Some people are fans of the Minnesota Vikings. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Minnesota Vikings. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Fuck me sideways.
Your 2021 record: 8-9, which doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how unpleasant this team was to watch a year ago. Perhaps this would be more illustrative:
You know what? Nope. That’s also inadequate. If I really wanted to show you how miserable the Vikings were in 2021, I would drive to your house, douse myself in gasoline, and then ride your stovetop like it was a mechanical bull.
I wouldn’t wish the 2021 Vikings on anyone, except for people I don’t care for. No one on this team got vaccinated, so much so that Chad Graff of The Athletic reported that younger Vikings were afraid to get vaccinated, lest they incur the ire of the unvaccinated Pro Bowlers on the roster. One of the few Vikings players who did get vaxxed on the team ended up hospitalized with COVID-19 thanks to his freedom-loving teammates. They lost their best defensive player for the season, for a second straight season. They blew a game against the eventual AFC champion Bengals when their (unvaccinated) running back fumbled in overtime. They blew a game to Arizona the following week when their kicker—stop me if you’ve heard this one before—missed a potential game-winning field goal at the gun. They lost a Sunday Night game, also at the gun, to the immortal Cooper Rush. They blew a two-touchdown lead in the second half to Baltimore. They gifted Detroit its first win of the season when their secondary gave Amon-Ra St. Brown a six-yard cushion in their own end zone. Again, at the gun. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU GUYS DOING OUT THERE? SWAPPING RECIPES?
I felt nothing watching that just now. The Vikings had to salvage an OT win against Carolina after letting Sam Darnold drive his team 96 yards down the field in the final two minutes of regulation. Their coach tried to call two timeouts in a row because he forgot he had called the first one. They replaced their old offensive coordinator with his son, who ran the ball on every second-and-long like his old man would thrash him with a belt if he didn’t. That same running back who blew the Cincinnati game was accused of beating his ex-girlfriend with a broomstick, and the Vikings are still pretending that it never happened. He also had a yards-after-the-catch average of, oh, let’s say -8.2. They never scored after a turnover. Their interior pass blocking was, as it is every year, ghastly. They had a top 10 offense but also were top five in three-and-outs. Their second-best pass rusher suffered his second season-ending mental health breakdown while playing for them.
Somehow I’ve gotten this far without mentioning the (still unvaccinated) quarterback, so let’s drag that horse out of its grave for a bit:
That same QB finally came down with COVID-19 on the eve of a Sunday Night game in Lambeau that the Vikings needed to keep their playoff hopes alive. They went on to lose that game by four touchdowns. I swear to you that Cris Collinsworth uttered the words, “Let Sean Mannion cook!” during it. My dreams have never been the same since that evening.
Gratefully, all of that horseshit served as motivation for Vikings ownership to finally clean house at the end of the season. Gone are head coach Mike Zimmer (whose players do not miss him) and general manager Rick Spielman, both of whom have spent their ensuing free time working feverishly to ensure that no other NFL team will ever hire them. Fucking finally, my team was getting a fresh start.
But there was a catch. With this team, there’s always a catch.
Your coach: Jim Harb… NOPE.
If you don’t think the name “Kirk Cousins” was invoked at 3:00 p.m. that day, you must live in Holland or something. After firing Zimmer and Spielman, team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf got outbid by the McCaskeys (how) for Chiefs personnel executive Ryan Poles, and then hired Cleveland numbers guy Kwesi Adofo-Mensah instead. Adofo-Mensah comes from a finance background; I know this because he casually namedrops Goldman Sachs in every presser like he’s got a fucking endorsement deal with them. Adofo-Mensah wanted Harbaugh as his head coach, and the deal was reported as all but done. But when that fateful 3:00 p.m. hour struck, the air cooled down to zero degrees Kelvin, the Vikings decided actually we never wanted this man, Harbaugh skulked back to Michigan to adopt all of that state’s unaborted children, and I got this guy dropped into my lap at the end of the night, like a surprise visit from the fucking IRS:
That’s former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. In hindsight, it’s for the best that the Vikings passed on hiring Harbaugh and plucked a leaf off of the Sean McVay coaching tree. But listening to Kevin O’Connell speak is like listening to a Radio Row interview at the Super Bowl that lasts all year. I already miss Zimmer getting up on the podium and telling reporters, Kellen Mond is dogshit and I don’t even know why we drafted him. The new offensive coordinator is not only also the son of a former coach, but the grandson of one as well. Two wrongs equal one right!
