Going into the 2019 season there are a lot of questions about this Minnesota Vikings team.  The Draft is in the rear-view mirror and rookie minicamp is coming up quick.  There have been a lot of conversation about Kirk Cousins, and his struggles last season.

The lack of a running game (30th ranked) and the non-existent OL (29th ranked) played a considerable role in the Vikings 8-7-1 season, but for some, that isn’t the case.  How important is both a sustainable running game and, at the very least, middle of the road OL?  I took a look at the 2016 season (8-8) and the 2018 season (8-7-1) and the similarities are actually eerie…

… minus one small detail: Kirk Cousins wasn’t the QB in 2016.  Crazy I know.

2016 – (8-8) *Started 5-0

  • 6th in scoring defense
  • 3rd in total defense
  • 18th in passing 
  • 32nd in rushing 

*OL gave up 37 sacks and Bradford had 10 fumbles.  

*OL was ironically ranked 29th overall. 

2018 – (8-7-1)

  • 9th in scoring defense
  • 4th in total defense
  • 13th in passing
  • 30th in rushing 

*OL gave up 40 sacks and Cousins had 9 fumbles. 

*OL ranked 29th overall.  

Via (pro-football-reference.com)

There is no doubt that in both instances the QB could have been better at times, but when you are under constant pressure throughout a season and your team is 110% ONE-dimensional…  it’s going to get ugly in a hurry.  QB’s who are under constant pressure will begin to hold on to the ball longer, bracing for a hit. They’ll start to feel pressure when it’s not even there, and as we saw after the 5-0 start in 2016, the hits and lack of a running game started to take its toll on Bradford. The Vikings went just 3-8 after the bye week. Then in 2018, we saw Kirk’s pocket presence at top form in games vs. GB, LA and Philly but fall off down the stretch as those pressures and sacks piled up through the season.

The Vikings took a giant step forward when they added Bradbury and Samia in last weekends draft. With those pieces in place, plus a healthy Dalvin Cook and a rookie bruiser in Alexander Mattison, I’d expect big improvement in the running game, and the offense in its entirety.

Brian Heintz | Minnesota Sports Fan