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Lunchbreak: Vikings TEs ‘Subtly’ Played Significant Role in Win

The Vikings offense put on an impressive performance en route to a convincing defeat of the Eagles Sunday, racking up 325 net passing yards and 122 yards on the ground.

It’s easy to credit quarterback Kirk Cousins, who threw for four scores, and the likes of Stefon Diggs (167 yards, 3 TDs) and Dalvin Cook (41 rushing yards, 1 TD), but Matthew Coller of SKOR North recently pointed out that the Vikings tight ends “subtly” played a “huge role” in the victory.

Kyle Rudolph had three catches for 36 yards; Irv Smith, Jr., had two catches for 29 yards. The stats aren’t flashy, but Coller said that Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s “use of tight ends made life difficult for Philadelphia.” Coller wrote:

The Vikings took advantage of Philly’s fear of Dalvin Cook and used big personnel packages to give the indication that they planned to run the ball down the Eagles throats when really they used multiple tight end sets and packages with fullback C.J. Ham to create confusion and mismatches that had the Eagles scrambling.

You can see from the snap counts (Rudolph – 70; Smith – 38; Ham – 34; TE Tyler Conklin – 11) that Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph was on the field for every play but he was flanked by either Smith or Ham for nearly the entire game and No. 3 tight end Tyler Conklin got his fair share of work as well. The result was the Eagles using three linebackers.

View exclusive images shot by Vikings team photographer Andy Kenutis as the Vikings and Eagles competed against each other in a Week 6 matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Coller explained that the Eagles “did not stay disciplined defensively or catch the quarterback getting out of the pocket or understand where they had to be,” and that largely can be credited to the tight ends and fullback.

He provided cut-ups for readers and broke down five instances in which Minnesota used multiple tight end sets or 21 personnel (running back, fullback and tight end) and had “great success selling the run to create endless space” for the receivers or tight ends.

The Eagles continued throughout the game to use eight-man boxes with base personnel (three linebackers), and the Vikings simply ate them alive.

Coller drew five takeaways from his study of the tight ends’ usage against Philadelphia, including crediting Rudolph who is “being used regularly as a decoy and doing the job, which is every bit as valuable as his role as a receiving option.” He also said of Smith:

Irv Smith might not be winning you any fantasy championships, but he is the dynamic weapon the Vikings hoped for when they drafted him. His ability to force opponents (though they shouldn’t!) to bring in extra linebackers gives them a massive edge in coverage. Most NFL teams use nickel packages 70 [percent] of the time, and there are very few great linebackers in the league, so defenses [can be] out of their element with three linebackers on the field.

CBS Sports gives Vikings ‘A’ grade for Week 6 win

In his weekly grades of matchups around the league, CBS Sports’ John Breech gave Minnesota an “A” for its home win against Philadelphia.

Breech said, “[I don’t] think you can ask any more of the Vikings offense on this one.” He wrote:

Minnesota gashed Philadelphia’s defense all afternoon as the Vikings finished with 447 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per play. Cousins was exceptional, finishing 22 of 29 for 333 yards with four touchdowns and an interception for a 138.4 rating, his first four-touchdown game since Week 2 of the 2018 season. Cousins had the deep ball going to Stefon Diggs, who had touchdown catches for 62 and 51 yards as he finished with seven catches for 167 yards for three scores. Cousins and Diggs torched the Eagles defense throughout the day as the Vikings raced out to a 21-point first half lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish.

Also worth noting by Vikings fans is Breech’s “B” grade for the Lions, who were defeated on Monday Night Football by a last-second Packers field goal. The Vikings will travel to Detroit this weekend for Sunday’s divisional matchup.

When the Lions look back at this game, they’re going to be upset about two things: The officiating and their ability to convert in the red zone. Although the Lions offense was able to move the ball for most of the game, it seemed to fall apart every time it got closer to the Packers end zone.

Breech pointed out that Detroit made it inside Green Bay’s 10-yard line on three occasions Monday but only scored one touchdown.

The Lions offense also completely disappeared in the second half, as Matthew Stafford threw for just 46 yards after throwing for 219 in the first half. The Lions defense gave up 447 yards, but it’s hard to blame them for anything, considering Trey Flowers got called for two crucial hands to the face penalties that should’ve never been called.

Diggs named SNICKERS ‘Hungriest Player’ of the Week

After a pretty sweet outing against the Eagles on Sunday, Diggs was named SNICKERS Hungriest Player of the Week and received the coveted chain.

Throughout the season, SNICKERS and NFL players will be passing the SNICKERS chain – which features diamonds, blue sapphires and red rubies, from one player to the next. The first five recipients this season were Ravens WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Bears K Eddy Piñeiro, Rams WR Cooper Kupp, Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew and Texans WR Will Fuller.

Fans can follow the #SNICKERSchain journey to see which player receives the honor each week. Toward the end of the regular season, fans will weigh in on selecting the NFL’s hungriest player. That player will then award proceeds from the chain to a charity of his choice.

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