It’s difficult to come up with positives at this point, but there are some signs of hope. For Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings, the important thing is being able to show resilience in the coming weeks. In 2018, the Vikings would have made the playoffs at 8-7-1 if there was a seventh slot (as there is for this season). There is still plenty to play for.
Elite Offensive Weapons
Last week, our Tuesday Reflection discussed Justin Jefferson‘s promise. At this point, his promise has translated into elite production. It isn’t wise to overreact to one game. That being said, Jefferson has actually played well in all three games. Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook give the Vikings and elite trio of weapons.
Moving forward, the Vikings need to feature these three players. All seven of Jefferson’s catches went for first downs on Sunday. It’s too bad that Gary Kubiak couldn’t get Jefferson the ball for the vast majority of the 2nd half (apart from his tremendous TD catch). The Vikings also need some production from their other weapons. Chad Beebe had a catch on Sunday, and C.J. Ham picked up a first down. We need more from these players, as well as tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr.
Interior O-Line Astonishingly Bad
We’ve written a fair bit about Garrett Bradbury‘s importance. He has shown some signs of improvement, though he had some tough reps on Sunday. The players beside Bradbury – Dakota Dozier and Dru Samia – are the greater concern.
Samia is particularly bad. Unsurprisingly, he is PFF’s worst ranked guard in the NFL. The Vikings need to address this obvious area of need if they are to retain any hope of making a comeback this season. Brett Jones deserves a shot, as does Ezra Cleveland. We simply can’t do any worse than what Samia has done so far.
Wonnum’s Critical Snaps
After a solid opening game, D.J. Wonnum earned more snaps on Sunday. Zimmer deployed Wonnum in numerous different situations. In the first quarter, Wonnum was part of pressure packages that featured four smaller, quicker linemen. In the fourth quarter with the Vikings trying to protect the lead, Wonnum was deployed to help slow the run.
Sunday wasn’t a success for the Vikings or Wonnum. The takeaway, though, is that he has earned some trust from the Vikings’ coaching staff. They obviously believe he can contribute in various situations, a reality that was evident on Sunday. With rumors of Danielle Hunter needing more time to recover from his injury, fans should expect Wonnum to continue dressing and earning snaps. Zimmer specifically mentioned him in Monday’s press conference as someone who is showing improvement.
Throughout his career, Mike Zimmer has needed to show resilience, a trait the Minnesota Vikings will need to mirror. The season is far from over.