Photo: Jonathan Bachman (Getty)

Some people are fans of the Minnesota Vikings. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Minnesota Vikings. This 2019 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: Minnesota Vikings.

JUGGERNAUT

Your 2018 record: 8-7-1. This team had Super Bowl aspirations after GM Rick Spielman, who looks like a televangelist who does vanity HGH treatments, neatly rounded out a roster that had already gone to the NFC title game the year prior (although what happened in that game and its final score escape my memory). He broke the contract mold for QB Kirk Cousins. He got a bargain deal on Sheldon Richardson. He drafted Mike Hughes to spruce up an already loaded secondary. He hired John DeFilippo, fresh off an Eagles Super Bowl win, to call plays. Wherever the Vikings had a hole, Rick spieled directly into it.

It didn’t matter. The Vikings spent all of last season looking very much like an 8-7-1 team. They were banking on two interior linemen, Pat Elflein and Nick Easton, to come back perfectly unchanged after both men suffered season-ending injuries late in 2017. Easton never came back at all, suffering a NEW season-ending injury before Week 1. Elflein had such a bad season that he got fired from centering. The line, as a whole, was a stool sample for the zillionth season in a row. In fact, Football Outsiders kept track of blown blocks for their yearly almanac. Last year’s Vikings blew more blocks than any team, by far, total and per play. They never ran the ball and couldn’t when they tried. DeFilippo got fired midseason. They got destroyed at home by BUFFALO. I watched that game and they fell behind early and I was like, “Oh well they’ll settle down and come back.” No they did NOT. When this team is losing to Buffalo, it’s right at home. The settling down has already taken place.

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Head coach Mike Zimmer’s vaunted Double-A gap blitz defense got so fully exposed by Jared Goff and the Rams that Zimmer had to essentially re-engineer his own defensive philosophy so that LB Anthony Barr wouldn’t end up having to cover a wideout 60 yards downfield later in the season. Cousins fumbled the ball 537 times. They STILL couldn’t kick a fucking field goal. They brought in Dan Bailey to replace the draft bust they originally had at kicker and Bailey went onto have his worst season as a pro. Fuck me in the cleathole.

We continue. Their stud defensive end had a terrifying mental breakdown in September (don’t worry; he came back to play more football later on, which is good for the brain!). One of their star wideouts got into a shouting match with Bill Belichick and lost. Laquon Treadwell, very much not a star wideout, dropped every goddamn pass and Cousins kept targeting him anyway. Spielman eats eggs and peanut butter together, and not in some like cool Thai dish, and he puts on his shoes BEFORE putting on his pants. Hughes’s knee dissolved like a sand castle hit by a light wave.

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The Vikes only beat one team with a winning record. They turned the ball over so many times, only an idiot would think it was just bad luck. Xavier Rhodes had one of his worst seasons as a professional. And, topping off their masterwork with a crown of dried turds, they controlled their own destiny going into Week 17 and fucking BLEW IT by dropping their final game at home to a Bears team that essentially had nothing to play for.

I watched that game from a hospital bed. Yes, I am a Vikings fan, which means all of my petty jokes about all the other teams are just as hollow as my brainpan. Anyway, when I watched the Vikings piss away a Wild Card berth, I was both annoyed and relieved. I was like oh my God I almost died. Life … Life is so very precious to me now. Life MATTERS. Thank god I don’t have to spend three more hours of it watching this team play like fucking dogshit. This team exists to disgust me.

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Your coach: It’s still Mike Zimmer, who gets caught off guard in certain game situations enough times to make you realize he’s probably not gonna get any better at this. DeFilippo’s replacement is former QB coach Kevin Stefanski, but it gets weird because the team ALSO brought in former Broncos head man Gary Kubiak, along with his tag-team partner Rick Dennison. And so Stefanski will be tasked with essentially implementing Kubiak’s offense. Does this sound like a roundabout way of doing things? Welcome to Minnesota, where a dozen silently angry moms have to make two dozen silently angry phone calls just to arrange a hotdish potluck at the Protestant church.

Please keep in mind that while Kubiak does have a Super Bowl title to his credit, that ring wasn’t exactly the result of offensive showmanship. That old Broncos offense was like watching Danish C-SPAN. Kubes will replace Zimmer sometime by Christmas.

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Your quarterback: Human cup of ranch dressing Kirk Cousins, who as Mina Kimes and the rest of the world have pointed out, looks like a normal dude UNTIL he tries to smile:

“Remain calm! ALL IS WELL!”

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That’s what the Vikings offense looks like. They are EXTREMELY nervous to have the ball, at all times. HOO BOY DUNNO HOW THIS IS GONNA WORK OUT, GANG! As someone who has shat on Kirk Cousins for the bulk of his career, I can tell you it’s not fun to be on the other side of that gag. I have, against my better judgment, gone the full homer and taken pains to defend Kirk, even to myself, when he plays his least inspired football in moments that require he summon the precise opposite. He’s got great numbers! The line is shit! If you look at QB salaries since he signed, he’s actually something of a bargain! He has wonderful accuracy downfield! He’ll beat a winning team one day! All you have to do is reply LOL KIRK to me and you’ve already won the argument, and won it handily.

It’s fucking Kirk Cousins. He could throw 50 TDs, and the fourth-rounder in him would still come out right when the Vikings are about to pull a Vikings. This guy would study tape of Tom Brady working the grand opening of a Sweetgreen and yet steadfastly refuses to work on any fumbles he says are out of his control. This team and this galactic fucking dork deserve one another.

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What’s new that sucks: Cousins’s monster contract essentially paralyzed Spielman for the 2019 season. He was able to draft center Garrett Bradbury in the first round to patch the line, but Bradbury’s promise is already undermined by the fact that his taint appears to be the source of the River Nile:

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Great. My team’s quarterback fumbles like Jesus told him to, and now the ball will be coated in a gallon of liquefied, unpasteurized fromunda cheese on every down. The team also extended tight end Kyle Rudolph, who catches six nice touchdowns a year and does little else. He’s a local legend now. They convinced Barr to leave the Jets at the altar and sign an extension, all so Zimmer can continue to misuse him. They fired their gay-hatin’ idiot of a special teams coach, but that’s not gonna make a fucking difference. You can’t just fire black magic. Already, the Vikings expended another draft choice to bring in another kicker. That kicker, Kaare Vedvik, will be killed by a falling stadium panel the first time he attempts a PAT.

Mike Hughes remains on the PUP list. UFA treasure Holton Hill will start the season under suspension. How does this team have 9,000 corners and yet no corners all at once? Put my balls in a Vitamix. Bene’ Benwikere is gonna start 14 games this year. I already know it. Dalvin Cook may never be the same. I wanna move to Poland.

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What has always sucked: Time for me to point out that the Vikings have the sixth highest all-time winning percentage of any NFL team. Fifteen of the top 16 teams on that particular list have won the Super Bowl. Guess which one hasn’t? I can believe that’s a statistical anomaly but, well now, I’ve talked myself into Kirk Cousins, haven’t I? I am a big gullible shithead, and the Vikings are here to draw in lumbering imbeciles such as myself with superficial victories and nothing more. They belong to Minnesota for this very reason. People from Minnesota are friendly mainly as a way of figuring out what exactly it is that they hate about you. And so it’s very easy for them, and for me, to hit it off with this team at first, and to then spend DECADES nurturing the ensuing, private resentment. I wish this team had never been born.

I enjoy my weed from time to time, as all good Americans do. And I know when my high is wearing off because, and I swear this is true, I start thinking about the Vikings when it has happened. One second my fingers and toes are tingling and I feel like I’m being lifted into the SKY. The next, I’m back to pretending I’m Zim in a preseason presser, marveling at Irv Smith displaying so much maturity as a rookie. That’s when I know I need another hit. Come January, I’ll have a new collection of shitty memories to drag my ass back down to sobriety anytime I’m feeling nicely toasted. This team is my weather. Never let it be yours.

