After the joys of victory Monday, many Vikings fans are relishing in the latest victory in the border battle. The offense was humming, the defense held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense to a mere 7 points, and Minnesota had the game under control by halftime. However, there were still some missteps and holes, as to be expected with a week 1 unit. Today we’ll identify and evaluate said holes to see how this team can face the Eagles at an even better capacity.
The defense, for the most part, was a suffocating unit. Pressure was in Rodgers’ face all game long and it felt like Za’darius Smith in particular lived in Green Bay’s backfield. However the run defense was inconsistent. Green Bay seemingly ran the ball at a consistently efficient rate as it helped drive them down the field for their one and only score, thanks mostly to AJ Dillion being the unstoppable force he is. Za’darius’ goal line stop was terrific and helped kill any momentum Green Bay had built up at that point, but too often was Minnesota caught giving up solid runs that for any other team would have fueled a methodical drive that could have kept them in the game. The Vikings were simply lucky that Green Bay couldn’t capitalize on these opportunities, and the Eagles rushing attack could be deadly if the defense doesn’t adjust accordingly.
The offensive line is still experiencing growing pains, most namely up the middle. Kenny Clark had his way with Garrett Bradbury as more often than not would Clark toss him to the side like a rag doll and disrupt the timing and rhythm of a sequenced pass. Bradbury was lucky that Kirk’s pocket awareness in this game was high as he managed to avoid multiple drive ending sacks. The issue highlighted during the preseason still seemingly haunts the Vikings as they attempt to take claim to the NFC North, something you can’t do if your interior offensive line is collapsing on a regular basis. Fletcher Cox might just have Bradbury on a stretcher. More surprisingly, Brian O’Neill had given up a few pressures. Nothing particularly game changing, but you’d hope he handles the Eagles pass rush with less fuss.
Minnesota had gotten especially lucky that Christian Watson dropped a wide open bomb on the first play of the drive. P2 had gotten burnt and the safety help was late, making Christian’s path to the end zone part like the Red Sea. If he had caught it, who knows what the momentum of that game would’ve looked like. Hopefully Cine and Booth Jr’s presence in next week’s game give better resistance to a far better wide receiver group.
Overall, Minnesota’s week 1 performance was the desired result. A win over Green Bay, in Minnesota, kicking off the season with a statement. There’s still 17 weeks to go, but this first game was a solid first impression, but one that still leaves a small bit to be desired. Overall, B+, the room to grow is exciting.