EAGAN, Minn. – In the NFL, geography is often destiny.
For rookies Jordan Addison and Ivan Pace, Jr., landing with the Minnesota Vikings kickstarted their careers by pairing them with Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores, respectively.
Addison and Pace each had standout rookie campaigns despite their differentiated entry points. Addison entered as the No. 23 pick and made an instant impact. He finished with 911 receiving yards (third among rookies) and a team-high 10 touchdown receptions. Pace, an undrafted rookie, earned first-team training camp reps alongside Jordan Hicks and remained a staple of the defense all year.
Star Tribune writer Andrew Krammer broke down the rookies' first season in a recent film review that also included analysis of defensive backs Josh Metellus, Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth, Jr.
On Addison, Krammer wrote:
Addison earned the No. 3 receiver role out of the preseason, initially slotting behind receiver K.J. Osborn. His speed was an immediate difference-maker. O'Connell, [Offensive Coordinator] Wes Phillips and Tight Ends Coach/Pass Game Coordinator Brian Angelichio deployed Addison in ways to leverage the defensive attention paid to Justin Jefferson. In Addison's first regular-season game against Tampa Bay, his 39-yard touchdown was a simple post route.
Krammer noted a Buccaneers deep defender staying with Justin Jefferson enabled Addison to outrun the middle defender for the score.
He added a 62-yard score only four days later in Philadelphia, becoming the first Vikings rookie since Percy Harvin in 2009 to start a career with touchdown catches in his first two games.
Krammer's review includes key plays from the preseason, Week 1 and Addison's Monday Night Football breakout performance against the 49ers.
Addison's star reached its peak in the Oct. 23 win over the 49ers when he had seven catches for a season-high 123 yards and two scores. That included a ridiculous 60-yard touchdown in which he ripped the ball out of 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward's hands and maintained his stride. His role grew from there. He became the team's WR1 while Jefferson dealt with hamstring and chest injuries.
On Pace, Krammer highlighted the 5-foot-10 linebacker's relentless motor. Pace appeared in all 17 games but shouldered an increased workload following Hicks' Nov. 12 injury, which landed the veteran linebacker on Injured Reserve for four weeks.
He made a huge step. Not only did Pace take over the in-helmet microphone — or "green dot," noting the sticker on the back of the helmet — to communicate defensive play calls, he was the Vikings leading tackler in each of the four games Hicks missed. That included Pace's 13 tackles in the Dec. 10 shutout win against Las Vegas, which he sealed with an interception. Pace was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week afterward.
He was one of the canine teeth for an aggressive Vikings blitz scheme. But like his teammates, he wasn't incredibly effective. Anticipating the Vikings league-high blitz rate, opposing quarterbacks often threw quickly. But Pace can put moves on blockers when he has a plan. This is an area where he's seemingly got loads of potential.
Click here to read Krammer's full film review.
View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.
Vikings Coach Daronte Jones named a defensive coordinator for Senior Bowl
Vikings Defensive Backs Coach and Pass Game Coordinator Daronte Jones earned a major role in the 75th Reese's Senior Bowl. On Wednesday, Jones was named the defensive coordinator of the National Team.
The Senior Bowl is in its second season of its "Coach Up" format, which places coaches around the league in elevated roles for three days of practices and the college all-star game.
Jones was nominated by the Vikings and then selected by a group of league office executives and representatives from the General Managers Advisory Committee.
The Senior Bowl will be played Feb. 3 in Mobile, Alabama, after practices on Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
Here is a list of the 2024 Senior Bowl head coaches and coordinators.
Head Coach: Titans Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Terrell Williams
Offensive Coordinator: Patriots Wide Receivers Coach Troy Brown
Defensive Coordinator: Browns Defensive Backs Coach Ephraim Banda
Special Teams Coordinator: Giants Assistant Special Teams Coach Mike Adams
Head Coach: Jets Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich
Offensive Coordinator: Giants Quarterbacks Coach Shea Tierney
Defensive Coordinator: Vikings Pass Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach Daronte Jones
Special Teams Coordinator: Saints Assistant Special Teams Coach Phil Galiano