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What might not suck: In my life, the Vikings have only had a contender season (12-plus wins) when people predicted them to be average. Right now, their over/under betting line stands at nine wins, which is a bit above average. But it’s still average enough for me to forget the OTHER fact that in my life, this team only has a contender season once a decade, and that they end that season humiliated in the NFC Championship.

HEAR IT FROM VIKINGS FANS!

James:

The most disappointing thing that can happen will happen.

Alex:

I’m 100% certain the Browns will win a Super Bowl before the Vikings.

Brandon:

My brain: “Hey they were pretty good last year! No wait, that was two years ago.”

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Adam:

Because our vapid whitebread QB has a higher Sleep Number than QB rating in meaningful games.

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Paul:

Kirk Cousins earned $5,235 per passing yard in 2018.

Matt:

Anthony Barr has the mobility of Steve Bannon.

Mick:

Madden 20 rated our long snapper as the “toughest” player on the team. Granted, he lost a finger and kept playing, but goddamnit.

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Daniel:

Looking through a comments section for Vikings logo avatars is a great way to identify local white supremacists.

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Grant:

My father is 63 years old and hasn’t seen the Vikings in a Super Bowl since he was 21 and Gerald Ford was President.

One of my groomsmen bought me a Nate Poole jersey when I got married. Fuck that guy.

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Nate:

My heart has been broken since Antonio Freeman.

Jake:

My dad predicted the Gary Anderson miss, and gloated in our sad faces when it came true. Told us to never trust “those bums.”

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Tyler:

The last likable players this team had were Teddy “Two-Gloves, One-Knee” Bridgewater and Chris “If you’re mean to me I’ll write a blog post about you” Kluwe. Kill me now.

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David:

A large percentage of the fanbase supports Zimmer because he’s a crank who spews tough guy rhetoric, but the reality is he’s a defensive coordinator with no clue how to handle the two other phases of the game or a running clock at crunch time.

Kirk Cousins is what would happen if Joel Osteen could throw a spiral.

David:

Kirk Cousins will beat one team with a .500 record this year and we will extend him for another 5 years at 50 million a year.

This is a town that will still cross nine streets if they see a non-white person on the horizon who doesn’t happen to be the ghost of Kirby Puckett.

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Jordan:

Here’s a list of all the teams that have been to a Super Bowl more recently than Minnesota: Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Green Bay, Indianapolis, LA Raiders, LA Rams (first time in LA), LA Rams (second time in LA), Miami, New England, New Orleans, NY Giants, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington

At some point you just have to stop fucking caring, right?

Ross:

The last time the Vikings went to the Super Bowl, the original Star Wars film was not yet released. Elvis, Bing Crosby, and Charlie Chaplin were still alive. The last person to be executed by guillotine in France happened 8 months after the Vikings made their last Super Bowl appearance.

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Kelly:

I have had sex - from foreplay to orgasm - that took less time than it takes Kirk Cousins to release a pass.

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Jon:

This year’s Final Four was held in Minnesota at the Vikings stadium, and included our QB’s alma mater.

He was booed every time he was shown on the Jumbotron.

I partook.

Dan:

I’m glad you survived your brain explosion back in December, because if I have to live with this bullshit team, so do you!

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Iver:

I would trade Cousins for Paxton Lynch’s hair follicles alone. The Vikings highlight of last year was the Double-Doink. I’ll probably die a Vikings van, which is the hardest I can ever be owned by my dad.

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Carly:

The Bears possessed the ball for over 38 minutes. 38 MINUTES!!

Brian:

8-7-1 is the perfect record for this team. Just good enough to keep you watching the game, but not good enough for you to get angry when Cousins gets sacked on 3rd-and-8 to lose the game.

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Andy:

Honestly I preferred the Metrodome. Nobody pretended it wasn’t hideous and at least it had a smaller footprint.

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Mark:

For all you fantasy football players out there, here’s a tip: THIS is Kyle Rudolph’s breakout year. Definitely.

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Greg:

When they first signed Cousins, my immediate response was “Herschel Walker without the picks traded away.”

