Why Cooks’ Injury Won’t Affect The Vikings

Dalvin Cook
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 14: Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

During a game against the 49ers, Dalvin Cook suffered a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum. Cook is expected to miss a few games, with the Vikings hoping he’ll be healthy for a playoff run. Dalvin Cook has proven to be a great offensive weapon for the Vikings, but this isn’t the first time he’s missed time. The Vikings are a very capable team without Cook and his injury will have little impact on the team moving forward. Let’s take a look at why his injury won’t have a serious impact on the Vikings.

The Strengths of their Back-Ups

Minnesota might have one of the strongest and most underutilized running back corps in the NFL. Alexander Mattison has proven to be elite when Cook is absent. Mattison has ran for over 100 yards twice this season, when Cook had an ankle injury earlier this season. He also ran for over 100 yards in a week 5 game last season, when Cook was injured. The Vikings also have a newcomer in Kene Nwangu. Nwangu has shown amazing speed this year, with 2 kick returns for touchdowns. Here’s his most recent one against the 49ers.

Mattison and Nwangu both have starting potential. With Cook out, it’s their time to shine.

Their Identity is Changing

Mike Zimmer’s team has historically been conversative and focused on running the ball. This past 3 weeks however, the Vikings have looked like a whole new offense. They have been aggressive passing the ball and it’s won them 2 of their last 3 games. What’s more telling is Justin Jefferson’s stats this season. When Justin Jefferson has over 100 yards, the Vikings have won the game. Adam Thielen and KJ Osborn have also been great this year. Osborn’s overtime reception to win a game against the Panthers speaks for itself.

The Vikings are a pass centered team now with an elite receiving corp. On this sort of team, who the running back is doesn’t really matter as long as they can pick up yards.

Cook Hasn’t Been Elite This Year

Dalvin Cook is currently sixth in rushing in the NFL. Compare that to last year’s season, when Cook finished second in rushing yards. This season, Cook has been noticeably less explosive on the field. He’s not gaining as many yards and he’s not making as many big plays. Through week 13, Cook has only 3 games with over 100 yards. Last year through week 13, Cook had 5 including one with over 200 yards. Cook has still been excellent for the Vikings, but this season he hasn’t been the same difference maker that he was in the past. Considering that, his injury may not have that big of an impact on the Vikings.

They’ve Done This Before

Dalvin Cook has been a difference maker for the Vikings, when healthy. The issue is, Cook is constantly injured. Cook has missed time every year he’s been in the league. The Vikings have been forced to learned how to operate their offense without Dalvin Cook. Usually, Cook missing time doesn’t affect their ability to make the playoffs. In 2017, the Vikings made the NFC Championship without Cook. In 2019, the Vikings sneaked into the playoffs without Cook. Dalvin Cook arguably had his best year in 2020. The Vikings missed the playoffs entirely in 2020. This team has proven over and over they can win without Dalvin Cook. Cook has very little impact when he’s out, considering his injury history and the Vikings playoff record.

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