The Minnesota Vikings host the New York Giants on Saturday for a Christmas Eve tilt, and coming off the craziest comeback in NFL history, they are still flying high. Dalvin Cook had a bit of everything in that contest, but if there’s a game he should be excited about, it’s this one.
When he takes the field as Minnesota’s starter on Saturday, Cook will have generated a new career high. As a professional, Cook has never played 15 games in a single season, but that will no longer be the case come Saturday. As a reward for his health, he’ll get the opportunity to start against arguably the worst run defense in football.
The good news for Dalvin is that while center Garrett Bradbury looks like he’ll remain out for another week, star left tackle Christian Darrisaw is back and healthy. The Minnesota line has improved this season, and plenty of that starts with the blind side bookend. Cook will look to rack up yards against a hapless Giants unit, and they’ve been allowing opposing rushers to do it against them all season.
Cook hasn’t ripped off a 100-yard game since Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills, and you have to go all the way back to Week 8 for the only instance he’s done so during regulation this year. That’s not to say the former Florida State product hasn’t been close. Cook finished last week with 95 yards and has generated at least 90 yards in three other contests as well. The difference this season has been notable, however.
Big Things Cooking for Dalvin Cook
The Vikings starting running back is down more than 15 yards per game over his total last season, and he was more than 100 yards to the positive on the season through 13 games last year. Despite an offensive-minded head coach in Kevin O’Connell, Cook has not translated the new scheme and opportunities into greater success. His attempts per game have tailed off, some of that due to game flow, but plenty more is in relation to his own production.
Last season, Cook had games with 131 and 140 yards, which followed a 2020 campaign where he routinely topped the century mark while going for 206 yards against the Detroit Lions. To say that Cook has yet to have his benchmark game in 2022 would be putting it kindly. While he’s continued to be one of the better backs across the league, that primarily reflects his athleticism and homerun-hitting ability.
Over the years, we’ve seen Cook be somewhat of a rhythm back. As he gets settled into a game, he can find the edge or break one up the middle on a few plays in a row. This year he has looked far more like former Minnesota great Adrian Peterson. The description would be piling up shorter ones before ultimately breaking one off. The lack of success or yardage totals is due to multiple games where the big one never comes.
Following last week’s contest against the Colts, Cook should feel some momentum. He busted a long run before an untimely fumble, and great vision and acceleration helped him find the end zone on a screen pass. Against a Giants team that begs to be picked apart on the ground, Cook should certainly be licking his chops.
It’s more than apparent that Minnesota’s offense thrives through the air this season, but Cook setting up additional opportunities for Kirk Cousins and the passing game is something everyone should get on board with.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.