Vikings Do’s and Don’ts: Week 5 vs. Houston

Wow, four games and four wins for the Minnesota Vikings so far in this 2016 NFL season. Not many thought this was possible even before their starting quarterback’s leg fell off and their elderly running back crumbled to the ground.

But the Vikings are taking the lead of head coach Mike Zimmer and not worrying for a second about what could possibly prevent them from accomplishing their goals this year.

The game plan has varied in each of their four games, but each strategy shared one common nucleus.


Most of Minnesota’s fans who are younger than 40 have not seen a Vikings defense ever play the way in which they are doing so in 2016. Minnesota’s current strategy is working for them so far, but that still does not mean that a few improvements cannot be made heading into their game on Sunday against the Houston Texans.

DO – Increase the involvement of Jerick McKinnon

After an okay performance against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, McKinnon stepped up his game and gained almost 100 total yards against a tough New York Giants run defense last Monday.

His stat line has increased in the past two weeks and it should continue to do so this Sunday against the Texans. Houston has struggled against opposing running backs so far in 2016, so much so that they are allowing almost five yards per touch to the position group.

Given the matchup with the Texans, the Vikings should free McKinnon and make him the centerpiece of their game plan this week.

DON’T – Get aggressive in the defensive backfield

Zimmer is a master of giving a variety of different defensive looks to opposing offenses, but he may want to leave Minnesota’s defensive backs out of his blitz packages on Sunday.

Houston has a very fast rookie wide receiver in Will Fuller. Very fast.

One misstep by a Vikings cornerback could easily lead to Fuller or fellow Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins finding themselves in the purple end zones of U.S. Bank Stadium. It is not a huge worry for Minnesota, just something they should have in the back of their minds his weekend.

DO – Bring the pressure from everywhere else

Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has thrown at least one interception in each of his four starts this season. Something that the Vikings defense has to be salivating about.

Despite having no sacks on Monday against the Giants, Minnesota has still registered the second most sacks in the NFL this year. The Vikings obviously have the capability to get to the opposing team’s quarterback in 2016 and that is just what they should do on Sunday versus Houston.

It should not take very long into the game this weekend before Osweiler’s head begins to spin and he attempts to do his best Ryan Fitzpatrick impression.

DON’T – Fall in love with Kyle Rudolph

Rudolph has been playing very well in 2016 and he should for the remainder of the season as well. But this game against the Texans may be one where he struggles.

Houston has yet to allow an opposing tight end to catch a touchdown this year and they have not allowed one since Week 14 of 2015.

It is not like the Texans have been facing any high school-caliber tight ends this season either. Through the first four weeks of 2016, Houston has shut down the likes of Travis Kielce, Martellus Bennett, and Delanie Walker.

Minnesota may want to think about involving their old friend Stefon Diggs a little more this week against the Texans.

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Adam Patrick

Adam has been rooting for the Vikings ever since he saw Randall Cunningham win NFC Special Teams Player of the week in 1997. Since his career sports highlights include 3rd place at 5th Grade Golf Camp and catching a ball during a soccer game (he was not playing goalie), Adam turned to writing. He considers himself a 'Vikings Realist' as he does not shy away from criticizing the purple and gold if necessary. He will not always write about the popular topics, but his goal is to provide readers with content they cannot find anywhere else. Follow him on Twitter @Str8_Cash_Homey

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  1. Texans are pretty stingy giving up passing yards. That’s probably why they are giving up a few more running yards. They are not stacking the box as much as some do. I don’t know if that makes much of a difference to us. We don’t have a high scoring offense so a ball control game with an improved running game, may play into Zims game plan.

    They have Fuller but they aren’t putting up very many passing yards. They rank near the bottom in passing yards. Zim always tries to stop the run and force the pass and then, turnovers. Hopefully, this will be a breakout game again for the defense in that regard. Even though we beat the Giants, the tackling has been better and we gave up another big screen play. Texas will be looking to do that again.

    I’m predicting a low scoring game. If we can keep them under 17 we probably will win. We don’t blow anyone out so it will probably look pretty ugly but a win is a win…

  2. I think the offense has been ramping up every week and my bold prediction is that this is the week it finally all comes together. I think Bradford will be comfortable with his wr corps. and barring a Diggs injury will be able to spread the ball around effectively. If Diggs is out, look for Treadwell to make an active appearance. I think McKinnon benefits the most. Houston has been pretty weak against the run and I look for him to expose this. Look for dump offs and intermediate routes from him out of the backfield, or split in the slot. I don’t like to make final score predictions, but I’m looking for the Vikings to put up big numbers and to go into the bye coming off of their most complete game of the year so far.

    …or maybe they lose. wtf do I know. Skol.