Regardless, once the Vikings got themselves a new young GM and a new young head coach, fans like me became all horny at the prospect of Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell overhauling this aging roster and putting their own stamp on it. Maybe they’d trade for Russell Wilson! Maybe they’d draft a new QB! Maybe they’d do literally anything but what they ended up doing, which was …
Your quarterback: Nothing.
I wish I were made of porcelain so that you could shatter me into a million pieces. I will never be rid of Kirk Cousins. To root for Kirk Cousins is to contract Kirk Derangement Syndrome, in which you’re forced to defend him despite knowing that you cannot. It’s a horrible way to live and I resent it. Even Vikings management doesn’t like Kirk Cousins. Who would? And yet, under orders from ownership to not tank the season, they gave Kirk not just a contract extension, but also a no-trade clause that slammed the door shut on my enthusiasm for this team until 2024 at the earliest. Perhaps by that time, Kirk will have died from contracting COVID-19 for the 97th time. FINGERS CROSSED!
I’m shocked this man plays football with a helmet on. Kirk Cousins has gamed the NFL better than any QB alive. He’s made hundreds of millions of dollars by mastering the art of putting up numbers that only data freaks respect while leaving his team with nothing to show for it. Here, from Arif Hasan, is all you need to know about how Kirk plies his trade:
Cousins threaded an impossible needle to land the ball in wide receiver Adam Thielen’s hands and get into field goal range. With Rasul Douglas watching and waiting to make a pick, that certainly seemed to be more of an “intuitive” throw. And, to Cousins, that was a problem. He should have, he said after the game, thrown it to Tyler Conklin instead for a small gain.
“I mean, I could point to a half-dozen throws there that were too aggressive, and I could argue that that’s one of them. I don’t think you want to live doing that.”
This grinning Jesus pervert regrets throwing a touchdown pass. No wonder Adofo-Mensah trashed Kirk to USA Today before this season has even started:
“I’ll be frank. The one asset where you get nervous about not burning it down is quarterback.”
You should be, egghead. Not only is Kirk Cousins my QB, he also apparently owns this team now. The Vikings even brought back his BACKUPS, for fuck’s sake. My team bought a murder house and then insisted on keeping the bodies inside.
What’s new that sucks: Kirk aside, the Vikings had every chance to freshen up a roster that had zero depth and was polluted with expensive, aging veterans. Unfortunately for Adofo-Mensah, no other team wanted any of this biohazard material. So instead, he reworked the contracts of both wideout Adam Thielen (unvaccinated) and safety Harrison Smith (unvaccinated) to make those contracts MORE onerous than they once were. He also had the No. 12 pick in the draft and traded it, at the last second, to Detroit for the right to move 20 spots down and take a safety who still hasn’t cracked the starting lineup. It’s as if Spielman was never fired.
O’Connell brought in defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, who was hospitalized COVID-19 a season ago. Almost like they want Kirk, Thielen, and Smith to finish the job on that poor bastard. They did nothing to fix the center spot, with Garrett Bradbury keeping his job despite being the worst pass-blocking center on the face of the fucking Earth. When you have an immobile quarterback, it’s generally unwise to give defenses the shortest avenue to reach him. And yet, the Vikings kept that little house of straw as is. They used one of their second-rounders in April on a guard who was charged with sexually assaulting two girls when he was 16 years old. Who might have been the driving force behind that decision?
Yep, that’s new senior personnel executive Ryan Grigson, who’s here to render moot any analytical advantage that Adofo-Mensah might have had to offer. Perhaps Grigson can kill Kirk the same way he killed Andrew Luck. Again, fingers crossed.
Elsewhere, the Vikings attempted to paper over their deficiencies by signing a few bargain free agents at guard, defensive tackle, and linebacker. They also imported edge rusher Za’Darius Smith from Green Bay. Smith missed all of last season with an injury, and yet I’m already confident nothing bad will happen to him this time around.
Speaking of bad things happening, tight end Irv Smith missed all of last season, rehabbed, went to his first padded practice this summer, and needed thumb surgery immediately thereafter.
What has always sucked: The fucking statue.
