NFL

The Vikings’ Expensive Passing Game Investments Have Not Panned Out

The Minnesota Vikings spent a lot of money securing a top-tier offense with hopes it could take them to the next level with their passing game. The results, however, have been downright disappointing. With a core of Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen, the Vikings invested in at least three years of solid offense. Instead, they struggle to put up numbers that could be considered middling.

With a core of Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen, the Vikings invested in at least three years of solid offense. Instead, they struggle to put up numbers that could be considered middling.

Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud0zT85gGxg

Kirk Cousins is in the second year of a three-year deal paying him upwards of $27 million a year in mostly-guaranteed money. This contract helped lure in the former Redskins quarterback. The Vikings put a lot of faith in the 30-year-old quarterback when he made his way to Minnesota.

Since taking over as a full-time starter in 2015, Cousins has been a reliable quarterback, although he’s never been a top-tier quarterback. The former Michigan State Spartan’s first season in Minnesota was not a failure by any stretch. He led the team to an 8-7-1 record with 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions with 70% accuracy.

This year, his production is down, at just over 1,000 yards to go with five touchdowns and two interceptions through five games. Although the Vikings currently hold a winning record, the pace could give him a much smaller statistical output than last year.

Vikings’ wide receiver Stefon Diggs

In 2018, Stefon Diggs signed a five-year, $72 million deal with $40 million in guarantees. By signing the young receiver to this extension, the Vikings thought they’d secured a young core piece not yet in his prime.

While Diggs had a good performance that year, his 2019 campaign is off to a rocky start and his touches are way down. Like Cousins, Diggs is struggling to put up the same kind of season he had last year. While some say it’s up to Cousins to get Diggs the ball, others argue that Diggs needs to demand it.

After putting up career-highs in receptions and touchdowns last year, his per-game production is down while his yards per reception are up. Diggs isn’t getting the ball enough, and whatever is causing it must be fixed. 

Vikings’ wide receiver Adam Thielen

Thielen also signed an extension that should’ve banked him lots of money and helped secure the offense. During the 2019 offseason, Thielen and the Vikings agreed on a four-year, $64.2 million contract that could keep their receiving core intact. The came with $33 million in guarantees, and it will run through the 2025 season

Like Diggs and Cousins, Thielen has had a disappointing season. Although his touchdowns are up despite regression in other categories, he has just 300 yards through five games after getting 1,373 yards last year.

Thielen has been targeted far less, although his rise in touchdowns shows he can capitalize when Cousins does find him. This, combined with the other players’ numbers, is baffling. 

Time for Minnesota to panic?

The Vikings seem to be experiencing another season where they hover around .500 and either barely miss the playoffs or get eliminated before they can make a splash. The offense is largely to blame.

Either Cousins is still figuring things out and defenses are stifling both Thielen and Diggs, or something is not right with the team’s chemistry. Through five weeks, the Vikings have the 29th-ranked offense in the NFL. While their Week 5 performance helped things, the fact remains that they have regressed.

A little bit of regression is fine, but the fact that all three players in the core are struggling shows that there is either something wrong with the offense or the system is not working. If they don’t figure things out soon, the season will end with another mediocre sigh.