About the only thing clear about the muddy situation between receiver Stefon Diggs and the Vikings is that he’s frustrated by his role in the offense. The question today is a simple one: Should Diggs be frustrated?
First take: Michael Rand
It’s funny, but I had a sense this was going to happen at some point this season. Diggs was saying all the right things after the Vikings attempted only 10 passes in a Week 1 victory (two of them in his direction), but when I jokingly asked if he’d be OK not catching another pass all year he quipped, “Ah, naw, that ain’t going to happen.”
Players want to contribute — particularly when a precedent has been set, and particularly if their lack of contributions is coming in losses.
Diggs was targeted with at least 10 passes in eight of his first 10 games last season, Kirk Cousins’ first as a starter. Since then, he’s had only one game out of nine with double-digit targets — coinciding with a shift to a focus on the run toward the end of last year and this year at the urging of head coach Mike Zimmer.
The pendulum swung too far away from the pass game, and it’s understandable Diggs is frustrated.
Chip Scoggins: His frustration is understandable. Skipping work isn’t the right away to express it.
It’s not unusual for receivers to complain about not getting enough targets because they feel like they can’t help the team if they don’t have the ball in their hands. This isn’t something new. The Vikings have two star receivers and a head coach who has been extremely vocal in his desire to have an offense built around the running game. We could all see frustration coming.
One-dimensional offense isn’t going to work. This is a Kirk Cousins problem as much as a question about balance. Cousins continues to struggle in big games against quality defenses.
But let’s remember that Diggs cost his team by fumbling at Chicago and removing his helmet to celebrate at Green Bay. He hasn’t been perfect. And I don’t agree with his decision to not show up to work, as reported by our colleague Ben Goessling.
The question now is, where do they go from here? I’m guessing we’ll see a considerable effort to get the ball to Diggs against the Giants (assuming he does, indeed, play). But his frustration sounds deep-seated so this story might linger or flare up again.
Rand: True, and it is important to remember two things:
1) The Vikings are 3-5-1 in the nine games Diggs has been targeted 10-plus times since the start of 2018, and they’re 7-4 in the other 11 games.
2) The Vikings haven’t really played a normal game yet this year. It will be interesting to see if their offense strives for (and achieves) more balance during a game that’s more back-and-forth with scoring.
They should probably throw to Diggs (and Adam Thielen) more, and they probably will. Just don’t state your intentions specifically and give it a catchy name like the old days with Randy Moss and the “Randy Ratio.”
Scoggins: That’s an important point. Their two home games became so lopsided early that the Vikings basically shelved the passing game because they didn’t need it. So it’s been a weird start that way.
Mike Zimmer has talked about the need to be balanced so one would think more opportunities are coming. But Goessling reported that Diggs’ frustration with the offense and his role has been building for months, not just since the season started. So you wonder where his mind is at regarding his future here.
Rand: As a wide receiver told us this week, “There’s truth to all rumors, no matter how you dress it up.”
Scoggins: We’ve covered this league long enough to never be surprised by anything, rumors included.