In front of Kirk Cousins’ home, in between a few shrubs, stands a curious tower. No more than four feet tall, it’s filled to the top with stones. Inspired décor? Sort of.
Cousins laughs. “Oh, it’s a little morbid,” he admits, “but it’s a tool my Bible teacher taught me in high school, and I’m carrying it with me… when you have an understanding that life is coming to an end someday, and that we only have so many days? There’s wisdom in that.”
Indeed. Who knew that people eventually die? Not me. I will poison Kirk’s lemonade and then plant child pornography on his cell phone. Fuck him with those rocks.
If any starter gets hurt on this team, they’re doomed. Too many Minnesotans are Packers fans. Matt Birk is a raging cock. Thielen is on the downside of his career and would rather pledge allegiance to Satan than get the jab. Kellen Mond (also unvaccinated) was exciting the day we drafted him and not a day since. Aaron Rodgers is still in Green Bay. The Vikings are one of two things that will get the worst people in some of the worst suburbs in America to come into Minneapolis. The other thing is working in Minneapolis as a police officer. The literal brain damage I have is child’s play compared to the metaphorical brain damage this shithead team has inflicted upon me. I now must routinely hurt myself to see if I still feel.
Ratto says: Former center Matt Birk is running for lieutenant governor of Minnesota on a Republican ticket. Equating Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan is among his more benign offerings. The good thing is that the Vikings never won a Super Bowl during his tenure on their offensive line, so he doesn’t have a power ring to mesmerize voters. Such is the power of the Vikings to create statewide ennui in a football-mad area.
What might not suck: Roster aside, I can’t argue with anything O’Connell has done thus far. I think Kwesi will be a good GM if the Wilfs ever let him be one. Andrew Booth was a bargain in the draft. Justin Jefferson is a god. Ingram is scum but also looks like an absolute stud out on the field. You see how I’m setting myself here, yeah?
HEAR IT FROM VIKINGS FANS!
I think I am finally, finally, actually dead inside enough to not care.
Ever since 1998 it’s been elevated pessimism at best.
What the fuck is a competitive rebuild and why doesn’t it include any actual rebuilding?
We’re now entering Year Five of the franchise leasing to the 15th best quarterback in the league at a top-five price.
Regardless of how different (better) the O’Connell offense is going to be this season, I’m 100% confident that Cousins will still throw three-yard passes on 3rd-and-8. A brilliant game plan is powerless against a man who likes to protect his QBR.
Our former coach hated our QB to the point of sabotaging both their careers. I swear if the freaking Bengals win a Super Bowl before us, I’m going to shove that Gjallarhorn up my ass.
Being a Vikings fan is like being in that circle of Dante’s Inferno where all the sinners’ heads are permanently turned around backwards, so that they spend eternity looking into the past and crying into their own assholes. Every one of this franchise’s most glorious moments are both a) long behind us, and b) always, always tainted by subsequent humiliation.
My girlfriend is a Vikings fan and, through osmosis, I’ve picked them up as my NFL team. Last season was the first I’d actually paid close attention to the team. The first memory I have was in Week 2 against the Cardinals. We were on the road, and the radio team incorrectly announced that the potential winning kick was GOOOOOOOD, before correcting themselves that, in fact, the kick had missed wide right.
Upon this correction, my girlfriend let out a primal yell and nearly ran us into oncoming traffic. Maybe that would’ve saved me from another year of watching this team waste some of the best skill position players in the league before running them off so they can extend their DeVos-educated quarterback.
We hired an analytics GM who immediately gave Kirk Cousins an extension. We hired a head coach whose team was 32nd in scoring offense the last time he was allowed to call plays. Our big free agent additions were an injured pass rusher, a DT whose best quality is that he’s super involved in the community, and a third LB for a team that is almost always going to play nickel. We traded down with TWO division rivals in the first 34 picks so that they could each take WRs who will inevitably burn the safety and corner we eventually took. Despite all of this, I am unreasonably excited for the season based purely on new and positive vibes.
The Vikings haven’t won two playoff games in a row since 1987.
The last championship appearance by any of the four major Minnesota teams was in ‘91 by the Twins. I wasn’t even born yet.
The last time the Vikings made the Super Bowl was in 1977. 1977 was the same year that Elvis died and Star Wars premiered. Joe Biden had already been a Senator for four years. Gas cost $0.62/gallon.
