The Minnesota Vikings haven’t been the happiest franchise this season. Receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have been particularly disgruntled, feeling that the offense isn’t optimizing their potential. The former player has even been linked to trade rumors. The worm may have turned in the locker room, however.
On Sunday, the Vikings offense exploded in a statement performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. Diggs definitely won’t have any complaints after this one.
The Minnesota Vikings’ offensive investments
The Minnesota Vikings offensive unit is currently based around three main players: Diggs, Thielen, and quarterback Kirk Cousins. While the team has a hefty chunk of change tied up in that trio, things haven’t been clicking this season like they did in 2018.
Cousins, for better or worse, has acquired the dreaded “game manager” label. Regardless of how you feel about his performances, the quarterback has only averaged a gain of 7.6 yards per passing attempt in his NFL career. That’s not the type of supply line that keeps receivers satisfied. There’s also been less of an emphasis on the passing game this year, so it’s possible that head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t doing Cousins any favors.
As for Diggs and Thielen, both receivers are signed to long-term contracts. They posted career years last season, combining for over 2,000 yards, but things haven’t clicked in 2019.
A lack of chemistry
After the Vikings dropped their opening two games, Thielen made some pointed comments about the team’s offense. The receiver said that the team needed to stop relying on their running game and throw the ball downfield. Cousins publically apologized, promising that he would get the receiver the ball. While that situation quickly blew over, the offense still had another issue.
Stefon Diggs decided to voice his dissatisfaction with the Vikings offense by skipping practices and meetings. While both the receiver and the team said there’s no desire for a trade, the mutual dissatisfaction was palpable. Diggs kept playing, but, barring a big game in Week 4, he didn’t do much on the field.
No matter what things are like behind the scenes, there’s clearly some discontentment brewing in Minnesota. This weekend’s game, however, should help cool things down.
Are Stefon Diggs and Kirk Cousins turning things around?
On Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings welcomed the Philadelphia Eagles into the Twin Cities. While the game could have gone either way on paper, it turned into the breakout performance that Cousins and Diggs needed to get things rolling.
Cousins threw the ball 22 times, targeting Diggs 11 times and Thielen with eight throws. The former wide receiver pulled in seven catches, racking up 167 yards and three touchdowns; it was the type of game the disgruntled offense needed.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the performance is that Vikings’ run-pass balance remained relatively intact. While the ratio skewed a bit as Minnesota tried to chew up the clock, it isn’t like they went out explicitly trying to throw the ball. If Zimmer truly is committed to establishing the running game above all else, this shows that Kirk Cousins can keep Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen happy. He just has to throw the ball downfield and trust that his star receivers can make a play.