Minnesota Vikings: 3 Keys to the Game

After a huge week one victory against the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings look to keep the momentum going on Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles. Here are three things that need to happen for the Vikings to come home with a victory.

1. Slow Down Jalen Hurts In The Running Game
Last week against the Detroit Lions, Jalen Hurts had his way with their defense when it came to running the ball. The final stat line was 17 (!) carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. Through the air, however, Hurts was less impressive with a modest 243 yards passing and a completion percentage under 60% on 32 pass attempts. The biggest key is going to be the edge rushers making sure they keep contain and are not allowing Hurts to get outside the tackles. For the most part, Hurts was running to the outside off of play action or in response to pressure. If Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith can stay disciplined outside that will go a long way to slowing down the Eagles’ offense. Another layer of protection could be added in a QB spy since we know that Hurts is going to be running a lot (he led the team in carries in week one). Jordan Hicks would be the most likely to find himself in this role if Ed Donatell chooses to use it, but Brian Asamoah could also come in in certain packages as a spy. His all-or-nothing playstyle would lead to some big plays in this role, but also potentially some big misses.

2. Spread The Ball Around
Last week, the Green Bay Packers put on a clinic on how NOT to cover Justin Jefferson. Going forward, teams are going to adjust and the Vikings’ offense is going to have to as well. Jefferson is going to start seeing a ton of double teams meaning Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Irv Smith, and even Dalvin Cook are going to have opportunities to step up in the passing game. The Eagles are likely going to be pouring all of their resources into stopping Jefferson so this kind of feels like one of those games where all of a sudden you look at the box score and Adam Thielen has 12 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. This also could mean that the Vikings may have more opportunities to allow Dalvin Cook to thrive in the run game. At the end of the day, if Justin Jefferson is not being given the attention he should from the Eagles’ defense, he is going to feast so feed him the ball, but if he is getting double or even triple-teamed, Thielen, Cook, or somebody else is going to have to step up and make an impact.

3. Take Away A.J. Brown As Much As Possible
Last week, wide receivers for the Eagles not named A.J. Brown totaled one catch for seven yards…seven yards, that’s it. Outside of Brown’s 10 catches for 155 yards, Dallas Goedert was really the only other pass-catching threat with three catches for 60 yards. If you can have Patrick Peterson on Brown all day with help from one of the safeties, forcing Jalen Hurts to rely on other options, it could be a recipe for success. Lewis Cine is going to be key in his first NFL game as he could be used to both help Peterson with Brown and to help cover Goedert when needed. I believe that we are going to see a lot of three-safety sets with Cine, Harrison Smith, and Cam Bynum where one is covering Goedert (with Erik Kendricks often covering this role as well), one helping with A.J. Brown (a strict double-team or helping from over the top), and one staying deep on the other side of the field. All three safeties could be mixed around in these three roles throughout the game which will also help in confusing Hurts at the line of scrimmage with more varied looks. The game plan should be to not allow A.J. Brown to beat you and make Hurts look elsewhere as much as possible until someone else on the Eagles’ offense proves that they can beat you.
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