Lunchbreak: Vikings Have Chance for Even Better Offensive Outputs

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said Minnesota’s offense was “all over the map” in Sunday’s win over the Jets, as the unit was efficient in some stretches and sluggish in other areas during the game.

Cousins’ assessment could probably be included for a season-long look at the offense so far, as the group has had mostly solid offensive outings mixed with a few poor performances.

Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com recently wrote that while Minnesota’s offense has been among the league’s best at times, there are also areas for improvement.

Coller wrote:

Last season the Vikings finished 10th in points, eighth in percentage of drives ending in points, eighth in net yards per pass attempt, seventh in rushing yards, 12th in red zone touchdown percentage and No. 1 in third-down percentage.

In the same categories this year, Minnesota’s offense sits ninth in points, 26th in percentage of drives ending in points, 16th in net yards per pass attempt, 25th in rushing yards, 19th in red zone touchdown percentage and 22nd in third-down percentage

Considering that seven games is a small sample — and the Vikings offense was not one of the best in the league through seven weeks last year — there’s plenty of time to maximize the talents of quarterback Kirk Cousins and skills of his weapons. An improving offensive line and the return of Dalvin Cook would likely go a long way toward the Vikings producing points on a higher percentage of their drives.

Coller noted that one area that could improve is Cousins’ yards per pass attempt, which could see an uptick with a collective effort.

He wrote:

In terms of yards per pass attempt, it is clear that the offense relies on moving the ball with short passes and hitting on the occasional bomb. Kirk Cousins is fourth in the fewest air yards per attempt and has the NFL’s second-lowest “Aggressiveness Percentage,” which is a NextGen stat tracking the [number] of passing attempts a quarterback makes that are into tight coverage.

If the Vikings pass protection continues to show positive signs as it (mostly) did over the past two weeks, Cousins may work the ball downfield at a higher rate and see a jump in yards per attempt going forward. But this week against a dangerous pair of defensive ends with New Orleans, it’s likely that the Vikings will have to continue to rely on quick passes and every-once-in-awhile deep shots.

Cousins is ranked second in the NFL with 2,162 yards. He is also tied for sixth with 14 touchdown passes and is one of four quarterbacks with a completion percentage of 70 percent or better.

Hill listed as ‘unheralded baller’ of Week 7

When Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes went down with an injury in the fourth quarter against the Jets, his replacement didn’t miss a beat.

Minnesota rookie cornerback Holton Hill, who signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent this spring, stepped right in and picked off his first career pass.

ESPN writer Cameron Wolfe took note of Hill’s clutch play and included him in his list of the unheralded ballers from this past weekend.

Wolfe wrote:

The Vikings have been decimated at cornerback this season, losing Mike Hughes, Trae Waynes and Rhodes [at various times]. Guys like Hill have been called upon to step up, and they have shined. Hill's interception came on his first play after taking over for the injured Rhodes, derailing a promising Jets drive and leading to a Minnesota touchdown.

Hill played a season-high 18 defensive snaps on Sunday. He has 38 total snaps on defense in 2018 and has also played 150 special teams snaps, which is the second-most on the team.

View the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" as the team defeated the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

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