3 Vikings who need to step it up after the bye

Minnesota needs these players to be better down the stretch.
Author:
Publish date:

The Vikings are sitting pretty at 8-3 and tied for first place in the NFC North coming out of the bye, and they're staring down a December stretch run that starts in Seattle Monday night. 

The offense is clicking as well as it ever has in the Kirk Cousins era, but things are starting to look a little bleak on defense and Mike Zimmer needs to clean a few things up if Minnesota is going to be a legit contender in the NFC.

Here are three players with gigantic roles that the Vikings need to step it up beginning Monday night in Seattle. 

Xavier Rhodes

It's been quite the fall from grace for Xavier Rhodes since being named an All-Pro in 2017. After a shaky season last year, things have gotten worse in 2019.

After the Broncos win, Rhodes was the 66th-best cornerback (out of 75 qualified players) with opposing quarterbacks posting a 124.1 passer rating when targeting him, according to Pro Football Focus.

Despite being picked on, Zimmer still elects to play Rhodes against big-time receivers. If Rhodes can no longer be the shutdown defensive back he once was, Zimmer may have to find a role that doesn't allow him to be destroyed as regularly as he has been. 

Anthony Barr

The Pro Bowl linebacker nearly signed with the New York Jets in the offseason before inking a new deal with the Vikings at the 11th hour.

After a solid season debut against the Falcons where he haunted Matt Ryan for four quarters, Barr has been a non-factor when it comes to rushing the quarterback. Since Week 2, Barr has just a half sack, four tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits in nine games.

PFF has given him a grade of 56.5 this season, meaning he's been an average player overall. For a Pro Bowl linebacker who is 11 games into a five-year, $67 million deal on a team that's already stuck in salary cap purgatory, the Vikings could use more splash plays from Barr in the final five weeks of the regular season. 

Garrett Bradbury

It was a rough first month for the rookie Bradbury, as PFF graded him the worst center in the league through the first four weeks. But since Week 7, he's been graded the 16th-best center, allowing just seven QB pressures, according to Matthew Coller of SKOR North

Football Outsiders notes the Vikings have the sixth-best in the league when it comes to pass protection, in addition to paving the way to Dalvin Cook putting up huge numbers in both the running and passing game. 

It's critical that Bradbury remain consistent or improve as he anchors a line that will need to be outstanding in big games going forward. 

Next Up

Joe Biden

Key points from Joe Biden's first speech as POTUS

The 46th president called for unity at a time America is facing huge challenges.

coronavirus, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 20

The 111 ICU patients is the fewest in Minnesota since there were 109 COVID patients in intensive care on Oct. 1.

Klobuchar

Here's what Amy Klobuchar said at Joe Biden's inauguration

The Minnesota senator was one of the leader organizers of the inauguration.

covid-19, vaccine

All of this week's COVID vaccine pilot program appointments are filled

Nearly 6,000 Minnesotans who are 65 and older registered for appointments between noon Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Lane kueng thao chauvin

Osterholm affidavit ahead of George Floyd trial warns of COVID worsening in March

Prosecutors want to delay the Chauvin trial due to a public health threat.

WCCO-AM's Sheletta Brundidge talks with Lil Nas X

830-WCCO host calls for Dave Lee's replacement to be person of color

WCCO-AM has not had a person of color as a weekday daytime host in its history.

Screen Shot 2021-01-20 at 8.57.50 AM

Harmful grass fly larvae found in shipment to International Falls

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials safeguarded the shipment until the threat could be mitigated.

Keith Ellison

Minnesota high schoolers will be reimbursed for canceled European trips

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced a settlement with the travel company Friday.

Donald Trump

Trump pardons Minnesota man convicted on drug charge in 1992

John Harold Wall was among the 143 people granted clemency in one of Trump's final acts as president.

Lyn 65

9 businesses in Richfield affected by strip-mall redevelopment plans

Affected businesses may be eligible for grants that would help keep them in Richfield.

Related

Mike Hughes

Why a cornerback rotation is best for the Vikings' defense

Minnesota's pass defense is giving up 236 yards per game.

Adam Thielen

Predictions for the Vikings' Week 15 matchup with the Chargers

The Vikings kick off at 3:05 against the Chargers.

Stefon Diggs

Here are two scenarios in which the Vikings obtain a first-round bye

Minnesota has a better chance at a bye than Green Bay.

Dalvin Cook

Handing out midseason awards for the 2019 Vikings

There are plenty of candidates for offensive MVP.

Stefon Diggs

Predictions for the Vikings Week 2 matchup against the Packers

Can Minnesota continue their success against Green Bay?

Dalvin Cook

Vikings' playoff chances are good, but all signs point to Wild Card

Minnesota is already in prime position to be in the playoffs.