the disrespect aimed at players, there has also been disrespect aimed at the whole team – a team that fired up a 13-4 record en route to the NFC North trophy. Despite the win total, nobody views the Vikings as a good group. They are universally regarded as overachievers that got lucky way too often.
New starting running back Alexander Mattison doesn’t like that. While Mattison is a breakout candidate after re-signing with his old team, the Vikings are pegged as a team bound to decline. The runner appeared on Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast and was asked if his franchise is slept on:
I do. I mean all of last season it was weird. It was like ‘we’re 7-1 and no one is giving us our respect. It was kind of weird. It was something where we were like ‘what do we have to do to gain the respect?’ This is one of those years where we’re all hungry for proving the world wrong and proving ourselves right and understanding that there are a lot of people that doubt the Minnesota Vikings and there is not a lot of respect floating around towards our way. So we just have to make sure to put our foot down, put our foot on the gas, and don’t let up and just demand that respect.Vikings RB Alexander Mattison
The players are totally right to be fed up. Bad or even average teams don’t regularly win 13 games. Only good ones do. Were the Vikings lucky at times? Of course, they were. It is part of the game. If Matt Ryan gains a couple more inches on a QB sneak in the fourth quarter, the Colts win the game, and the comeback doesn’t happen. Josh Allen fumbling in the endzone was an unprecedented moment.
However, the Vikings played fantastic in the clutch, both offensively and defensively. They were able to find another gear and turned into that same elite team they were in the standings on the field. According to EPA/Play, the Vikings were second in the NFL in offense in the fourth quarter and overtime, fifth on defense, and Cousins was the fourth-best quarterback, only trailing Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Jalen Hurts.
The group turned into a contending team late in games because Kevin O’Connell put enormous emphasis on the most important time of games. Preaching about the significance of clutch situations all year certainly helped.
The next step is to play at that level for a full game, something the organization has struggled with for years. The 2021 Vikings were famous for allowing opponents to score in the final two minutes of either half, and the 2022 squad turned into a bunch of bad football players in the second and third quarters at times.
There are some significant departures from the purple team. Dalvin Tomlinson, Za’Darius Smith, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and Patrick Peterson all left. One theory is that besides the first two names, the remaining four guys are well past their primes and cost too much of the salary cap considering their play. Others view those departures as neck-breaking. Only time will tell if they will miss them on the field or just in the locker room as leadership presence. Some other players must step up and replace them in the locker room and on the field.
Mattison has a great mindset. It is on the players now to put their foot down and earn the respect they want to receive.
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