EAGAN, Minn. — Last offseason the Minnesota Vikings looked all over for a receiver to replace Jarius Wright.
They signed former Titan and Bear Kendall Wright, ex-Giant Tavarres King, signed several undrafted free agent receivers to “big” contracts and added Brandon Zylstra from the CFL. But it turns out that quarterback Kirk Cousins had the best eye for available wide receivers. When the San Francisco 49ers cut veteran Aldrick Robinson, Cousins vouched for him.
Often times when a player is added after cuts, he ends up being a foot note rather than a significant part of the offense or defense, but Robinson has become a downfield receiver for Cousins, catching 17 passes and five touchdowns, including a 40-yard bomb during Sunday’s 41-17 win over the Dolphins.
Part of Robinson’s success has been the fact that opponents are often double-teaming Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, who both rank in the top 10 in receptions this year.
“They attract a lot of attention, those two guys, because they make so many plays,” Robinson said. “It’s going to be a one-on-one, I just have to win that one-on-one battle.”
“They’re going to pay extra attention to the other two guys,” head coach Mike Zimmer said.
Following the Vikings’ loss to Seattle, Cousins highlighted a play in which he had Robinson open deep but overthrew him.
“That was one down the middle to Aldrick where I was trying to work him down the middle one-on-one because the safeties are so enamored with Diggsy and Adam that literally it’s like Cover-0 for Aldrick, just right down the middle of the field you can take him down the shoot and then one other one,” Cousins said. “They literally dropped, it appeared, nine defenders…and Diggsy was triple teamed. They are really saying, ‘we’re going to dare you to work somebody else and we’re going to give you the time back there but we’re going to cover everybody.’”
The 30-year-old receiver, who had 69 career catches before landing with the Vikings, played alongside Cousins in Washington from 2013-2015, then played with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons and with the 49ers last year. While they had been away from each other for several years, Robinson said it wasn’t hard to get chemistry back with his quarterback.
“It will always be like that with me and Kirk,” Robinson said. “It was easy for me to come in and be a receiver for him knowing we had history together.”
“As a quarterback, you know your receiver, what type of breaks he makes, what type of speed he has, how he runs his routes and Kirk knows that about me and he knows where to put the ball,” Robinson added.
After catching four passes in his first six games, the journeyman receiver has 12 grabs in the last six weeks and Cousins has a 117.1 rating when throwing his way.
“It took me awhile with the gameplan every week and putting in new things and going back to things they put in during training camp, it took me a little while but I have it now and I can be more involved,” Robinson said.
Not only did he have to learn a new offense, but then quickly adapt to a change at offensive coordinator. That’s three OCs in one year for Robinson.
But he said last week’s gameplan against the Dolphins made things easier on Cousins.
“It was simple, the gameplan was simple, it allowed him to play faster and it allowed him to see everything more clear and it was to his advantage,” Robinson said.
The Vikings will have to carry over their successful distribution of the ball against the Lions. While they have struggled this year, Detroit beat the Carolina Panthers, kept the Bears within shouting distance and allowed only 17 points total against Arizona and Buffalo.