MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Vikings, going into the 2019 season, are looking to put last year’s disappointing campaign behind them. The team finished 2018 at 8-7-1, missing the playoffs on the final weekend of the regular season. This was far from an ideal outcome after just missing the Super Bowl the year before and then signing quarterback Kirk Cousins to get them there.
The Vikings will try to return to that 2017 success and may have done just enough to do it. The team signed guard Josh Kline and drafted center Garrett Bradbury. An improved offensive line should improve Dalvin Cook’s production in the run game thereby helping Cousins excel in the passing game. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs remain among the best receiving duos in the League, and Kyle Rudolph is productive from the tight end spot.
WCCO sports anchor Mike Max, who has been following Vikings training camp, sees another change the should pay dividends. “They’ve made some changes with their offensive coaches in the off-season,” according to Max. “Probably the biggest thing they’ve done [is] bringing in Gary Kubiak to oversee the offense. Kevin Stefanski assumes the role of offensive coordinator.”
“Can that offense, offensive line, etc. take a step in the right direction? Because that would be the biggest concern of the fans and probably the organization as well.” That improvement will likely depend on Cousins’ comfort level in the system. And a comfortable Cousins can then pick and choose the right moments to ad lib. “He’d like to be a little bit more of a gunslinger,” says Max, “kind of like Brett Favre, when he was here with the Minnesota Vikings.”
The defense remains among the NFL’s top units, even with the defection of Sheldon Richardson along the defensive line. Shamar Stephen is a capable replacement at the tackle spot. Likewise safety Andrew Sendejo is gone, but Anthony Harris, who played there some last year, will step in. “They should be really good on defense,” in Max’s estimation.
So will the 2019 Vikings look more like the 2018 version or the 2017 version? The answer to that question could determine head coach Mike Zimmer’s future. “In general, people want to see him succeed,” as Max sees it. “Most people accept the fact that if they don’t make the playoffs this year, his job could be in jeopardy.”