Should We Be Concerned About The Purple Pass Catchers?

Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) celebrates with fullback C.J. Ham (behind) center Garrett Bradbury (56) and tight end Irv Smith (84) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

So far, our Vikings have received a ton of brutal news when it comes to the purple pass catchers.

Bisi Johnson, Blake Proehl, and Chad Beebe are all done for the season. In the second preseason game, Adam Thielen left with a thigh bruise (in fairness, it seems minor). In a training camp practice, Justin Jefferson went down with a shoulder injury. Earlier today, we got the unfortunate news that Irv Smith Jr. – everyone’s favorite breakout candidate – is likely done for the year. We’ve therefore seen our depth depleted, our TE1 lost, and our star receiver tandem banged up. As Charlie Brown would say, good grief!

How concerning is the situation? Well, as Will Ragatz pointed out, we’ll really need a couple depth options to both stay healthy and step up. Last year, Beebe played 314 snaps; Irv played 545. Osborn, in contrast, didn’t play a single offensive snap last year. He’s the front runner for WR3 duties.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Westbrook is still getting back to full health, yet another instance of injury concerns surrounding our pass catchers. One wonders if the Vikings will make a move for a recently-cut free agent or if Spielman will pull off another trade. For what it’s worth, Jarius Wright – a solid depth receiver – recently expressed interest in returning to Minnesota:

It’s at least somewhat notable that Larry Fitzgerald is still out there. Travis Fulgham was released by the Eagles. The 6’2, 215 receiver had more than 500 yards receiving last season and a healthy 71.2 PFF score. A few Twitter folks have suggested John Brown.

Otherwise, I’m perhaps most intrigued by Ameer Abdullah. I know, I know, he was cut, but he’ll likely be brought back. The veteran has tremendous speed and is a capable pass catcher. During the preseason, Minnesota lined him up out wide on a few snaps. I won’t be shocked if this continues into the season. At the end of the day, the goal isn’t to have amazing receivers; the goal is to have an offense that can score a lot of points. If that means having a RB out wide, then that’s fine by me. I’ll also add that Dalvin Cook should receive more targets; to make life easier for our RB1, Alexander Mattison ought to get more carries.

Another critical factor rests in how well Herndon fits into the offense. He had a promising rookie season but then lost the 2019 season to injury and was humdrum in 2020. In 2018, Herndon had a 74.8 PFF score. He is still only 25. The Herndon trade cost a fair amount, but it gives the team more depth and upside in their tight end room. Tom Pelissero recently provided more clarity on how the Vikings and Jets came to the agreement:

If the Vikings sustain any more injuries, things are going to be really tough on the offense. Many fans will tell you that Kirk Cousins is largely dependent on the team around him to succeed. Unless he has ample support, Cousins will struggle. Well, we’re one or two more injuries away from being really, really thin at pass catcher.

Let’s hope our Vikings find a way to reverse this concerning trend. If they don’t, the purple storm clouds will keep inching closer.