The Minnesota Vikings passing game took a back seat to their running game Sunday against the Detroit Lions as running back Adrian Peterson ran the ball 29 times and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw the ball 18 times. Even though he didn’t have many passing attempts, Bridgewater was still able to spread the ball around, targeting six different players through the course of the game.
That was also something that he was able to do in the team’s first game of the season where he targeted nine different players on 32 attempts. In the first two games, Bridgewater’s top targets are tight end Kyle Rudolph with 14 passes thrown his way and wide receiver Mike Wallace with 10.
Throughout the offseason, a lot of the Vikings’ offensive players talked about the depth they have at the skill positions and it is becoming even more evident now that they are playing in meaningful games.
“We have a lot of great players on this team,” Wallace said. “We have so many that it’s hard to get the ball to everybody. We have guys like Stefon Diggs who’s not even dressing up, but if you put him on the field he’ll make a lot of plays. We have a lot of depth, so we’re definitely just scratching the surface. We have a lot of players who haven’t even gotten to show their things off yet.”
With the amount of talent present it can be hard to get everyone the ball on a consistent basis; instead, it seems as though the offense will go with whatever is working well that particular week.
On Sunday, the running game was working well so the offense was primarily run through Peterson. Days like that can be hard for receivers because they are not as involved, even though they prepared as hard as normal.
“I think it’s never easy to be unselfish as a wide receiver,” Wallace said, “simply because you go out in practice and you run so many routes every day and there are so many good things you see in the game plan. And you’re going to have a guy on that side that’s going to talk and say a lot of different things like, ‘You can’t get open, you’re not doing this, you’re not doing that.’ So when guys say those types of things you really want to go out and show them, but at the end of the day it’s all about winning. However we get it done, that’s how we get it done. Running, throwing, special teams, it don’t matter. When we get the win it is what it is.”
The thing to keep in mind, however, is that the running game and the passing game feed off of one another. If the defense is keying in one area because the offense is having so much success in that aspect of the game, then it should open things up for the pass, and vice versa.
Wallace knows there are going to be areas down the field for the offense to exploit, but he also knows they can’t attack them on every play.
“It’s always open,” Wallace said when asked if there are plays down the field that are open. “But we have a great running back and some great guys so you’re not just going to attempt the ball down the field all the time, but it’s open. That’s not a question.”
When the running game gets going, it also opens up for some back-side plays, such as the reverse that Jarius Wright received on Sunday and was able to pick up 29 yards. Wallace is not the biggest fan of reverses to receivers, but if the play is called where he gets the ball he won’t complain.
“I mean, I’m cool with it. I don’t know if I like reverses that much, though,” Wallace said. “But I’ll take them. Anytime you can get the ball is always good. Just got to make some guys miss.”
It is going to be interesting to see how the Vikings continue to utilize different talents on the offensive side of the ball, but as long as they continue to win games everyone should remain happy.