Stefon Diggs was right, Kirk Cousins is good, and we’re all happy!

Just three weeks ago the Vikings were 2-2, Stefon Diggs was calling out his coaching staff, Kirk Cousins couldn’t throw the ball and things were looking pretty grim. Oh, the wonders a three-game winning streak can do for a team and a fanbase!

Stefon Diggs was right

After not reporting to practice for a non-injury related absence Diggs offered an ominous statement for the media: “The space that we’re in right now, definitely, it’s a lot of questions. I can’t stand up here and act like everything is OK, because it’s obviously not. What I can say is, at this point, I’m just trying to work through it.”

Diggs had only 12 targets in his first three weeks, resulting in six catches, 101 receiving yards, and one touchdown. His frustration with his lack of usage was justified, but no one really expected the Minnesota-loving Diggs to have an outburst like this.

Hindsight now shows that not only was Diggs right, but he may also have actually helped motivate offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski to rethink his run-only offensive scheme. With the number of offensive tools in the passing game, it only makes sense that an offensive that is balanced between run and pass would succeed over a one-dimension approach.

Cutting Kirk Cousins loose with Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Olabisi Johnson, Irv Smith Jr., and Kyle Rudolph to match Dalvin Cook and Alex Mattison on the ground was what was needed by the Vikings. Diggs has since gone 23/30 for 461 yards and three touchdowns. Man, it’s good to have the old Diggs back!

Kirk Cousins is good

In the past three weeks, Kirk Cousins has looked like the promising guy we signed out of Washington a few seasons ago. He’s been mobile, he’s disguising the run game, he’s bootlegging his ass off, and he’s throwing the ball. With the tools on this team, the Vikings don’t need Brett Favre to make the offense tick, and a more unpredictable game plan has confirmed this with Cousins tearing up the opposition.

He’s gone for 300+ yards in three straight games totaling 976 yards and a TD/INT ratio of 10/1. Against the divisional opponent Detroit Lions, we saw Diggs get the lion’s share of targets, Olabisi Johnson get his first career touchdown, CJ Ham record his first receiving TD, Rudolph get back in the endzone, and Adam Thielen catch a highlight-reel TD before exiting with a hamstring injury early in the game. All thrown by Cousins.

He’s got that “you like that?!?” swagger back and is leading his team on the field. With a newly designed game plan from OC Stefanski, Cousins has impressed in the past three weeks.

We’re all happy!

The Vikings defense took a game off against Marvin Jones Jr. and we still got the win on the back of the Cousins-led offense! Not bad! It’s always important to grind out wins when you aren’t playing your best, learning a lesson along the way while not dropping another divisional game. Rest assured, as well, Mike Zimmer will be laying into his defense after this last game.

The critics and self-doubting Vikings fans will say “yeah well look at the teams the Vikings have played in the last three weeks, do it against Green Bay and then we’ll talk.” To that I say, we can only play the teams that are on the schedule. No amount of hate will deflate this win streak, and derail the momentum gained by the Purple and Gold. Things are moving in the right direction right now and we should all be happy.

In two days and two tweets, I am fully backing Kirk Cousins again

A worrying start to the season for Viking’s QB Kirk Cousins had the Minnesota faithful a little uncertain about the season. But, following a big win, the unpredictable QB has won me over with two tweets.

Who saw a 38-20 win for Minnesota in their Week 6 matchup? No hands I see, well me either. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Kirk “bootleg and dump off” Cousins dropping back and passing deep (-er than 5 yards), disguising the run game, and getting wantaway Diggs involved as much as possible in the first drive of the game.

The win was extremely important for the Viking’s playoff hopes and puts them at 4-2 on the season. The credit has to go to Cousin’s execution on the day, completing 22/29 throws for 333 yards and four touchdowns on the day – a stat line that would have seemed impossible from him a few weeks prior.

The first tweet that has me back on his side is NOT his video thanking the fans for being so loud and impactful in the win over the Eagles. While it was great to see him acknowledge the faithful supporters and probably jab at his doubters too, it was a much more simple tweet that warmed my heart…

A day before a pivotal game in a short season Kirk Cousins is busy looking up at the sky and appreciating the early October snowfall. It’s precious and adorable and humanizing; is this guy our QB or does he work at Home Depot during the week like a regular Joe and just loves watching the season change in his time off?

The second tweet is much more serious. Addiction comes in many shapes, sizes, and severity for me and Kirk Cousins, it’s the Office:

And pie, I guess. I do love a good pie so I can totally appreciate the excited response to a bar of pies being wheeled into the practice facility. I wrecked a few pies this weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving myself. I never know I had so much in common with the QB of my team, but here we are.

