When the Minnesota Vikings misplaced to the beforehand winless Atlanta Falcons, 40-23, and entered the bye week, it looks as if a certainty that they’d begin to dump items and attempt to enter the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. The query wasn’t in the event that they’d tank, however to what magnitude they’d achieve this.
They had simply traded Yannick Ngakuoe to the Baltimore Ravens. Who was subsequent?
There was a vocal phase of the fanbase that needed a full-fledged Miami Dolphins-style rebuild. That didn’t imply trimming round the edges. It meant dealing away Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr — common gamers who nonetheless had one thing left in the tank. In the case of a man like Kendricks, 28, they’d be dealing him in his prime.
As we sit right here at this time, that’s a win for the anti-Mike Zimmer crowd. It’s additionally exhausting to see how Rick Spielman survives it, though I suppose if he’s the one executing the first sale, possession might permit him to attempt to revamp the group.
It’s additionally a win for North Dakota State followers as a result of there’s no assure that the Vikings would get the No. 1 general choose. Remember, the New York Jets remained winless till Week 15, however they is perhaps drafting excessive sufficient to get Trey Lance. The Marshall, Minn.-born quarterback is One of Us and can be getting into a high-pressure state of affairs after solely taking part in one recreation of faculty soccer final season.
It’s not essentially a win for the anti-Kirk Cousins people, nevertheless. He nonetheless has an albatross contract with two extra years left, and there’s no assure that Minnesota may transfer off of it. Whichever quarterback they take on this situation, and we’ve to imagine they’re tanking to take a franchise QB, is spending a yr minimal on the bench whereas the Vikings courtroom suitors for Cousins.
Tanking at all times appears extra enticing than tinkering with a flawed however proficient roster, for some purpose. Part of that’s how necessary the quarterback is, in fact. Urban Meyer isn’t popping out of retirement to teach the Jaguars if they’ve the third choose. He desires to teach Lawrence.
But bottoming out isn’t a surefire approach to succeed.
Remember, the Kansas City Chiefs traded as much as take Patrick Mahomes, and so they had been fortunate he was nonetheless there at 10th general. The Chicago Bears needed to hilariously take Mitchell Trubisky over Mahomes and Deshaun Watson at 2. Seven different groups needed to choose gamers like Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross as a substitute of a participant who may turn into the subsequent biggest QB of all time.
Until this season, the Cleveland Browns hadn’t certified for the playoffs since 2002 and blew by so many QBs it grew to become a meme. They took Baker Mayfield 1-1, and no person’s sure how good he’s. They constructed an offense to mitigate his shortcomings, which means Kevin Stefanski treats him like he’s Cousins.
Broadcasters are fast to notice how dangerous the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been ever since Tom Brady headed south due to how hilarious it’s to check his accolades to Tampa’s franchise information — and the Bucs have been in the league since 1976. They drafted Jameis Winston first general in 2015, put an arsenal of weapons round him and a stout protection behind him, and let him go after his rookie contract as a result of he threw 30 interceptions final yr.
Jacksonville supplied Blake Bortles ample time to develop and ended up giving Gardner Minshew begins. Jared Goff was taken No. 1 general and appears to be holding Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams again. Justin Herbert is phenomenal, however how sure are we that the Los Angeles Chargers will maximize him?
Honestly, we may have simply began with the Dolphins. Miami burned it down, has a good coach and GM, and enters subsequent yr with a lot of uncertainty. They went 10-6, however they missed the playoffs, and Tua Tagovailoa was battling 38-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick for enjoying time all yr. If they had been all-in on Tua, they wouldn’t be in the Watson sweepstakes.
There’s additionally the query of if the Vikings pull off the 1-15 report. That signifies that they lose to the Detroit Lions twice and must lose the Jacksonville recreation. It’s straightforward to look at a 7-9 group that was blown out by the Falcons, misplaced a must-win recreation to the Andy Dalton-led Dallas Cowboys, and went to extra time with the Jaguars and go, in fact, they’re able to going 1-15.
But contemplate this: Whoever is teaching the group isn’t incentivized to tank. Zimmer certain isn’t; he desires to maintain his job. If he’s fired throughout the bye week, do you suppose Gary Kubiak desires to retire after a one-win season? Does Andre Patterson need 1-15 on his resume? Is there anybody in the group that might?
It’s so humorous that the Jets gained two video games, taking themselves out of the operating for Lawrence, however Adam Gase doesn’t care in the event that they get a franchise quarterback. He is aware of he’s getting fired. And a lot of the gamers on that group are going to finish up elsewhere or out of the league subsequent yr. None of them need a winless season on their resume.
A stripped-down group additionally does a disservice to gamers who shall be the group’s basis for years to come back. Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney must play with out Harrison Smith behind them. Justin Jefferson doesn’t have the historic season he has with out Thielen lining up subsequent to him.
Cousins is rarely going to drive profitable like Herbert, Watson, or Mahomes — few quarterbacks do. It’s honest to say Zimmer is just too old-school. It can be enjoyable to draft One of Us with hopes that he turns into a transcendent QB. But a nice consequence isn’t assured after a hearth sale. In truth, it’s not extremely possible.
A group with Thielen, Kendricks, and Smith is price watching on Sundays. Players like them make the subsequent wave of stars like Jefferson, Gladney, and Dantzler higher. They nonetheless might discover a steal, like Stefon Diggs or Everson Griffen, on this draft. And they might make a change at coach and QB in the close to future if it’s warranted.
The Vikings most likely made the proper name throughout the bye week, even when it isn’t as enjoyable as blowing all of it up.