The Minnesota Vikings have an average age of 25.58 years old, which makes them the fifth-youngest team in the league. With that much youth on a team, young players are going to be expected to step up and make plays.
There are players who are being put into big roles, such as Anthony Barr (22 years old), who played in all 70 defensive snaps and also in four snaps on special team. No matter how young you are, though, you still need to make the plays you are expected to make.
“No, I think that’s just an excuse,” said Greenway when asked if the team is still growing and learning because of the youth. “I think the reality is when you’re put in positions to make plays, you got to make the plays. That’s what they put you out there for. If you can do it for 59 out of 60 plays, or whatever it is, but one play can be the difference.”
“You just got to keep young guys who are in on the situations to just understand that you have to keep your confidence because the season’s not going to end on that one play, a bad play.”
Keeping a young players confidence is important in helping them develop. Although there are things that went wrong in Sunday’s game, there were a lot of things that the young players did well.
One example is the play of Barr, who recorded a team-high eight solo tackles and was second on the team with 10 total tackles. He also recovered two forces fumbles, which ultimately helped his team.
Even though these young players do make plays that help the team, you will still see them make mistakes as well. That is just part of learning a new system and moving up to the NFL. New players make mistakes; limiting them is the key.
Although Greenway thinks of that as just an excuse, head coach Mike Zimmer understands that you have to go through growing pains with young teams.
“I understand that we’re a young football team, I guess is what I’m saying, and that we’re going to have some learning experiences with some of these situations,” Zimmer said.
“A lot of people – like with Xavier Rhodes, he’s played very, very well the last four or five ballgames. There’s a couple situations there at the end that he needs to realize where he’s at. I think all those things are going to come from experience in certain situations.”
Zimmer is referring to when Rhodes got beat for a 28-yard pass, which put Buffalo on the 2-yard line, and then the next play (after the spike) when Rhodes was beaten again for the game-winning touchdown pass.
On the touchdown pass Rhodes had inside help so he should have been more to the outside than he was, something that the team has been working on in practice.
“It’s getting to understand splits,” Zimmer said. “Getting to understand help, getting to understand formations and where you’re supposed to be. I anticipate he will never make that mistake again.”
Zimmer adjusting with youth of Vikings
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