The Minnesota Vikings, like most years, are a hard-to-find team. They may be under new leadership this year, but the first two weeks of the season couldn’t be more indicative of the franchise: They opened with a big win over a division rival, and followed it up by looking totally overrated during primetime. Game.
Although they are only in the first year of the new system, there are high hopes in Minnesota, with some believing that new coach Kevin O’Connell could lead the team to a surprising league title in 2022. Sure enough, that was inside the realm of possibilities after Defeating the North NFC Champions in Week 1, but that confidence must be released after Monday.
So who are the real Minnesota Vikings? It’s impossible to tell this early in the season, but let’s take a look at the Detroit Lions’ scouting week three report.
Record 8-9 (second in NFC North)
14th place in points, 24th place in points is allowed
Overall DVOA: 16 (16 in offense, 16 in defense)
Last year was undoubtedly a disappointment for the Vikings. With divisional and championship expectations, Minnesota hovered around 0.500 all year long and mostly beat bad teams. Their defense under coach Mike Zimmer continued to disappoint, while their attack did not live up to expectations either, despite the likes of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook.
For the second straight season, they just missed the playoffs, meaning it was time to make some sweeping changes to the franchise, opting to fire both Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman – a major shift in the organization, which he’s been with the team for at least the past eight seasons.
The main free proxy add-ons: DT Harrison Phillips, Edge Zadarius Smith, LB Jordan Hicks,
Main losses: DT Michael Pierce, DT Sheldon Richardson Edge Iverson Griffin, LP Anthony Barr
2022 NFL Project Anthology:
Round 1: S. Louis Cinema
Round Two: CB Andrew Booth
Round Two: J. Ed Ingram
Third round: Left-back Brian Asamoah
Fourth round: CB Achilles Evans
Fifth round: DT Esezi Otomewo
Fifth round: RB Thai Chandler
Sixth round: OL Vederian Lowe
Round 6: WR Galen Naylor
Seventh round: TE Nick Moses
There has been a tremendous amount of focus on the Vikings’ off-season defense. They have lost some pieces that have been key players in Zimmer’s defense over the years and replaced them with youth and experience, hoping not to undo what this team has been for years.
Shockingly, the offense was almost completely untouched from last season. The only difference in the starting lineup is that rookie Ed Ingram is now attached to the right keeper. Everything else is the same….well, except…
Noticeable changes in training
Coach: Kevin O’Connell
Coach Assistant: Mike Petten
Attack Coordinator: Wes Phillips
Defensive Coordinator: Ed Donatel
Basically, the Vikings overthrew the entire coaching staff, moving on from Zimmer and his comrades. The only remaining players from the previous system include assistant backs coach Roy Anderson, wide receiver coach Kenan McCardell, assistant quarterback coach Sam Sivix and their strength and conditioning staff.
O’Connell especially comes from the Sean McVay training tree, with a specialization in attack. Here’s what he had to say about his offensive philosophy:
“We’re doing a lot of simple things for us, but maybe it’s hard for the defense to defend. That illusion of complexity where teams think there’s a lot of attack they’re defending, but we’re really just doing little details here and there just to change the picture, change the angles , and giving ourselves an edge where we see fit, both in a running game and in a passing game, using rhythm as a weapon. The things that people saw our attack doing in L.A. would see our attack happening here in Minnesota.”
In short, expect a lot of excitement, a lot of rhythm, and the same concepts have run out of Los Angeles over the past few years.
How has that been done so far?
2022 season so far (1-1)
Week 1: Packers beat, 23-7
Week 2: Lost to the Eagles, 7-24
- 25 points, 6 points
- 23rd place in DVOA overall
- 16th in offensive DVOA (24th in passing DVOA and 6th in a row in DVOA)
- 30th in defensive DVOA (23rd in DVOA passing, 32nd in DVOA run)
It’s been a Vikings story for two weeks now. After opening the season with a winning statement over the Packers, the Eagles completely crushed them on Monday night. It’s interesting to see defensive DVOA numbers so low despite the Packers only keeping seven points last week, but when you look at the fast defense in both games, it becomes more understandable:
Week 1: 18 lunges, 111 yards (6.2 YPC), 1 TD
Week 2: 34 lunges, 163 yards (4.8 YPC), 2 TDs
To be fair, the Packers and Eagles have two effective running games, as do the Lions. That could be a big difference for Detroit if Minnesota can’t clean things up.
From a hostile perspective, I suppose there must be some expectation of inconsistency under a new system. Cousins and Justin Jefferson were killers in the first week, tying for 184 yards and two touchdowns. But Darius Sly erased Jefferson from Monday night’s game, and Cousins had no answer. Minnesota also struggled to protect Cousins, taking seven quarterbacks and a casein and throwing three interceptions—all under duress. The Vikings are currently ranked 24th in PFF pass blocking score but 4th in ESPN pass block win rate.
Major injuries: CB Andrew Booth (quad), S Harrison Smith (concussion)
The Vikings appear to be in relatively good health as they enter the third week. But late in Monday’s loss to the Eagles, Captain Harrison Smith suffered a concussion. O’Connell seemed to suggest that the concussion was relatively minor after the match, but with a short week and strict protocol to overcome it, he is sure to put him in doubt this week.
“It’s very important that this is dealt with by medical protocol,” O’Connell said. “It’s a short week so we just have to see where he is, but he was all over the field tonight and he had to do a lot of playing on the field running and passing the game.
Biggest Strength: Justin Jefferson
Normally I would put a whole unit here, but on Monday we saw how important this single player is to the success of the Vikings overall. If you were somehow able to stop it like Slay did – which is much easier said than done – the whole process would stop.
However, the rush of Vikings passes is also very good. Za’DArius Smith and Danielle Hunter have combined 11 compressions and three sacks already, and don’t forget the internal heat Dalvin Tomlinson brought in (four compressions so far).
Biggest weakness: running defense
With so many changes to both the home defense line and the linebacker this season, it should come as no surprise that the Vikings have been a bit weak to start the season. As mentioned earlier, though, they’ve faced off against two of the most efficient running games from last year, so it’s hard to get a full understanding of just how bad they really are. Remember that DVOA numbers are not yet adjusted according to the strength of the opponent.
Vegas streak for Sunday: Vikings 6
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