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Minnesota Vikings Weekly Player Recap: Week 8, 2021

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

There seems to be a turning point in every season. Last year the Vikings went on a run about this time. This year the after bye run starts off with an ugly loss to a backup QB at home. The loss comes with a season ending injury to the defensive MVP Danielle Hunter. (If you don’t think he is defensive MVP look at how horribly the team plays without him.) I am bitterly disappointed in this loss, but it is just one loss. The season isn’t over and 6-4 over the last 10 games could be good enough to get a playoff spot.


Kirk Cousins - 66 plays (100%) 23 for 35, 184 yards, 1 TD, 36.5 QBR, 88.3 Passer Rating, 3 runs for 18 yards. The first drive was good from Kirk. The next 3 12 quarters was the definition of why the fanbase doesn’t fully support him. He was bad and should feel bad. Somehow Kirk is the highest PFF rated player on offense with a grade of 78.6. PFF is wrong and ESPN’s QBR metric of 36.5 is correct. He was worse than Cooper Rush and Kirk was playing against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. The OL did him no favors, but Kirk crumbles under any pressure at all. We need better from Kirk and this inconsistent play is why the team isn’t ever going to be a contender with him. I’ve been swallowing my pride for most of this year because he has played very well in most games. The team came out passing like they should’ve and it didn’t work. Also, Kirk had a chance at hurry up drives at the end of each half. They were both horrendous and Zim didn’t help at all either with his terrible clock management. I thought Kirk had turned a corner on this with some nice last minutes drives this year.


Dalvin Cook - 47 plays (71%) 18 runs for 78 yards, 0 catches (2 targets). Not the best game from Cook. He never got into a rhythm. Dallas’ defense is pretty good against the run and poor against the pass so it should’ve been a pass heavy game plan. I was disappointed Cook wasn’t more involved in the pass game. I remember one of his screens he seemed to make a poor effort and the ball dropped. Just mediocre overall from Cook.

Alexander Mattison - 8 plays (12%) 2 runs for 5 yards, 2 catches for -5 yards (2 targets). Not much action for the RB2.

C.J. Ham - 26 plays (39%) 1 run for 0 yards, 3 catches for 3 yards (3 targets). You know the game isn’t going your way when Ham doesn’t get the yard needed. It’s not very often he is stuffed for no gain. PFF 59.6


Adam Thielen - 65 plays (98%) 6 catches for 78 yards 1TD (9 targets) PFF 68.3. Thielen put together a solid performance. He had a nice TD catch on the opening drive and another nice 32-yard gain on 4th and 1 to get the team in FG range before half. Then, like the rest of the offense, he disappeared.

Justin Jefferson - 47 plays (71%) 2 catches for 21 yards (4 targets). Jefferson’s biggest play was drawing a pass interference call on the opening drive. His second biggest play was a throw away on a trick play. 4 targets isn’t enough for JJ. Of course, drops don’t help his case either. PFF 45.6 as JJ just couldn’t get going on Sunday.

K.J. Osborn - 38 plays (58%) 2 catches for 10 yards (3 targets) PFF 49.1 was worse than I expected. If you read into the grades I would say PFF seems to think the receivers were more of the issue than the QB. It wasn’t the best game for everyone’s favorite WR3.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette - 11 plays (17%) 1 catch for 6 yards (1 target) He got the worst two minute drill ever seen in the world started just before half. ISM did his part by getting out of bounds after a short gain.

Dan Chisena - 2 plays (3%) Doubled up his snap count from the previous game! Maybe 4 snaps against Baltimore?

TEs -

Tyler Conklin - 54 plays (82%) 5 catches for 57 yards (7 targets) Conklin started the game with a big 31 yard gain to setup the Thielen TD on the opening drive. The rest of his catches were the 5-7 yard gains on 3rd and long. Old Vikings offense came back to play. PFF 71.9 is sadly good enough for 2nd best on offense.

Chris Herndon - 15 plays (23%) 1 catch for 7 yards (1 target) PFF 70.4. He was held in a lot to help block the failing OL.

Luke Stocker - 17 plays (26%) 0 targets for Luke this week. PFF 54.4 shows how poor he was blocking as well. He was picked up off the scrap heap and the Vikes just don’t have another option at this point so they can’t throw him back to the scrap heap.

OL -

Christian Darrisaw - 66 snaps (100%) PFF 58.3 overall 70.4 run, 37.5 pass. This game brought back memories of Matt Kalil for me. That rookie LT you got excited about and then fell apart. Darrisaw looked like a rookie on Sunday. I didn’t think he was the worst OL on the team on Sunday, but he was an issue.

Ezra Cleveland - 66 snaps (100%) PFF 62.6 overall, 73.6 run, 27.3 pass Cleveland has been solid in the run since last year. Really poor in the passing game and seems to show very little improvement. Do we ever see any improvement from our OL guys though? Do we have a coach that teaches pass blocking techniques?

Garrett Bradbury - 66 snaps (100%) PFF 59.7 overall, 74.8 run, 27.3 pass Bradbury is a bust of a pick. I think that can officially be declared. He has been one of the worst starting centers in the league since he’s been drafted. He just doesn’t have the build to hold off DTs in the pass game.

Oli Udoh - 66 snaps (100%) PFF 67.6 overall, 73.5 run, 43.0 pass. Udoh was pretty good on Sunday for the most part. He did have back to back holding penalties, but they were both declined. He still has a long ways to go in the passing game, but he can open up some holes for Cook.