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Rich:

Kirk Cousins is what would happen if Steve DeBerg had sex with a DVD copy of God’s Not Dead. 

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Andy

My neighbor has an ‘88 Chevy Conversion van with “Deport Omar Ilhan” stenciled on the back.

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John:

Minnesotans, even the self-imagined cool and worldly people in Minneapolis, only want to hang out with the people they’ve known since elementary school. Minnesotans don’t have the processing capacity to make new friendships after the age of 12.

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Tyler:

Is this going to be the year of “Ohhhh this team is good, watch them shit their pants in the playoffs,” or the year of “ohhhh this team should be good, watch them shit their pants all season”?

Our one-eyed anachronism of a coach can’t keep an offensive coordinator around.

Sam:

If Laquon Treadwell and Donald Trump have taught me anything, it’s that it’s possible to get your dream job despite having none of the required skills for said job.

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Aric:

Everything about this franchise, and Minnesota sports in general, appears to be precariously built atop a sand foundation that also happens to be the house from Poltergeist.

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Bitter Bear:

I let them hurt me for thirty years. Now I’m just a shell of a man living his life of quiet desperation who’d rather paint the kitchen or wash his car than watch the Vikings on Sunday.

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Matt:

This team is fully responsible for every single bit of baggage Minnesotans have about... everything. Vikings PTSD spills over into almost all other Minnesota sports. The Twins are having a great season. Can anyone actually ENJOY it? No.

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Josie:

On November 18, when the Vikings ended up losing to the Bears, I was getting so angry watching the game that I got up, left the living room, and read a book the rest of the afternoon. it was delightful. Is that what normal, happy people do on Sundays?

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Bryan:

My dad was a hardcore Oilers fans and he was perplexed as to why I suddenly loved the Vikings. He would make comments here and there about how odd it was. Then one day we were watching football, a Vikings game (probably Monday Night Football) and I was going crazy cheering the Vikings and waving my towel and all that. Suddenly my dad just bursts out “WHY THE FUCK DO YOU LIKE THE VIKINGS? YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO MINNESOTA! CUT THIS SHIT OUT!” Neither of us said anything else the rest of the night.

It was around this time that my dad started to stay gone for long periods of time, at first a weekend and then a week and eventually he was gone for good. He never talked about where he was or why, all I had to rely on was my mom bad-mouthing him. I’m not saying the Vikings caused this, but they certainly didn’t help. Fuck this team.

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Chris:

Our baseball team has had a top 4 MLB record all season, all Todd from Blaine can talk about is our ailing secondary and whether Cousins can turn the corner (he won’t).

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Noah:

Vikings seasons are like David Lynch movies. For a moment there’s a moment of hope that this will have a happy ending but the season ALWAYS concludes in the most fucked up way possible.

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Sam:

Bills fans were taunting us in our own damn stadium. My wife and I agreed to leave at the beginning of the 4th quarter because we could get a head start to picking up the kids and driving four hours back home, and at that point I’d have rather watched a box of puppies get thrown off a cliff.

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John:

1. The team is built on defense but gives up a billion points to competent offenses

2. The team signed a high priced free agent QB who set franchise records in every category but was blamed by the fans for not making the playoffs. But no one thought to draft an offensive lineman for the past 10 years.

3. The helmet is the best in the league. The purple pants for the road game are the worst.

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Ted:

We just drafted a first round offensive lineman for the first time since Matt Kalil. I’m sure this will work out great.

We’ve missed our window in the division: the Bears are suddenly good with the addition of one player, the Lions have a running game for the first time in almost 30 years, and the Packers finally got rid of McCarthy. We’re screwed.

I got my dad a Vikings t-shirt that says “Just One Before I Die” since he’s rooted for the team since their inception. He’s in great health, but I don’t think he’s going to make it.

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Jeffrey:

This team brings the absolute worst in this state together at games, which is why I’m loathe to attend one despite my fandom of 35+ (Jesus Christ what am I doing with my life) years. It’s a “Strange Bedfellows” potpourri of:

-Douchebag Untuckit Hockey Dads and vapid Wine Moms from the second ring

-Southern/Eastern/Western suburbs who will arrive in 80K Suburbans festooned with decals from Eaglebrook Church and their kids’ soccer clubs

-Randy and Tammy, MAGA turds from the northern suburbs who have a pickup truck value that exceeds their home value and took money out of Braedyn and Kymlynn’s college fund to renew their season tickets but “aren’t sure” if they’re going to still support the NFL if players keep kneeling (note: Randy and Tammy are exactly like their other suburban kinfolk here, they’re just more upfront about it)

-Soulless KFAN groupie losers who travel to places like Las Vegas to watch their morning radio show and want to show you the selfie they took with “MeatSauce”

-Slednecks from the exurbs who still rock chinstrap beards and have custom Vikings jerseys with their nickname on the back, who “went to Anoka-Ramsey for a year” but it “didn’t work out.”

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John:

I hate other Vikings fans. We’re legitimately bad people. Earlier this year, the Vikings Instagram passed on the post from Kirk Cousins celebrating the birth of his new baby. The Vikings Social Media Manager had to lock the comments.

Plus, you’ll never see more people bend over backward to defend child abuse than whenever Adrian Peterson is brought up. Wouldn’t you know, all of the adults who were hit by their parents in childhood have since internalized that they, in reality, deserved those beatings as children and it helped make them into the people they are today, who right now are unable to regulate their feelings of anger and resort to calling you a snowflake cuck on the internet for saying it’s bad. Fuck Adrian Peterson and fuck all of the people who try to marginalize the fact that this Greek God of a professional athlete beat his 4-year-old with a tree branch so badly that his genitals bled and scarred. Adding to this, he never once demonstrated remorse. EVEN LAST YEAR he gave an interview saying he still disciplines his kids by hitting them with belts and tree branches. Nope, he was the true victim in all of this. I already know the Vikings Organization is going to bring him back for some halftime celebration and he’ll get a standing ovation as he’s inducted into the Ring of Honor or whatever.

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Andy:

I had just turned 13 years old in 1987 and had really committed as a young fan to the Vikings, watching nearly every game that strike-marred season. Then Darren Nelson dropped the ball and the season was over. I still remember the utter shock and dismay that the playoffs, and the entire season, could be over and done that suddenly and completely.

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Chris:

I would like to thank the Minnesota Vikings for being so historically frustrating to root for that it gave me the opportunity to dump football once and for all. I no longer need to have internal debates about supporting a shitty league that destroys its players from the inside out, because even if I did return, it would be to watch this fucknugget of a football team that is scientifically engineered to curate the purest blend of raised expectations and soul-crushing defeat.

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Stephen:

I don’t care how many offensive coordinators you have at the same time, we’re destined for an 8-8 year. I live in Kansas City. I could have cheered for the wunderkind, Patrick Mahomes. But no. I’ll be at the November game. Miserable. Getting screamed at by Chiefs fans (the worst fans in the AFC), as Patty picks our award winning defense apart.

I can’t even enjoy the surprising Twins relevancy, because my love of Minnesota sports has completely broken me for experiencing joy. My wife explains away my constant skepticism to strangers with. “Well, he’s a Vikings fan,” and it’s always invariably greeted with, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” IN KANSAS FUCKING CITY.

Hey, that new tight end might just be the boost we need though.

FUCK.

Sam:

Take one peek at Vikings Twitter to see what they’re bitching about today. We’re in the heart of summer and every time I log on, I’m greeted with a new argument about which part of the team actually sucks the most. These people spend hours a day pissing and moaning about how fucked the squad is, and we aren’t even to training camp. It’s an unrelenting crusade to feel shitty about our favorite football team. We’re not happy unless we’re unhappy.

And the justifications are always evolving. Each time the Vikings make an improvement to the roster, a dozen dipshits will emerge from the blogosphere and tell you why that new thing that you, an idiot, thought was good is actually bad. A statistically productive quarterback? Well actually, none of that stuff impacts the game. If you take a look at these cherry-picked stats I’ve formulated into a convoluted chart, you’ll see that we’d be better off with this rookie who was drafted at the end of the third round and can’t actually throw that well. Excited about Dalvin Cook? Running backs don’t actually matter anymore. You’d be better off investing in a fourth-string tight end. Have you signed up for PFF Elite yet?

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Robert:

It’s good to know, going into this year, that the Vikings have no chance of success. I can instead spend my Sundays this fall doing the shit that matters, like organizing previous years’ tax documents, or cleaning my grill implements. I know this because even if their ghastly offensive line improves somehow, it will only further demonstrate what a pus-chugging clown fraud Kirk Cousins is. More time in the pocket for that guy means more time to stand in the pocket looking for the one big play that doesn’t exist before being strip/sacked.

Last summer I got married, and, during the course of the wedding weekend, I was mentioned in connection with the Vikings in not one, but two separate speeches, including the best man speech. This was clearly intended as an intervention of some kind.

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Stephen:

Kirk Cousins is the epitome of Vikings-ness: somewhat competent, bland, incapable of adjusting or being creative, mostly empty statistics, an inability to elevate to the moment. We went 8-7-1 and he was still in the top 5 of just about every offensive category all-time for the Vikings.

Even if we would have made the playoffs, since, somehow, it was still a possibility at week 17, I’m sure whomever was kicking would have quintuple-doinked a game winning 20-yard field goal, or booted it off the referee’s face and into the opposing team’s hands for a touchdown. It’s written in stone at this point.

Defense has been Mike Zimmer’s calling card for decades, but last year we let Josh Allen look like the offspring of Michael Vick, Randall Cunningham, and Brett Favre.

Our GM had a grand strategy of bringing in an OC that wanted to throw the ball more than a spitball-era pitcher would jibe with our old-school, “run the ball down their throats” philosophy of our head coach. To the surprise of no one, it didn’t end well.

Adam Thielen is from Minnesota. So is CJ Ham. And Brandon Zylstra! Ask any Minnesotan and they’ll be sure to tell you this.

Laquon Treadwell’s hands are made of frozen steaks. Dalvin Cook is talented but fragile as uncooked spaghetti.

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Emma:

Dave Ryan, who has been a morning show host on our pop radio station in the Twin Cities for 27 years, frequently has human toilet brush and psychic Gary Spivey on his show. One time a caller asked Gary if the Vikings were ever going to win the Super Bowl and his response was no because Super Bowl IV took place in New Orleans. During the pre-Bowl festivities, some higher up in the Vikings franchise (I can’t remember if it was a coach or executive) had sex with a Voodoo Shaman’s daughter. He said the Voodoo Shaman was upset and cursed the Vikings franchise for the rest of time.

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Sam:

January 17, 1999, was a brutally cold day, and my dad and adolescent me were listening to the NFC Championship Game in the car on the radio waiting in a parking lot so my mom could hang out with the terrible dude with whom she was having a rather open affair. Gary Anderson lines up for that final field goal, after making every single ghat damn one that season, and my dad mutters “Yeah, he’s going to miss this one”, as calmly as you please. He never believed for a minute during that game that the Vikings were going to make the Super Bowl. Of course, Gary misses the posts, and my dad was proven right. I thought that maybe someday the Vikings could rise above their perpetual disappointment, but I can now never expect anything better that what happened that day. Don’t get too excited because people will always meet your lowest expectations.

My dad never complained about his chronic illness, his crappy marriage, the crappy passive-aggressive xenophobia that comes with being a non-white immigrant in Minnesota, the North Stars moving to Dallas, the Vikings being stupid, having to work every single day of his life since he was 11 while being essentially disabled. Even all the way to the end when he died in pain, he didn’t complain, he just sobbed quietly because he wouldn’t be there anymore for my brother and me. My life has been considerably better than my dad’s, but I stick with my Vikings fandom because it reminds me of his stoicism and it was something that we always could talk about. I miss my dad intensely, and fuck the stupid fucking Vikings.

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