At first glance, the question posed in the title of this post seems a bit silly.
Will the Minnesota Vikings play their starter in the 2022 preseason?
Well of course they will, right? The traditional NFL approach changed somewhat with the transition from four preseason games to three last year, but when it comes to those 2nd and 3rd preseason games we’re sure Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Daniel Hunter, Eric Kendricks, and a handful of others. How they prepare for the season, how they perceive the pace of play emotionally and physically after a long offseason. Many would say it is essential to prepare for an NFL season.
Not Shawn McVeigh, and that’s where the situation becomes a little more interesting.
Paul Allen made the point on his show on KFAN this Monday morning that Shawn McWay’s visit doesn’t include a precision snap for Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsay, Cooper Coop and most of their other starters to prepare for a season. That was a whole lot of offense for quarterback Bryce Perkins because he led the team to pass and run in the preseason and pushed them to a 0-3 preseason record.
But McVeigh didn’t pay attention and either Rams did.
Despite a lack of in-game preparation for starters, the Rams still ran out of the gates and started the season 3-0, pushing 12-5 in the regular season and eventually making a run to win the Super Bowl 56.
If you haven’t already, it may be that the new head coach for the 2022 Minnesota Vikings, Kevin O’Connell, is from the Sean McVeigh Coaching Tree. And since this is his first year of coaching, there’s no basis for how similar or how different he plans to run things here in Minnesota.
To date, O’Connell has clarified some of the differences that we can expect between his philosophy and McWay, but there is still much that we do not know, if we do not reach a certain point in the process, something with pre-season philosophy.
So what do we think? Do the Vikings Need Play their starter in the preseason?
There are clear arguments for both sides, most of which come from their playing side because that’s what we know best so let’s start from there. This roster didn’t have a ton of turnover, but there is always something. An advantage can be sought by playing alongside your teammates and knowing their tendencies. It is widely displayed in the passing game on the offensive side of the ball. Timeliness between the quarterback and the receiver is essential and there are aspects that can only be felt at full speed. Jefferson, Thilen and Osborne all have some relationships with cousins that will move on by 2022 but it is Irv Smith Jr. who is recovering from a knee injury who could benefit the most from Precision Representatives.
On the defensive side of the ball, the addition of J’Darius Smith, the departure of Anthony Barr and the switch from Base 4-3 to Base 3-4 all argue for some pre-season representation for the Vikings’ defensive starters. But can they get it through extra and full speed delegates at OTA, minicamps and training camps?
And then there’s the rumored joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers. The “events” that will occur during this joint practice until the second pre-season game can almost be seen as an unofficial fourth pre-season game. These are all recorded for the film, they are isolated across all levels and more importantly players are more likely to go at full speed when they face a new face and an out-of-town opponent at that stage of the race.
At the end of the day, O’Connell and Quessie already have a plan. Like all coaches and GMs, plans may vary based on the level of progress they make towards those pre-season games in the camp.
If I were to guess, we would see a hybrid philosophy where delegates exist, but may be more limited than we are accustomed to seeing. There are two away precision games this year and only one home precision game.