Prior to 2018 training camp, Full Press Vikings released two prediction pieces called “What Will Go Right” and “What Will Go Wrong.” Now that the 2018 season is officially in the books, let us take a look back at how those predictions fared.
Prediction: Cousins first 4,000-yard passer in almost a decade
Debate as you will about Kirk Cousins‘ true value as a quarterback. Arguments on all sides are valid. But Cousins put up numbers exclusively on paper that rival any Vikings’ quarterback ever, and can only truly be matched in the modern era by 2009 Brett Favre.
Prediction: Mike Hughes’ defensive role will be smaller than hyped.
Result: Technically correct, but not in spirit
In the end, we were right in that Mike Hughes‘ overall impact on the season was minimal. However, the spirit of the prediction was off. Hughes’ injury was the reason for his relatively inconsequential season. When he was healthy, Hughes played and played a lot, far more than most rookie corners under Mike Zimmer. He picked up the slot quickly, and performed well early on. He filled in on the edges well when starters were hurting. While he obviously still has a ways to go to be a full-time starter, everything about Hughes’ short-lived 2018 season was promising.
Prediction: Cook will contribute over 1,700 yards from scrimmage
Dalvin Cook fell well shy of this total at just 920 yards from scrimmage, though very little of that can be attributed to his performance. Cook missed five games with injury, which hurt his total. But more impactful on his numbers was the overall dearth of a running game in John DeFilippo’s offense. Cook averaged 4.6 yards per attempt this year, but shy of 56 yards per game on the ground. He was not nearly the factor in the pass game as he should have been, either. 173 touches in a season for someone as good as Cook is inexcusable, even with the injury. The numbers are an indictment of the offense far more than of Cook.
Prediction: Line will allow more sacks than in 2017
This one was hardly a bold prediction. The 2017 Vikings line was average, but had a better veteran presence and guys playing their true positions. Case Keenum has always been an excellent pocket guy, while Cousins is one of the worst. 40 sacks this year versus 27 last year honestly seems closer than it should have been.
Prediction: Diggs, not Thielen, will be leading receiver (but both will go over 1,000 yards)
Result: Half Correct
Adam Thielen ended up with 352 more yards than Stefon Diggs and had an historically great start to the season, so we missed on that aspect of it. However, Diggs did in fact go over 1,000 yards for the first time, so we hit on the prediction of both breaking that barrier.
Prediction: Daniel Carlson will not (immediately) solve kicking woes
The “(immediately)” qualifier prevents us from taking a victory lap on this prediction, but this line from our original piece was on point:
“…for 2018, Carlson is as likely to leave Vikings fans shaking their heads as he is to be the position’s savior.”
Prediction: Vikings’ defense will finish top-three in scoring and yards per play yet again
Though the defense was not poor by any means, they did not replicate the elite performance of 2017. Zimmer’s crew ended up ninth in scoring defense and fourth in yards per play this past season.
Prediction: Lack of pass rush depth will hurt down the stretch
This one is debatable, as the spirit of the initial prediction was more with the postseason in mind. In 2017, the Vikings’ lack of depth came to fruition more in the playoffs than the regular season, as the starting front seemed gassed against Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game. However, this year, the Vikings finished third in sacks with 50, Danielle Hunter became a star, Stephen Weatherly broke out as a solid number three and the Vikings were an effective blitzing team. At the end of the day, the defense was not the problem at any level.
Prediction: Defense turnover numbers will improve dramatically
As good as the Vikings’ defense has been the last two years, they still are not much of a takeaway team. In 2017, they ranked 23rd with 19 takeaways, and this past year they finished tied for 16th with 20. And thanks to a more turnover-prone offense, they dropped from 12th in differential to 19th.
Prediction: Vikings will finish no better than the three seed
The prediction still had a playoff Vikings team in mind, but by the letter of the law, the Vikings finished worse than the three seed. That said, this line from the original piece is not exactly a ringing endorsement of our predicting ability:
“[The Vikings] are still on the shortlist of teams to watch in January.”
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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