Andrew Waters’ Deep Dive into the 2021 Vikings Offense

Dalvin Cook
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There is some conversation around the Vikings offense looking flat the first two preseason games.

Kirk Cousins took some flak from the fans after his comments following week 2 He said, “I feel really good. I felt really clean tonight as far as just seeing coverage and getting through my reads. I felt like we moved quickly. I felt like it was a really smooth operation, and that was encouraging. I thought overall it was really smooth.”

The preseason is glorified practice — think of it as you or I going to play basketball at the YMCA. It is to get the rust off, get through reads against different defenders and get out of the game healthy. Seriously, every time I go play ball now I think I pull a hammy. I don’t blame them one bit.

Kubiak isn’t going to show any real schemes or put anything on tape. I know we’re all hungry for the season and want to dissect every checkdown and easy read, yet it’s just about not taking any hits and moving on. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at some of the concepts to expect under the newer model of Kubiak.

Run First

The fanbase has a tendency to refer to the Vikings as “Run First,” but that may be a bit of a fallacy.

In 2020, the Vikings ran the ball on 45.75% of their offensive plays. There was some old-school preference to running the ball on 2nd and short, and the Vikings were first in the league in that stat. The run percentage is actually down from 48% in 2019.

Zimmer has made it clear in recent weeks that he wants this team to be physical. But he knows that the modern downfield passing is incredibly effective and demoralizing to defenses. There will be a heavy lean on  Dalvin Cook again this year as he ranks as one of the best backs in the league, expects. A healthy dose of jet sweep action as well. We have seen this in training camp, and this could be another way to get the ball into the hands of Jefferson and our other playmakers.

Nwangwu is a wild card, once we see him back from the knee injury that has sidelined him the last few weeks. I expect we will see a handful of packages where he and Cook are on the field at the same time. Kubiak has mentioned that we will see more motion in the offense — this multiple ball carrier approach is something I expect to see more of this year. Take a peek at this as an example.


Down Field Passing Game

Zimmer said this week that he wants a more vertical passing attack.“If you’re going to throw 5-yard check-downs, it’s going to take 20 of them.”

I checked his math for those of you wondering. It, in fact, checks out. We saw the Vikings trending this way last year when Cousins had the highest air yards per attempt (8.3) in his career only, behind his rookie year in Washington. He worked extensively with one Kyle Shanahan, who has a lot in common with his Klint Kubiak. Their Fathers Mike and Gary worked together extensively, and most of what Klint has learned stems from the Shanahan philosophy.

I expect that Shanahan and Klint Kubiak have probably spoken a few times in the offseason, and we will see some similarities in systems. The motion and window dressing, coupled with play-action, opening up routes in the deeper third of the field.

Irv Smith will see more time running drags and seams and using his athleticism to do his best Kittle impersonation. Take a look at this scheme from a Shanahan-called game in 2018. Now, picture Thielen, Jefferson, and Smith Jr. running the concept. I am also excited.

If you liked the read and this type of coverage, leave me a comment. I can keep breaking down additional offensive schemes the Vikings will be putting on the field this year. SKOL.