I’m going to jump straight in here. I can’t be the only fan who has found this whole week, one of the most frustrating weeks I can remember. We’ve has the NFL and NFLPA investigations clear us of wrongdoing in the Tua concussion situation, yet we’re still taking hits for how it was handled. We have people calling out Coach McDaniel, after just 5 games and some extremely difficult circumstances. We had Teddy Bridgewater taken out of the game on the first play, with no signs or symptoms to justify it. We have endured evidence of multiple QBs more banged up than Teddy remain in their respective games. And on top of this we sit 3-2 after an embarrassing collapse against the Jets.


And I can’t help but worry that this could get worse. As much as we loved what Skylar showed us during pre-season, we saw last week what you get from an under-ready, 7th-round rookie QB3. With all signs pointing to a Skylar Thompson start this Sunday, going against the 4-1 Minnesota Vikings, I can understand why we won’t be considered as favorites here. But this team has overcome adversity before, and as they say… on any given Sunday…

So when previewing THIS particular Sunday, I was privileged enough to sit down with Shawn Syed (@syedschemes) from The Daily Norseman to talk everything Vikings, and all with this Sunday in mind…

Yo Shawn, thank you SO much for coming on to be part of this series. I love this series and getting to interact with the NFL community week on week and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with you this week. But for those who haven’t seen your stuff before, talk to us, introduce yourself.

Hey John-Mark! Thank you for having me man, love the idea for the series, long may it continue! So, my name is Shawn and I write for The Daily Norseman, which is SB Nation’s Vikings outlet. I grew up playing football, have always loved the game, and been around coaches, and am on Twitter @SyedSchemes where I go through all 22 film across the league with the goal of simplifying the complexities of the sport. My oldest brother started the Twitter account in 2015, and him, our middle brother, and I all bond over the roller coaster that is the NFL.

Woah, you’re full naming me this early?! Don’t let people behind the curtain mate haha! What about your Vikings then eh? That’s some team you’ve got yourselves. A fantastic 4-1 start and some exciting, electric players throughout the roster. Is this the start your expected or has it clicked faster than anticipated?

A 4-1 start with 3 divisional wins is on the higher end of what Vikings fans could have hoped for to start the season. Things are still coming together with a new offensive and defensive coordinator, but winning close games with late drives where fans are used to heartbreak is a breath of fresh air. It is also encouraging to see the team win without yet having reached their offensive or defensive ceilings. Despite the hot start, the Vikings still have a long road ahead with three divisional road games later in the season, and tough teams like your Dolphins, the Bills, and the Cowboys on the schedule. I try to be cautiously optimistic, but 4 wins looks so sweet right now!

I’m sure it does, and do you know, heading into last week I fully expected to be in a similar position ourselves. With wins against the Pats and the Bills already in the books, I was fully expecting that we got that same 3 divisional wins ourselves, which would have also put us at 4-1. Alas, that wasn’t to be and our unfortunate circumstances have been played out for the world to judge. That said, we play some of our best football when we are the underdog, so people can continue to overlook us and we can get back to making them eat their words.

How about yourselves, do you feel people overlooked yourselves coming into the season, and have you seen any shift in that over the first five weeks?

The Vikings went into the season with a Vegas over/under win total of 9.5. That was a fair number given that the Vikings were seemingly cursed in one-score games and had a new coaching staff coming in. That perception is starting to change after multiple last-second victories and an epic double doink field goal. Even with close victories and small margins in the wins this year, I do think the media at large is starting to take the Vikings seriously as a threat to win the division.

Ah OK, so you feel there is a perception out there of you guys getting lucky in those tight situations? And a perception from within the fanbase that it’s about damn time you guys got your share of that luck haha! But you have some exciting players man, Jefferson and Cook in particular are household names now, so I’d expect there to be more respect when talking about the Vikings. Kirk Cousins too! I saw that stat that had him 17-17 last week and he was putting on a QB show with how he was working the football. Yet he’s so often talked down by other fans and media. What do you guys think? Can he lead you to success this year or is he as limited at some people suggest?

I like Kirk Cousins on the field because he seems to understand what sort of player he is. The coaching staff also appears to be on the same page with him. Kevin O’Connell has put Cousins in good situations, and Cousins has generally executed the game plans presented to him. The Vikings’ offense has a lot of talent but Cousins has also made some clutch plays late in games. He is only five games into a new offensive system, and I do believe that he can continue to improve as he becomes more comfortable and lead the Vikings through a strong season.

