The Vikings need to stick with the run to open up downfield shots in the passing game, but they need to do it the right way, without an overcommitment. The challenge of striking a delicate balance falls on offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were spectacular all season, and they kept it up against the Saints, down to the last miracle play. Tight end Kyle Rudolph wasn’t a big factor in the divisional round, but big, athletic types like him have given the Eagles fits in coverage. Keenum has been in the zone spreading the ball to this top three targets, and Shurmur uses them well based on situation.
Thielen excels in the slot, but if the Vikings are going two-tight to run the ball, he has a better matchup outside against cornerback Ronald Darby. When the Vikings spread the field against the Saints, Jarius Wright resurfaced as a key No. 3 wideout. He gives them versatility in how they can line up Thielen from formation to formation.
Shurmur likely is getting the Giants’ head-coaching job in part because of how good he is at deploying varied personnel. Look for him to also get the backs involved in the passing game to test the Eagles’ linebackers in coverage.
Now, they trade up in the first round to get Trubisky. In doing so, they pass up a number of defensive players — Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore — worthy of the No. 2 overall pick. Yes, the idea is to get a reliable quarterback. Paying the price necessary to get one is how it goes. But you don’t have to do that twice.
It’s been almost 600 days since Jaylon Smith last played in a football game (598 to be exact), and on Saturday night, the Cowboys linebacker, who fell to the second round of the draft after a horrific injury against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl two seasons ago, will be back on the field for the first time since his injury.
NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported the news and added that Smith will wear a brace on his leg.
“He is going to start at the middle linebacker position tonight,” Slater reported on Total Access. “Now he is going to be playing with a brace on that ankle. That’s going to … keep him close to the ground, help him accelerate when he’s running.”