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Next Gen Stats: Fastest Vikings, Greatest Distances & Team Tendencies

Vikings.com last week took a look at traditional team and individual player stats that defined the 2020 Minnesota Vikings by highlighting "big numbers," but what do the Next Gen Stats show? Here are multiple learnings from the Vikings 2020 season and the in-game tracking devices worn by players.

What was Dalvin Cook's maximum speed as a ball carrier?

21.95 mph, but …

It was on a play that didn't count.

The running back reached the speed during a 36-yard rush on third-and-1 at Chicago in Week 10. The gain, however, was negated due to a holding penalty called against Kyle Rudolph.

So … 21.90 mph

The previous week against Detroit, Cook rushed for a 70-yard touchdown that did count and reached 21.90 mph as he accelerated past Lions defenders for his longest score of the season.

Did any teammate reach a faster speed?

Yes.

22.42 and 22.19 mph

Rookie Dan Chisena, who split time between the gridiron and track at Penn State, was clocked at 22.42 mph against Jacksonville and 22.19 mph against Atlanta — the only max speeds by a Viking faster than Cook in 2020. Chisena reached his top speed as a gunner on a 45-yard punt by Britton Colquitt that resulted in a fair catch.

Which Viking traveled the greatest cumulative distance?

19,482.95 yards

Any guesses?

I'll give you a hint. He was the only defensive player to play every snap.

Yep, Anthony Harris led the Vikings with 19,482.95 yards traveled during the 2020 season, which is more than 11 miles. Fellow safety Harrison Smith ranked second on the team with 18,401.82 yards traveled, a sign of just how much Harris and Smith played (and of their roles in roaming the secondary). Adam Thielen (18,320.28) led Vikings offensive players, and rookie Justin Jefferson ranked second (18,111.55). Linebacker Eric Wilson (17,964.59) rounded out the top five.

Believe it or not …

Kirk Cousins (12,335.97, which ranked eighth among Vikings) actually traveled farther than Cook (11,863.20, which ranked 10th).

Cousins rushed 32 total times (including kneel-downs) for 156 yards, which is the second-most in any of his nine pro seasons. Much of his distance involved going from under center to make handoffs or using fakes in the play-action game and bootlegging.

Cousins' distances traveled have increased in each of the past three seasons since joining the Vikings. He traveled 10,561.62 yards in 2018, and that number increased to 11,893,52 in a system that relied on more bootlegs than the previous offense. The quarterback said he wanted to use his legs more in 2020, and he definitely did.

Under center vs. shotgun

Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak had Cousins under center on 635 plays (62.7 percent), compared to 374 plays in the shotgun. Next Gen Stats also tracked three snaps in the pistol and one in the wildcat by the Vikings. Kubiak's influence as a senior assistant could have been a factor in former Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski having the Vikings under center on 661 plays, compared to 293 in the shotgun and one in the pistol in 2019. The previous season, which began with John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator, Cousins was in the shotgun on 595 plays, compared to 386 under center and 10 in the pistol.

Table inside Article
2020 Vikings Plays Net Pass Yards Yards/Play TD Sacked
Under Center 635 2,087 6.34 37 16
Shotgun 374 1,922 6.73 18 23

Offensive personnel

The Vikings relied on "11 personnel" — one running back, one tight end and three receivers — the most on offense in 2020, going with that grouping on 280 of 1,023 total plays (27.4 percent). The Vikings averaged 5.68 yards per play with that grouping and scored 13 touchdowns.

Minnesota's use of "21 personnel" — two running backs, one tight end and two receivers — was used on 264 plays and resulted in an average of 6.81 yards per play and eight touchdowns.

The third-most common grouping was "12" — one running back, two tight ends and two receivers — and resulted in 5.75 yards per play and 16 scores.

The use of 21 or 12 may have exceeded 11 if Minnesota had spent more time in games with the lead.

Defensive personnel

As the passing game continues to increase across the NFL, nickel is becoming the "new base" grouping for defenses.

The Vikings relied on nickel — four defensive linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs — on 608 of their 1,036 defensive snaps (58.7 percent). The base defense of four defensive linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs was used on 368 plays (35.5 percent).

Table inside Article
2020 Vikings Plays Yards Allowed Yards Allowed/Play TD
Base 368 2,276 6.18 12
Nickel 608 3,613 5.94 25

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