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Primetime Hopes Turns into Halloween Horror Show for Vikings



Week 8 is in the books, and it couldn’t have gone much worse for the Minnesota Vikings. Having been set for a big game clash, it turned out to be Cooper Rush leading the Cowboys attack as Dak Prescott sat the game is out.

Instead of a statement game from the Vikings, what we got was an embarrassment — not just the fact it was a loss to a backup quarterback, but the manner of the defeat. It was a dull, inept performance that led most of the Vikings nation to plead for change.

In what is becoming an itinerary of eyebrow-raising post-match comments, former Cowboys safety Xavier Woods said the team just prepared for Dak Prescott — contradicting coach Zimmer’s statements on having lots of film on Cooper Rush.


The Vikings didn’t look prepared for much, other than the customary opening drive down the field to score points. How an offense can look so good on their opening scripted plays and then look so inept the rest of the way is one of the many mysteries of this team. Young offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak has shown no sign of adjusting in-game when things aren’t working.

Despite an offense that couldn’t convert a third-down and a defense that couldn’t stop a third-down conversion, the Vikings should have still won comfortably. They were never behind until the Amari Cooper touchdown with less than a minute to go. They didn’t need to do much to win this game, yet they still couldn’t get it done.

On the flip side, the Cowboys defense and some soft officiating practically gifted the Vikings the win. Three personal fouls had the Vikings set up with 1st and Goal at the four-yard line. The next four plays summed up what is wrong with this team.


Conservative play-calling saw the Vikings go back eight yards, and the end zone was never threatened. Greg Joseph kicked a field goal, and then Dallas went down the field and won the game. The lack of aggression and conservative nature of this team’s offense has long been a source of contention. With the playmakers at the team’s disposal, there is no excuse for not trusting in them to make the plays to win a game. Mike Zimmer will always play it safe and trust in his defense to win the game. The trouble is, his defense isn’t good enough to rely on anymore.

Calls for the removal of Mike Zimmer as the head coach aren’t a new thing, but they are building to a fever pitch. There are very few people, relatively speaking, who still have faith in coach Zimmer being the man to lead this team forward. The best argument for retaining his services, for now, is it’s a bad idea to bring in a new coach mid-season. This is not a philosophy I share.

Expectations of the immediate firing of Mike Zimmer werre premature. The defeat to Cooper Rush may be the catalyst that started the ball rolling, but no decision is likely to be made while the team is technically in with a chance of making the playoffs. Who knows, maybe we will see a miracle, and it all comes together from here on out. We are only 3-4 after all. It’s just hard to be optimistic after that last performance.

Cousins and Zimmer

One of the more bizarre things this season has been the snippets coming into the public realm of the relationship between Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer. Four years in, one would think the relationship between quarterback and head coach would be well developed. It seems anything but that. The timeout (or lack of one) debacle at the end of the first half was strange enough, and then came the post-match comments.

Another example of a player and coach Zimmer contradicting each other — to be four years in and have confusion on what should happen with timeouts is crazy. It’s such a bad look on both ends. I would say, though, at this point in his career should have the courage and awareness to make the call for a timeout when it’s needed.

There is so much going wrong with this team this season. The most disappointing thing for me is this Vikings roster is full of exciting players, but this team is anything but exciting to watch. Games feel more like a chore than a pleasure to sit through.

This shouldn’t be the case.

The buck stops with the coaching, which hasn’t been good enough.


What lies ahead for this team? More of the same seems likely. Tight games some weeks? Bungling to victory? Other weeks defeat? Keeping it just interesting enough to give false hope and keep Zimmer in a job until the end of the season.

At this point, ownership needs to take a long hard look at where they want this team to go. Another year of this will not suffice.

The post Primetime Hopes Turns into Halloween Horror Show for Vikings appeared first on Vikings Territory.

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Who’s the New Guy on the Vikings?



In the wake of Danielle Hunter’s season-ending injury – he tore his pectoral muscle in Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys – the Minnesota Vikings signed a depth player to possibly grab some pass-rushing snaps.

His name is Nate Orchard, a 2nd-Round pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Aug 30, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Nate Orchard (44). Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Orchard is a 28-year-old journeyman EDGE linebacker, spending time in multiple spots amid the last seven seasons. These are the teams that Orchard’s played for in some capacity:

  • Cleveland Browns
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Washington Football Team
  • Houston Texans
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Minnesota Vikings

The Viking hopped on that list after a different free-agent signee, Jonah Williams, failed a physical and wound up not playing for the team in 2021. He was going to inhabit Orchard’s new role after a release by the Los Angeles Rams but no such luck.

