4 Vikings Players Have Disappointed through Week 2

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With high expectations coming off a 13-4 season, the Minnesota Vikings started the 2023 campaign with back-to-back losses. The 2022 team was overachieving, winning some games they had no business winning while getting blown out by superior teams. For that reason, most pundits envisioned the team to decline, but the 0-2 record also doesn’t reflect the team’s strength, as they lost two close games after shooting themselves in the foot.

4 Vikings Players Have Disappointed through Week 2

A few things must be cleaned up, like the horrendous fumble problem, and the running defense was a huge reason for the loss in Week 2. Some players haven’t met their expectations.

Alexander Mattison

The Vikings released Dalvin Cook in the offseason after six years with the club. Free agent Alexander Mattison was re-signed to take over for Cook as the starter after backing him up for four seasons.

4 Vikings Players Have Disappointed Through Week 2
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While Cook wins with speed and elusiveness, Mattison wins with power. His runs aren’t as pretty and don’t go for 50 yards, but he is a tough player. However, embarrassing run blocking and the lack of an explosive back led to disastrous results. Mattison rushed for 62 yards on 19 carries, an average of 3.3 yards per carry, and six receptions resulted in 21 yards. He also fumbled twice against the Eagles and was bailed out once because of a penalty.

Fans have started to demand a higher usage of backup Ty Chandler, who brings some more speed to the table, while others want the team to sign someone or trade for Cam Akers or Jonathan Taylor.

Mattison is the top guy until the team goes out and acquires a new rusher, but he must generate better production sooner rather than later.

K.J. Osborn

Like Mattison, Osborn had the opportunity to step out of the shadow of a departed longtime starter. Adam Thielen was released, and the Vikings promoted Osborn to WR2 after he served two seasons as a solid third wideout in the rotation.

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It hasn’t worked out two weeks into the season. Osborn caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown on a blown coverage. The problem is the catches he didn’t make. Osborn has dropped multiple passes throughout the season and failed to make a play on separate occasions.

That, paired with the emergence of Jordan Addison as a dynamic weapon, raises the question of why the veteran is getting more snaps than the rookie. Addison taking over as the primary running mate of Justin Jefferson is a no-brainer.

Marcus Davenport

The most expensive free agent addition in Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s second year as GM, Marcus Davenport, has played only four snaps on defense so far because of an ankle injury. He signed a relatively cheap one-year prove-it deal in free agency, primarily because injuries slowed him down in his five seasons in New Orleans.

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Of course, signing an injury-prone player is risky, but the reward if he can stay healthy is also enormous. He was signed to form a scary pass-rush duo with Danielle Hunter. The longtime Viking has logged four sacks in two games, while Davenport hasn’t done anything, which is quite concerning.

His backups, Patrick Jones and D.J. Wonnum, can’t provide a starting-quality pass rush, and they struggle in the running game, which is where Davenport excels. Brian Flores needs his expensive defender on the field, and a return in the Week 3 game is possible.

Harrison Smith

A legend in Minnesota, Harrison Smith didn’t look like his old self in the two contests. He was a perennial Pro Bowler and a staple in Minnesota’s defense in his prime. The safety started to slow down in recent years but still provided a high level of play, but he has looked remarkably slow. According to PFF, Smith logged eight tackles but missed three, an unusually high number for the 34-year-old.

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Smith is the oldest safety in the league, and the decline is inevitable. The good news is that Smith might just be a bit rusty and can get back on track later in the year. Even better news is that fellow safety Camryn Bynum played two fantastic games, making life easier for the veteran.

In the case of Smith not getting better, one possible move could be to give him a breather now and then and ease some other players in. Fifty good snaps help the defense more than 70 bad reps, and having one of the smartest players in the league at full strength in crucial moments of the game is more important than playing him on a random second down in the first quarter.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt