The new Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator made a simple decision to make Dalvin Cook the backbone of the offense in a win over the Miami Dolphins.
For weeks, the hot topic revolving around the Minnesota Vikings has been trying to figure out what happened to the team’s offense.
What was a top-10 unit during the early part of the season, the Vikings’ offense had imploded since the team returned from its bye week. Coming into their matchup with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Minnesota had been held to under 300 yards of total offense in three of the past four games.
This past week, the Vikings did all they could to fix that side of the ball. Minnesota fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Tuesday and they talked all week about how they wanted to simplify the offense under his replacement Kevin Stefanski.
While all the schemes and screen plays couldn’t help the Vikings’ offense get out of its hole, Stefanski had a telling quote leading into the game against the Dolphins.
"“We have a great staff and we have good players and to steal a line from Pat Shurmur, ‘It’s about the players, not the plays.’ It’s something that we are going to work on this Sunday and let it go.”"
That quote hinted that Stefanski wasn’t going to re-invent the wheel, but instead get Minnesota’s playmakers on offense more involved. If there was one Vikings player (or aspect) that had been underutilized in recent weeks, it had been running back Dalvin Cook.
After a strong start to his rookie campaign, Cook has been struggling to find his form from an electric four-game stretch. His sophomore campaign had a wrench thrown into it with a hamstring injury, but even after returning, Minnesota had only given the Florida State product 14.8 touches per game.
It’s clear that this took issue with Stefanski, who decided to feed the beast from the opening bell on Sunday. With help from an offensive line that was providing holes large enough to drive a truck through, Cook would help extend the Vikings lead to 14-0 with a 13-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Minnesota was effective on the ground the rest of the game against Miami, including a 18-yard touchdown from Latavius Murray that helped expand the lead to 21-0 and the team plowed ahead for a season-high 220 rushing yards.
Cook was the catalyst for this approach as he turned his 19 carries into 136 yards and added a 27-yard reception to boot.
With Minnesota trying to ice the game after a late Dolphins comeback, Cook would put the game away with a spin move reserved for Madden en route to a 21-yard touchdown. Thanks in part to the running back’s efforts, the Vikings came away with a 41-17 victory on Sunday.
Moving forward, Stefanski would be best served to do what DeFilippo promised to do, but couldn’t. Get Cook out in space and let him do what he does best.
With Minnesota facing one of the NFL’s least impressive run defenses in the Detroit Lions next week, the Vikings’ hopes of a late season run should continue to be put on the back of Cook.