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Vikings Snap Counts vs. Eagles: Irv Smith Jr. Returns to TE1 Role

Smith saw his snaps nearly double in this week's game compared to his Week 1 usage.
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For the second consecutive week, the Vikings had one tight end on the field on their first offensive play of the game, and it wasn't Irv Smith Jr., their presumed starter. Johnny Mundt, who out-snapped Smith 40 to 19 in the Vikings' season-opening victory over the Packers, got the initial nod in 11 personnel against the Eagles. 

But as it turned out, that first play wasn't an indication that things were going to stay the same this week. Smith came onto the field shortly thereafter and ended up leading Vikings tight ends in snaps. He finish second on the team with eight targets, caught his first touchdown pass in nearly 650 days, and nearly had a huge day, dropping a would-be 63-yard score that could've changed the game.

“We’re going to come back to him," Kevin O'Connell said after the game. "That’s one of the things that happens when you play in an offense with guys like Justin (Jefferson) and Adam (Thielen). Obviously, when we have our offense in sync, we’re going to be able to get some good matchups for Irv. If Justin is going to dictate coverage, Irv is going to get some opportunities and I’m excited about seeing him make some of those plays. Irv is going to have a heck of a year for us. He’s in a good spot in our offense."

Let's dive into the Vikings' snap counts against the Eagles, starting with the offense.

Vikings offensive snap counts vs. Philadelphia (out of 61)

  • QB Kirk Cousins: 61
  • RT Brian O'Neill: 61
  • RG Ed Ingram: 61
  • LG Ezra Cleveland: 61
  • C Garrett Bradbury: 61
  • LT Christian Darrisaw: 61
  • WR Justin Jefferson: 60
  • WR Adam Thielen: 59
  • WR K.J. Osborn: 47
  • RB Dalvin Cook: 42
  • TE Irv Smith Jr: 34
  • TE Johnny Mundt: 28
  • RB Alexander Mattison: 19
  • WR Jalen Reagor: 10
  • TE Ben Ellefson: 3
  • FB C.J. Ham: 3

It's going to be interesting to see how playing time shakes out between Smith and Mundt all year. It's possible that the Vikings' negative game script contributed to Smith's snaps jumping from 19 to 34, but it also may have simply been that he was eased into action last week after returning from his training camp thumb injury.

Even though he had the brutal drop and only finished with 36 receiving yards on eight targets, this game showed some of Smith's potential in the Vikings' offense. Along with Osborn — who had another quiet game — he can be another weapon for Cousins when Jefferson and Thielen are receiving significant attention.

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Hearing a cacophony of boos at his former home stadium, Reagor saw his first snaps from scrimmage for the Vikings. He ran for 17 yards on an end-around and caught one of his two targets for seven yards.

Game script affected a few other things here. Ellefson barely played and Ham saw his fewest snaps since 2018, mainly because those two are run blockers and the Vikings only handed the ball off nine times on 61 plays. Osborn also saw a slight jump in snaps as the Vikings were constantly passing, but it only turned into two catches for him.

Vikings defensive snap counts vs. Philadelphia (out of 73)

  • S Camryn Bynum: 73
  • CB Patrick Peterson: 73
  • LB Eric Kendricks: 73
  • SCB Chandon Sullivan: 68
  • S Harrison Smith: 64
  • LB Jordan Hicks: 57
  • OLB Danielle Hunter: 55
  • OLB Za'Darius Smith: 54
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson: 53
  • CB Cameron Dantzler: 52
  • DT Harrison Phillips: 47
  • OLB D.J. Wonnum: 32
  • DT Jonathan Bullard: 29
  • CB Akayleb Evans: 21
  • DT James Lynch: 18
  • OLB Patrick Jones II: 18
  • S Josh Metellus: 10
  • DT Ross Blacklock: 5
  • S Lewis Cine: 1

The big news here was that Harrison Smith and Dantzler left the game for different reasons. Smith picked up a concussion and will need to clear protocol to play against the Lions, will Dantzler coming out was a coach's decision. He wasn't outright benched; O'Connell said after the game that he still views Dantzler as a starter and felt Evans had earned the right to see the field here and there. But it's absolutely something to watch after Dantzler committed a penalty and was involved in at least one coverage bust (despite also having some good plays).

Cine made his NFL debut in this game, but only played one defensive snap. Metellus was the safety in for Smith towards the end of the night.

Interestingly, Hicks' snaps fell in this game while Sullivan's went up. That was presumably based on the Eagles' offensive formations and personnel packages.

Nothing too noticeable changed about the Vikings' defensive line and outside linebacker rotations. Edge rushers Wonnum and Jones saw their snap share increase slightly while defensive tackles Bullard, Lynch, and Blacklock all played a bit less relative to the total number of snaps.

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