A number of distinguished Vikings legends attended the home opener against the Packers Sunday night, including Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
Tarkenton took a three-hour tour of U.S. Bank Stadium while in town for the game, and he shared his thoughts via a Pioneer Press column. Tarkenton said he was overwhelmed by the Vikings new home.
I've played in a lot of football stadiums, yet when I walked into this new one for the first time, all I could say was, 'Wow!' I spent the next three hours exploring every nook and cranny, from the locker room to the five-star restaurants to the suites and all the seats. It was unbelievably fan-friendly.
Tarkenton said that, despite the injury curveballs Minnesota has faced early in the season, the Vikings have a team that can contend for a Super Bowl championship. He wrote:
*[Vikings General Manager] Rick Spielman made a bold move to acquire Sam Bradford. We have a great defense that can do everything. We have great young talent on offense and special teams. We have great coaches, a great organization — but we needed a quarterback who could make some plays for us. *
*[Sam Bradford] had a terrific game on Sunday with just two weeks of preparation. He played with poise, he was accurate, he completed passes and made good throws even under tremendous pressure. *
Tarkenton said that Bradford's performance against the Packers spoke volumes, and the Vikings are in a positive place.
We've got the best organization we've ever had, and I can't wait to see this season play out in this beautiful new stadium.
Stefon Diggs boasts top NFL speed against Packers
There are a number of player stats one can look at throughout the season. Following Week 2, Nick Shook of NFL.com zeroed in on players' top-end speed using Next Gen Stats.
Prior to the Vikings Sunday Night Football matchup against the Packers, the Bills' Marquise Goodwin hit a top speed of 22.25 mph. Shook said that Goodwin recorded the fastest speed of any ball carrier in the 2016 season – until Stefon Diggs took the field.
Diggs had a monster of a game Sunday night in a 17-14 win over the Packers, recording nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. He was a reliable target for Bradford in his first game as a Viking […] subtly stole the crown from Goodwin not even 72 hours after he'd first earned it, hitting 22.50 mph on one of his receptions.
Shook tracked Diggs' numbers against Damarious Randall through Next Gen Stats and found that Diggs caught all five of his targets for 134 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown, when matched against Randall.
Diggs was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week Wednesday morning.
Sam Bradford's debut was 'that impressive'
After Bradford led the Vikings to their second win in his debut with the team, NFL Media's Jeffri Chadiha said Minnesota should be "thinking about all the possibilities that now exist because Bradford's debut was literally that impressive."
Chadiha said he was impressed by more than just Bradford's stats.
*This was about the way he dropped passes into tight coverage, the ease he displayed in firing darts across the field, the toughness he revealed when he went to the locker room in the first half with an injured left hand and returned to do even more damage. *
It was the type of performance that put Minnesota right back into the conversation as postseason contenders. It also said something that Bradford was more eager to celebrate his teammates than his own success in such adverse circumstances.
Chadiha said Sunday was the best Bradford has looked in a long time, and that he "never lost his faith, his focus or his fight."
Brian Robison plays key role in Vikings win over Packers
At 33 years old, Brian Robison has embraced a different role on defense over the past two seasons, and it's been incredibly effective. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer occasionally has Robison line up at defensive tackle rather than his usual position at end. The Star Tribune's Andrew Krammer took a look at film of two big plays Robison made against Green Bay Sunday night, in which he forced an Aaron Rodgers fumble and helped keep the Packers from advancing on a fourth-down attempt.
He [and] Everson Griffen are the two versatile defensive ends the Vikings can use to confuse quarterbacks and their protectors. A shapeshifting defense requires players to forgo their comfort zones. And regardless of where he's lined up, offenses can be mistaken in assuming Robison is always going to move forward.
Covering tight ends and spying quarterbacks were two tricks Robison displayed on Sunday night. Though it was from his familiar post at left end where the 33-year-old veteran changed the game on two critical plays.