Orchard joins a group of EDGE rushers for the Vikings that includes Everson Griffen, D.J. Wonnum, Patrick Jones II, and Kenny Willekes. The group is suddenly deprived of stardom without Hunter’s mighty reputation no longer attached. Wonnum is slated to start in Week 9 – he actually started to begin the season before Griffen seized his RDE job – and it is unclear how much tread Jones and Willekes will get in Mike Zimmer’s defense. This week, Zimmer called Jones a “violent and aggressive” pass rusher, precisely what is needed in Hunter’s absence.

In six seasons, Orchard has played in 46 games (13 starts) and tabulated six sacks, 85 total tackles, two forced fumbles, and 16 quarterback hits. His best season was 2015, the rookie campaign for the Utah alumnus. He played 48% of all defensive snaps that season, never playing more than that for a team again inside a single season. Recently with Washington, Orchard was afforded more special teams work than on the defensive side of the ball.

Named Napa’a Lilo Fakahafua at birth, here’s the new Viking’s Pro Football Focus resume:

  • 2020: 67.7
  • 2019: 67.0
  • 2018: 54.3
  • 2017: 66.3
  • 2016: 40.0
  • 2015: 64.8

He’s likely not a savior for Minnesota’s pretty-good defense – few are other than Hunter – so expect him to play a role as Jordan Brailford did in 2020. If he’s activated to the gameday roster, Orchard could see a few snaps here and there. Otherwise, the Vikings have more invested in Wonnum, Jones, and Willekes.

Through eight weeks, the Vikings defense ranks fourth-best in the NFL for defensive DVOA, but it has a nasty habit of collapsing late in games — see: Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and Dallas Cowboys contests. They’re executing plenty of bend-don’t-break in the middle of football games — which is great — but crunchtime has been disappointing for Zimmer’s defense. And now with Hunter lost, the prognosis is grimmer. Without Hunter last year, the Vikings pass rush was awful. Perhaps Orchard will see some action if Wonnum, Jones, and Willekes underwhelm or get injured.

Orchard is of Tongan descent.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

The post Who’s the New Guy on the Vikings? appeared first on Vikings Territory.

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The View from Purple PTSD: Kyle Shanahan and Minnesota, Zimmer Hot Seat, and the Return of Adrian Peterson



The sister-site to VikingsTerritory is, and the guys and gals over there roll out the Minnesota Vikings analysis just as much as we do.

Here is some of their top content for the week.

The article was jointly posted on VikingsTerritory and PurplePTSD. It was authored by Wesley Johnson and singlehandedly started the Shanahan-to-Vikings discourse.


The Zimmer hot seat chatter is fierce, and a man from Brazil has thoughts on the eventual replacement.

PPTSD editor Kyle Joudry has analysis on Peterson’s spot in history.

Noah Moore bemoans the Vikings third-down woes.

And finally, an explanation of why Zimmer’s rump is toasty.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).


The post The View from Purple PTSD: Kyle Shanahan and Minnesota, Zimmer Hot Seat, and the Return of Adrian Peterson appeared first on Vikings Territory.

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The GM’s View: Keys to Vikings Beating Ravens in Swing Game



Vikings Insider, The GM’s View

The Vikings season is at a crossroads over the next few weeks, beginning with another swing game at Baltimore Sunday.

Find a way to win, and the Purple are back to .500 at 4-4 and possibly holding the final NFC playoff spot if the Patriots beat the Panthers as expected. If the Vikings fall to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, they’ll sit at 3-5 with a tough couple weeks ahead at the Chargers and hosting the Packers before another tough road game at the 49ers.

The 5-2 Ravens are coming off their bye that followed a surprising 41-17 thrashing at the hands of the Bengals. They have a narrow lead in the AFC North over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, plus several close wins, including over Detroit on an NFL record 66-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. And there were exciting comeback wins over the Chiefs and Colts where Jackson flashed his MVP form.


But the Bengals showed that Baltimore could be beaten with a prolific passing attack as Joe Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns, while Ja’Marr Chase had eight receptions for 201 yards and one touchdown.

Here are my keys to the Vikings beating the Ravens in what should be a high scoring game:
1. Offensively, get back to what worked in Carolina in Week 6 when Minnesota had 571 yards total offense, running and throwing it well against a good defense. The Vikings wide receivers were targeted 37 times (Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn combined for 25 catches for 284 yards and 2 TDs).

