Even without Stefon Diggs, the Minnesota Vikings can still win a Super Bowl in 2020.
During the first five seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, Randy Moss caught a total of 60 touchdowns. While Stefon Diggs managed to haul in 30 scores during his first five years with the Vikings.
This context illustrates Diggs’ production has not been otherworldly or unseen within the organization. In fact, Anthony Carter had more receiving yards and touchdowns than Diggs in his first five seasons with Minnesota and Carter’s output during an era that was less pass-heavy.
None of what Diggs did as a receiver for the Vikings was unprecedented, aside from what happened on January 14, 2018 against the New Orleans Saints.
He departs with fewer receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns than former Minnesota pass-catcher Jake Reed. Based on the sheer volume of production, he can be perceived as the Vikings’ seventh-best wide receiver of all-time behind Moss, Carter, Reed, Cris Carter, Sammy White, and Ahmad Rashad. With that same volume metric, he will soon be passed in the record books by Adam Thielen, barring injury.
The Minnesota Vikings don’t need Stefon Diggs in order to be a great team.
These factoids are only to set the table.
Why? Well, it’s because Diggs is not needed for Minnesota to win a Super Bowl during the 2020 season. This is not an indictment of his previous contribution to the team, but rather it’s an acknowledgment of recent championship-winning receiving corps.
Diggs and Thielen were a potent merger of talent. Yet, it was a luxury for the Vikings to have both on the roster, not a necessity. If one believes in retroactive or inadvertent justice, both players could be deemed make-up picks for Troy Williamson and Laquon Treadwell as the draft capital spent on Diggs and Thielen was very minimal.
On to the Super Bowl assertion. Take a peek at these receiving duos who played on recent championship rosters.
- Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins
- Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon
- Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor
- Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan
- Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders
- Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell
- Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin
- Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith
- Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks
- Greg Jennings and James Jones
These are the last 10 tandems of No. 1 and No. 2 receivers that have headlined Super Bowl-winning rosters. Each receiving duo listed above is fairly impressive. But arguably, none were as prolific as what the Diggs-Thielen combo has been able to accomplish in the last few years.
Using the last decade as a sample size, star-studded wide receiver duos have not been prerequisite to winning a championship. The only pairs in the aforementioned list in which each pass-catcher had at least 1,000 receiving yards during the regular season were Thomas and Sanders of the 2015 Denver Broncos and Cruz and Nicks of the 2011 New York Giants.
Since 2010, the No. 1 receiver for the Super Bowl-winning team averaged 1,050 receiving yards during the year. No. 2 pass-catcher for these championship winners averaged 843 receiving yards during the season. It is plausible that some combination of the 2020 Vikings receivers, probably Thielen and Justin Jefferson, could achieve this.
More often in this decade-long sample size, the top two receivers of the Super Bowl champion are hauling in under 1,000 yards apiece during the year (Hill and Watkins, Edelman and Gordon, Jeffery and Agholor). More surprisingly, no Super Bowl-winning receiver in the last three years has finished with over 900 receiving yards in his team’s championship season, which is astounding.
Yes, several other factors are noteworthy in the midst of a Super Bowl run. Some of these can include a heavily-targeted tight end, clutch quarterbacking, time of possession, and a hot defense.
But two wide receivers snatching at 1,200 yards respectively on their way to the Pro Bowl is not required. A healthy Thielen and Jefferson putting up relatively modest numbers could do the trick.
All statistics from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise stated.