The 2018 Minnesota Vikings offense has quickly become one of the best passing offenses in the NFL, and if they keep it up they’ll start drawing comparisons to the 1998 offense, at least in terms of throwing the ball. I posted this tweet from Eric in the SMR, but I think it’s worth showing again, just to see how impressive the start to this season has been for Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs:
While Thielen is on pace to break all sorts of records, Diggs and Cousins are putting up some crazy numbers too. Projections for them at their current pace:— Eric Thompson (@eric_j_thompson) October 8, 2018
Diggs: 118 receptions, 1,286 yards
Cousins: 5,401 yards, 35 TD, 6 INT
On Sunday, Thielen and Cousins set a couple records, and they’re unique ones in NFL history. First up, Thielen:
Adam Thielen is first WR in Super Bowl era to record 100+ receiving yards in team's first 5 games of season. #MINvsPHI— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) October 7, 2018
I can’t get over what an incredible statistic that is. Why? Let’s do a little background. Starting in the 1980’s, the NFL really shifted the rules to open up the passing game, and the best wide receivers to ever play the game have mostly come from this modern era where passing is the norm—Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, to just name a few.
Coming into the season, Thielen was considered one of the better wide receivers in the league, but it was genreally thought Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Jr., Michael Thomas, and DeAndre Hopkins were better. Heck, you could even make an argument (and you still can) that Thielen wasn’t even the best WR on the Vikings, because Stefon Diggs is every bit as capable as any of the other aforementioned contemporaries.
And none of them were able to accomplish what Thielen did on Sunday, with his fifth straight 100+ yard receiving game. Only Adam Thielen has done that, and it’s the first time anyone has done it since 1961...which ironically was the inagural season for the Vikings.
Thielen also has more receiving yards after five games than any other player in Vikings history:
But Thielen wouldn’t be doing all this without Kirk Cousins. On Sunday against the Eagles, Cousins set an NFL record of his own:
That’s a statistic that’s almost as incredible as Thielen’s record, especially since you can’t really hit the quarterback anymore, and passing is now the norm in the NFL. Cousins has also thrown for 400 yards twice this season. The last Vikings QB to do twice in one season was Daunte Culpepper in 2004, and the only other time that has happened in team history was in 1994, when Warren Moon did it. No QB in Vikings history has done it three times in one season, although Tommy Kramer threw for more than 400 yards four times in his career (1980, ‘81, ‘85 ‘86),
The last Vikings QB to throw for 400 yards in a game was Brett Favre in 2010, and it’s a feat that’s only been accomplished 13 times in team history.
There’s still a lot of things this team can improve on, and it makes sense that if the Vikes offense could run the ball Cousins, DIggs, and Thielen wouldn’t be off to their torrid starts.
But it also stands to reason that in past years, if the Vikings couldn’t run the ball, their offense was dead in the water and the Vikings had little to no chance of winning a game, barring a couple special teams or defensive touchdowns.
Although these record setting performances are a byproduct of an inability to run the ball, at least it’s nice to know that with Cousins, Diggs, and Thielen, the Vikings can still move the ball and score, and Minnesota still has a chance to win a lot of football games.
And if/when they get their running game issues ironed out, this team is going to be deadly.