The game kicked off with tremendous energy as the Vikings, led by Jaren Hall, swiftly advanced down the field during a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown. Following this offensive display, it was the defense’s chance to shine. On the third play of the game, Brian Flores orchestrated a blitz tactically disguised by a densely packed defensive front. As the linebackers skillfully retreated into coverage, Jay Ward aggressively maneuvered around the edge, colliding with Clayton Tune and forcefully dislodging the ball, which was promptly recovered by the Vikings. Without delay, in the subsequent play, the Vikings capitalized on the turnover by scoring another touchdown, surging ahead with a commanding 14-0 lead against the Cardinals. A long-awaited taste of thrilling preseason football was finally at hand! Every aspect seemed to be favoring the Vikings, marking a potential return to their first preseason victory since the era before the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the course of the preseason took an inevitable turn. Once the initial euphoria waned, Vikings enthusiasts were confronted with the subsequent two-and-a-half hours of lackluster, unappealing, and markedly subpar pre-season football characterized by weak pass-blocking and uninspiring play.
Nonetheless, the passage of time has brought us to this point. In a mere two weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will visit our own Minnesota Vikings for what promises to be an exciting encounter. This forthcoming event is highly anticipated! As we eagerly await the Tampa Bay matchup, let’s take a look at the final installment of the preseason Stock Market Report.
Blue Chip Stocks
Jaren Hall – Hall’s performance in this game was actually quite impressive, and his consistent improvement over the course of three games leads me to believe he deserves recognition as a preseason standout. One particular play stood out during the afternoon: just before halftime, Hall adeptly maneuvered within the pocket and delivered an impeccably accurate pass to a tightly defended Proehl. This wasn’t his only instance of threading the needle that day. I’m optimistic about witnessing further development from Hall, whether he remains on the roster or is assigned to the practice squad.
Jay Ward – Ward delivered an outstanding performance. His impressive stats speak for themselves: he secured eight tackles, notched one sack, registered one tackle for loss, recorded one pass breakup, and delivered one quarterback hit. His pivotal sack and forced fumble materialized on the Cardinals’ third offensive play, directly contributing to a 14-point lead for the Vikings. The question arises: how many safeties will they retain?
The “First Team” Offense – Right from the opening drive, this group exhibited exceptional cohesion. Hall effectively distributed the ball, Reagor displayed a remarkable level of dominance (oddly reminiscent of a first-round pick), and McBride showcased impressive speed. A contribution from Nick Muse added to the momentum, resulting in a strong offensive start. However, once these players exited the game, the narrative took a different turn.
The Defensive Line – The defensive line demonstrated commendable pressure and effectiveness in run defense. Collectively, they secured one sack, generated four quarterback hits, deflected a pass, and notched two tackles for loss. Remarkably, most of these contributions originated from the interior, an area that will require support from rotational players throughout the season. The performance of the defensive line was notably encouraging.
This being the ultimate preseason game, players are earnestly vying for spots on the team. I won’t be handing out any low-quality ratings for this game. (Although, Greg, you’re certainly testing my resolve.)
DeWayne McBride – For the first time this preseason, McBride displayed genuine potential, albeit against a lineup of third-string players. His participation in today’s game suggests that his position on the roster is uncertain, even though he only had a limited number of series on the field. Additionally, he contributed a tackle on special teams, a role he would probably fulfill if he secures a spot on the roster. Currently, I perceive McBride as a candidate for the practice squad; nevertheless, he did deliver a commendable performance on Saturday.
Buy – The initial series on both offense and defense provide a glimpse of what awaits in the regular season. The captivating moments from the opening minutes of this game are likely to escalate to a higher level in a couple of weeks. The offensive strategy was well-executed, effortlessly advancing the ball, while the defense exhibited creativity and effectively executed a disguised blitz. This is exactly why this team is poised to be an engaging watch throughout the season.
Sell – The remainder of the game mirrors what we might encounter in the regular season. And then, in typical Vikings fashion, it all dissipated. Just when things seemed promising, the Vikings (especially the offense) vanished. Although last year followed a similar pattern repeatedly, I don’t anticipate a repeat of that narrative this season. Kevin O’Connell’s focus during the offseason has been on innovative offensive play-calling, aiming to apply pressure through versatile personnel usage. If successful, the defense will face greater challenges in adapting to the offensive strategies, resulting in sustained drives. Brace yourself for another heartbreak this season, right?
Buy – Anticipation for another thrilling season is warranted. I’m genuinely excited about what this season holds. The range of potential outcomes is vast, but I’m all in for the journey, and you should be too. We can only hope for a repeat of last year’s abundance of nail-biting close games.
Sell – The Vikings might fare worse than last year in terms of their record, but I don’t foresee an overall regression in the team’s performance. With the additions of Addison and Oliver on offense, along with Kevin O’Connell’s second year at the helm, improvement is expected. The defense’s infusion of youth and the leadership of a decidedly better coordinator suggest that the Vikings could be a superior team with a potentially worse record this season compared to the previous one.
That concludes the preseason Stock Market Reports! I’ll reconnect with you in two weeks. Feel free to share your own stock evaluations in the comments below.