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Photo: Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins. Photo courtesy Minnesota Vikings

Passing Game

It was nice to see the Vikings succeed through the air against the New York Football Giants.

As I said in my Game Balls post, Adam Thielen had an outstanding game.

But Dalvin Cook‘s role was just as impressive, gaining 86 yards on six receptions to add to his 132 yards rushing the ball.

Matthew Coller of SkorNorth has a great breakdown of how the Vikings used the screen game to get the ball to Cook in space. This play went for a big gain:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKV6SZ5ZU-s

The effect of getting the ball to Cook through the air, Coller says, is:

Getting the ball to Cook in space is a pretty vague notion but here’s the domino effect: The interior of the Vikings offensive line has been problematic through three games but they clearly have the capability to get in space and make blocks for Cook. More of Bradbury/Elflein/Kline on the move equates to less time standing in and pass blocking.

There’s also a potential impact on receivers. Cook’s success escaping linebackers is enough to cause sleepless nights for opposing defenders. Linebackers will have to play him tight on check downs, which could open areas behind him in the passing game. They will have to be on high alert for anything appearing to be a screen, which opens the door for creative options. And even when he appears to be helping as a pass blocker, some hesitation will be required because he might suddenly explode into a route.

Sunday’s win shows Vikings key to explosive offense rests in passes to Cook

Kirk Cousins also had a big game, throwing for 306 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It could’ve been three touchdowns, though, if Cousins had pulled the trigger on a crossing route near the end zone by Irv Smith Jr. on the final drive of the first half.

That play likely would’ve gone for a score had Cousins not hesitated but he did and took the sack, forcing the Vikings to settle for a field goal.

As nice as it was to see the Vikings offense perform well, let’s not get too excited. The Giants defense is not very good as a whole, the secondary is suspect and New York was playing with an entire backup linebacking corps, so the success last Sunday should come as little surprise.

Mike Zimmer has said that the wants the Vikings offense to be balanced. We saw a balanced attack against the Giants but that certainly hasn’t been the case thus far this season.

Chris and Phil Simms provide an interesting take on the Vikings’ offensive balance…or lack thereof.

Mike Hughes

Photo: Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks & Mike Hughes vs Eagles.
Danielle Hunter, Mike Hughes & Eric Kendricks vs Eagles. Photo courtesy Minnesota Vikings

It looks like Mike Hughes has fully recovered from injury!

He filled in nicely for Mackenzie Alexander and it’s nice to know the Vikings have Hughes in their back pocket with what appears to be a steady decline in X-avier Rhodes‘ play.

Hughes had three solo tackles against the Giants to go along with three passes defended, two of which were nearly picked off.

He looked a lot more confident than the did against the Bears, when it appeared he second-guessed himself and pulled up on a ball that originally looked as if he could’ve intercepted.

He certainly has some ball-hawking instincts. I suspect we’ll see a Mike Hughes pick-six at some point this season.

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