Love the QB you're (stuck) with
As a long-suffering fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the team’s 16-21 week two loss in Green Bay.
Let me see if I have this right: Spot the Packers a 21-0 lead, the Packers offensive line NEVER held the Vikings even once, the referees, who flagged the Vikings eight times for 100-yards, did not throw a flag on a Vikings touchdown, so the replay crew in New York did, via satellite, nullifying said touchdown? Stefon Diggs gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for removing his helmet on the field 10-yards past the end zone? And just when the Vikings seemed to have taken control of the game on both sides of the football, Kirk Cousins inexplicably throws an interception in the end zone on 1st and goal from the Green Bay 8? Yup, that sounds like your typical Minnesota Vikings game.
A couple of thoughts; First, Stephen Stills, of the band Crosby, Still & Nash (and yes, sometimes Young) hit the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1970 with a song called “Love the One You’re With.” In the refrain Stills wrote, “If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.” Most certainly a reference to the loosening of social restrictions of the time, but current Viking fans may want to download a copy and give it a listen…or 12, to cope with any animosity toward quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Let’s just say it, the whole Cousins thing does not appear to be going well. On paper, Cousins’ numbers in 2018 were more than respectable, but in big games and in big moments, the guy with the contract for $84 million, guaranteed, doesn’t seem to be able to play at a level commensurate to his salary.
Here’s the problem: we’re only in week two. As frustrated as you may be with Cousins, and with Head Coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman for signing him, barring injury, Kirk Cousins IS your quarterback.
Keep in mind that the Vikes were just 2-2 after the first four weeks in 2017, yet finished with a 13-3 record. I’m not promising that, but there is still plenty of time, and I do know that Cousins won’t play any better if fans start getting on him right away at home next Sunday against the Raiders. The coaches have to coach him, his teammates have to support him, and if they want anything good out of this season, Viking fans better dial back the vitriol against Cousins because he’s the one we’re with, for this season, and the next.
The Vikings defense really misses cornerback Mike Hughes. Drafted with Aaron Rodgers in mind, Hughes, like Dalvin Cook before him, shined as a rookie, only to lose most of his first season to an ACL injury. Now, we’re finally seeing what Cook can do, but with Hughes and slot corner Mackenzie Alexander out of the lineup, Rodgers took advantage of Xavier Rhodes early and often. One can only hope that Hughes is back, and at full speed for the rematch in December.
Side benefits of Twins playoff push
We got a look at the Twins future during Saturday’s pleasantly unexpected sweep of Cleveland. In the nightcap left-hander Lewis Thorpe pitched a rocky 3-2/3 innings, while human flame-thrower Brusdar Graterol struck-out 3 in 2 innings of work, hitting the radar gun at a Twins franchise record 101.9 mph.
I’m not sure either will be ready to claim a spot in the rotation by next April, but you can’t put a price tag on the experience they’re both gaining by being a part of the Twins playoff push, and speaking of push, the Twins can save themselves at least $8.4 million by pushing Kyle Gibson out the door at the end of this season.
It's Dumba's time, team
While Jared Spurgeon’s seven-year, $53.025 million dollar contract makes him the highest paid player on the team, the Wild would do well to give an alternate captain designation to fellow defenseman Matthew Dumba.
Center Mikko Koivu has held that designation for the past decade, but my hope is that Koivu, returning from a season-ending knee injury, would step aside for Dumba if he’s going to be anything less than the team’s first-line center.
Matthew Dumba was playing like an All-Star, and the Wild were in a playoff position when he tore a pectoral muscle in December. Dumba’s big shot, brash style of play and infectious energy would give the Wild the gritty personality that is a necessity for any team looking to thrive in the grueling 84-game NHL schedule.