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Monday Morning Mailbag: McKinnon Making The Most Of His Chance

Posted Oct 30, 2017

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Great all around win! Case Keenum spread the ball around very nicely! A lot of people touched the ball. Stefon Diggs and Jerick McKinnon’s ability to make people miss is amazing!
--
Greg Strozzi
Billings, MT

Yes, both Diggs and McKinnon are good players in space and McKinnon in particular had that aspect of his game on display in London. According to Pro Football Focus, McKinnon forced five missed tackles as a rusher and averaged 3.29 yards after contact per carry (46 of his 50 rushing yards came after contact). McKinnon also shone as a receiver, catching all six passes thrown his way for 72 yards and forcing another missed tackle. Keenum did a nice job of distributing the ball, finding eight different receivers in his 27 completions, including five different pass catchers with multiple receptions.

Not to throw a wet blanket on the victory over the Browns, but what is going on with Danielle Hunter? After last year’s breakout season, we expected him to become the same kind of dominant pass rusher as Everson Griffen. But he has largely been a non-factor on the stat sheet this season.
-- Geoff Hansplant

I’d say non-factor is about the last descriptor I would use for Hunter. You can make an argument that he made the biggest play of the game for the Vikings in London when he stripped Isaiah Crowell of the ball on the first play of the 3rd quarter to help set up the Vikings with a quick field goal. Aside from that, Hunter is second on the team in sacks with 3.0 and he’s also second on the team in quarterback hurries with 25. No, he’s not on pace to match the 12.5 sacks he had last season, but Everson Griffen is ahead of the pace he was on last year and so maybe some of Griffen’s production is coming from the attention teams are paying to Hunter at times. At the end of the day, these guys will put aside their individual statistics and milestones for team success. Hunter is helping the Vikings win games by being stout versus the run and by putting pressure on the quarterback.

Well, another win, albeit the Vikings made it harder than they needed to by taking penalties, especially in the first half. This is the frustrating part of the their game as it allowed the Browns to remain in the game. This game shouldn’t have been close, but at least we got our play turned around in the second half. My concern is we will be facing some better teams in the weeks ahead and we just can’t afford to have these slow starts. Do you think the problem lies with the players not getting into a rhythm quick enough or should the play calling change to set an up tempo sooner?
-- John Stephens

It’s a shared responsibility between the coaches (game plan and play calling) and players (attitude and execution) to start fast, generate a rhythm and win from gate to wire. But there isn’t just one team playing - the Browns are out there, too, and they have coaches and players looking to do the same thing. So I don’t get too caught up over how much the Vikings win by or whether they stared fast or not. It’s more about doing whatever it takes to win the game, and then using the mistakes that were made in the process of winning to sharpen up even more for the next game.

I went to my first NFL and Vikings game yesterday in London and it was one of the best experiences of my life. One thing I noticed was that David Morgan seemed to be getting more reps (in my view). What's the thinking behind this and do you see us using two tight ends more frequently now?
-- Zack
Worcester, UK

Morgan finished with three receptions on three targets for 28 yards, the most productive pass-catching game of his career. My sense was that this was more a product of Morgan playing well within in the scheme and Keenum throwing to the open receiver than it was a concerted effort to get Morgan additional looks.

Even though our two running backs are doing great, do you see the Vikings trading for Carlos Hyde (as rumors suggest) or would that be an unnecessary addition? He's in his prime and the 49ers could want something for him before he goes to free agency.
-- Ray Bustos
The Dalles OR

I guess you never rule anything completely out until the deadline passes, but this move would catch me by surprise. McKinnon and Latavius Murry have done a nice job producing in Dalvin Cook’s stead. In the four full games they’ve played since Cook’s injury, McKinnon and Murray have combined to score at least one touchdown in every game and total at least 99 scrimmage yards each week, including McKinnon’s 146-yard, one-touchdown outing in Chicago and Murray’s 113-yard, one-touchdown effort against Baltimore last week. I don’t know that trading depth at another position or 2018 draft pick compensation for another running back is the most prudent course of action.