Change in the play-caller
Kevin Stefanski took the Cleveland Browns head coaching job this offseason and this move resulted in Gary Kubiak becoming the Vikings’ new offensive coordinator and play-caller.
While the offense won’t look that much different with Kubiak in charge, as his paws were all over what Stefanksi ran a season ago, the fact he’s now calling the shots could result in fewer targets coming Thielen’s way.
First off, Kubiak loves running the football. Minnesota’s offensive line is built to run the ball, so there’s a good chance the team could rely on the ground game even more in 2020 than they did a season ago, which would result in a loss of looks for Thielen.
Kubiak also loves to utilize two tight ends. He has a couple of great options with Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph. Smith is ready to bust out and have a huge season in 2020, so he could see an extended number of targets come his way with Kubiak now calling the shots.
The Vikings could also choose to spread the ball around more during the upcoming season. While losing Stefon Diggs hurts the quality of Minnesota’s receiving corps, they added other players in free agency and the draft this year that made the group deeper as a whole.
Kubiak could look to utilize players like Tajae Sharpe, Bisi Johnson, K.J. Osborn, and Quartney Davis (if he makes the squad) in 2020. Factoring these players in along with the tight ends and passes to the running backs, Thielen could see well under the 109 targets he’s been averaging the last four years.