If Vikings Can’t Beat Falcons w/o Dalvin Cook, They Aren’t Who We Thought They Were Anyway

Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn (AP)

Dalvin Cook injured his groin in Sunday night’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks and everything changed in his absence. The Minnesota Vikings defense immediately surrendered 21-straight points and a 13-point first half lead, before a stumbling offense finally found its footing and eventually forged their own comeback behind Alexander Mattison, Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen.

Still, the initial shock of losing Cook was enough to erase the Russell Wilson buffer zone created in the first half. Eventually, he made them pay and the Vikings went home 1-4.

Three days later, we’re all trying to find our equilibrium. How good is this team? Do they still have a chance to make the playoffs or should we set our tanking sails due North for the highest possible 2021 draft pick? How healthy is Dalvin Cook? Should he play vs Atlanta?

Well… nobody has the answer to any of these questions but Cook’s chances for playing in week 6 vs the Falcons is looking flimsy (at best) on Tuesday morning.

Sitting Dalvin Cook is the right move

The Vikings should NOT play Dalvin Cook on Sunday vs the Atlanta Falcons if he isn’t 100%. That looks like the route Spielman and Co are taking and it’s the right one. If this team has any chance at a playoff run, they will need Dalvin Cook to lead it. He is clearly their best player and makes Kirk Cousins a much better quarterback.

While they will absolutely require Dalvin’s services if they are to turn this season around, they should NOT need him to beat the Atlanta Falcons. Why?

The Falcons are a complete dumpster fire.

If there’s one team that looks destined for their pick of the next #1 overall QB litter…. it’s Arthur Blank’s squad in Atlanta. At 0-5, the Falcons’ biggest problem all season has been on the defensive side of the ball, especially through the air. Atlanta ranks #31 in Yards Per Game and Yards Per Pass Attempt, #30 in Completion %, #25 in Yards Per Completion and dead last (#32) in Opponent Passer Rating (all according to TeamRankings.com).

This last week, however, Matt Ryan was nowhere to be found when his team needed him. Todd Gurley went off for 121 yards and a score but Ryan (21/37, 226 yds, INT) couldn’t out-duel Teddy Bridgewater (27/37, 313 yds, 2 TD) and the Falcons fell to the (3-2) Carolina Panthers by a score of 23-16.

Goodbye Dan Quinn

Atlanta Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn, had his chance at a Super Bowl victory after the 2016 season but blew an infamous 28-3 halftime lead to the New England Patriots. After that loss, Kyle Shanahan left for a head coaching job in San Francisco and Atlanta was left to find a new offensive brain to fit with their defensive head coach.

They couldn’t. Quinn went 7-9 in back-to-back seasons before starting 2020 at 0-5. On Monday, Dan Quinn was fired. Now, Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris will take over as the Atlanta Falcons Interim Head Coach.

If the Vikings Can’t Beat Atlanta Without Cook…

The Minnesota Vikings are much better than their 1-4 record shows. I know that’s as cliche a sports saying as anything out there… but sometimes those cliches exist for a reason. In the 2020 Vikings’ case, it’s true. The teams they’ve lost their 4 games to, have a 15-2 overall record. Minnesota should have won two of them.

The 2020 Vikings are better than the Falcons in every way and that includes the running game (with or without Dalvin Cook). The Vikings’ offense has a full week to prepare without Cook and should have no problem moving the ball. The Falcons defense can be compared very easily to that of the Seattle Seahawks, except worse. They are mediocre against the run and really really bad against the pass.

If the Zimmer and Co. come up short again, this time vs one of the worst teams in football, then it’s time to fire our own defensive-minded coach and call it a season anyway. At 1-5 and coming off of what would be the worst loss of a terrible 2020 season, there would be no hope left across Vikings nation… except for the shot at a franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.

So, sit #33 and destroy the Falcons so we can go into the bye week with hope and come out of it with a healthy Dalvin Cook.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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