Looks Like 8-8 Record for Vikings
Bob Lurstema’s insights about the Minnesota Vikings have proven accurate through the years, and perhaps never more impressive than in 2019 when he predicted a 10-win season for his former team. The Vikings went 10-6 last season, made the playoffs as a wild card entry and won a dramatic overtime game against the New Orleans Saints before being eliminated by the San Francisco 49ers in the postseason.
What say Lurtsema for 2020? “I go .500. I don’t expect them to rock and roll,” the former defensive lineman told Sports Headliners today.
The Vikings, who have finalized their roster to the NFL mandatory 53 players and open the season at noon Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, are among the youngest teams in the NFL. Minnesota, with an average age of 25.5 is tied for the fifth youngest spot with the Packers, per Phillyvoice.com (Sept. 5).
Youth and inexperience is more of a potential liability this year because COVID-19 eliminated preseason games and NFL teams have limited physical contact during practices. “Until you have live contact, you don’t know squat about your players,” Lurtsema said.
Tackling could be sloppy in early NFL games including by an inexperienced group of Viking cornerbacks. The CB roster features rookies Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney. Even a respectable start to the season doesn’t mean consistency, as other teams review tapes and see tendencies/weaknesses.
It’s a given that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers will test Minnesota’s cornerbacks—likely early and often. A must-do for the defense is to respond all game with a strong pass rush likely led by sack specialists Danielle Hunter and newcomer Yannick Ngakoue.
Lurtsema is predicting the Packers will win the NFC North, with part of his assertion based on Rodgers—the future hall of fame quarterback. “I get a kick out of watching him,” Lurtsema said.
Another “green spot” for the Vikings is wide receiver, where the list of youthful players includes 21-year-old Justin Jefferson, the first player Minnesota chose in the 2020 draft. Lurtsema has long emphasized it takes a year or so for a quarterback and receiver to know each other’s tendencies. “He (Jefferson) has to be on the same page with (quarterback Kirk) Cousins. That does not come overnight,” Lurtsema said.
The absence of preseason games has Lurtsema concerned, too, about the number of injuries for NFL players, and how that develops could factor in the final results for the Vikings—good or bad. “It’s going to be way above normal (the incidence of injuries),” Lurtsema predicted.
Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr, predicting online the 2020 records for every NFL team, wrote that the 8-8 Vikings will finish second in the NFC North to the 10-6 Packers. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, the division’s other two teams will have records of 6-10 and 4-12 respectively, according to Orr’s September 2 story.
This afternoon the Vikings brought their practice squad roster to the maximum 16 total by adding defensive tackle Albert Huggins, kicker Chase McLaughlin and linebacker Hardy Nickerson.
It might be that next year the Thursday night NFL national kickoff game for the 2021 season is held in Minneapolis to recognize George Floyd and the league’s social justice effort. This Thursday evening the spotlight game is in Kansas City where the Super Bowl champion Chiefs host the Houston Texans with NBC televising.
It is 50 years ago this month that immortal Packers coach Vince Lombardi died. A Sports Headliners reader sent this email quip: “…I know there have been reported ‘sightings’ of him near Lambeau Field since then, so I can’t confirm that he’s actually departed this world.”
Dan Chisena, the free agent wide receiver from Penn State who surprisingly made the Vikings’ 53-man roster, doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page. A college sprinter before turning to football for two seasons in 2018 and 2019, he played in 14 career games with two starts.
Ex-Gopher quarterback Chris Streveler, who excelled in Canada as a pro, made the Arizona Cardinals’ 53-man roster.
Former Gopher Carter Coughlin, a seventh round draft choice earlier this year by the New York Giants, made the team’s final roster as a linebacker and pass rushing specialist. Also with the Giants is ex-Gopher kicker and punter Ryan Santoso.
Coughlin’s former Eden Prairie High School teammate Ryan Connelly was cut by the Giants and signed with the Vikings. As a linebacker, the ex-Wisconsin player is part of the Viking practice squad.
Connelly’s cousin, Anders Lee, is captain of the NHL’s New York Islanders and the former Edina athlete can be a key contributor in the Stanley Cup playoffs from his forward position.
Twins slugger Josh Donaldson is selling his 5,539 square foot mansion in South Tampa, Florida, with an asking price of $3,499,000, per website Cltampa.com on September 4.
Former Hopkins girls basketball coach Brian Cosgriff talking in the September Sports Illustrated about phenom Paige Bueckers who is on the magazine’s cover: “The best thing I ever did was stay the hell out of the way.”