The Vikings had a clunker of a 2020 opener Sunday for a variety of reasons. One of them: They had a lot of roster turnover, particularly on defense, and their new additions on that side of the ball struggled mightily in a 43-34 loss to the Packers.
A lot of those prominent former players are on other teams now. In case you were wondering, here’s how seven of them fared Sunday:
*Xavier Rhodes: The 30-year-old former first-round pick and a staple of the Vikings’ defense for seven seasons was the target of fan ire (and quarterback throws) in 2019 as he became a symbol of a Vikings pass defense that slipped. He signed with the Colts in the offseason, and Week 1 … was rough.
Pro Football Focus graded Rhodes No. 60 out of 73 corners who played at least 43 snaps in Week 1 as Jacksonville rallied to defeat the Colts 27-20. On the Jaguars’ go-ahead touchdown, it was a far cry from Rhodes closed.
Rhodes was nowhere near the ball on an easy throw and catch. He already has some in Indianapolis wondering if the one-year deal he signed was a bad idea.
That said, Vikings corner Holton Hill — who played a lot of the snaps on the outside that Rhodes would have played Sunday against the Packers — graded No. 73 of 73 corners.
*Mackensie Alexander: The underappreciated Alexander had a strong debut with the Bengals, grading No. 12 of 73 corners as Cincinnati held the Chargers to 16 points and QB Tyrod Taylor to a 75.4 passer rating. That the Bengals lost 16-13 was more on the offense than defense.
Alexander shouldered a big load, playing 62 defensive snaps and was counted on extra perhaps because another ex-Viking, Trae Waynes, was hurt during Bengals training camp and is expected to miss most of the season.
*Stefon Diggs: After a 2019 season in which he was both vocal about his displeasure and productive on the field, Stefon Diggs was traded to the Bills in the offseason. He made his Buffalo debut and largely got what he wanted: A team-high nine targets, good for 8 catches and 86 yards from his new QB Josh Allen in a 27-17 win over the Jets.
It was enough to earn Diggs the 17th-best grade among 86 receivers targeted at least four times in Week 1, per Pro Football Focus. His former co-star in Minnesota, Adam Thielen? He had the No. 1 grade.
*Everson Griffen: It was a rough Dallas debut for Griffen after a largely productive 10 seasons with the Vikings. He was credited with 2 quarterback hurries and three tackles but no sacks in 42 snaps as Dallas lost 20-17 to the Rams.
The Cowboys gave up 422 yards on offense and only sacked Rams QB Jared Goff once. It was hardly all on Griffen, but his PFF grade — No. 62 out of 63 defensive ends playing at least 35 snaps — tells a pretty bleak story.
*Linval Joseph: The big defensive tackle had a solid debut with the Chargers, getting credited with three QB hurries and three tackles while grading No. 24 out of 60 qualifying interior linemen. He helped the Chargers keep Joe Mixon (19 carries, 69 yards) largely in check in a 16-13 victory. He was certainly missed at U.S. Bank Stadium.
*Teddy Bridgewater: How’s Teddy lookin’? Pretty good. Given the starting job in Carolina, Bridgewater helped the Panthers rack up 30 points and led two late scoring drives that put them ahead 30-27. The go-ahead score came on a 75-yard TD pass to Robby Anderson on a nice long sideline throw. His total QBR for the week was No. 8 out of 32 quarterbacks.
The ending, though, was frustrating for fans of the Panthers and Bridgewater. After the Raiders rallied to take a 34-30 lead late, the next Panthers drive ended after five plays — all runs, including a 4th-and-1 try that was stopped short — and Carolina lost.
*Jerick McKinnon: Remember him? He was a key contributor out of the Vikings backfield, particularly in 2017 after Dalvin Cook was hurt. But he signed a lucrative free agent deal with the 49ers that offseason and has been hurt ever since. He finally made his 49ers debut on Sunday, rushing three times for 24 yards and grabbing three receptions — including a touchdown that put San Francisco ahead in the fourth quarter. Alas, the 49ers also lost 24-20 after a late Cardinals rally.