Compare that to the Dallas game when that trio had a total of 16 targets, 10 catches, and 109 yards. This was due to Cousins’ excessive checkdowns to the backs and tight ends as he felt the heat from the Cowboys pass rush even when there was time to throw. Skittish Kirk must be replaced by the return of confident Kirk, and the offensive line must be better against an aggressive Ravens pass rush.

Center Garrett Bradbury has landed on the Covid list, so it appears he’s out for the Vikings game against the Ravens. I’d love to see third-rounder Wyatt Davis get a shot at center, but vet Mason Cole likely will start. Davis was last year’s Big Ten lineman of the year and is more stout than Bradbury, so it would be interesting to see him in action.

As for the line overall, blocking vet stalwarts Calais Campbell and Justin Houston on the edges will be critical, along with handling an impactful linebacker in Patrick Queen. The Bengals did help their offensive line with backs and tight ends staying in often to max protect.


Cousins needs to take more chances and give Jefferson and Thielen opportunities to make contested catches, especially in single coverage. Give Jefferson a chance to do what his former LSU teammate, Chase, did in repeatedly beating Ravens corner Marlon Humphrey.

And get the ball to Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin, as the Ravens were torched by K.C.’s Travis Kelce and Cincinnati’s C.J. Uzomah.  Cousins has only thrown two interceptions this season, which is a nice stat, but perhaps that means he’s being overly cautious at times. 

Memo to Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak: the Ravens are dead last in the league in pass defense and were severely beaten on first-down throws by Burrow (10 of 14 for 192 yards and 2 TDs). Yes, Dalvin Cook always must get his touches rushing and receiving, but Baltimore is better in run defense (fourth-ranked, in part because teams are throwing more against them). Playing conservative is not the formula to beat Baltimore or really any NFL team as the Dallas fiasco proved.  

2. Defensivel — yikes. No Danielle Hunter spells big trouble for the Vikings pass rush, a unit that leads the league in sacks per game (3.4). Hunter was their best pass rusher and best chance to contain Jackson. Batten down the hatches as much as possible against the NFL’s No. 3 offense led by Jackson, who has had some monster games this season (including 442 passing yards and 62 rushing yards in the OT win over the Colts).

Mike Zimmer and his defensive coaches will try to copy what Cincinnati did in limiting Jackson to 257 passing yards, which was by applying pressure, especially from the defensive end spots (5 total sacks and 3.5 from the DEs). Jackson has been sacked 21 times in seven games this season, so the Ravens’ pass protection isn’t great.


Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum must step up his play in Hunter’s spot. It will be a huge test for linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr to contain Jackson’s elite scrambling ability (he is the Ravens leading rusher with 480 yards).

Jackson throws to some talented receivers, including a top tight end in Mark Andrews and his wide receiver trio of Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, and former Gopher Rashod Bateman. If Jackson has time, I don’t like this matchup with the Vikings secondary still missing their best corner in Patrick Peterson.

3. On special teams, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is a former special teams coach, and his team always excels in this area. He has the league’s best kicker in Tucker (14 of 15 field goals this season), who has the edge over the Vikings’ up and down kicker Greg Joseph.

Jeff’s Prediction:

I think the Vikings offense will score more points and be better in the red zone this week (a point of emphasis from Coach Mike Zimmer). I see the Vikings keeping it close but ultimately falling short in a high-scoring game as Jackson, and his receiving corps will make the big plays late to get the win. I hope I’m wrong, but I’ll call it 34-27 Ravens over the Vikings.


Around the NFL Observations:
1. What an awful story involving Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs who is charged with DWI resulting in death after he reportedly was driving 156 miles per hour when his car hit and killed a 23-year-old woman and her dog. I’m sure every coach in every sport in America is using the Ruggs case as an example to their players of terrible decision-making and disastrous results. 

2. Aaron Rodgers tests positive: the Packers QB lied when he told the media he was “immunized,” and now he’s landed on the COVID list due to his unvaccinated status. Jordan Love will start in K.C., and if he plays well, it could give the Packers more confidence if they decide to let Rodgers leave after this season.

3. Adrian Peterson to Titans: this could be a good fit for the former Vikings star as he has been signed by Tennessee to help replace superstar runner Derrick Henry. The 36-year-old Peterson will run behind one of the league’s best lines, so it will be interesting to see how well he performs.    

Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former Tennessee Titans President, and was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the NFL agent group IFA based in Minneapolis and does other sports consulting and media work along with college/corporate speaking. Follow him and direct message him on Twitter– @jeffdiamondnfl.

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