VikingLord wrote: ↑
Sat Mar 21, 2020 1:07 pm
MikethePurple wrote: ↑
Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:31 am
With the Cousins move, they seem to be straddling the fence rather than facing up to the fact that they are in a rebuilding mode. Does anyone actually think that with far less talent on defense and given the Diggs trade, offense, that this team will be better next year? Cousins clearly needs to have a significant supporting cast to be successful and they are taking plenty of those pieces away and expecting things to be different/better than previously? That just seems like a gigantic head scratcher.
Are they straddling the fence though?
One could look at the Cousins deal as a long term commitment to him at QB I guess, but I'm not sure I see it that way. If one assumes that there are no plans to elevate Mannion and given that the Vikings are unlikely to make a move for a different starting QB, Cousins gives them some longer term certainty at the starting QB slot, but I don't think that removes their ability to try to find a franchise QB to sit and learn behind him, be that in this year's draft or even next year's.
Put another way, one of those free agency period moves just scored them another 1st round pick. While most mocks have them dutifully searching for Diggs' replacement with that choice, I could see Spielman leverage his 1st rounders and perhaps some combo of his 2nd/3rds to make a move up in this year's draft for one of the top QBs. Not sure he could swing that or who he might target (my guess would be Herbert or Tua), but that might be enough ammo to make a move like that. Then, with Cousins in tow and expectations set appropriately for the next season, said QB could be brought along at a comfortable pace and developed along with whatever other young talent the Vikings secure this year, be that by draft, in FA, or via further trades.
One important point of note with the Cousins' extension that I think supports this theory is that it isn't all guaranteed. A big chunk of it is, but not all of it. It's not like the Vikings are committing to Cousins for a long time. It might just be "long enough".
This is going to be one of the more interesting drafts for the Vikings in recent memory I think...
They could theoretically draft one of the top quarterbacks, but it's not going to happen. It's just not.
You have to look into what the Wilfs, Spielman and Zimmer have said about Cousins. They believe he IS the franchise quarterback. And don't be so sold on this being a rebuild year. I believe they're going into this season viewing themselves as contenders. Seems ludicrous, but hear me out. They brought in Dom Capers. Just as they brought in Gary Kubiak last year for a reason -- to overhaul the offense -- I believe you're going to see something similar happen on defense. The pickup of Michael Pierce just further confirms my suspicion ...
The Minnesota Vikings will not be a strictly 4-3 team this year.
Because of Zimmer's penchant for drafting athletic, versatile defensive linemen, I believe the Vikings have the personnel to play either 4-3 or 3-4 on defense, and they're one of the few teams who do. Pierce mans the middle in 3-4, but he can also play nose in 4-3. Stephen, Watts, Odenigbo, Johnson, Holmes and others are tweeners in a 4-3 ... not big enough for NT, not quick enough for 3-tech (but Stephen is serviceable in that role), and other than Odenigbo, not really DEs. But in a 3-4 ... they're all well suited for DE.
When you get to the rush linebacker positions, that's where the Vikings really have the potential to shine. Barr was a 3-4 rush LB in college and wreaked havoc. He's perfectly suited for it. And Hunter with his speed, power and athleticism might set a sack record in a rush linebacker role. Now put Kendricks and Wilson in the middle, and you've got your 3-4. But at the same time, all these guys have been playing exclusively 4-3 under Zimmer, so they know how to do that, too.
Obviously that doesn't address the corners, but no other team in the NFL has personnel suited for the front 7 in both schemes. Now you start messing around with how you use Harrison Smith, much like the Steelers did with Troy Polamalu (Capers coached there with Dick LeBeau) and teams might really get befuddled.
All this tells me the draft is going to lean toward a corner, a wideout, or the offensive line. Doubt me all you want, but I said last year after they brought in Kubiak that they would be going for athletic O-linemen who could play in a zone blocking scheme, and that's exactly what they did. I'd bet a paycheck on the Vikings drafting to the three positions I just mentioned.
And with all that, I think Zimmer feels like he's going to surprise the league ... which does not signal "rebuild." It signals retool, both in philosophy and personnel. And if that's what he does, it's anything BUT straddling the fence.
As I've said before, Mike Zimmer has never been afraid to bring in experienced coaches -- even head coaches -- to both mold the team and challenge him. Some didn't work out so well (Norv, Flip) while others were good (Sparano) or downright magic (Shurmur, Kubiak). And the interesting thing about all the guys up to now -- they've all been on the offensive side of the ball. I believe hiring Dom Capers, a 3-4 expert, is Zimmer's way of trying to evolve defensively. And I salute him for it.
Will the Vikings contend this year? No idea. But I won't be surprised if they're at least as good as last year.