Mixed in with the doom and gloom of an 0-3 start, a couple of new Vikings are having a bright beginning to their rookie campaigns: WR Jordan Addison and LB Ivan Pace Jr.
Much of the personnel talk has revolved around the trenches, QB Kirk Cousins, WR Justin Jefferson, and TE TJ Hockenson. For the sake of Cousins and Jefferson, anyone talking down on them needs to realize just how much they are carrying this team right now. This season could be so much worse without either one.
The lines and Hockenson, as well as Alexander Mattison, are definitely going through .
There is some silver lining to be found despite the world of hurt. Vikings fans, at least for the duration of this article, I plead you to be optimists here.
First I gotta give a shout out to Ty Chandler. In his three attempts last week he went for 27 yards and a first down on 3 carries, the longest being that 12. In his limited run out he looked like a dawg. Showing some promise.
There is a reason you're seeing more of Ivan Pace Jr than Brian Asamoah.
Pace, undrafted, is the second-highest rated defensive rookie by PFF this year at 84.9. 3 games into life in the NFL he has 3 QB hits and half a sack, along with 13 solo tackles.
Against the pass, Pace has given up 2 completions on 2 targets, but was on the coverage well enough to bring down the receiver to only give up 8 yards across 148 snaps (70% of the Vikings defensive snaps).
The QBs Pace has faced have only put up a 83.3 passer rating when throwing to a Pace-covered wide receiver. While the sample size is small, the competition Pace has played against is not.
One of the best rushing teams in the league (Eagles) and a QB/WR who out dueled the hottest start to a season for any QB/WR combo.. The Bucs, well, I hate to tell you the truth but they're technically doing better than us.
Pace is also holding it down on special teams too, adding just that much more to the flash he showed in Training Camp to make the team in the first place.
Next week he’s got another test in pass-rushing ability, tackling Carolina Panthers QB Bryce Young, the #1 overall pick.
While he started his Vikings career off in less-than-desirable fashion just days before Training Camp, Addison has responded well by being quiet off-the field and proving himself on it.
While he didn’t get any TD’s against the Chargers, Addison has definitely added another dimension to the one thing that is keeping us in any of these contests... The Vikings passing game.
Addison is only behind Jefferson in receiving yards this year with 185 on 19 targets and 13 receptions. The rookie is outpacing KJ Osborn (his closest competition for the WR2 spot in training camp) in targets and is making that look like that trend won’t be stopping anytime soon.
He’s also got the longest TD on the year for the Vikings with a 62 yard pass (and a 39-yarder vs the Buccaners, the 2nd longest TD) which he walked into the end zone against the Eagles and their vaunted defense, which has made a habit of locking down deep plays.
It is only a matter of time before Addison truly has his breakthrough game, even if Jefferson will continue to get the Lions share of targets.
Turn a warm hand hot (and couple that with the other threat for defenses of covering Jefferson) and that could make for a great performance down the line.
Addison also is looking marginally better than (or at least keeping pace with) who he replaced. Adam Thielen is chugging along at 10.6 yds/rec for the Carolina Panthers (As Carolina’s WR1) and Addison (as WR2) clocking in at 14.2 yds/rec on 6 less targets.
On Sunday I’ll be sure to be watching both these players to see who leaves a better impression.