Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin have combined to become arguably the best 1-2 punch in all the NFL this season. Peterson is leading the league in rushing (775), while Harvin is fifth in receiving yards (667). The Minnesota Vikings know they’re going to get an elite level of play from these two, game-in and game-out.
Well the time has come for someone else to step up.
Fans of the team aren’t going to be picky when it comes to this player, they just need someone else to rise up and be a difference-maker.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph was proving to be a solid third option through the first quarter of the season, but his production has declined greatly over the past few weeks.
Jerome Simpson missed the first three games of the year, had a good debut in week four, but has done next to nothing ever since. Veteran receiver Michael Jenkins is just that, an older receiver who the team can’t really count on to be a difference-maker.
The biggest disappointment by far though is tight end John Carlson. He was Minnesota’s “key” free agent signing (5 yrs/$25M) over the off-season, but due to an MCL sprain in the preseason, and a concussion in the regular season, Carlson has literally done almost nothing. On the season he’s recorded three catches for eight yards. That’s right, $5 million per year, and he’s caught three balls.
Minnesota is heading west this week to face Carlson’s former team the Seattle Seahawks, but the tight end is still listed as questionable with his concussion. I’m not going to hold my breath for a breakout performance from Carlson, even if he does suit up…
So who else can the Vikings utilize?
I’d like to see Rhett Ellison get some more looks. He’s been used as the team’s flex guy so far, playing fullback and tight end, and he’s looked good anytime the ball has been thrown his way. However he’s only been targeted five times through eight games. This is a number that needs to increase. With Carlson likely out or limited on Sunday, I’d like to see Ellison get double his number of season targets.
When it comes to Simpson, it’s too early to give up on him yet. The Vikings made a clear effort to get him involved last Thursday night, but he and Christian Ponder just weren’t on the same page. The team wants to use him as a deep threat, and while that is no doubt his role, I’d like to see some shorter throws his way, if for nothing else to establish a rhythm between he and Ponder.
Last and certainly not least is Rudolph. I’ve said all along that this guy’s potential is through the roof, and through half the season, I still feel the same. He’s a proven red zone target for Minnesota, but has been basically non-existent in all other facets of the passing game. I don’t care how, when, or where, just get him the ball. Find a way, and make it happen. Rudolph is too good to only be catching three balls a game.
The time is now for someone else to step up on the this young Vikings team, and if no one does, the postseason will become of the question.