General NewsSpeculation

A Little Action In The Receiver Area

The Minnesota Vikings have had a long offseason of speculation nibbling away at their wide receiver depth chart from all angles. In their 23-10 victory over San Diego, with Teddy Bridgewater dealing aces, a lot of observations were there for the taking and will surely lead to some 1.

Stefon Diggs was Bridgewater’s top target in San Diego who made a team-high five grabs, showed off some turn-on-a-dime tricks, and efficiently tallied up 71 yards prior to sitting down for the day. Diggs was nothing short of impressive, looking like the top NFL receiver Vikings fans desperately want him to be, and that alone should provide plenty of optimism as the team prepares to play Tennessee in the regular season opener.

Similarly, Charles Johnson looked like a nice compliment to Diggs out there, as he caught two of his three passes and walked away with a nice day having 25 of Bridgewater’s 161 yards to his name.

“I think it’s good,” Johnson said of the offense in the exclusive interview with Tom Moore posted above. “I mean it is still a work in progress, we’re still trying to go out there and do the little things and keep getting better, because we want to just continue to grind and continue to get better each and every day.”

Johnson recognized that while the Vikings offense was clicking in many respects, today, that the red zone offense is something that needs to be improved. The return of Adrian Peterson might give the red zone offense a boost, but Vikings fans also got a taste of what Laquon Treadwell might have to offer in that area as he works his way into the lineup.

Treadwell, getting some time this week with Bridgewater and the first team offense, hauled in his lone target of the day for a 15 yard gain. What really got fans excited, however, was Treadwell’s successful muscle catch in the endzone on a two yard conversion attempt. That type of play, sure hands in tight spaces with defenders in his face, will be a main ingredient in any recipes for a remedy that Norv Turner has cooking regarding his red zone offense.

Two guys that didn’t fare as well in the U.S. Bank Stadium debut were receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright.

Patterson had some trouble with footing on one kickoff return, giving him only a 21.5 yard average on his two attempts there, and he also ran for negative six yards on a busted up gadget play. Patterson caught nothing, but was the only Vikings receiver to score a touchdown when he made the heads up play after a MyCole Pruitt fumble.

“I hope I have the best year of my whole life,” Patterson said after the game. “It might be my last year. You never know when it’s your last moment, so all you can do is give it your all and play like there’s no tomorrow. It might be my last year here or they might give me an extension. My motto is go out there and do what I have to do. I love being here so I’m just trying to ball out and make some plays.”

Jarius Wright made good on his vow to play this preseason after being hampered by an injury. The odd part about that, however, is that it didn’t happen until the third quarter. Wright made a beautiful play, good for 26 yards, but one couldn’t help but notice that he seemingly has lost ground on the depth chart.

It is possible that the team is simply easing him back into action after missing so much time, but it is also possible that the team may no longer have Wright in their long-term plans. I’m a fan of Wright, he does a lot of things well, but this preseason has just not been great for him.

Wright being released is hard for me to imagine, to be honest, largely because of the $2.24 million in dead cap space that would result, according to Spotrac. That pill would be far less bitter to swallow, however, if a receiver needy team like Philadelphia came calling and Rick Spielman was able to get something in return for his investment in Wright.

And that’s it.

No other Vikings receiver was credited with a target, let alone a catch, so there is not much left to say.

The Vikings appear set to have Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson atop their depth chart on opening day. The water gets a little murky after that, but we should find out soon enough just how things are actually stacking up when it comes to evaluations from the coaching staff.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. Here’s today’s stats for Zach Line

    0 Carries
    0 Yards
    0 Touchdowns

    Now some people may look at these stats and think Zach didn’t accomplish anything. In reality, he had six more net rushing yards than Cordarrelle Paterson. And one more net yard than Joel Stave.

    Zach Line – better than some players

  2. Interesting that Thielen didn’t get any targets. He appears to be the one really pushing Wright down the depth chart. I’d gladly trade Wright, too, ideally for a run-stuffing NT to back up Linval Joseph.

  3. I think Wright’s role has been reduced on the team. I think Thielen is legit WR3 right now. Looking through the program yesterday, I was surprised at how few short guys the Vikings have – at least compared to the Chargers. I think there were probably close to 10-12 guys less than 6′ tall on the Chargers, and only 4 or 5 on the Vikings (which includes our kicker). Maybe it’s not anything, but all things being equal maybe we’re seeing more proof to the Vikings’ size and athleticism + coaching approach that Arif especially has been outlining in recent years. Thielen has great size and speed, tho isn’t as shifty as Wright, but has also proven able to line up correctly and make plays at a similar capacity to Wright so far this preseason. Just caught my eye yesterday – all things being equal (which Thielen is showing), the edge goes to the big guy.

    The other idea I was wondering about too is the blocking. I’ll need to rewatch the game again, but with LT and AT, in theory you have two big WRs who can catch the ball BUT also be very effective run blockers. Combined with Ruddy, Pruitt, Morgan, and Ellison, that might give us some really interesting play action looks – something I realized Teddy is absolutely deadly at when rewatching games from last year. I am beginning to believe that versatility is the name of the game with this offense – that everyone needs to be able to do everything because Teddy is so good at picking up and exploiting mismatches.

    I had hoped to see more of Patterson. I bet we see a lot of him on Thursday. The staff needs to know what they have in him. Didn’t seem like they were calling many pass plays to him yesterday, and to be honest I was watching the lines most of the game.

    Speaking of, I do think our pass pro is better – not perfect, but better than last year. Teddy still holds the ball a fraction of a second too late sometimes, but he’s also so good at moving within the pocket that our pass pro is improved. What about the sacks? Ya, too many sacks, but here’s the difference: there are far fewer plays that are clearly busted plays where Teddy’s just throwing it away. The sack rate may be the same, but the consistency and productivity of everything else is improved. Thus we see 161 yards and only two misfires (the others were dropped, I believe) out of 18 passes (or whatever it was).

    Defensively I think our guys are still trying to find the balance between pass rushing and contain. Looking at all of our preseason games our run defense is fine almost every time when we set the edge, and gets gashed nearly every time when we don’t. Made me think of Zimmer’s comments when he first came here – he asks his defensive ends to set the edge and contain the run first, and then pass rush. If you rewatch the tape, especially Danielle Hunter this preseason, you see DE’s often playing too aggressive in order to get to the QB/backfield, and getting washed out of plays by the OTs. Almost always big runs occur on that side because Zimmer doesn’t give a lot or any help. It’s why our pass defense is so good. Robison is better than Hunter at this, but Hunter is getting close. Tom Johnson plays run defense by rushing the runner. The Melvin Gordon TD was simply a bad play call by Zimmer – basically played pass (and would’ve destroyed Rivers if it was a pass), but Gordon took advantage.

    Lastly, Trae Waynes is legit. To my eyes he’s our best corner right now. I trust him more than that Newman or Rhodes, because he’s always around the ball and always making plays. Teams are trying to pass on him, and he shows up. He’s batting balls away, he limits YAC, he keeps guys in front of the first down marker. None of our corners are elite in the NFL, but Waynes is certainly playing no worse than Rhodes right now, and honestly I think he’s played better than Rhodes this preseason. The two are always going to have different styles – Rhodes can physically dominate guys in ways not many corners can – but Waynes looks good. Mackensie too. A little rough around the edges, but OMG is he feisty, and his pick yesterday was amazing. Simply wanted it more. I also thought Kearse played well. I could imagine him pushing Sendejo for playing time by the end of the year.