1. The Vikings may have something special in rookie defensive end Danielle Hunter.
With a shoulder injury limiting starter Everson Griffen to mostly a pass-rushing role, the Vikings handed a larger workload to Hunter, who rewarded them with 1.5 sacks and five tackles, including one for a loss. The third-round pick out of LSU is now second on the team behind Griffen with five sacks. Not too shabby for a kid who wasn’t legally allowed to consume alcohol until a couple of months ago. The list of players who have recorded five or more sacks in a season before their 22nd birthday is a short one. It includes Pro Bowlers in Terrell Suggs, Shawn Merriman and Robert Quinn and a pair of former Vikings in Dwayne Rudd and Kenechi Udeze. It also has a couple of guys you’ve probably never heard of. Hunter is still raw, but if the athletic freak continues to refine his game he might steal Brian Robison’s starting job in 2016.
2. There is nothing wrong with relying on receivers to pile up yards after the catch.
Bears pass rusher Pernell McPhee argued that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did nothing special Sunday and that his four-touchdown day was the result of his receivers making plays after the catch on short passes. McPhee is underselling the fact that Bridgewater had just three incompletions and connected on a couple of impressive downfield strikes to Stefon Diggs and Mike Wallace. But it is true that Diggs and company really hurt the Bears after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, 176 of his 231 passing yards came after the catch. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Diggs and Jarius Wright are dangerous players in the open field and Wallace is no slouch, either. If anything, the Vikings need to utilize screen passes and crossing routes more often to take advantage of what their quarterback and receivers do best.
3. The Vikings need to find a way to keep running back Jerick McKinnon (above) involved.
The second-year back was mostly a forgotten man in the first three months of the season, but to his credit he never publicly grumbled about having to take a back seat to star runner Adrian Peterson. No, McKinnon is not a better ball carrier than Peterson, who will soon be named to his seventh career Pro Bowl. But he showed in the win over the Bears that his big-play ability can spark the offense, especially in the passing game. On the opening drive, McKinnon lined up wide, ran a drag route, caught a short pass and picked up 25 yards. During the next drive, he navigated through traffic to catch a screen pass and took that one 30 yards. He later turned a blitz-beating dump-off from Bridgewater into a 17-yard touchdown. Peterson should remain the focal point of the offense and he will, but McKinnon deserves a significant role, too.