In an ideal world, Minnesota’s tight ends will be the glue that holds their offense together. The Vikings want to run the ball and they want to generate explosive plays off of play-action. On Sunday, Kyle Rudolph was a key component of Minnesota’s offensive game plan, making him our Unsung Hero. He only had two catches, but his impact far exceeded the receptions.
Rudolph’s Sunday Performance
Rudolph caught his only two targets on Sunday. The first one went for eight yards on first down. Gaining these yards is more important to the Vikings than most teams. Their offense is contingent on staying ahead of the sticks. His second catch was spectacular. Not only was it a long completion, it also came at a time when the Texans were trying to comeback. Rudolph caught the ball when it was a one-point game; the Vikings scored a TD a few plays later. Solid vets like Rudolph should step up in big moments, which is precisely what he did on his second catch.
Rudolph also made an impact as a blocker. Take a look at Dalvin Cook’s first TD run. Rudolph does a great job of getting himself in between the defender and Cook, opening a clean lane for Cook to score. The same can be said for his blocking on Alexander Mattison‘s TD run.
The Vikings want to have explosive plays, but they also want these plays to be safe. On the 18-yard pass to Thielen at 12:37 in 1Q, Rudolph was alongside six other pass blockers. The same thing happened with around 7:30 left in 2Q as Cousins completed a long pass to Jefferson. Mike Zimmer wants safe explosion on his offense; Rudolph is a key factor in bringing Zimmer’s vision to fruition.
By no means did Rudolph have a perfect game. At times, he struggled to get open on his crossing routes, and there were also moments when he struggles to maintain his blocks. It’s safe to say that he isn’t as fast as Tyreek Hill or as strong of a blocker as Jim Kleinsasser. Nevertheless, what Rudolph does provide is consistently strong play across various components of the offense. Zimmer wants his offense to be unpredictable. Rudolph can certainly help because he is a tight end who can succeed in any number of areas, as we saw on Sunday. For this reason, Kyle Rudolph is Week 4’s Unsung Hero.