Lunchbreak: NFC North QB Crew Named League’s 3rd-Best

According to CBS Sports’ Sean Wagner-McGough, “the state of quarterback play in the NFL has never been better.” He wrote:

Not only did the 2018 season result in the highest average passer rating in the history of the NFL – 92.9, which beat out 2015’s 90.2 passer rating – the way in which that league-high passer rating was achieved was remarkably diverse in terms of age, styles of play, and distribution among the divisions.

Wagner-McGough said it wasn’t easy to rank the NFL’s eight divisions by their current starting quarterbacks, but he took a stab at it. He looked at last year’s performance, projected 2019 performance and their cumulative careers as criteria.

The NFC North was ranked third overall by Wagner-McGough, who then ranked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins second within the division behind Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. He opined that “what the NFC North has going for it is balance,” with all four teams led by talented passers.

Wagner-McGough said that Cousins has received harsher-than-necessary criticism for his 2019 campaign that was “in reality, pretty OK.”

He threw for 4,298 yards and 20 more touchdowns than interceptions even though he was playing behind a bad offensive line. Since he became a full-time starter in 2015, he ranks fourth in passing yards and eighth in touchdown passes. There’s a reason why so many considered the Vikings to be Super Bowl contenders when he signed with them.

[…]

He’s still good. It wouldn’t be surprising if he improves in 2019 with a new offensive system that should be tailored around his strength (play-action).

Cronin: Vikings extension of Rudolph sends message

The Vikings on Tuesday signed tight end Kyle Rudolph to an extension ahead of his ninth season in Purple, once again securing one of their original draftees.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin said the deal speaks volumes about Minnesota’s mentality heading into the 2019 campaign. She wrote:

Rudolph is the third core veteran the Vikings retained this offseason when financial limitations felt like they would lead to dead ends. Keeping defensive end Everson Griffen, linebacker Anthony Barr and now Rudolph shows the belief this franchise has that it can get back to where it was in 2017, when this team reached its highest heights under this ownership, front office and coaching staff, standing one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl.

These moves support the notion that this team feels it can get back to the NFC Championship Game with the group that got it there two years ago. The next question to be answered and ultimately judged the harshest is whether the same group that lost 38-7 to eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia can win the thing this time around.

Cronin said that “what the Vikings want to do offensively cannot happen without Rudolph on the roster,” pointing out that the addition of second-round draft pick Irv Smith, Jr., will enable Minnesota to utilize multiple-tight end sets.

Smith and Rudolph are completely different; one does not make the other obsolete. Keeping both of them, especially with the roles tight ends have played in [Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor] Gary Kubiak’s offenses before and the concepts that [Offensive Coordinator] Kevin Stefanski has voiced a desire to employ regularly, was critical for the success of this unit.

View images from the Vikings first minicamp practice on June 11 at TCO Performance Center.

Thielen to speak with local entrepreneurs in Fargo, North Dakota

Vikings minicamp will wrap up Thursday, and the team will then enjoy a break before returning to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center for training camp.

While it’s likely that Adam Thielen will take a little time for R&R, he’s first traveling to Fargo, North Dakota, to inspire and encourage local entrepreneurs. The receiver will speak at 1 Million Cups on Wednesday, June 19. Carissa Wigginton of INFORUM promoted the event, writing the following:

Thielen will take the stage to talk about his journey to the NFL and how it led him to launch the Thielen Foundation, a newly formed nonprofit he and his wife, Caitlin, started in 2018, and their plans for the foundation moving forward.

The event will be held at The Stage at Island Park from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m., and is free and open to the public. There will be seating for 380 people and standing room available.

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