We all know that the result of a preseason game means nothing, so you have to look at the details of the game to find the good and the bad with each one. Even that can get hard when you can never be sure of the context, given a lot of players that see the field won’t make the 53-man roster once September rolls around. Nevertheless, football is back, and since my favorite team is on the field once again, it’s time for me to irrationally praise them about their performance in an exhibition game.
The biggest positive you could take away from the Vikings’ 42-28 victory over the Broncos on Saturday night is that no players suffered significant injuries. With the obvious out of the way, let’s get onto some of the other positives from the win.
Kirk Cousins was perfect
That’s right, Cousins wasn’t good, nor was he great, he was PERFECT. In his debut for the purple and gold, Cousins was 4/4 for 42 yards and a touchdown throw to Stefon Diggs. This all comes with the caveat that’s it’s the preseason and the stats don’t matter, but Cousins made two great plays in the one drive he played on Saturday.
The first was this 28-yard connection with Diggs to set up the touchdown.
Cousins gets plenty of time to set his feet and deliver a perfect throw down the sideline to Diggs. The most impressive part is his awareness to throw the ball before Diggs even has his head turned, then the accuracy to place it right where Diggs was running to, just beyond where Bradley Roby could make a play on it. This is amazing chemistry shown between Cousins and Diggs, and it’s a great sign to see it on their first-ever drive together.
The other great play was the touchdown, where Cousins showed poise under immense pressure.
Anyone who follows the Vikings knows that the offensive line is the weakest link on this team, so Cousins has to be able to make throws with pressure in his face. On this play, Justin Simmons runs through unblocked and has a clear shot at Cousins. But Cousins rifles a pass into Diggs’ arms before Simmons can lay a finger on him.
Cousins displayed pinpoint accuracy, calmness under pressure and an innate connection with his new #1 receiver in these two plays. It’s hard not to get excited about that, even if it comes in a game that doesn’t matter.
Roc Thomas looks like a Jerick McKinnon replacement
The Vikings prioritized re-signing key young players this offseason, along with adding Cousins for $84 million in guaranteed money over the course of three years. Once the likes of Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks were re-signed this summer, that left no room for the $11.7 million in guaranteed money that the 49ers gave to McKinnon for the 2018 season.
That leaves an open roster spot behind Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, and Thomas may have already sealed it with his performance on Saturday. Thomas impressed in the receiving game, as he tallied 102 yards and two touchdowns on three receptions.
He had the highlight of the game when he took a screen pass from Trevor Siemian 78 yards to the house.
It’s a perfectly executed screen play, and it gets highlighted by Thomas’ patience and speed. He waits just long enough for Josh Andrews to run down the field and make the key block right at the 40-yard line. Once he sees the space he has in front of him, there’s no chance any defender was going to catch him.
When Thomas was singed as an undrafted free agent out of Jacksonville State, the only thing that stood out to me was his name is Roc. Let’s be honest, that’s an objectively bad ass name, so I was rooting for him to make the team from the start. After this big performance, it’s his roster spot to lose.
Trevor Siemian helped make the front office look good
To be honest, this is strictly a petty win. Seeing how Siemian was going to play wasn’t something I was too focused on, but it is nice to see that he played well against his former team. On the other hand, Case Keenum, who the Vikings let walk this offseason, struggled against his former team.
The Vikings made it clear that Cousins is their guy this offseason, tossing Keenum to the side after leading the team to the NFC Championship game last season. In the first test for Cousins and Keenum, Cousins was the clear winner. Not only that, but Siemian played well against his former team after the Vikings traded for him this offseason to be Cousins’ backup. Siemian played most of the first half and finished the game with 165 yards and two touchdowns, both to Thomas. Keenum played one drive for the Broncos and completed one of his four passes for five yards.
This was a three-way win for the Vikings’ front office: their big signing was perfect, the quarterback they let walk struggled, and the backup they traded for was impressive. It’s only the preseason, but this is all we have to work with thus far. I’m sure Rick Spielman slept well on Saturday night.