Vikings Snap Counts and PFF Notes, Week 2: Bashaud Breeland's Struggles Continue

Also, the Vikings trading a fourth-round pick for Chris Herndon isn't looking very smart through two weeks.
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For a second straight week, the Vikings found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Despite doing a lot of things well against the Cardinals, Greg Joseph's game-deciding field goal attempt was pushed wide right from 37 yards out and Minnesota fell to a frustrating, painful 0-2 record

Let's take a look at the snap counts, Pro Football Focus data, and some other observations from the Vikings' 34-33 loss to the Cardinals in Week 2.

Offensive snap counts

Total offensive snaps: 61

  • QB Kirk Cousins: 61
  • LT Rashod Hill: 61
  • LG Ezra Cleveland: 61
  • C Garrett Bradbury: 61
  • RG Oli Udoh: 61
  • RT Brian O'Neill: 61
  • WR Adam Thielen: 61
  • WR Justin Jefferson: 53
  • TE Tyler Conklin: 49
  • RB Dalvin Cook: 47
  • WR K.J. Osborn: 36
  • TE Ben Ellefson: 16
  • FB C.J. Ham: 15
  • RB Alexander Mattison: 13
  • TE Chris Herndon: 12
  • WR Dede Westbrook: 2
  • RB Ameer Abdullah: 1

Analysis

There was a lot to break down last week after seeing the Vikings play a regular season game for the first time. Now that we knew what to expect heading into Week 2, there weren't many surprises in terms of playing time on the offensive side of the ball.

Osborn's snap share fell from 81 percent to 59 percent as the Vikings used their tight ends more frequently, but he still had another big game with five catches for 91 yards and the opening touchdown. Conklin spent more than half of his snaps blocking and had a quiet game as a receiver, but he was out there on 80 percent of the snaps.

Why exactly did the Vikings trade a fourth-round pick for Herndon? He was out-snapped 16-12 by waiver claim Ben Ellefson. With Brandon Dillon being waived on Saturday, those two will compete for the No. 2 tight end job the rest of the season. Herndon was not targeted this week after having two unsuccessful targets in the opener.

Mattison saw a slight bump in usage with Cook playing through some pain. Westbrook and Abdullah's already-light playing time went down, while neither Ihmir Smith-Marsette nor Blake Brandel saw any snaps this week.

Defensive snap counts

Total defensive snaps: 61

  • S Xavier Woods: 61
  • S Harrison Smith: 61
  • LB Eric Kendricks: 61
  • LB Nick Vigil: 61
  • CB Patrick Peterson: 61
  • DE Danielle Hunter: 53
  • DE D.J. Wonnum: 51
  • CB Bashaud Breeland: 45
  • CB Mackensie Alexander: 44
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson: 38
  • DT Michael Pierce: 37
  • DE Stephen Weatherly: 29
  • DT Sheldon Richardson: 23
  • LB Blake Lynch: 17
  • CB Cameron Dantzler: 16
  • DT Armon Watts: 13

Analysis

Despite Andre Patterson saying last week that he probably played Hunter a bit too much in Week 1, he had an identical 87 percent snap share in this game. It's hard to take a guy off the field when he's dominating to the tune of seven pressures and three sacks.

With no Everson Griffen (concussion), both Wonnum and Weatherly saw increased playing time. Wonnum remains the starter opposite Hunter for now based on winning that job in training camp, but Weatherly has been significantly more productive in game action so far. He has five pressures in 25 pass rushing snaps (20 percent) compared to three in 58 (5 percent) for Wonnum.

I thought Richardson might also see a boost in playing time with Griffen out, particularly in third-down personnel groups, but that wasn't the case. He's had a quiet start to the season in his return to the Vikings.

Dantzler made his 2021 debut, stepping in for a banged-up and ineffective Breeland late in the game and playing well. It wouldn't be surprising if he made a push to see more playing time going forward, with Kris Boyd struggling in Week 1 as well.

Pro Football Focus notes

Here are the Vikings' top five and bottom five grades on offense and defense, via PFF, for players with a minimum of 15 snaps played in Arizona.

4/5ths of the offensive line shines

This was one of the better games we've seen from the Vikings' offensive line in some time. Cousins was hardly pressured and was sacked just once by a defensive line featuring Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt. He got the ball out quickly, but line did its job in pass protection. In the running game, Cook had big holes created for him and was able rip off consistent chunks on the ground.

It was a big bounce-back effort from Cleveland and Bradbury, who struggled in Week 1. Udoh and O'Neill were very solid as well, with O'Neill now leading all NFL tackles in pass blocking snaps without a pressure allowed.

The biggest weak spot of the line was once again left tackle Rashod Hill, who ranks 59th in PFF grade out of 60 tackles with at least 75 snaps through two games. The Vikings better hope Christian Darrisaw will be ready to play before too long.

Breeland's struggles continue 

Breeland had a very rough Vikings debut in Cincinnati, and things didn't get much better for the veteran corner in Week 2. He allowed catches on all four targets in his coverage, including a 29-yard gain and a nine-yard touchdown grab by A.J. Green. He also dealt with some injury issues during the game.

As I mentioned earlier, it wouldn't be surprising to see Dantzler eat into Breeland's playing time if he continues to do well in practice.

PFF was critical of Patrick Peterson's game, charging him with two touchdowns allowed. But Peterson had the nearly-impossible task of covering DeAndre Hopkins for eight full seconds on the first score, and the coverage bust on the 77-yard Rondale Moore TD wasn't entirely his fault either. Breeland seems to be the more concerning part of an underperforming cornerback group. Mackensie Alexander didn't have a good game in Arizona either.

Other notes

  • Xavier Woods had a heck of a game. He's now PFF's fifth highest-graded safety through two weeks after recording an interception and four tackles against the Cardinals. 
  • Michael Pierce and Eric Kendricks were once again excellent against the run.
  • Dalvin Tomlinson has been solid, but the Vikings' marquee free agent acquisition hasn't made any splash plays so far.
  • Once again, the Vikings showed that they have three legitimately talented wide receivers. Osborn has been a big story, Thielen has three touchdowns, and Jefferson hasn't even played up to his lofty standard yet.
  • Kirk Cousins is PFF's No. 4-graded quarterback. He's led two game-winning drives that have come up short for reasons out of his control.

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