Vikings running back Dalvin Cook showed the world what he can do on Sunday at Green Bay. He showed his head coach skills that reminded Mike Zimmer of an all-time great tailback.
“[Cook has] got such quick feet and acceleration,” Zimmer said earlier this week, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “He runs hard, and runs physical. He’s a good leader. . . . I guess Emmitt [Smith] was a lot like that. Really good feet, quick accelerator. Powerful runner. Good vision.”
Smith had another important trait: Durability. And that, frankly, has been the missing element for Cook through 3.5 seasons.
Perhaps Cook has just had bad luck. Perhaps he will indeed become more durable as he enters his prime. He worked through a groin strain that looked serious at the time in only three weeks, returning for a career day against Green Bay.
Zimmer and his staff also deserve credit for listening to Cook. He explained to PFT after Sunday’s win that, following the opening drive of the game, Cook conferred with running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu and offensive line coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison regarding the things that Cook believed would work. They listened to Cook, they adjusted the approach, and Cook continued to run through and around and over the Packers’ defense.
Cook’s effort will have been wasted if the Vikings lose this weekend to the Lions, when former Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen returns to Minnesota for the first time as a member of the opposing team.
“Great player man,” Cook said regarding Griffen. “I practiced against him for three years. There’s so much he that taught me as a man and as a player. I got a lot of respect for Griff. . . . I think this game is gonna be fun and exciting and I can’t wait for it on Sunday.”
Vikings fans who thought 1-6 was inevitable but who are now considering the realistic prospect of 3-5 and then maybe 4-5 (Bears) and then maybe 5-5 (Cowboys) and then maybe 6-5 (Panthers) and then maybe 7-5 (Jaguars) before entering a December 12 showdown with the Buccaneers surely can’t wait for it, either.