Nov 20, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) catches a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at the Metrodome. The Raiders defeated the Vikings 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Where has Kyle Rudolph Been?


Sep 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) catches a pass for a touchdown over Chicago Bears strong safety Major Wright (21) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are already 25% of the way through their season and so far one of the quietest performances of the season so far have come from tight end Kyle Rudolph.  After a breakout year last season, Rudolph has struggled to find the end zone this year.  After scouring ESPN’s stats for Kyle Rudolph, there are some interesting things to note.

Dec 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) against the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Here are Kyle Rudolph’s stat lines for each year in the NFL:

  • 2011: 26 catches for 249 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • 2012: 53 catches for 493 yards and 9 touchdowns
  • 2013: 12 catches for 112 yards and 1 touchdown

Rudolph found his one lone touchdown of 2013 in week 2 against the Chicago Bears.  Otherwise, defenses have done a great job of keeping a mindful eye on him in coverage.

Looking at stat lines are great, but the most telling stat is one that wasn’t even posted.  Targets are the statistics that can make or break a pass catcher’s performance.  A player cannot catch the ball unless the quarterback throws passes in their direction.  Here are the number of times Rudolph has been targeted in each game so far this season:

  • Week 1 at Detroit: 4 targets

  • Week 2 at Chicago: 6 targets
  • Week 3 vs Cleveland: 8 targets
  • Week 4 vs Pittsburgh: 2 targets

Kyle Rudolph’s targets increased each week with Christian Ponder as his quarterback.  However, in week 4 when Matt Cassel took over, Rudolph saw his targets drop to an almost invisible 2.

Earlier this offseason, the Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had stated that they wanted to use the dynamic tight end in more situations.  Previously, Rudolph had gained notoriety as being a red-zone threat but has the potential to be used much more in the middle of the field.

Rudolph may struggle to get targets as long as Matt Cassel is the quarterback.  Cassel looks to his wide recievers much more than Christian Ponder did, and that leaves tight ends with much fewer looks.  People who drafted Kyle Rudolph as their fantasy football tight end and big fans of his play should taper their expectations of Rudolph going forward this year.

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  • Ramon Lang

    TEs usually do good with dink and dunk QBs. Ponder,Culpepper, Alex Smith, Brady Quinn.