Two players who stood out

Justin Jefferson: He claimed plenty of headlines Sunday after his breakout 175-yard performance, but it's worth looking again at how much the rookie receiver jolted the offense simply by making himself useful to Kirk Cousins. He caught four passes while split wide to the left, and had his best catch-and-run of the day while split out to the right. Overall, the Vikings saw a breadth of the first-round pick's skills: his ability to run after the catch, leap to make contested grabs over defenders and get open downfield.

Kyle Rudolph: The tight end had a solid day as a blocker, and for as much as his role has declined as a receiving option, he delivered a spellbinding reminder of just how good a red zone target he is when he stuck his left hand in the air to snare Cousins' pass in the back of the end zone while tapping his feet just inside the back line and getting his right hand on the ball to secure it before he hit the ground.

Two trends to watch

How the Vikings use their wide receivers: Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak had talked about how the Vikings were bringing Jefferson along carefully, and his smaller workload in the first two games (36 and 29 snaps) might have been similar to what he would have gotten in the preseason. But after starting Bisi Johnson in the first two games, the Vikings all but removed him from the game plan Sunday. The Vikings also deactivated Tajae Sharpe against his former team. As electric as Jefferson was on Sunday, the Vikings still don't have much depth behind him and Thielen.

What the pass rush looks like: The Vikings can activate Danielle Hunter from injured reserve this week, but it'd be wise to retain some skepticism about the Pro Bowler's availability. The team placed Hunter on IR in part so it would not have to publicly disclose the body part he injured, and has maintained a veil of secrecy about it. It's worth wondering how quickly he should try to return with the Vikings at 0-3 before back-to-back road games. With his return uncertain, and Anthony Barr out for the year, the Vikings could find themselves trying to manufacture a consistent pass rush for a while.

One big question going forward

Do the Vikings shift their focus toward the future? Despite the straits the Vikings find themrselves in after three weeks, it's difficult to see them giving up on the season for several reasons. First, coach Mike Zimmer has often said any time he's taking part in a contest where they're keeping score, he wants to win. Second, while Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman both signed three-year contract extensions before training camp, neither one seems inclined to view the deals as an unqualified vote of security for years to come. Third, the Vikings simply aren't set up to do things much differently than they are doing them now. Because their roster is stocked with a lot of high-priced veterans, the rest of the group is either made up of young players who are already on the field or affordable players who might have a fixed ceiling.

Ben Goessling