Yeah I guess that only adds to my appreciation of him. He’s achieving all this with a brand-new system and staff. You only have to look at how Russell Wilson is struggling to adapt to his new situation to recognize how hard that is. So as a fan of a team who has their QB underappreciated time and again, I can fully empathize with the Vikings fan base in that respect.

What about the new additions? How are they contributing to this strong start?

The Vikings built a decent amount of their defense through free agency. Za’Darius Smith, Patrick Peterson, Jordan Hicks, Chandon Sullivan, and Harrison Phillips are all new Vikings on the defensive end. The Vikings’ special teams is littered with talented rookies like Brian Asamoah and Jalen Nailor. The team relies heavily on veterans that we all know and love, but the team is an interesting mix of established players and potential for the future. It has been encouraging to see all three units have success at different parts of the young season. In time, the Vikings hope to put it all together for complete victories through offensive domination, opportunistic defense, and sound special teams.

I’ve been reading about Brian Asamoah this week! Our special teams have been painful at times this year and to hear of his dominance in that unit, he could be in for a field day this Sunday. I love it when players like he can forge themselves a role like this. Kader Kohou is an undrafted free agent on our roster who is doing similar things with his opportunity. I love these kinds of stories.

We are sat 3-2 and feeling deflated and underwhelmed after two difficult losses and an injury report that stretches the length of South Beach. Is this the kind of season you expected from the Miami Dolphins? How does the Vikings fanbase see us? As the team that lost to the Jets, or the team that beat the Bills?

I was very excited about the Dolphins coming into the season between Mike McDaniel and a very talented receiving group. I am a firm believer in the Shanahan offense and I was happy to see McDaniel have such a high early down pass rate to start the year. It is unfortunate that injuries have hobbled the Dolphins’ hot start, and at this point in the week, it looks like Skylar Thompson will be handed the reins to start the game. I am sure Mike McDaniel will have a great plan for the game, and Thompson did impress in the preseason, but it is hard to be scared of a team with multiple stars injured and a third-string quarterback. This is, however, the NFL, where records mean nothing and the ball bounces a different way each week.

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Skylar WAS impressive in pre-season and that is what gives us that glimmer of hope. Last week didn’t go well for him and there is no hiding from that. The ball left his hand poorly, he made poor decisions and held onto the ball far too long at times, but that could be down to a lack of prep with the starting unit and the unexpected circumstance that essentially had him playing the entire game. Hopefully, he is more prepared in game plan and in his mental state this week, to get out there and start this game, and hopefully show us the kind of play his exhibited in Pre-Season.

But if he doesn’t scare you, who does? Who are you guys most concerned about on the Dolphins roster?

Did you know that, according to a brief google search I just did, the common dolphin is the fastest marine mammal with a swimming speed of up to 37 miles per hour?? I have no idea if that is actually true, but the Miami Dolphins are FAST. We don’t know if Tyreek Hill will be playing this week, but Jaylen Waddle will keep fans sweating as his one-play touchdown ability can shift the balance of a game in an instant. The Vikings offense should feel confident facing the Dolphins’ defense. What may scare the Vikings, though, is if the Dolphins give heavy pressure looks and the Vikings’ Wide Receivers have trouble getting open against man coverage. The Vikings showed a better ability to deal with man coverage the last few weeks, but the blitz is stressful for any team to deal with.

Imagine my surprise that Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are the names that pop up here. I find myself talking about these players week after week. I am hoping that after some serious preparation time with Thompson, that these two can get in sync with him and help him get cooking. Waddle especially, I just acquired him in my fantasy team (Let’s Go South Ribble Ravens!)

It’s interesting that you talk about the blitz here too, because that is the source of so much confusion for us this year. We went from having a scary pass-rush scheme last year to having a blunt and ineffective one this year. Ogbah doesn’t seem to be rolling, neither doe Jaelen Phillips. Melvin Ingram has had a veteran impact no doubt, but our scheme of bringing our safeties in hot seems to have been nullified or just surrendered. And you are right, getting to the ball before it leaves the backfield could be a crucial aspect this weekend, I just worry about our capabilities to do so.

One of the names we’ll have to stop in this way is Dalvin Cook, the Miami boy coming home to play here for the first time. But we know all about him. Who do we NOT know about? Who are we not talking about who could cause us problems?

I am so glad you asked because this is my moment to stand on my proverbial stool and tell you all about my favorite player on the Vikings, Dalvin Tomlinson. Tomlinson plays defensive tackle and wears number 94. I know, I know, not the most common favorite player for a team that has Justin Jefferson griddying in the end zone. Tomlinson is a key player for the Vikings defense as he takes on double-team blocks, beats offensive linemen routinely, and allows the defense to stay in a two-high structure. Tomlinson is unselfish, plays with great technique, and will be important in stopping whatever shenanigans Mike McDaniel draws up. I hope you all point him out each time he pushes through a wave of Dolphins blockers on Sunday!


Exciting defensive tackles wearing #94?!? We have even more in common than we realized my friend. One of our constant positives and one of the most consistent players in our roster is our own #94 defensive tackle, Christian Wilkins. He is finding ways to have an impact and is becoming more and more of a leader as the days go by. So I get you man, more so than maybe you’d expect.

But before we get to predictions, I have to ask about our main man, our most controversial, opinion-splitting guy, our QB1, Tua Tagovailoa. I get that he won’t be playing this weekend and we haven’t looked even close to the same team without him. But just for a second, let’s take concussion out of the conversation and let me know as a football player, what do you guys make of QB1? Can he get back to that pre-injury form, or have we seen his season peak already?

First and foremost, I hope Tua gets healthy, stays safe, and makes the best decision for himself and his family. I have been rooting for Tua since I saw him play on the way to a National Championship at Alabama and cannot pretend to be an unbiased observer. I loved what I saw from him early in the year; he was playing within the offense, had open receivers, and was able to get the ball to the Dolphins’ playmakers. There were of course limitations, just as there are with nearly every player, but I hope we get to see Tua continue to develop with this group of skill players. I certainly think he can play at a higher level than he did earlier this year as long as everyone can stay healthy and spend more time within their offensive system.

Yeahhh! A guy who can see the positive in Tua is always more fun to talk to at this stage of the interview haha!! And I think you have been very fair there too, realistic but giving him his dues. I respect that. I have ultimate faith in the man, I love everything about him and I have seen the videos circling from his return to camp, just his presence seems to have lifted the team. Here’s hoping we see him next week against the Steelers.

But that’s next week. Back to this week, what’s your score prediction? How do you see this one playing out?

I will continue to avoid Minnesota skepticism and predict a Vikings win. I think Minnesota will come out strong in the first few drives, let Miami crawl back in a little bit, and ultimately finish the game 27-17. My concern is that the Vikings may not be able to take advantage of certain man coverage looks the same way the Bengals did. I do hope this is a get-right game for the Vikings’ defense against a third-string Quarterback, but the Vikings are notorious for seeing backups have great games.

Boy, I hope you are right and we continue that trend of backup QBs! Although if the game goes as you suggest it wouldn’t be a total surprise, that’s similar to how our losses have gone this season so it would be fully in keeping with what we have had on offer in recent weeks.

I am struggling to stay optimistic, our injury report is DEEP. I feel that our defense will be so key to this, and we need them to step up in ways they have yet to do so. If we can limit you early and keep it quiet and low scoring early, that may allow Skylar to find his rhythm with our starters within a game environment and then who knows, if we stay in touching difference, maybe we have a chance to end week 6 with both teams 4-2.

I think the optimist in me hopes we find a way to a lower-scoring win, maybe 20-17. But I feel like the realist sees this Viking offense pick off our banged-up secondary, and your defense get hold of our QB3, so that part of me fears a 24-13 defeat. But for now I shall remain optimistic, a Waddle TD, along with a QB rush from Skylar himself, with Jason Sanders sailing through two scores to seal the win. Ever the optimist.

Finally, thank you so much Shawn, I have enjoyed this hook-up immensely and beyond Sunday, I seriously wish you all the best, keep doing your thing man, huge respect for you.


I loved that one. Shawn is a real one! And I mean it, I am going to maintain my optimism. I know a few people will be sick of that but if we only get 17 Dolphins games a year, I am going to make the most of them and believe in them week after week.

Plus this whole season looks a lot brighter if we wake up Monday 4-2. Imagine, a 4-2 record, Tua’s return on the horizon, and games against Brian Flores and the Steelers, the Texans, the Browns, the Lions, and the Bears all to come… a win this Sunday could be the start of our season getting right back on track.

It won’t be easy, and it might be unlikely, be keep the faith and believe in our Miami Dolphins!

Fins Up!