How the Vikings Players to Watch vs. Bears Fared

Ihmir Smith-Marsette Heads to Super Bowl Contender
Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

For the last time this season, it is time to look at how my Vikings players to watch fared.

After a depressing first half, the Vikings kicked into gear in the second half and ran out comfortable winners. More importantly, some of the young guys I wanted to watch had a good outing. However, I am kicking myself for forgetting about Kenny Willekes, who, after losing his first season in the league to injury, has shown some nice flashes this year. Willekes finished with two sacks yesterday was a great way to end the season.

Kellen Mond and Wyatt Davis were both inactive, so there’s nothing to report there, while Chazz Surratt only saw the field on special teams, and there’s nothing of note to report on Patrick Jones. Kene Nwangwu had one rushing attempt that went for four yards, plus two kickoff returns that went for 38 yards. It does get better, though.

Here’s how the rest of my Vikings players to watch fared in this one.

There is no other place to start than Ihmir Smith-Marsette. After getting his first carer touchdown at Soldier Field, he had a true breakout game against the Bears on Sunday — three catches from three targets for 103 yards at 33.34 yards a catch, including a 44-yard touchdown catch. I was so pleased to see Smith-Marsette get his chance to shine and prove he is yet another exciting weapon on this offense. I was a big fan going into the draft — here’s me crossing my fingers for him on draft day!

It was a quiet day for KJ Osborn, who only caught one of his four targets. However, that one catch was a diving 21-yard touchdown catch. So, it was worth the wait — even if it may well be forever known as the catch that could have gone to Justin Jefferson to break the Vikings receiving yard record held by Randy Moss.

Switching to the other side of the ball, it was another career start for Armon Watts. There were no splash plays from Watts. He made a few tackles and had a QB hit. He did enough to confirm he is a solid rotational piece going into next season. The same can be said for James Lynch, who has shown steady progress this year, but there wasn’t much to see in this game other than a couple of tackles.

We finish my final how the Vikings players to watch fared on a positive, with Blake Lynch. With the futures of Anthony Barr and Nick Vigil uncertain and the possibility of the linebacker room looking threadbare going into next season. The Vikings needed a linebacker to break through and prove a capable playmaker. Lynch has been that guy.

He snagged his first career interception in the final game to add to his season tally of two sacks, two pass deflections, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one tackle for loss, and one QB hit. The key with those stats is he has made a play in all areas of the game. He made a big step up from his rookie season. Here’s hoping he can do that again and go even better in 2022.