Brian O’Neil - 66 snaps (100%) PFF 71.8, 64.4 run, 78.6 pass. The only player on the OL that was capable of pass blocking on Sunday. O’Neil was clearly the best OL on the team and really solid play next to some poor performances.

DL - Overall the run defense was superb, but the team can’t get pressure against the pass without Hunter.

Danielle Hunter - 27 plays (37%) Hunter tore his pec and is out for the year. He is the most important player on this defense and it’s going to leave a huge hole. The pass rush is anemic without Hunter and now the defense’s only pass rush threat is going to be an aging Everson Griffen. Hunter absorbs double teams and chip blocks. His absence will allow teams to free up their TEs and I don’t like the Vikes chances without Hunter. PFF 53.2

Everson Griffen - 60 plays (82%) Griff opened up the game with his classic offsides and it always gets a good chuckle from me. I am just happy when it doesn’t happen on 3rd and 5. He had a nice sack on 3rd and 8 to help setup the offense with nice field position. Not much happening after that with Hunter going out.

D.J. Wonnum - 36 plays (73%) Wonnum is going to see a lot of playing time going forward and that makes me sad. He can occasionally make a play, but he can’t get consistent pressure on the passer or hold the edge like Hunter.

Armon Watts - 36 plays (64%) Watts wasn’t spectacular on Sunday, but he did his job well enough. 3 runs stops on defense helped contain the Cowboys’ strong rushing attack.

Dalvin Tomlinson - 43 plays (79%) PFF 66.7 is 4th best on defense. Tomlinson did very well helping stop the potent rushing attack from the ‘Boys. He has been solid all year and very consistent.

Sheldon Richardson - 30 plays (41%) I’m not big on Richardson and I don’t believe he adds much at the position. If Pierce can ever get back Richardson might be down to single digit snaps. PFF 57.0

James Lynch - 16 plays (22%) PFF 53.0, the long snapper had more tackles on Sunday than Lynch.

Kenny Willekes - 16 plays (22%) I really didn’t see him much out there. Didn’t realize he played this much. I was distracted a bit on Sunday night, but not good when you don’t notice a player that played this much.


Eric Kendricks - 73 plays (100%) PFF 82.2 Hunter may be the most important player on defense, but Kendricks might be the best. Eric got a nice sack on 3rd down to hold the Cowboys to a missed field goal attempt. Kendricks seems to always be in the right position to make a play.

Anthony Barr - 73 plays (100%) Probably Barr’s best game of the year, but also probably Barr’s worst play of the year allowing the Cowboys to get a first down after missing a tackle on Zeke. If he makes that tackle, the game is likely tied and likely goes to OT. He missed it and the team loses. Games are won and lost on simple plays and he just seemed to get beat by someone who put forth more effort. Barr is physically capable of making just about any play on defense, but doesn’t seem to be able to consistently make those plays. PFF 73.9

Nick Vigil - 30 plays (41%) Vigil was ok this week. He had 3 runs tops for 2 yards or less and was decent against the run. He just doesn’t have that football IQ of a player like Kendricks (most don’t).


Xavier Woods - 73 plays (100%) PFF 81.3 is 2nd only behind Kendricks for the week. Woods had a great game on Sunday. His INT was a gift from Harrison Smith, but his sack/fumble combo was nice. He also had a lot of tackles this week and was strong in run support. This is the Xavier Woods we’ll need with Hunter going out.

Harrison Smith - 73 plays (100%) PFF 64.1 Smith had that very nice pass defense to gift Woods the INT. Harrison was also in on a lot of tackles, which would be a good thing if they weren’t all 20+ yards down the field. Harry helped keep the score down in game where the defense gave up a lot of yards. He kept those big plays out of the end zone and kept the team in it.

Bashaud Breeland - 73 plays (100%) Breeland gave up a couple of big plays, but Cooper and Lamb are going to get plays. He wasn’t a dumpster fire, but he should play better against Cooper Rush at QB. You can’t let Cooper H Rush beat you.

Cameron Dantzler - 73 plays (100%) Dantzler gave up a lot of chunk plays on Sunday. Very similar to Breeland, Cam allowed Cooper and Lamb to feast all night. Cam did have a couple of passes defensed, which is more than the other two CBs can say.

Mackenzie Alexander - 39 plays (53%) PFF 29.3 and by far the worst player on the field. He was terrible and should feel terrible. Mack had been playing well, but he got schooled on Sunday. He got beat like a drum at a Braves World Series game. He got smoked like a pork butt at a BBQ contest. He got burned worse than an extra-well done steak. He was simply terrible. The seemingly only play he didn’t give up a reception on, he was called for DPI. The only play I remember him making was a TFL against Zeke before Mike Zimmer decided to call back to back timeouts.

Camryn Bynum - 4 plays (5%) He had a nice tackle on 3rd and long to force a punt. Not much action other than that.

This game is best summed up by Will Ragatz of Sports Illustrated.

Last Game’s Poll Results

Kirk Cousins 69%

Adam Thielen 13%

Armon Watts 9%

KJ Osborn 7%

Bashaud Breeland 2%


Who was the Vikes’ best player on Sunday?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Xavier Woods
    (303 votes)
  • 29%
    Eric Kendricks
    (148 votes)
  • 0%
    Harrison Smith
    (4 votes)
  • 9%
    Adam Thielen
    (47 votes)
502 votes total Vote Now