Vikings vs Lions: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
The first drive of the game for the Vikings went like this: run, pass, run, pass, run — touchdown. Going into the game, the Lions knew they had to do what the Packers could not the week before, stop Dalvin Cook. Even with stacking the box with eight players, they failed.
The first play was a handoff to Dalvin Cook. He gained 13 yards. The Lions must have thought, “uh oh.” And uh oh was right because that set up the tone for the rest of the game. The next play after that was a play-action pass to Kyle Rudolph for 22 yards. A few plays later, Cook would score. The Vikings would continue that formula to dominate the Lions and win their second game in a row.
Cooking with Ham:
It's so rare in football these days to see that Fullback/Runningback combo. CJ Ham saw a lot of action in this game, and rightfully so. His blocking, combined with Dalvin Cook’s patience running behind him, was lethal. Cook had another game with 200+ total yards with he found the end zone twice. But in order to be effective...
It All Starts on the Front Line:
If you have a great running back and a great blocking fullback, the skies the limit -- but it’s not going to be that effective if you don’t have great blocking. The offensive line had their second great game in a row.
Did You Punt Block Me?:
While the offensive line blocking has been great, the special teams blocking for punts has not been good (at least in this game). The Lions had two blocked punts and one from a guy the just came off the practice squad. I'm sure that the team will be working on that this week.
Going Injury Prone:
Injuries are still hurting the defense. While there might be many cringe-worthy moments, those will, hopefully, help make the cream rise to the top. It’s been trial by fire for these backups but they seem to be getting better.
It sounds weird, but some of this winning might end up hurting the team. There are two types of rebuilding. There is the "team completely sucks" rebuild project, which takes years. And then there’s "we have the core in place, we just need that key piece." That type of rebuilding usually involves a missing key piece, like a running back, wide receiver, linebacker, or quarterback.
For the most part, the Vikings have a good core. They have the running back, a couple of good linebackers, a good receiver (with a second that is looking to be the real deal).
The missing piece is a franchise quarterback. No matter what you think of Kirk Cousins, he is not it. Sure he’ll have some good games, but he doesn’t have a great arm, he doesn’t always make the best decisions, and is not very good in the pocket when he's under pressure.
The Vikings would basically have to win all but two of the remaining games. If not, they risk having an 8-8 or 7-9 record, missing the playoffs, and not having a high enough draft pick to get that major piece of the puzzle.