First, feel free to look back at the last time these two butted heads in 2014 (will redirect you to YouTube because of NFL rights related L):
A lot has changed since the Teddy Bridgewater-led Vikings walked off on the Jets in a 2014 OT win at TCF Bank Stadium....
-Teddy checked into that game-winning screen, now he backs up Drew Brees in New Orleans
-WR Jarius Wright got loose for the walkoff score, and now he's with Uncle Norv in Charlotte, catching passes from Cam Newton for the Panthers
-Sheldon Richardson was in his 2nd season for the Jets, trying chase down Wright on that game-winning touchdown...Now he's attacking quarterbacks for the Vikings
-Rex Ryan was the head coach of the Jets, now he sells shoes(probably)
The Vikings are 3-2-1 after six games, the Jets are 3-3. Below, you'll find a few nuggets, bits and miscellaneous things to ponder while you look forward to Sunday's game out east:
- Sam Darnold isn't the best rookie ever, but he's far from awful
- 3rd Overall Pick in the 2018 Draft, his first pass in the NFL (week 1 in Detroit) was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Lions CB Quandre Diggs. He proceeded to complete 16 of his next 20 passes for 198 and 2TD
- He's significantly better at home: 63%(55% road) completion, 270yds(178) per game, 6(3)TDs, 8.7yds(6.2) per attempt, 94.9(71.6) rating
- Darnold is being praised as he continues to grow in the offense, and for the fact that he hasn't had a BRUTAL game yet...Yes, he's thrown at least 1 interception in 5 of 6 games...yes, he's been sacked at least twice in 5 of 6 games...But he hasn't completely bleeped up a game, yet, and Jets fans are very optimistic that they can exorcise those Mark Sanchez/Geno Smith demons with their main man Sam.
- The running game is working for the Jets
- Feels like some boom-or-bust with the Jets rushing attack, but they've eclipsed 100 yards as a team in 4 of their 6 games. Isaiah Crowell went for 219 yards on a mere 15 carries two weeks ago vs the Broncos, and he operates on shared duty with Bilal Powell. No other running back gets any action as the two each have nearly 50% of the snaps thus far in 2018.
- They average 4.5 a carry and nearly 130 a game overall.
- They have 7 runs of more than 20yds so far this season (Crowell with 5 of those). To compare, Latavius Murray had 3 such runs on Sunday vs the Cards, the first 3 of the season for the Vikings.
- Basically, if the Jets can establish the run, their offense can move. If the Jets can't run against the Vikings on Sunday, they will have a hard time winning.
- The defensive front is a pain in the ass
- The Vikings have faced some serious defensive playmakers almost every week this season: Deforest Buckner of the Niners got to Kirk a couple times, Mo Wilkerson & Mike Daniels at Lambeau, Jerry Hughes ran wild in the Bills game, Aaron Donald in LA, pick your poison with Fletcher Cox/Brandon Graham/even Michael Bennett in Philly, and then Chandler Jones last Sunday with Arizona......Now, you get to know Jets D-Liner Leonard Williams. 16 tackles and 3 sacks so far in 2018 for the former 6th overall pick out of USC. He plays about 80% of the defensive snaps. They'll move him around a bit, I'm sure, but matching him up on Vikings LG Tom Compton would probably be something they look at as a "win" for them.
- The Jets like to play a 5-man "Bear" front. That means that it's one defender on one O-Liner, hoping to eliminate double-teams and it can really mess up the run. Outside LBs Brandon Copeland and Jordan Jenkins start on the edges, with a few big bodies inside. Williams is in there, but then we might see Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon or Mike Pennel at times, and possibly late-round rookie Nathan Shepherd could be in the mix as well. Big game for the Vikings O-Linemen to stand up and win 1-on-1s and give Kirk Cousins time.
- In the video below, check out what Leonard Williams does to highly touted, top-10 draft pick rookie OL Quenton Nelson in the Colts game Sunday....Tom Compton may not want to watch this(again, it will redirect you to YouTube to watch it):
- Missing a couple pieces
- WR Quincy Enunwa isn't Adam Thielen, but he's Sam Darnold's favorite receiver. 43 targets through 6 games, nearly 20 more than the next guy. Leads the team in catches and has been a reliable option for a rookie passer trying to get comfortable in the NFL. He's out with an ankle injury. Former Seahawk Jermaine Kearse had 9 catches for 94 yards last weekend in a win over the Colts after Enunwa left with the injury.
- Safety Marcus Maye had a 104yd Interception return...that didn't result in a TD. He picked off Case Keenum in the end zone of the Broncos game and was tackled at the 1. Nice play by the 2nd year Jets safety. He's a true Free Safety, so it's difficult to compare when you look at how Mike Zimmer uses Harry/Sendejo, but if Jamal Adams is the Hitman, Maye is Sendejo. Very solid, productive player that is fantastic against the run. He broke his thumb and won't play this weekend. Terrence Brooks filled in for him in the Colts game and Doug Middleton might be another option. They'll miss him for sure.
- Watch throughout the week of practice for injury updates on both CBs Trumaine Johnson(quad) and Buster Skrine(concussion 2 weeks ago), as neither played last week.
This is no "gimme game" for the Vikings on Sunday(and, frankly, this team shouldn't ever get that sort of benefit after the Bills debacle). This will be the third straight home game for the Jets, who scored 34 and 42 points in their wins over Keenum's Broncos and Andrew Luck's Colts. It's another rookie QB for Zimmer to scheme against...do the Vikings bring a ton of pressure in on Sam like they did Rosen? Or do they focus on stopping the run and make Darnold beat them with his arm? Names like Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse & Terrelle Pryor may not instill fear in people, but Darnold has been productive with those receivers thus far. He'll also use a number of tight ends at his disposal.
The NFC North is the tightest division in the entire league right now. Vikings need this W. So pumped for Sunday!