The Minnesota Vikings head into week two against the Green Bay Packers coming off of a victory over the Tennessee Titans led by Shaun Hill at quarterback. A strong defensive performance and four field goals by Blair Walsh were enough to beat the Titans but the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers present a greater challenge.
Minnesota Vikings Week Two Keys to Victory
The Packers are noted for a passing game that is virtually unstoppable when Rodgers is on his game, so slowing the Packers air attack is a top priority. On the offensive side of the ball, the Vikings need to grind out the clock, move the ball on the ground and keep the quarterback upright.
The Minnesota Vikings offensive line is perhaps the most important key to victory. Last week against the Titans the offensive line got pushed around and bullied the majority of the game. Matt Kalil at left tackle, Alex Boone at left guard, and the right side of the line performed poorly last week. Joe Berger at center was the only player on the line to have a solid game and that can’t happen against the Packers. Against the Packers the tackles are going to be the most important with Clay Matthews back in his edge rushing role and Julius Peppers on the other side. Rhett Ellison and the rest of the tight ends will be key in helping manage the rush so expect to see the tight ends staying in to block instead of releasing into routes.
As bad as the offensive line was in pass blocking, they were worse in blocking for Adrian Peterson. Blocks were missed that resulted in sealing holes, not leaving Peterson room to run. Some of the issues also looked like the blocking schemes were just not good but I’m not sure if that is on Berger or the coaching. The offensive line and coaches will need to fix that for Peterson to succeed.
The only way to slow down the Packers passing game is to pressure Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers can still be effective under pressure but every quarterback’s performance drops when they’re getting banged around. The Packers have one of the better offensive lines in the league so it won’t be an easy task, but the Vikings also bring one of the best pass rushes in the league led by Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, and Anthony Barr. Last week the Vikings were able to get timely pressure on Marcus Mariota which resulted in 14 points in defensive touchdowns. Early in the game Mike Zimmer might opt to challenge Rodgers by blitzing, particularly a safety blitz with Harrison Smith, and bringing Barr off the edge. It will be a gamble, as Rodgers has made a living killing the blitz, but if he’s not able to do it this time, it would be a huge advantage for the Vikings.
A key to getting a pass rush is the secondary covering long enough for the rushers to do their job and the Vikings will be short of their best cornerback, Xavier Rhodes this week due to a knee injury. Trae Waynes had his ups and downs in the first game of the season but they will need a more even performance this week. Opposite of Waynes is Terence Newman, who looked slow and out of sorts last week. Newly acquired tight end, Jared Cook didn’t see many targets last week against the Jaguars but he could see more this week as a safety valve against the Vikings rush. Eric Kendricks will see a lot of Cook in coverage and Kendricks excels in this role so the match-up should be intriguing to watch.
Adrian Peterson had a rough game last week and looked very rusty. There weren’t as many holes as he would normally see given the poor offensive line play in front of him. While the offensive line clearly had a poor game, Peterson also seemed to hesitate at the line and missed holes that were open. This is the third season in a row that he didn’t play in the preseason and the third season in a row he had a bad first game. The good news is that in the two seasons where he played in game two, he had a big game. The Vikings are going to need Peterson to bounce back like he did in previous years with a big game in order to win.
The quarterback is always going to be a key to victory but this is of more importance this week for the Vikings. Reports from Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press indicate that Sam Bradford is likely to start in place of Shaun Hill this week given he has been getting the first-team snaps in practice this week. The key for success from the quarterback this week is for Bradford to bring more to the offense than Shaun Hill. Not that Hill played poorly, he exceeded expectations last week. For the Minnesota Vikings to win, Bradford is going to have to do what Hill did and not make mistakes but he will also need to make a few timely big plays.
The Minnesota Vikings have a better chance to win this game than many are giving them credit for. Another solid defensive performance improved offensive line play and getting Adrian Peterson back to form are the Minnesota Vikings Week Two Keys to Victory.