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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Trae Waynes and other Vikings early-season overreactions

By Matthew Coller

The NFL lends itself to overreactions.

It’s top dog in every market and every game is analyzed like crazy for an entire week. The problem with drawing conclusions from small samples is that they can be misleading.

Last week, the Minnesota Vikings were going to the Super Bowl and the New England Patriots were dusted. This week, the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl and the Vikings’ ship is sinking.

But that doesn’t mean every bit of small-sample-based opinion is wrong. So let’s have a look at five overreactions from the first two weeks and whether it’s reasonable or not to jump to conclusions….


Tramaine Brock or Mackensie Alexander should start instead of Trae Waynes


Waynes hasn’t had a very good two games. He’s allowed 11 catches on 12 targets, according to Pro Football Focus data, two of which were bombs, and taken a 51-yard pass interference penalty that set up a Steelers touchdown. But it isn’t time to conclude that Waynes is a bust yet, especially since circumstances played a role in his two bad games.

Against the Saints, the majority of Drew Brees’s yards came late in the game when New Orleans was playing catchup and the Vikings were playing prevent defense.

Mike Zimmer explained on Monday that Waynes stopped after a flag was thrown on an offsides by the Vikings, not realizing the play was still going because the receiver also stopped.

Last season, he allowed 7.1 yards per attempt, a 56.0% completion percentage and 77.4 QB rating on throws in his direction, according to Pro Football Focus. Waynes struggeled in both matchups with Green Bay in 2016, but performed well otherwise.

Waynes may never become a No. 1 shutdown corner like fellow first-round pick Xavier Rhodes, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective player.

As an aside, Brock is still likely slated to play a nickel role – that’s if he has a role at all. He might end up as insurance only. Alexander hasn’t been targeted often, but did receive nearly 60% of snaps against the Steelers, many of which came as an outside corner rather than inside.

Only if Waynes continues to struggle for the first half of the year will we see the Vikings look for other options.


Nick Easton can’t play left guard


There is some reason for concern about Easton at guard. While he is a better fit in the running scheme than Alex Boone was, the former Harvard lineman has not been effective in the first two games, especially on Sunday against the Steelers.

Easton has been beaten 1-on-1 by defenders in run blocking allowing plays to be blown up in the backfield. This also happened on occasion when he played center for five games last year. However, Easton is only going on Game 3 of his career at left guard, so he may need some time to adapt.


2015 Anthony Barr is back


He hasn’t picked up a “splash” play outside of one tackle for a six-yard loss, but Barr has been noticeably more effective over the first two weeks than during much of last season. Against the Steelers, he was solid in coverage and was part of an effort to keep Le’Veon Bell mostly contained. Barr hasn’t gone after the passer more than last year, but has produced pressures at a solid rate over the first two games. These are good signs as a large part of the Vikings’ success on defense rests on their Pro Bowl linebacker.


Latavius Murray will not be a part of the Vikings’ offense


Murray continues to say the right things about his lack of work, but he only saw six snaps against the Steelers – that’s after offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said he’d like to get Murray more work. The former Raider signed up to be part of a tandem in the backfield with Jerick McKinnon, but hasn’t had any role since Dalvin Cook won the RB1 job in camp. It’s hard to see where he fits in as long as Cook is a fairly effective pass blocker. Even when the Vikings got a chance to use Murray in a goal line situation, they turned to CJ Ham instead.


The Vikings can’t win with Case Keenum


If Keenum has to play for several weeks, we shouldn’t consider the Vikings’ season over. When he get adequate protection, Keenum can work the ball downfield, but the Vikings didn’t keep him clean against the Steelers.

He’s been basically a .500 quarterback who can succeed against mediocre defenses. That’s enough to keep the season afloat for two or three weeks. Any longer than that and the Vikings would need incredible defensive games to stay alive in the playoff race.

The post Trae Waynes and other Vikings early-season overreactions appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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