Is Dalvin Cook Washed Up?

PHOTO: ELIZABETH FLORES - STAR TRIBUNE

The Minnesota Vikings are 3-1 and on top of the NFC North. But, outside of one dominating performance, to open the season vs Green Bay, their play has been far from perfect. The offense has been inconsistent and the defense has surrendered chunks of yardage. But most concerning of all, might be Dalvin Cook.

It isn’t the amount of touches or his shoulder injury that’s worrisome, either. When Cook entered the league in 2017, he excelled at getting downhill in a hurry, breaking defenders’ ankles with his agility and never going down on the first tackle attempt. He’s been the total package, when healthy, for five seasons.

Dalvin on the decline?

But through four games in 2022, that shake, power and explosiveness has noticeably dissipated. He’s struggling to shimmy by defenders and when someone gets hold of him, he crumples like a wet cardboard box. And the numbers tell the same declining story as the eye test.

Cook’s 4.4 YPC average is the worst of his career, down .6 yards from 2020 (5.0), the best season of his career. His 69.8 yards per game is his lowest since 2018 (55.9). The home run ball has been missing from Dalvin’s arsenal, too.

Just one of Cook’s 63 rushing attempts this season has gone for more than 15 yards. It was a 16-yarder. Every season since 2018, he’s popped one off for at least 66 yards. PFF says that Dalvin’s steep decline began last year, when his grades dropped out of the 80’s/90’s and into the 60’s. His average yards after contact from 3.33 in 2020, down to 2.73 in 2021.

Pro Football Reference
PFF


What’s next?

So is Dalvin Cook washed up? Not yet. But, let’s be realistic. Dalvin Cook is old, for running back standards. His decline isn’t surprising. But if you’re a Minnesota Vikings fan or Cook fantasy owner, you shouldn’t expect a return to 2020. Dalvin is still a fine running back but his reign as one of the league’s greats, is probably over.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell will have to decide if Cook is worth the $11+ million he’s scheduled to count against the cap in 2023 (he’s not), or if they should cut him and eat the $6+ million dead cap hit.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan