Two years ago, then-rookie running back Dalvin Cook was having an Adrian-Peterson-as-a-rookie-style impact on the Vikings. A non-contact torn ACL got in the way of what would have been a special season.
Now, Cook is healthy and, somehow, even better than he was as a rookie. In his third straight 100-yard game of the year, Cook performed like a man among boys, constantly cutting and twisting and bursting his way to more and more yardage. With uncanny explosion, he zips through the line and disappears into the second level, and beyond, on almost every single play.
For the season, Cook has a league-leading 375 rushing yards — and he’s averaging 6.6 yards per carry. That puts him exactly on pace for 2,000 rushing yards. And, yes, he’s good enough to do it.
At some point, defenses will overcommit to stopping him, although it may not matter. But what that will do is create even more chances for a passing game that has Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, eventually establishing the kind of pick-your-poison offense that the Vikings haven’t had since 2000, the year of the Four Norsemen of the Apocalypse — Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Robert Smith, and Daunte Culpepper.
Still, those Vikings passed to set up the run. These Vikings need to run to set up the pass. Or run to set up more running.
With Cook and high-end understudies like Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone, the Vikings may be able to do it. Given the presence of a defense far better than any defense the Vikings had in the golden days of Randy Moss, maybe this could be a team that wins big games during the regular season (starting next Sunday at Chicago) and, eventually, multiple games in the postseason.
As long as they make the running back and not the quarterback the focal point of the offense, it’s not such a far-fetched possibility.