Wednesday, December 13, 2017


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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.

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Five thoughts on the train wreck in Philadelphia.

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1. A lot of bad to go around.

In two of the three phases of the game—offense and special teams—the Vikings were somewhere between “lacking” and “unmitigated disaster.” The normally sound special teams units were uncharacteristically bad; the kickoff coverage unit left a gaping hole for Philadelphia returner Josh Huff, who returned it for the Eagles first touchdown, and Marcus Sherels lost a fumble on a punt return. On offense, the Vikings turned the ball over three times and got just seven points on four trips to the red zone, plus a 48-yard field goal from Blair Walsh. The offensive line was a factor in all three offensive turnovers, and played its worst game of the season, which is saying something. Sam Bradford wasn’t good, either; he missed a number of throws he usually makes, but it’s hard to put too much of the blame on his shoulders considering there was at least one defender in his face at all times.

For at least one week, the addition of Jake Long did nothing, and the offensive line went from liability to train wreck—even Mike Zimmer placed most of the blame for the loss on the blocking, saying, “We didn’t block anybody. We were soft. We got overpowered.”

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