EAGAN, Minn. — Stefon Diggs is on his fourth offensive coordinator at the onset of his fifth Vikings season, but the receiver believes momentum that began at the end of 2018 can carry over into 2019 for a couple of reasons.
Diggs and other offensive players were able to experience Kevin Stefanski’s installation and game-day approaches for the final three weeks last December.
With the benefit of time this offseason, Stefanski is able to fully implement Minnesota’s system, and players are able to dive into the details.
“I’m excited to see Coach Stefanski again,” Diggs said Wednesday. “I’ve got a hundred-percent faith and trust in him, based on those last three games going into the offseason. Seeing him and being back in the swing of things is just exciting. It’s part of getting the ball rolling, picking up on the playbook, the fine nuances of how he wants things done, even though I’ve been here for a while. I’ve had a new O.C. almost every year, so as far as the learning curve, I’m not that new to it.”
In addition to changeovers at the offensive coordinator position, the Vikings have struggled for continuity at the starting quarterback position.
Diggs has totaled 302 receptions for 3,493 yards and 24 touchdowns in 55 regular-season games (48 starts) through his first four pro seasons.
But what might make that production even more impressive is he’s done so with a different starting QB each season.
In his rookie year, he led Minnesota with 52 receptions and 720 yards in starting nine of 13 games as Teddy Bridgewater opened all 16 contests.
The two looked like they were growing even closer together in the 2016 offseason before Bridgewater’s third pro season ended with a non-contact knee injury at the final practice of the preseason.
Minnesota traded for Sam Bradford, who opened the final 15 contests that season, and Diggs racked up 84 receptions for 903 yards.
Bradford and Diggs opened 2017 ablaze, connecting seven times on eight targets for 93 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints, but the quarterback suffered a knee injury that kept him from starting all but one game the rest of the way.
Diggs helped Case Keenum step in for Bradford. The receiver totaled 64 receptions for 849 yards and eight scores in the regular season and provided the finishing touch on the heave from Keenum now known as the “Minneapolis Miracle.”
The Vikings had the extremely rare situation of Bridgewater, Bradford and Keenum having contracts that expired in March of 2018 and signed Cousins.
Diggs followed with career bests of 149 targets, 102 receptions, 1,021 yards and nine receiving touchdowns in 2018.
The receptions ranked 11th in the NFL, the yards were 20th and the scores through the air tied for 10th.
But the team didn’t achieve its goals, finishing 8-7-1 and a half-game out of the postseason.
Diggs spent much of the offseason working out near Washington, D.C. He returned for his first OTA practice last Thursday, the third of the team’s 10 voluntary sessions. He is looking forward to an increased comfort level with Cousins leading to more team accomplishments this season.
“Big picture, everybody wants things to happen so fast, but Kirk was only here for six months or something like that [before the 2018 season started],” Diggs said. “As far as going into his second year and getting comfortable, I remember at one point I was with Teddy, and it took a while to get adjusted. I was new to the league and he was young, too, so as far as having a veteran quarterback that’s been around the game, I trust him.
“As far as going into the second year, I look forward to building on the relationship and moving forward,” Diggs said. “We kind of have a bad taste in our mouth from last year. We had high goals just like everybody else but things didn’t go our way.”