Vikings Snap Count Analysis, Week 2: Barr Injury Causes Shakeup

Injuries to Cameron Dantzler, Pat Elflein, and Anthony Barr caused some changes in playing time.
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Week 1 gave us our first chance to see how Mike Zimmer and the Vikings' coaching staff would divvy out snaps with a fairly different roster than they had in 2019. There were some notable developments from the snap counts against the Packers, including Justin Jefferson seeing the field more than Bisi Johnson, Dalvin Cook not playing much in the second half, Cameron Dantzler leading all cornerbacks in snaps, and Yannick Ngakoue being eased into action.

Now, following Week 2, we get a chance to see what kind of adjustments were made. Injuries to Dantzler and Pat Elflein during the week forced changes, as did a first-half injury to Anthony Barr (which will unfortunately end his season). But there were also changes in playing time based on performance, which are notable to observe.

Let's take a look at the snap counts for every Vikings player on offense and defense against the Colts and see what we can learn from that information. I'll also highlight the biggest risers and fallers from last week to this week.

Offense (54 snaps)

Last week: 52 snaps

QB Kirk Cousins: 54

LG Dakota Dozier: 54

C Garrett Bradbury: 54

RG Dru Samia: 54

LT Riley Reiff: 54

RT Brian O'Neill: 54

WR Adam Thielen: 48

RB Dalvin Cook: 43

WR Bisi Johnson: 42

TE Kyle Rudolph: 38

TE Irv Smith Jr: 35

WR Justin Jefferson: 29

FB CJ Ham: 12

RB Alexander Mattison: 10

TE Tyler Conklin: 9

WR Tajae Sharpe: 3

RB Ameer Abdullah: 1

New faces: Samia

Played last week but not this week: Pat Elflein (injury)

Biggest risers: Cook (+13), Johnson (+9), Rudolph (+6), Smith (+4)

Biggest fallers: Mattison (-9), Jefferson (-7), Sharpe (-4)

Analysis: Elflein going on injured reserve meant the team turned to Samia for his first career start in a difficult matchup. It didn't go particularly well, with the Oklahoma product surrendering a team-high five pressures – including a viral clip in which he was rag-dolled by DeForest Buckner – and a sack. His 21.1 PFF pass-blocking grade was somehow worse than the 25.4 mark posted by Elflein last week. Samia will presumably get the opportunity to turn things around over the next couple games, but this was a rough start.

In non-injury news, the most obvious changes came at running back and No. 2 wide receiver. Despite the game script being basically the same as it was last week, Cook out-snapped Mattison 43-10 after just a 30-19 split in Week 1. Johnson was seemingly re-established as the second option at WR after an even split with Jefferson last week, but the rookie from LSU looked much more productive against the Colts. It wouldn't surprise me if that hierarchy changes again against the Titans.

The Vikings' two highest-graded offensive players, per PFF, were tackles O'Neill and Reiff. Cook, Jefferson, and Thielen rounded out the top five.

Defense (73 snaps)

Last week: 78 snaps

LB Eric Kendricks: 73

S Anthony Harris: 73

S Harrison Smith: 70

CB Holton Hill: 70

LB Eric Wilson: 67

CB Jeff Gladney: 60

CB Mike Hughes: 59

DE Yannick Ngakoue: 54

DT Jaleel Johnson: 46

DE Jalyn Holmes: 43

DE Ifeadi Odenigbo: 41

DT Shamar Stephen: 40

DT Armon Watts: 38

DE D.J. Wonnum: 25

LB Troy Dye: 21

LB Anthony Barr: 16

S Josh Metellus: 3

CB Kris Boyd: 3

LB Ryan Connelly: 1

New faces: Wonnum, Dye, Metellus, Boyd, Connelly

Played last week but not this week: Cameron Dantzler (injury), Eddie Yarbrough, Hercules Mata'afa

Biggest risers: Gladney (+51), Wilson (+23), Holmes (+13), Hill (+11), Ngakoue (+10)

Biggest fallers: Barr (-62, injury), Odenigbo (-19), Stephen (-12), Johnson (-11)

Analysis: There are a lot of changes to discuss on this side of the ball, some due to injury and some due to simply trying to find a spark up front. Dantzler's absence meant Gladney stepped into the starting lineup. Unsurprisingly, the TCU product had some struggles in his full-time debut, much like his fellow rookie did last week. With Hill now the only member of the corner trio above 5'10", he took on a nearly every-down role on the outside.

Barr's injury thrust some players into elevated roles on the fly. Wilson became a full-time player alongside Eric Kendricks and – despite being in the right place at the right time for the defense's first interception of the year – received harsh marks from PFF for his play. Rookie Troy Dye also saw his first NFL action as the new No. 3 linebacker, a role he seems likely to retain going forward with Barr done for the year.

"I thought Troy came in and did some good things [on Sunday]," Zimmer said. "He had a couple missed tackles but he ran pretty well."

In search of a spark after failing to put any pressure on Aaron Rodgers, Zimmer and Andre Patterson switched things up on the defensive line. Ngakoue saw an increased role in his second game in Minnesota and responded with an outstanding performance, leading the defense in PFF grade.

Holmes also saw his role grow, out-snapping Odenigbo 43-41. Wonnum made his debut, replacing Yarbrough, who struggled in Week 1. Other players up front who saw their playing time decrease were Stephen and Johnson, as the Vikings used edge rushers like Holmes and Odenigbo on the interior at times.

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