Flip’s Review: X-Factors

In July, I wrote about four players who could vastly improve the team’s outlook, or be complete duds. Let’s look at how they’re faring:

 

Jerick McKinnon

“McKinnon posted his best efficiency numbers in a limited role. He excels at changing pace and catching out of the backfield with fresh legs that maximize his 4.41 speed.”

McKinnon WK1.gif

Jet continues to stall between an okay change of pace back and a bonafide versatile weapon. Dalvin Cook featured prominently, so McKinnon’s received just 5.5 touches per game. The reduced workload allowed Jet to be the Vikings’ main kick returner. As a KR Jerick’s produced 26.1 yards per return, but he’s made some bad decisions taking the ball out deep from the endzone. The real concern is McKinnon’s plummeting efficiency. Thus far he’s posted his lowest Y/A (2.6) and Y/R (5.0). His success rate in both rushing (20%) and receiving (25%) show tons of room for improvement.

With Dalvin Cook’s torn ACL, the Vikings need Jet to reverse these efficiency trends immediately.

 

Laquon Treadwell

“He’s in a magnificent situation behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. 1st round talent at WR3 could perfect Pat Shurmur’s offense”

Treadwell WK4

Shurmur increased Treadwell’s usage thus far, but not by much, only 2.5 targets per game. Diggs and Thielen have played so great that there seems to be little room for WR3 production in the current scheme. Still wary of the OL play, both Sam Bradford and Case Keenum have converted to quick strike plays with shortened progressions. That has meant fewer looks for WR3, TE, and RBs when the play isn’t designed for them.

How will Treadwell play if his role increases? That question is still an unknown. I remain optimistic.

 

Trae Waynes

“Trae’s in a special situation and Minnesota needs him to make the leap. Newman can always step in, but the D takes a small step back without Waynes’ ascension.”

Waynes WK3

With Xavier Rhodes limiting Michael Thomas (50% success rate), Antonio Brown (36%), Mike Evans (50%), and Marvin Jones (36%). NO and PIT were better off targeting their secondary WR options: Ted Ginn (80%), Martavis Bryant (75%), and Desean Jackson (57%). The gap is shrinking, and it shows Waynes’ improving play. Rhodes ascended, Waynes hasn’t yet, so opposing offenses will continue to throw at him. He’s shown glimpses that he’s up to task, and he’s been great against the run too.

Even average play from our CB2 transforms the defense into an elite, shutdown unit.

 

Mackensie Alexander

“With Munnerlyn departing for Carolina the future starts now for the scrappy, confident Alexander.”

Alexader WK4

Mack has played way more snaps this year (41%, up from 7% in 2016) yet he’s been just as nearly silent. That’s GREAT for a Nickel corner. There were heavy concerns about the Vikings secondary entering 2017. Given the quality of the offenses they’ve faced, the unit has played extremely well. Alexander is a key role player in all that. His assignments shift to accommodate roamers Rhodes and Smith.

I’m still very excited about Mack’s future.

 

Overall I’m pleased with how Jet, Quon, Trae, and Mack are playing. We really need to see Jerick step it up, and more production from Laquon would also be welcome. Defensively, Trae and Mack just need to keep on grinding as they develop into solid contributors.

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