Monday night, Jerick McKinnon became the Vikings’ running back.
Through his career, I’ve been lukewarm on McKinnon. Generally I think he has been an average runner whose shiftiness is more rumor than real and, basically, we think of him as better than he is because he shows potential.
But he won me over against the Bears. Monday night, McKinnon took the reigns as the lead of the Vikings’ timeshare and proved he’s capable of staying there. He was equally effective as a runner and receiver, showing burst through the hole and finishing runs with authority. McKinnon seemed to seek out contact at the ends of plays, picking up two or three crucial extra yards to make the following downs more manageable. Essentially, he did the things we appreciated out of Dalvin Cook before his injury.
McKinnon rushed 16 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, and also tied for the team lead with 6 receptions for 51 yards. He was a integral part of the offense in the second half, when the Vikings did most of their damage.
Latavius Murray played well, too, and he’ll still be a major factor in the backfield. But Monday, McKinnon stole the show. Remember, Murray/McKinnon was the plan before Cook unexpectedly fell to the Vikings in the draft, and if the win over the Bears is any indication, Plan A might work out just fine.