EAGAN — Stefon Diggs will be entering his fifth season with the Vikings in 2019. The wide receiver has posted some impressive stats in that time and last summer was rewarded with a five-year, $72 million contract that includes $40 million in guarantees.
One thing that Diggs has failed to find in his time in Minnesota is continuity with the offense. A fifth-round pick by the Vikings in 2015, Diggs entered this minicamp working with his fourth offensive coordinator (you could argue it’s five) and with his fourth starting quarterback.
Teddy Bridgewater was the starting quarterback and Norv Turner the offensive coordinator in Diggs’ rookie season. Sam Bradford, obtained just before the season after Bridgewater suffered a devastating leg injury at the end of training camp, took over as the Vikings’ QB in 2016. Turner remained as the offensive coordinator, but he abruptly quit after an Oct. 31 loss in Chicago and was replaced by tight ends coach Pat Shurmur.
Bradford was sidelined by an injury early in the 2017 season and backup Case Keenum replaced him as Shurmur did a marvelous job directing the offense during a 13-3 season that saw the Vikings advance to the NFC title game. That success earned Shurmur the head coaching job with the New York Giants. The Vikings decided to sign free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins in March 2018 and pair him with Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as their new offensive coordinator.
That didn’t workout and DeFilippo was fired after a Week 14 loss in Seattle and replaced by quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski was named the permanent offensive coordinator after the season, but the Vikings also hired former NFL head coach Gary Kubiak as assistant head coach and offensive advisor. It’s probably safe to call Kubiak and Stefanski both coordinators, and Kubiak’s system is one with which Cousins is very familiar.
All of this change might help to explain why Diggs seemed uninterested in saying whether he liked what Kubiak and Stefanski are doing compared to DeFilippo, or any other coordinator for that matter.
“I’ve been in a lot of offenses so as far as like me liking it, or disliking it, it doesn’t really matter,” Diggs said Tuesday after the opening day of the Vikings’ three-day mandatory minicamp. “It’s more so just adjusting to the new offenses. It’s not necessarily about whether I like it or not. I’ve never had any complaints. Just whatever route gets called I’ll run.”
Last season, Diggs finished second on the Vikings with 102 catches for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games. Adam Thielen had a team-leading 113 catches for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns.
Diggs said that having gone through so many coordinators, it has become easier for him to adjust to new concepts and terminology.
“Yeah, it actually does,” he said. “Since I’ve been here I’ve had like three or four (offensive coordinators) so as far as like having new guys and adjusting on the fly it’s the same routes. It’s just new terminology and new language. We have run the same route a million times. Just because it has a new name doesn’t mean we can’t run it. Just being around for a little while now has made it a little easier. …
“I think learning a bunch of different offenses has probably made me a better player. You never know how it’s going to go with different coaches. Like, some older coaches don’t really like younger guys, so it’s about understanding the process and learning new offenses and taking the classroom to the field and that kind of thing. Just having different guys has definitely helped me in the long run.”