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Some of the Vikings' biggest offseason additions (and subtractions) on offense were made in the name of a more efficient run game. The team gave Alexander Mattison the two-year deal that effectively meant the end of Dalvin Cook's time in Minnesota, signed tight Josh Oliver to a three-year contract on the first day of free agency and reached a two-year contract extension with C.J. Ham, the fullback they planned to use more frequently in 2023.

Their first test of the new approach was against a Tampa Bay team that has ranked in the top three against the run in two of the past three seasons. At least through one week, the results were underwhelming.

In the 20-17 loss, the Vikings were successful — defined as gaining 40% of the necessary distance on first down, 60% on second down and 100% on third or fourth down — on only six of their 17 rushing attempts, which included a quarterback sneak from Kirk Cousins, and gained only 41 rushing yards. Mattison ran 11 times for 34 yards, and was successful on 45% of his attempts while facing a Buccaneers defense that stacked the box against him, but there was little to be gained downfield; his longest run of the day was 9 yards, and he gained 27 of his 34 yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus.

Dating back to his time facing the Buccaneers while he was with the Rams, coach Kevin O'Connell knew what a challenge it would be to run the ball against Tampa Bay's defensive front. Still, with a little more efficient blocking technique, he thought the Vikings might have been able to create more production.

"I thought there were some runs where it was one or two guys here and there, if we just get a little better hat placement, a little bit more finish on a combination [block], we're getting downhill on a few of those runs," coach Kevin O'Connell said. "The injuries, a couple of times, just a couple guys being in and out of there, is not an excuse, but just how those guys [who were missing] had gotten reps together, we're going to have to deal with that."

Center Garrett Bradbury, who missed five games because of a back injury after a car accident last year, left on the Vikings' second series after injuring his back. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw dealt with an ankle injury on Sunday as well, and right tackle Brian O'Neill was in his first game back from the avulsion fracture he suffered in his right Achilles tendon on Jan. 1.

O'Connell said after the game Bradbury was day to day, but given the fact the Vikings play Thursday night in Philadelphia, it could be difficult for the center to return in time. That would mean Austin Schlottmann starting at center, against an Eagles front where Fletcher Cox remains at the forefront of a talented group.

The Vikings had Oliver on the field 47% of the time on Sunday, and played Ham 34% of the time. Their commitment to a more diverse offense likely won't change after one game, and they probably won't see the same frequency of eight-man fronts as the Buccaneers used (Mattison faced a loaded front on seven of his 11 carries, according to NFL Next Gen Stats).

But early injuries to their offensive line and a tough matchup against the Eagles on Thursday mean the Vikings' new identity on offense could be tested quickly.

"You just have to flip a switch," Mattison said Sunday. "I know tonight I'm going to look at the tape, make sure I dissect it, and then it's on to the next week. We don't have time to dwell on this but to learn from it we just have to make sure we do that, and then turn it around, recover, and get ready to go."


Justin Jefferson. There's no mystery on this one: A day after he was unable to come to terms with the Vikings on a long-term deal, the reigning NFL offensive player of the year picked up right where he left off, catching seven passes for 138 yards in the first half on his way to 150 yards on nine catches. His out route in the second quarter also attracted two Buccaneers defenders, creating space for Jordan Addison to run downfield in a one-on-one matchup before Cousins hit him for a 39-yard touchdown.


How the Vikings use their defensive backs. They played three safeties in nickel more frequently than they used three corners on Sunday; Camryn Bynum was on the field for 67 of the Vikings' 68 defensive snaps, Harrison Smith played 65 and Josh Metellus played 57. Rookie Mekhi Blackmon, the team's third corner, was on the field for only 15 snaps. It's worth keeping an eye on the Vikings' personnel usage here, especially as opponents try to study their tendencies and solicit matchups with certain defensive packages they think will be more favorable.