5 Similarities Between Vikings and Raiders
Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr
On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to open their 2022 preseason in Las Vegas against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. While the Vikings will be the last NFL team to play a preseason game, the Raiders were first when they played in the Hall of Fame game against the Jaguars, and the Raiders were victorious. Both franchises have a lot of similarities.
1. New Head Coach
After a tumultuous 2021 season, both teams let go of their head coaches. The Vikings have fired 8-year-old point guard Mike Zimmer. Rich Bisaccia, meanwhile, the Raiders’ interim HC didn’t get the long-term job. Zimmer is currently unemployed. Bisaccia is the Green Bay Packers special team coordinator and tries to fix a bad unit there.
Both organizations have signed a coveted offensive coordinator. The Vikings have hired Rams OC Kevin O’Connell, a first-time head coach. The Raiders, meanwhile, signed Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. He served as head coach of the Broncos for nearly two seasons more than a decade ago. It didn’t end well, as he was fired mid-season. He turned down the Colts head coaching job in 2018 after being announced, which cost him some credibility in the league. However, his name has resurfaced every year since.
McDaniels and O’Connell are tasked with turning average offensive units into elite ones – a real possibility with current rosters.
2. Star Wide Receivers
The teams both employ a star in their team. The Vikings selected Justin Jefferson in the first round of the 2020 draft and used a pick they got by trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills. Jefferson sort of instantly replaced one of the NFL’s best receivers and has been playing at an elite level ever since. The Raiders also gained a special expansion when they traded for Davante Adams in the offseason. The star receiver asked for a trade to his new team and signed a big extension. He has now reunited with his former college teammate at Fresno State, Derek Carr.
Both stars are statistically absolutely elite. Jefferson leads the league in receiving yards the past two seasons, and Adams is second. However, Adams leads the league in the same span in touchdowns, while Jefferson is 10th. Jefferson’s “problem” is that he shares the field with elite red-zone threat Adam Thielen.
Chances are that Adams and Jefferson will once again be among the league’s receiving leaders. Jefferson recently rated Adams the best wide player in the league and said catching Adams was his main goal.
3. Bad defense in 2021
Most Vikings fans consider the 2021 defense bad, but the Raiders unit was arguably even worse. The Raiders were 26th with 25.8 points allowed per game. The Vikings were 24th with 25.1. It’s hard to play winning football with such a bad defense. In terms of yards, the Vikings were much worse, as they allowed the third most yards in the league and the Raiders only 14th.
Unlike the Raiders, the Vikings invested heavily in their defense during the draft. The first two draft picks are defensemen, as are the 4th and 5th. Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, Brian Asamoah and Akayleb Evans all have the chance to contribute early in their careers. The Raiders’ first pick and second-round pick were part of the Adams deal, and the Packers made the picks. Additionally, the Raiders’ top two picks were offensive players when they picked guard Dylan Parham and running back Zamir White.
But the Raiders invested in free agency, as they signed star passer Chandler Jones from the Cardinals. They also signed former Chicago Bears defensive end Bilal Nichols and Baltimore Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett. All three defenders were their most expensive signings.
The four most expensive additions to the Vikings were also defenders. Za’Darius Smith, Jordan Hicks, Harrison Phillips and Patrick Peterson all cost more than the most expensive offensive player, Jesse Davis.
4. Toxic 2021
Both organizations were in a toxic place in 2021. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned mid-season in the fourth year of a ten-year contract after it was publicly revealed that he had sent several e-mails with inappropriate content. On top of that, the Raiders had to deal with the fatal car accident of young receiver Henry Ruggs. He was reportedly speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol. A young woman was killed in the accident.
The Vikings didn’t have to deal with events of the same magnitude, but the mood in the building wasn’t great. Zimmer put several players in his niche and they lost confidence. After Zimmer’s contract was terminated, Kendricks said he didn’t want to play in a “fear-based organization”. Zimmer and former GM Spielman personally disliked each other, which apparently affected their working relationship. Both teams look to a future with hopefully less toxicity in the organization.
5. Good quarterbacks, big contracts
Organizations have quarterbacks that are good but not elite. Even the biggest supporters of Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins wouldn’t confuse them with Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady. However, they are above average starters, and many teams would be happy to have passers of such quality. Both fanbases are torn; some like their interlocutor and others want to chase him out of town.
Both players are among the NFL’s most enduring players. Over the past five seasons, Carr has ranked third in the league in passing yards. Cousins ranks fourth. Cousins also ranks fourth in passing touchdowns. Carr ranks 12th.
The problem with big production in the NFL is that it’s expensive to have. The average salary of current QB offers ranks in both the top 10; Carr is 6th and Cousins 9th. They also rank among the top 10 quarterbacks with the highest hits.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who loves numbers and statistics. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their then-quarterback Christian Ponder. He is a walking football encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms and classic rock is his favorite genre of music. Follow him on Twitter if you like Vikings: @JanikEckardt