WR Diggs’ decline leaves questions for Vikes
MINNEAPOLIS -- Stefon Diggs was one of the hottest stories in the NFL in October and early November. By the end of season, he looked like just another wide receiver.Was the Vikings rookie merely a flash in the pan in his initial appearances? That...
MINNEAPOLIS - Stefon Diggs was one of the hottest stories in the NFL in October and early November. By the end of season, he looked like just another wide receiver.
Was the Vikings rookie merely a flash in the pan in his initial appearances? That’s a question that won’t be answered until next season or beyond.
After not being active for the first three games, Diggs caught 25 passes for 419 yards in his first four games. He was getting all sorts of national attention, and a 1,000-yard season seemed likely.
Diggs, though, caught just 27 passes for 301 yards in his final nine games. He finished the regular season with a team-high 52 receptions for 720 yards and four touchdowns, and then added four catches for a mere 26 yards in a 10-9 playoff loss to Seattle.
“I feel like I had an OK year,” Diggs said. “Next year, I’m just going to have to do it again, prove myself again, again and again. … I feel like I had an OK year, and I just scratched the surface. I can do a lot better.”
Opinions vary on why Diggs fell off after he burst out of the gates and took over the starting job from Charles Johnson. Did defenses start to figure him out? Were his big games simply an aberration?
“There’s so many different numbers of factors that go on,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. “We played some pretty good receivers that had two catches in games that we played against them. Things happen throughout the course of a ballgame. I don’t know, you run the ball as much we do, you’re not throwing it 50 times a game, I mean there’s a lot of different factors.”
During Diggs’ four big games, running back Adrian Peterson averaged 20.3 carries and 85.5 yards compared to 20.8 carries and an average of 94.7 yards in the other nine regular-season games Diggs played. That’s not a tremendous difference, but Diggs still touched upon the presence of Peterson when asked why his numbers declined so much.
“We got the best running back and he won the rushing title, so you know it goes hand in hand as far as passing and running,” Diggs said. “He just did a great job. I just did mine.”
The Vikings did spread the ball around more through the air late in the season. After Diggs averaged 10 targets in the first four games, he got just 4.9 per game over the last nine.
After Diggs had outings of 87, 129, 108 and 95 yards in his first four games, he never had more than 66 yards in any of his final nine, and only twice had 50 or more. However, Zimmer still believes Diggs can be a key playmaker next season.
“There are some things that I watched on tape and I talked to my coaches about that I’m going to do a lot better going into next year,” Diggs said. “You’re just going to have to see the progress next year.”
Diggs is planning to spend the first month of the offseason at his family home in Gaithersburg, Md. Then he will head to South Florida to work with Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami native.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time together,” Diggs said.
Diggs looked to have great chemistry with Bridgewater, a second-year player, during his hot stretch. Diggs scored on a diving 36-yard catch in a 28-19 Oct. 25 win at Detroit and had a tying 40-yard touchdown reception with 1:49 left Nov. 1 at Chicago in a game the Vikings eventually won 23-20.
“We’re going to do some good things,” Diggs vowed. “(Bridgewater’s) still young, I’m still young. … I look forward to working with him in the offseason and just creating more chemistry … in coming back here.”