There are still four days before the Minnesota Vikings host the New York Jets, but the franchise doesn’t sound optimistic about Christian Darrisaw’s Week 13 status.
Darrisaw is the NFL’s third highest-graded offensive lineman through 12 weeks per Pro Football Focus, only trailing Trent Williams (49ers) and Chris Lindstrom (Falcons). The second-year tackle is even on track for Pro Bowl and All-Pro status.
But concussions in back-to-back games may derail those marvelous distinctions, especially as Darrisaw’s timetable to return is unclear. Chris Tomasson from the Pioneer Press tweeted on Wednesday, “Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said Christian Darrisaw still in concussion protocol. There is no timetable on his return.”
And O’Connell is generally an upbeat talker, finding a positive spin on players’ injuries. For him to drop “no timetable” lingo suggests Darrisaw’s stay in the NFL’s concussion protocol will persist.
While the news is disappointing for Darrisaw, the team, and Vikings fans, the decision favoring caution is wise. Overall awareness regarding concussions has increased in the last decade, departing a territory of “playing it through it” that was often prevalent in the first 90 years of professional football. Too, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was “rushed back” from a probable concussion earlier this season, and in a nationally-television spot, Tagovailoa was concussed again, creating a mortifying situation.
It seems teams, players, and coaches have learned from the Tagovailoa ordeal, a positive enhancement for the sport. Fans must accept post-Tagovailoa that a concussion is no longer a week-long detriment — it could dabble into multiple weeks and even months.
In Week 12, the Vikings created a productive pass-protection gameplan sans Darrisaw, inserting Blake Brandel into the lineup. Brandel was nowhere near as proficient as Darrisaw, but he didn’t look lost — and actually performed quite well.
This week’s foe, the Jets, ranks fifth in the NFL per defensive sack percentage, sacking opposing quarterbacks on 8.52% of all dropbacks. Brandel will again get tested, like his experience with Bill Belichick’s Patriots on Thanksgiving.
Minnesota is also trending toward welcoming Dalvin Tomlinson (DL) and Akayleb Evans (CB) back against New York.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).