The Vikings Have a Brand New Captain

rise of josh
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Brian O’Neill was lost for the season in Week 17 during a horror-film game at the Green Bay Packers. The Minnesota Vikings were thoroughly embarrassed 41-17 by the Packers, a team that would lose one week later to the Detroit Lions and subsequently miss the postseason.

While O’Neill’s injury was dreadful for the Vikings — and perhaps not rectifiable — one humongous silver lining arrived from the incident for one player. That’s safety Josh Metellus.

The Vikings Have a Brand New Captain

The Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer tweeted Sunday, “Safety Josh Metellus was voted by teammates as ‘the ninth captain’ after Brian O’Neill went down, Kevin O’Connell said.”

The Vikings Have a Brand
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Metellus has made a major impact on the 2022 Vikings, mainly on special teams and here and there on defense. The 24-year-old has blocked two punts this season, an outstanding achievement for a team absolutely starved of blocked punts. In fact, the blocks occurred in back-to-back weeks against the New York Giants and the aforementioned Packers.

Now the ninth captain of the team, Metellus said about the honor, “I’m blessed to get voted by these guys. I can’t ask for anything more, especially it being a team vote.”

Here’s the video from Vikings skipper Kevin O’Connell explaining why Metellus deserved the role:

The Vikings found Metellus in the 6th Round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s played 48 career games to date, with his role and influence expanding tremendously in 2022. Back in October, rookie safety Lewis Cine broke his leg, Harrison Smith battled a couple of minor injuries, and Metellus has stepped up in reserve.

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In 2022 — the Vikings first playoff-bound season in three years — Metellus has tabulated 258 defensive snaps and 381 special teams plays, establishing a reputation as the ultimate “intangibles guy,” probably why Captain now follows his name on the roster. He’s recorded 43 total tackles in 2022, plus 5 passes defended, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, an impressive 83.9 passer-rating-against, and of course, the 2 punt blocks.

Vikings Have a Sleeper TE
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

Metellus has also fired up a wicked-good 85.1 Pro Football Focus grade, a mark that would rank the safety around the second or third-best in the NFL if he qualified for PFF’s minimum snap count. The Michigan alumnus has quietly morphed himself from a late-rounder buried on the depth chart to a fabulous contributor on special teams and defense — with a fancy ‘C’ on his chest thanks to his performance.

The Vikings may need Metellus’ opportune intangible playmaking this Sunday in the postseason. Minnesota hosts the New York Giants, and if the game follows the typical Vikings modus operandi, it will be decided by eight or fewer points. The newly-anointed captain may need to put a thumbprint on his first-ever playoff game.

Minnesota is favored by three points beat the Giants.

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 Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).