1. Mike White is what we thought he was — another backup.
The 2022 Vikings raised their record to 4-0 against backup quarterbacks, exhaling only after Camryn Bynum intercepted journeyman Mike White's 57th and final pass in the red zone in the closing seconds of a 27-22 win over the Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. White was a trouper with 369 yards passing, but he was just another overmatched backup in two areas: Third-down conversions (3-for-16) and red-zone touchdowns (1-for-6). It must have been painful for Jets fans to watch White continually throw short of the sticks on third down for the first 47 ½ minutes. During that part of the game, he completed six of eight passes on third-and-7 or longer without a single first down. The Jets settled for field goals after five of those failed third downs. White was what we thought he was: A backup making his fifth NFL start in five seasons.
2. Saleh didn't do his team any favors on fourth-and-2.
Jets second-year coach Robert Saleh has the 7-5 Jets on the right path, playing with a swagger we haven't seen since Rex Ryan was around in 2009. However … Saleh put a career backup quarterback and his team in a bad position by going for it on fourth-and-2 from his 43-yard line with two minutes left in the first half. The Vikings were up 17-3 and were getting the ball to start the second half. Punt the ball. Don't hand the Vikings half a field to possibly go up four TDs before you get the ball back. White threw incomplete to former Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin in tight coverage against Chandon Sullivan. The Vikings didn't score a touchdown, but were rewarded with three more points despite mustering only 20 yards. Where Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should have been more aggressive was on those third-and-longs that ended short of the sticks.
3. Thielen's 'big' block springs Mattison TD
Yours truly should apologize to receiver Adam Thielen. In praising his block on Alexander Mattison's 14-yard touchdown run, it was suggested the block "wasn't pretty" and that Mr. Thielen "didn't do much, but did enough" to spring Mattison. "I felt like I did quite a bit," Thielen laughed. He's right. Thielen had motioned into a tight right formation. The Jets knew a run was coming because safety Jordan Whitehead was crowding the line across from Thielen. "My job on that play is to block the most dangerous guy," Thielen said. "So when he's coming down, I'm trying to get in position to go block him. It was kind of chaos." Thielen didn't have to sustain his block long before Mattison raced through the small crease Thielen created. "It's a tough job when they know you're running the football," Thielen said. "And they know you're blocking him and it's a one-on-one matchup."
4. Pass rush OK, but still not buying edge rushers in coverage.
The Vikings did bring extra rushers at times on Sunday, but the pass rush is still lacking for long stretches. White was sacked only one time, by backup edge rusher Patrick Jones on a four-man rush. Dalvin Tomlinson, back after missing the past month, had two of the team's quarterback hits. Za'Darius Smith also had two QB hits and batted a ball down on third-and-7 that held the Jets to a field goal. Nose tackle Harrison Phillips also had a key pressure and knockdown on a four-man rush on second-and-goal from the 16. And Danielle Hunter had a QB hit and batted down a pass. He also was asked to do something that these eyeballs will never agree with: Attempt to cover a tight end 15, 20 yards downfield. That's where he was when White threw a ball over his head to C.J. Uzomah for a 31-yard gain. Hunter is a pass rusher. Period.
5. Vikings are good, but they're also charmed.
It's been fun teasing some Vikings fans about how charmed this snakebitten franchise has suddenly become during this 10-2 run under Kevin O'Connell, who certainly is making a strong case for NFL Coach of the Year. And, by the way, should young Kevin win that award, he would join Hall of Famer Bud Grant (1969) as the only Vikings coaches to win it. Now, for another nugget in the tale of a talented, good team that also happens to be living a charmed season. Three plays into Sunday's game, Bynum could have been called for pass interference. Instead, his early arrival on receiver Corey Davis caused the ball to bounce into Harrison Smith's hands for an interception. The Vikings offense then technically went three-and-out after gaining 1 yard. But that 1 yard was enough of a "drive" to take a 3-0 lead on a 51-yard field goal by Greg Joseph.