Adam Thielen Needs More Targets

The State of the Vikings: Week 12
Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell talks to wide receivers Adam Thielen (left) and Justin Jefferson (right) during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to be overly critical about Minnesota’s Week 1 performance. After all, they dominated the game from start to finish, easily beating their nemesis and three-time division champs. Even still, the game left some room for improvement, and one such area rests in finding a bit more pass-game balance. Indeed, Adam Thielen ought to be more involved.

Much of our focus has been on Justin Jefferson. He was the main catalyst in the Vikings’ victory and even snagged another record to add to his collection. When he’s playing so well, Kevin O’Connell would be wise to keep ensuring his WR1 gets plenty of targets. Green Bay’s talented defense didn’t have an answer for the third-year receiver.

Moving forward, teams are going to create defensive game plans to help slow Jefferson. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but the objective will remain.

A surefire way to complicate such an approach is to show that the offense is far more than simply one excellent receiver. In fact, there is abundance of skill among the receivers and running backs. Adam Thielen stands out as one of the main players to watch.

The veteran WR has the team’s fifth-largest cap hit at just under $11.7 million. The money suggests the team’s leadership views him as an integral part of their team.

He was only targeted 4 times during the game, leading to 3 receptions for 36 scoreless yards. By no means am I being critical of Thielen for the somewhat pedestrian numbers. Rather, I’m merely pointing out that he has the capacity to do much more. For whatever it’s worth, his PFF grade from the game was a modest 57.0, suggesting it may not have been his best performance.

Now, it sure didn’t seem like Thielen was complaining. He expressed enthusiasm after the game: “I’ve never been part of an offense that just was attacking, and attacking, and attacking. It didn’t matter the score. It didn’t matter the situation. We were attacking. It felt good.”

At the beginning of the game, O’Connell did a nice job of targeting various players. As things began to proceed, Jefferson became more of a focal point, and for good reason. Again, he was sensational, so it makes sense to feature him.

We mustn’t forget, though, that the goal for the season isn’t to win a Week 1 game. Rather, it’s to put together an excellent football team, one that makes it to the playoffs so it can compete for a Super Bowl. That objective will be easier to attain if the passing attack has more balance.

Adam Thielen will be an integral part of the team’s pursuit of the playoffs.

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