How do the Vikings bounce back against the Lions this week? We will dive into that after a quick run through of what happened. So first, let’s look at Monday night against Philadelphia, which went pretty poorly but wasn’t as bad as you think.
Monday Night Woes
Jalen Hurts looked like an early MVP candidate and the Vikings defense had few answers. The interceptions in the end zone killed all the momentum and visibly deflated the players. Darius Slay is the real deal, his shadow work on JJ was some of the best corner work we’ll see this season. It looked like the Vikings ditched a lot of what won against the Packers, and it cost them here.
Jefferson didn’t get moved around enough to help keep Slay off of him. The Eagles did a great job shadowing, but if it takes routes out of motions, he has get the ball. Minnesota made the same defensive mistake as Green Bay last week. They sat in their zone defensive shell for too long while the Eagles got whatever they wanted underneath and with Hurts. The huge Philly QB is not somebody a defensive back wants to come up and try to run-stop. Devonta Smith ran free under the zone shell and made completing passes easy on his QB.
This play was a perfect example. The DB’s are all dropping to high zones and leave EDGE DJ Wonnum to flounder in space against a receiver 100 lbs lighter. It exemplifies the lack of adjustments made all night by the Vikings D in response to what the Eagles gave them.
The Vikings run game never got going at all, and Kirk Cousins had the most rushing yards to show that. Philly’s interior D-line is an extremely stout group that is a problem for the whole league. They only played Jordan Davis a little more than last week, and still kept Minnesota to just 62 rush yards. Accordingly, Dalvin Cook has lit up the Lions in the past, and should be a big part of the Vikings bounce back.
The Irv Drop
Also, I strongly agree with the general sentiment that no Viking should be wearing Randy Moss’ #84. Irv Smith did not help his case to keep it by dropping this should-be walk-in touchdown. What a hysterical radio call that was all Vikings fans in their living rooms. But really, catching this makes it a one score game with Minnesota getting the ball out of halftime. That’s a completely different game than what actually happened.
How Do the Vikings Bounce Back?
Run the Damn Ball! – Detroit bottled up Antonio Gibson well last week, but that was partly the early lead. Dalvin Cook is on another level and involving him through the air and ground helps unlock everything else for Minnesota. No disrespect to Gibson, but Brian Robinson’s injuries only delayed his inevitable replacement.
Cook is a superior running back and will be more of a focus moving forward for Minnesota’s offense. A balanced attack helps to keep an offense unpredictable and O’Connell already has analyzed the mistakes vs. Philly plenty.
The Vikings need to double Amon-Ra St. Brown the whole game. Make it a priority to not let their best player heavily impact the outcome. Forcing the ball to lesser playmakers eases the threat of a now-potent Detroit Lions attack. The D-line also must stunt and twist to change up the looks they are giving to the Detroit blockers to create pressure.
The Lions were so scrappy at the end of last year and this season’s team has picked up right where they left off. This isn’t a team that can get overlooked anymore, mostly because they’ve shown they’ll make you pay for that. Their defense has not been reliable so far this season, seeing as they have allowed almost as many points as they scored.
Top draft pick Aidan Hutchinson really impressed last week against Washington, but the Lions have not covered well in the secondary. Here is one of his 3 sacks, where his pressure on Wentz prevented Curtis Samuel from a wide open throw a half-second later. The Vikes need fantastic protection this week to give him a “Welcome to the NFL” moment and keep Kirk clean.
Taming the Lions
The Lions offense, on the other hand, has been unbelievable to start the season. Jared Goff has 6 touchdown passes in two games, and Amon-Ra looks like a fantasy football star for years to come. They throw it to the former Trojan receiver ten times a game easy and he catches 8 of them. He finished last season as budget Cooper Kupp and has looked like a convincing copy of the real thing through 2 weeks.
This success has been bolstered by their incredible O-line, which has improved a ton with Penei Sewell at RT. Vet C Frank Ragnow and LT Taylor Decker are some of the most underrated players in the league. Goff is sitting cozy in the pocket and getting time to pick apart defenses. If RB D’Andre Swift can beat his injury bug, he will be a versatile backfield weapon out of the Detroit backfield for years.
This is a tough Lions offensive group to defend and Dan Campbell has this team believing they can beat anybody. The second year Detroit coach seems like someone the players love to play for, because of his energy and love for them. This clip is textbook material on culture in the locker room and from the top down by coaches. Campbell would fight the world for these guys and they would do the same for each other.
This isn’t a team that lays down, the Vikings will have to keep the pressure on and keep scoring. It all starts with a balanced attack using Cook and play designs to open up downfield throws. Last week was not complementary football at all, and everybody has to do their job to beat the Lions this time around.