by Mike Marek
If I am sleeping, don’t wake me up. I am dreaming, and it’s been such a wonderful dream so far. The Vikings’ journey has begun with what I would describe as the perfect beginning. It was one of those starts that only happens in video games and in fantasy. On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings could do no wrong (except jump offsides).
They led the game off with an explosive, “welcome back to Minnesota” Anthony Barr sack. While Atlanta Quarterback Matt Ryan was contemplating his life choices in the midst of being thrown unceremoniously to the ground, the Vikings were off to the races.
During this dominant game the Vikings had their first punt block since 2014. They managed to pick the ball off twice and recovered a fumble. They kept Julio Jones in check when it mattered, and they were able to rest up in what turned out to be a meaningless second half.
Following the game, I would like to think that Mike Zimmer immediately took the game tape and put it on repeat in his office. This was the perfect Zimmer game. Suffocating defense, with the run game steaming along, and minimal passes thrown (only 10). Zimmer might be best off retiring after this masterpiece, because I don’t think it will get better than this for him.
Gary Kubiak’s newly installed zone blocking scheme already appears to be paying dividends. Dalvin Cook looked like a new man running behind the well-placed blocks and well-timed play calls. Dalvin was the most dominating offensive player on the field on Sunday. He could have done even more damage, but the Vikings smartly decided to save his legs for another day, leaving some carries with more than capable backup, Alexander Mattison.
The Vikings also have appeared to have figured out their special teams. After experimenting with failed dual threat Kicker/Punter Kaare Vedvik, the Vikings seem to have everything settled … at least for a week. The punting and the kicking game both looked solid. Dan Bailey only had extra points to attempt and managed to convert all of them. Britton Colquitt reminded Vikings fans of what consistent good punting can look like and in my estimation performed above expectations in his debut in purple.
Next week the Vikings run into the also 1-0 Green Bay Packers. While week one might have been a dream scenario for the Vikings, now they have to travel to Green Bay, where nightmares have haunted them in the past. From blow-outs to tie games, the Vikings have seen a bit of everything in Wisconsin. This year, it’s time to bury some of those past demons.
Week two should play out as a similar script to week one. The Packers have an explosive offense with what appears to be at least a halfway decent defense. I expect the Vikings to come out conservative on offense, running the ball often. On defense, they will be aggressive. They will plan to get after Aaron Rodgers early and often with blitzes. This one smells like a 30-10 Minnesota win to give the Vikings sole possession of the NFC North lead. You may think I am optimistic, but remember, I am only dreaming after all.