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Will Klint Kubiak be changing the playbook?
— Franklin Doherty
Thanks to Franklin for leading us off, and this one requires a multi-layered answer. To start, Klint Kubiak is now the Vikings offensive coordinator after spending the past two seasons as Minnesota's quarterbacks coach.
He takes over a role his father, Gary, held for one season. Gary Kubiak was also a heavy influence on the Vikings offense in 2019 when he was an advisor and Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was then the Vikings OC.
So how will the 2021 Vikings offense look under Klint Kubiak? Here's what he said earlier this month about putting his own stamp on the unit now that he's calling plays:
"I think if we don't evolve then we'll be left in the dust. That's every team in the NFL, always trying to find ways to evolve your scheme and trying to make yourself less predictable," Kubiak said. "And that goes, this time of year is a heavy self-scout time of year and studying other teams, but certainly we don't want to be rigid. We want to be open to growth just so we can produce on Sunday."
To Franklin's overall question, the answer is no in that the overall scheme and playbook will not change. The Vikings will still rely on Dalvin Cook in the wide-zone running scheme that sets up play-action passes and bootlegs that best incorporate Kirk Cousins' strengths.
But could Kubiak tinker with the offense a bit to possibly increase the pass-to-run ratio than what we've seen in recent seasons? Absolutely.
The Vikings ranked 29th in the league in 2019 by passing on 51.7 percent of their offensive plays. They actually threw the ball more in 2020, likely in part to trailing in more games, and finished 27th with a pass percentage of 54.3.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Vikings pass percentage was a little higher in 2021 for a few reasons. For one, the duo of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson means Cousins has a pair of established top-end receivers.
Plus, with Cook amassing a hefty 312 carries in 2020, Kubiak could be creative in finding other ways to get him the ball rather than just handoffs.
That's a long way of saying that while Minnesota's overall offensive scheme is expected to generally be the same in 2021 as it was in 2020, perhaps we see some modernized wrinkles now that the 34-year-old Kubiak is in charge.
There are all kinds of opinions on what Vikings should/will do in 2021 draft. I feel as though a trade down in the first round would be OK to pick up a pick in the second round. But after that, I think Rick Spielman should package a number of remaining picks to attain additional second and third-round picks. The team is getting younger and won't have space on roster/practice squad for another 8-10 mid-to-late round developmental players. We have to get at least one offensive & defensive lineman capable of starting this year … as well as a safety that can fill in this year and start by next. There is a time to draft quantity, and a time for quality. The Vikings are in need of immediate starter players at key positions.
— Dale Kruse in Decorah, Iowa
Dale lays out a good point, and one that other Vikings fans have also echoed in recent weeks.
Minnesota currently has 10 draft selections (not including compensatory picks) as of Monday morning. That haul includes a first-rounder (No. 14), a pair of third-rounders (Nos. 79 and 90), plus a trio of fourth-round selections.
And, that's certainly the draft capital needed to up, down and around based on how the board shakes out once we get to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Remember the Vikings went heavy on quantity in 2020 with an NFL seven-round record of 15 picks. (And I'd argue there was plenty of quality there, too, with how Jefferson, Ezra Cleveland and others played).
But perhaps this is the year when the Vikings go with more quality picks and end up with only seven or eight selections, rather than the 15 we saw a year ago or the 12 picks the Vikings made in 2019.