After a holiday Monday (a legit, unmarred one up in Canada), I am full of pie and reveling in the glory of a thumping of the Philadelphia Eagles, reinvigorated and trusting my QB again. With the divisional Lions up next I sincerely hope Kirk hasn’t doubled down on too much dessert on his off day.

The Rival Sports Podcast Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right?”

The Rival Sports Podcast is back for Episode 23 and we’re talking more NFL football. The NFC has flip-flopped and we’re now living in the upside down, players legs are falling off, the AFC North is all but settled, and kickers inexcusably suck now.

In Episode 23 Adam and Al are joined by special guest and friend of the pod Ben who sheds some light on this weeks NFL action and give his personal take (as a former kicker) on why everyone but Justin Tucker sucks. Plus we chat about the Eifert puke-inducing ankle break that Redzone didn’t prepare us for, and Earl Thomas shooting his team the bird while getting carted off.

Listen to “Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right” on Spreaker here!
Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Google Play, and be sure to check our archives.
This episode includes:

  • Vikings discussions on whether they’re the real deal anymore
  • Packers talk on crushing the Bills, showing patience with Devante Adams as a number 1 WR in the NFL, and rejoicing in Aaron Jones’ early success
  • Are the Bears really good? and will the Lions ever be good?
  • Earl Thomas obviously breaks his leg and makes it a contract issue while Le’veon Bell can’t help but comment on Instagram on the issue
  • Tyler Eifert has a great game but then his foot pretty much falls off to end his season
  • The Browns and Steelers go quietly into the night as the Bengals and Ravens are in the driver’s seat for the division
  • And we end by discussing kickers in the NFL making their jobs so much harder than it has to be

The Rival Sports Podcast will be posting new NFL episodes on a weekly basis. Please subscribe on iTunes and Google Play to keep up to date on all of our podcasts!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter:
@therivalsports
@HollandGregJ
@Adamsmiiith
@Alex_the_rival

The Rival Sports Podcast Episode 22: The Bakery is Open!

The Rival Sports Podcast is back for Episode 22 and we’re talking more NFL football. The good teams are losing, the bad teams are winning, and nothing seems to make sense anymore in this wildly unpredictable league.

In Episode 22 Adam and Al are in shambles after their teams, the Vikings and Packers, can’t seem to figure it out, ceding the early divisional lead to the Chicago Bears. New England and Jacksonville follow the NFC North’s suit and let a long-shot team take the divisional lead after two shocking losses, and Greg gives a rundown of the Week 4 edition of #3InOut – who to bring IN and who to kick OUT of your Fantasy Football lineup.

Listen to “Episode 22: The Bakery is open” #Bakeryisopen on Spreaker here!
Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Google Play, and be sure to check our archives.
This episode includes:

  • Baker Mayfield impressions and expectations moving forward as the starter and savior in Cleveland
  • Green Bay and Minnesota forgetting that they’re good teams
  • Pats losing to the Lions, inviting more questions about the team’s quality, while the Jags go toothless in field goal loss to the Titans
  • Saquan Barkley is good
  • Fitzmagic keeps his job
  • and finally, the AFC North is an unpredictable mess… and we love it!

The Rival Sports Podcast will be posting new NFL episodes on a weekly basis. Please subscribe on iTunes and Google Play to keep up to date on all of our podcasts!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter:
@therivalsports
@HollandGregJ
@Adamsmiiith
@Alex_the_rival

You Like That!? Vikings Sign Best Available QB, Swap With Broncos

Not since the blue jean wearing, colour swapping patriot Brett Favre traded his Packers green for Minnesota purple have the Vikings seen such a successful year, as far as quarterbacks are concerned. Case Keenum and Sam Bradford combined for an unlikely duo to take Minnesota to the Divisional Championship round, and gave the fans something to cheer for outside of Adrian Peterson for a while now – so why change it up?

The change is revolving around all three Viking’s quarterbacks – Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, and beloved Teddy Bridgewater.

Bradford is set to sign with the Arizona Cardinals after not getting extended by the Vikings. He had two games under his belt before getting injured this season, in maybe the most unsurprising news of all time. Bradford was a panic buy after Bridgewater’s offseason injury two years ago (now), but the team is right to move on. He is too unpredictable, even with his high upside.

