One Vikings Playmaker Needs to Be More Involved This Week

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Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison's first practice as a Viking after being selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Addison played at the University of Pittsburgh and USC in college.

The Minnesota Vikings return home to US Bank stadium following their first win of the season. Victory against the Carolina Panthers dragged the Vikings season out of the doldrums and provided the green shoots of recovery on a season that had started disastrously.

One Vikings Playmaker Needs to Be More Involved This Week

If those green shoots will grow into something more substantial, the Vikings need to beat the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. If that happens, one Vikings playmaker must be more involved in Week 5.

That man is Jordan Addison. The Vikings 2023 first-round draft selection had a very positive start to his NFL career. In his opening three games, he tallied 13  at he’s for 185 yards and two touchdowns. The touchdowns came on downfield shots, but Addison also showed his prowess in the short passing game and his ability to move the chains. With the Panthers next up, the perceived weakest team on the Vikings schedule so far, and a defense not as strong as previous opponents. There was hope for a real “arrival” game for Addison; instead, the wide-out drew a blank.

Playmaker Needs to Be
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Addison’s only target came on another deep ball, but under pressure, Kirk Cousins underthrew his receiver. Addison came back to the ball and drew a defensive pass interference penalty for 45 yards, setting up the Vikings offense on the Panthers 4-yard line. It was an impactful play that won’t show up on his personal stat sheet. His only other notable contribution against the Panthers was missing a block on a screen play that nearly got Justin Jefferson killed. Jefferson took a big hit and was down for a moment before getting up and getting into the game. Perhaps that got Addison in the dog house?

The Vikings expect their wide receivers to be able to block, and while it will never be a strength of Addison’s, he needs to learn to do better.

Minnesota didn’t need anything else from Addison to secure the win last week, but it’s doubtful that will be the case this week. When you are trying to take down the reigning world champions, you are going to need all your important players firing — ably backed up by everyone else. I believe Addison is primed for a big statement game, and this would be the opportune moment for that to happen. Former NFL quarterback David Carr named Addison one of the players he wants to see more involved. If the Vikings will get the most out of their high-powered offense, then Kevin O’Connell needs to find a way to involve Addison in the game more.

Time for Addison to Step Out of Jefferson’s Shadow

The Vikings offensive game plan often relies heavily on Jefferson. When you have such a talent in your midst, it’s easy to see why that happens, but the opposition is expecting it. Jefferson has had an explosive start to the season, but the Vikings have looked a far better team since getting their run game going and having a more balanced offense. The next step to that balance is more Addison.

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Jefferson (47) and T.J. Hockenson (31) have dominated the targets in the passing game through four games. Addison is next with 20, but eight of those came against the Chargers in Week 3. including four targets in a row in the fourth quarter, in what seemed like an attempt to get Addison into the game. I expected something similar against the Panthers, but that didn’t materialize.

Although Kirk Cousins only attempted a lowly 19 passes in that game, something I expect to be an outlier throughout the season, he averaged 46 pass attempts over the first three games, and even with more balance on offense with the run game. I’d expect pass attempts per game to be close to 46 rather than 19 in general.

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Jefferson will nearly always get the lion’s share of targets unless a team manages to lock him down — something no team has come close to doing so far. However, you don’t spend a first-round pick on a WR to be an afterthought in your offense, especially when so many other positions also needed attention. It’s time to see more involvement from Addison, to the point he should be at least close to Hockenson’s targets in a game.

That should start on Sunday, when the Vikings offense will need to be at its absolute best to find a way to beat the Chiefs.