Last I saw of Spielman he was attempting to make TikToks and it wasn’t going well.
I live in Leeds, England. My route to home games is via Leeds airport to Amsterdam and then direct to Minneapolis. 4802 miles in each direction. It is a very long way to travel for my team not to turn up in their own stadium.
The year is 2050. The earth is near uninhabitable as global temperatures continue to rise, causing untold levels of drought and famine. America is reeling from its third civil war in five years. The Tucker Carlson administration has made it illegal for women to show their shoulders and ankles in public. The vice president is literally a gun. The Vikings continue to throw five-yard completions to CJ Ham on 3rd-and-8.
US Bank looks like a candy dish from a Sharper Image in the Mall of America circa 1997.
The day that broke me was during the season they started 5-0 with Sam Bradford. I was driving south 4.5 hours to visit my parents on the coldest day of the year in Minnesota on a Sunday. Visions of drinking beer and watching the Vikings pummel a hapless Colts team with my parents motivated me to get out of bed early and get on the road. About an hour into the trip, a belt under the hood blew on the interstate and I had to pull over on the left side of the road. A two-hour wait lay ahead of me because of how many cars were breaking down due to the cold, so I knew there was no chance I was going to get to watch the game with my dad. At least I had something to look forward to while waiting on my car to get fixed.
Eventually, I got towed to a repair shop. The game was already on in the lobby and the Vikings were losing. I shook my head and said to the only other guy in the waiting room, “They were supposed to win this one!” He just chuckled and said, “Oh were they? It’s been a few years since I followed them.” I explained that they had started off 5-0 against all odds, getting exasperated as I laid out the context for the game. He smiled indulgently and said, “Yeah, I used to be just like you at your age. Get red in the face watching the games, have it ruin my whole Sunday. They just beat ya down until you don’t care anymore.” And it was true: this man truly did not care. He didn’t even pay attention to the game on TV. He wished me luck when his wife picked him up. I hated him at that moment. Or perhaps I just wanted to be him.
Kirk’s probably the best Vikings QB of my lifetime (I’m 32 years old) and I want nothing more than for him and his creepy smile to fuck off to Cleveland or something. I’d rather root for some shitty rookie every other year.
Seeing that oversized jar of private label mayonnaise get sacked is the most excited I get during a game.
We got so much more out of Brett Favre, who was recently exposed as a literal con man, than we have out of Kirk that I would take Brett’s ligament-free ankles back in a heartbeat if it meant I was free from seeing that terrifying smile ever again.
The front office ballyhooed a cultural reset and immediately drafted a player with sexual assault allegations so horrific that I decided to donate money to survivor support groups every time I read, listen to, or watch anything about the team.
If the 1972 Dolphins had simply changed into Vikings uniforms for the year, they would have gone 10-4 in the regular season and lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Because we’re like 1/8 responsible for Senate candidate Herschel Walker, 100% responsible for Lt Governor candidate Matt Birk and will somehow be 110% responsible for the Kirk Cousins Presidential exploratory campaign of 2036.
In 2004, with two weeks left in the season, the Vikings and Packers were tied at the top of the NFC North with 8–6 records. On Christmas Eve, the Vikings lost to the Packers. Three days later, my Uncle Mike died.
My mother passed in spring of 2007, while I was in junior high. My father lost his job that summer and by the fall, our family was homeless and we’d split up to stay with whomever could us in.
During football season, I only saw my dad on Sundays so we could watch the Vikings game together. When they won, the world felt a little less heavy. But when they lost, it made me feel worse about our lives, and it spoiled my only time that week with my father. Fuck the Vikings for always making things worse on themselves and on their fans at the worst times.
I predict we make it three games tops before something so monumentally stupid happens that I start drinking again. I’ll be checked out of the season by the sixth or seventh quarter, like every year.
Now we can watch Kirk throw for 6000 yards, 75 touchdowns, and still go 8-8-1 to keep his perfect .500 winning percentage alive.
Spielman collected seventh round picks the way my six-year-old loves to collect smooth rocks.
Our white people are the whitest in the nation, believe me.
Several years ago my wife and I took a trip to Chicago and decided to get some nosebleed tickets to see the Vikings play the Bears. I was advised by some family members (who last attended a game at Soldier probably 40 years ago) to be careful of wearing Vikings gear to the stadium, or we would be heckled and pelted with beer cans by rabid Bears fans. Drunk Bears fans be damned, I wore my Teddy Two Gloves jersey anyways and my wife her Brett Favre jersey. Yet all we got the entire game were polite looks of sympathy as the Vikes put up six points and got their shit kicked in by Chase Daniel.
One third of the fanbase is MAGA chuds who retweet Lauren Boebert and Matt Walsh every five minutes, one third is comprised of fatalistic wieners like myself, and the other third is a collection of blindly optimistic dupes. There is nothing redeeming about this team or its fans. May we all burn in hell.
Maybe if Kirk had taken the vaccine, some of the mRNA molecules would have altered his DNA into that of a killer NFL quarterback and he’d lead us to a Super Bowl victory. I’d still hate every second of every snap he takes.
Drew has never once in his life Googled how to spell someone’s name correctly. He’s always just taken a guess and hoped for the best. That’s Kirk Cousins levels of unearned self-confidence.
I shy away from the question “who do you root for?” in any workplace discussion. I know the comments it will bring, and I’ve swallowed that pill enough times to know the aftertaste isn’t worth it.
I always start the season with a sense of mild detachment, but my loved ones know quite well that by mid-season, I’ll have drank some, if not most of, the Kool-Aid. I’m destined to have my soul removed from my form every season and I watch anyway. Why? Because I’m dumb and loyal and I refuse to let Minnesota sports stop hurting me.
Fuck Rick Spielman with Blair Walsh’s frozen cleats.
Drew Pearson pushed off.
Last year, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child, a boy. Sometime in the second trimester (possibly after watching the Vikings blow both an overtime win and a tie against the Bengals in Week 1), I had the realization: I could end the cycle of suffering. The line of Vikings fandom could end with me. My son would never have to know the embarrassment of “rooting” for Kirk Cousins. My son would never know the humiliation of being an environmentalist who roots for a team that plays in a building that kills hundreds of birds every year. My son would have no reason to know what an Incredible Whizzinator is. My son would never know the moral conflict of thinking the Love Boat was very bad, but also kind of funny. My son would never have to think about Adrian Peterson. Period. My son would never have to know my shame of being excited that known pervert Brett Favre and convicted rapist Darren Sharper had decided to shun Green Bay in order to get overpaid here. I really thought that I could spare him from these and all of the other horrors of being a Vikings fan.
Cut to December. I’m holding my beautiful, perfect little boy in the post-partum room while my wife recovers from an emergency C-section in the bed next to us. I am watching the Vikings play the Bears. I have forgotten all of my noble aspirations of sparing him from this curse. Fuck the Vikings, but most of all fuck me.
In 2018 I cut off contact with my old man after a lifetime of abuse; physical, emotional and psychological. I finally made the call after he tried to gaslight me about laying his hands on my adult sister after they got into an argument about, of all things in the goddamn world, Colin Kaepernick. He’s a real bag of shit. The only piece of advice he ever gave me that I still re-visit is this: “Son, the only thing the Vikings will bring you is misery. They’ll break your heart every year.” Funnily enough, the last lighthearted conversation we had was about how we thought Kirk Cousins was going to put this team over the top. Well Dad, you can have his vaccine-denying ass.
Fuck the Vikings, fuck me for being the biggest mark in the world, and fuck you old man.
Fuck Gary Anderson, fuck taking a knee, fuck Daunte Culpepper’s tiny hands, fuck 41-donut, fuck Brad Childress, fuck Blair Walsh, fuck Teddy Bridgewater’s knee, fuck Sam Bradford’s knee, fuck 38-7 to Nick Foles, and fuck a supposed defensive genius taking Anthony Barr over Aaron Donald.
Fuck Herschel Walker with his nonexistent degree from Georgia.
Around the time I turned 40, I came to the realization I will surely die without seeing the Vikings win a Super Bowl. You’d think this would be depressing for a lifelong fan, but it set me free. I no longer have to let their ineptitude ruin my week, I don’t yell at the TV or stress about bad play calls and front office blunders. I still want them to win, but I now I can laugh when they blow a late lead or miss a field goal. And you better believe I let out a cheer any time the glorified Wade Wilson they have playing quarterback gets sacked. These days Vikings games are more about three hours of alone time with a bucket of beer than wins or losses. Five stars. Highly recommend.
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