Bridgewater, after exploding his knee in a non-contact injury so bad he had his teammates crying and asking “God Why??” Bridgewater played in his first game in nearly two seasons for Minnesota. It was garbage time in a 34-7 win over Cincinnati and despite his stat line reading 0-2, 1 INT the Vikings faithful were collectively cutting onions, seeing their ‘QB of the future” under center again. Now likely to join the New York Giants, Bridgewater has been passed by from teammates and coaching staff and has lost out on two major years in his career. Ah, what could have been.

Case Keenum, a likely candidate for the franchise tag in Minnesota is also not going to be moving forward with the Vik’s after the most surprising performance in the 2017/18 season. He was sensational and most importantly consistent for the entire year. After rookie running back Dalvin Cook dropped with a season ending injury in week 4 many thought Keenum would come back down to earth – wrongo.

Keenum peppered receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen down field, while feeding the running back duo of Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray at a steady pace. Despite the unforgettable season, including The Miracle in Minneapolis, I think the Vikings are right to move on from him. It seemed like the bubble would pop all season, and it took until the divisional championship game to do so, but his success seemed so unlikely I’m still not convinced he could do it again.

So who is going to replace this entire QB staff? How about the most prized free agent in the 2018 off season.

With the first fully guaranteed contract in NFL history, former Wsahington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will lead the Vikings onto the field in 2018. With the deal reported to be near $90 million over three years, Cousins is cashing in on his gun-slinging QB style and I am FIRED UP.

With a 27/13 TD to INT ratio, Cousins lives and dies on his arm. Minnesota is a strong pick simply because of their team construction. They are elite on defense, have two all star receivers, a dynamic young running back, and are looking to improve on an already improved offensive line. Cousins will thrive in purple and improve an already strong favourite to go deep in the playoffs again next season.

Oh yeah, Minnesota is also “finalizing” a trade with Denver to pick up Trevor Siemian as  a backup quarterback. Unless injury strikes Siemian is nothing more than a backup, but I won’t hold his lackluster 2017 season in Denver against him. After a good start to the season the entire Broncos team fell off a cliff and into the bottom of their division.

Regardless of last year’s success I love the attitude of the Viking’s front office – if you can get better, do it. Rick Spielman, GM of the Viking’s is all in, and it about damn time for Minnesota to win something.

The Origins of My West Ham Obsession

So here it goes – maybe an explanation for why I’ve been so fixated on a foreign team, in a foreign league, playing what to us is a foreign sport.

For anyone who follows my personal Social Media accounts, my writing about West Ham United has been constant, if not annoying. But, for me, the Premier League is something that is hard to explain – a sort of cultural tide that grabbed me and pulled me out to sea. As those close to me know, I am an avid Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, and Minnesota Vikings fan (I’m coming around on the Raptors too). What West Ham is for me has turned into a bizarre obsession, on a different level than my other North American teams. So let me try and explain why.

Waking up from a crippling hangover at the hands of my two University roommates, I had just enough energy to get my bedding into the washing machine before collapsing back on my bare mattress to comfortably regret the night before. From a previous Leaf game, my television was on a local sports station and when turned on was showing the walkouts of West Ham hosting Hull City.

Due to my condition, I couldn’t reach the remote to change to something soft and soothing, so I instead doubled down on the game-winner was my team. West Ham comfortably cruised to a 3-0 win on January 15th, 2015 and I was hooked.

Since that day I haven’t missed many matches, a strong feat considering the very limited T.V. coverage in Canada, but I made it my mission. I went all in on West Ham United, and I have no intention of dropping the shield with the crossed hammers – my promise to never drink again that I made that same morning has not been kept.

A history lover by choice and educational trade means two things: I currently don’t work in my field, and that I dove headlong into the annals of West Ham history. This only fueled my love for the team further. Learning of the Thames Iron Works origins of the team, and the blue collar attitude that grew from that tradition made me even more content in my decision to support the team.

West Ham were an oxymoron to me; Playing the gentleman’s game, with crunching tackles and an unapologetic attitude to get physical, win the ball, and put in a shift.

The team’s rich history of varied players was also an attractive feature. England and West Ham captain Bobby Moore is synonymous with the club, and his international career and composure he added elegance to East London. Then you get the likes of Julian Dicks – The Terminator. The man often possessed in competition, would put body on the line and smash the opposition in order to win.

For me, having visited East London recently for my first ever match, it is now a life long commitment. Is it easy? For love of the team yes, for access to streams and broadcasts, maybe not. Is it worth it? Undoubtedly. Community is something to be valued, and despite how the current situation of the club may taint things, the West Ham family is still strong, and I am proud to be a part of it.

 

Come On You Irons!

-Adam