Minnesota Vikings fans heard plenty this offseason about the team’s offensive acquisitions, Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, who were supposed to take some of the load off of Adrian Peterson’s shoulders and help Christian Ponder become a better quarterback. However, through the team’s first three games, Jennings and Patterson have combined for only 16 receptions and 233 receiving yards.
The Vikings spent big money to acquire Jennings in free agency and traded multiple picks to get a third pick in the first round to take Patterson. If the Vikings put so much focus on putting more weapons around Ponder, then why aren’t they being utilized? Jennings has only been targeted 19 times this season, which is unheard of for a team’s No. 1 wide receiver. Jerome Simpson has started the season better than most expected, but that’s not a legitimate excuse for not utilizing Jennings. Jennings is the most experienced and reliable wide receiver on the roster, and his route-running ability should make it easier for Ponder to get him the ball.
Patterson was one of the most explosive players in the 2013 NFL Draft, and his explosiveness and big-play ability have gone unnoticed with the exception of his kick-return touchdown against the Chicago Bears and a 37-yard catch against the Cleveland Browns. Patterson needs to be targeted more than an average of about three per game. The Vikings should use him in a Percy Harvin-like role, giving him the ball on screens, short passes and end-arounds that would allow Patterson to use his big-play ability. After Patterson caught the 37-yard pass against Cleveland, he was a non-factor in the offensive gameplan. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has already caught flack for his timid play calling in the red zone this season, but his inability to get the ball to the right weapons is hurting the team’s offensive efficiency.
I’m not saying that other valuable players on the Vikings’ offense like Kyle Rudolph, Simpson and Jarius Wright should get the ball less, but it’s important that Ponder and the Vikings’ offensive staff find a way to distribute the ball to the right people if they want to improve the offense and help reverse the team’s losing ways.