Stefon Diggs should start over Charles Johnson


Stefon Diggs got his first career start Sunday against Kansas City and rewarded the Vikings’ faith by going for 129 yards on 7 catches.

Diggs now has 13 catches for 216 yards in two games after being a healthy scratch for the first three weeks of the season.

Why was Diggs on the bench for three weeks? Who knows. But he’s in there now and it looks like he’s there to say.

The question now isn’t whether Diggs should be active week-to-week, it’s whether he should continue to be the starter even when alleged #1 receiver Charles Johnson is ready to return.

This exact question was put to Mike Zimmer on Monday and the coach said he hasn’t yet made up his mind.

Really Zim? I have some fantasy football players who can make up your mind for you if you’re still struggling.

Though he wouldn’t say who will start, Zim did make what I think is a telling remark about his overall philosophy when it comes to determining such things.

You listening to this Charles Johnson?

Zimmer has cautioned us against reading too much into the things he says but in this case we can hardly help ourselves.

Zimmer’s message here is clear: If Charles Johnson loses his job to Stefon Diggs it won’t be because Johnson got hurt and missed two games, it will be because Johnson wasn’t playing well before he got hurt.

Johnson’s poor play early in the season was somewhat of a perplexing mystery after the way the receiver burst on the scene in 2014.

The Vikings picked up Johnson last year to replace Jerome Simpson and within a few weeks the former Packers late-round draft pick and Browns practice squad hand had played himself into a role as arguably the Vikings’ #1 receiver.

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Most expected Johnson to build on his fine first season in Minnesota by really breaking out in 2015 but instead he vanished.

Is it possible Johnson got a big head after tasting success and lost the focus he found while trying to prove himself last year?

Or is it possible that Johnson’s performance in 2014 was a fluke and everyone vastly overrated him?

Whatever the causes behind Johnson’s struggles, he was on his way to losing his starting job even before suffering a hip injury and missing two games.

As far as I’m concerned Johnson is no better than the Vikings’ fourth-best receiver right now and you could argue he’s really fifth-best behind Adam Thielen.

In the two games since Johnson went out, the Vikings have established a solid four-man receiver rotation with fifth-man Cordarrelle Patterson coming in as a decoy in certain heavy packages.

At this point I’m not sure what Johnson brings to the table for the Vikings offense. He may even be less useful than Patterson who at least presents a gadget-play threat that defenses feel they have to account for.

You know you’ve fallen off the table when even Cordarrelle Patterson has a more defined role than you.

It shouldn’t be a tough call for Zimmer on whether to start Johnson or Diggs. The clear answer is Diggs. The rookie has played well enough to earn it, and Johnson has not.

Charles Johnson’s biggest mistake may have been thinking that he was established in the league after a handful of good games. But it takes more than that to ensure yourself a role, especially when there’s a kid on the roster who does everything you do only a little better.

Next: NFL investigates late Griffen scratch

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