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Week 1: Packers (0-0) at VIKINGS (0-0)


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It’s going to be a long year on defense with the current group of Cornerbacks and Defensive Tackles. I just don’t know whether the defense was that bad or if Rodgers is now poised for a MVP like season given his replacement was drafted. Holton Hill looked bad. Hughes is a major disappointment, cant fault Dantzler too much. Not many third round rookies CBs are playing from day one. Not sure Gladney is the answer anytime soon either. He’s missed some time. 
 

Odinigbo and Ngakoue were disappointing off the edge. Vikes obviously missed Hunter and Ngakoue hasn’t been around long enough for a big role this soon. 
 

The game played like a preseason game, which makes sense given the decision to skip the preseason.

Seemed like the type of game where Cousins was going to have to carry the team and keep pace with Rodgers, and ultimately, it just didn’t seem close.

 

Edited by vikingsrule
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3 hours ago, CriminalMind said:

As expected, and as I predicted, a better starting QB who went for a factor of Kirk price, played excellent today.  

His name Cam Newton.

But we don't take chances. We give extensions to Zimmer

No one using any semblance of logic or reason expects the Vikings to win anything meaningful with Cousins.

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4 hours ago, babababa said:

There was no pressure off the edge. Rodgers had all day on several throws.

Is Ngakoue injured? I heard at one point that he had tweaked his ankle. 

When Pierce opted out we KNEW that The Vikings need someone significantly better than Shamar Stephen to stop opposing teams from pounding through the middle of The Vikings' line for an automatic 5 yards a pop, and a lot more when tackles are broken, or missed altogether.  Whether or not scheme changes are made, it would behoove The Vikings to upgrade that position IF the cap room is available.  There were a couple of candidates still left just before the 53 man roster was frozen.  It will be easier to allocate other defenders in any defensive scheme IF the NT position is upgraded significantly.

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The run defense wasn’t the problem. The DTs weren’t good on early downs (Stephen got bullied a couple of times) but they weren’t terrible (Jaleel Johnson showed up, played with some intensity). The DEs were pretty useless in the run game — another way in which they missed Hunter — and the second level tackling was poor. But overall, they held the RBs in check (the Packers YPC was buoyed by a couple of end arounds, to Lazard where Deguara the FB took out Hughes and Harris on one cut block, and to Ervin when the game was out of reach). They got to 3rd downs like they’re supposed to (though they wasted 2 of them on defensive penalties). They held once at the goalline.

The pass defense was the problem: a combination of zero pass rush and soft coverage, the worst I’ve ever seen from a Zimmer coached team. Rodgers was great, but he had an easy time of it from the 2nd quarter on.

There was no pressure from any of the DL, even with the Packers starting with a guard playing RT, and finishing with their last 5 healthy linemen including a 6th round rookie — no push from the inside and no one getting around the edge. Ngakoue took himself upfield and out of the play on the first of Rodgers’ scramble drill TDs (where Adams may not have had both feet down) — same kind of thing Robison used to do, like on the very similar TD in the 2015 SNF loss. Odenigbo was invisible, and the depth DEs even worse. None of the nickel DTs got a sniff of the backfield, that I saw. I guess fans can complain about the lack of schemed pressure (Barr did blitz on a couple of 3rd downs, and got home in the 1st quarter which led to the throw out of bounds to Jones in the end zone, covered by Kendricks), but given how many holes there were on the back end, I understand why he didn’t commit more bodies forward.

The secondary was in over its head. Rodgers hit on 32/44 with at least 3 drops and a couple of throwaways. Hill had the one pass breakup at the goalline on 4th down, but I don’t remember another pass attempt where a Vikings DB got a hand on the ball, or even really contested the catch point. I guess Dantzler was in the mix for that first downfield completion to Adams over the middle, but that’s about it. So many routes were wide open, with the nearest corner a socially distant 2 yards away. Even when Zimmer did scheme up pressure (a 3rd down early in the game where Smith came off the edge), the corners weren’t contesting even the short or intermediate routes. I thought Harris was OK except for the one bad deep shot, and Smith was good (Rodgers avoided him), but all 3 corners were swamped. Of them, I’m most upset with Hughes, who I think has the talent to play well but never has. Dantzler wasn’t good but he has the best excuse, playing Rodgers in his first game. I’m no fan of Hill, and I hope he gets benched for Gladney. 

The offense also wasn’t the problem. Cousins played well except for the one bad INT. It was an inaccurate throw, but just about his only really bad pass of the day — typical Vikings luck that Alexander was able to make the difficult one handed pick. The 4th down play call was questionable, as was Cousins’ decision to target Sharpe (Thielen was on the other side), and the throw wasn’t good there either. I’d also question him throwing short of the sticks to Bisi just before the 4th down. The other misfires for the passing offense were the sack (O’Neill’s fault) and the safety (not really anyone’s fault, just a great call by Pettine, which hit perfectly to counter an aggressive play action shot). Other than that, the receivers played well and Cousins was accurate. He showed some moxie, moving around in the pocket to create the deep completion to Thielen in the 1st quarter, and scrambling a few times. 

The OL was surprisingly non-terrible. Their job was considerably easier once Clark went out, but even before that I thought Bradbury held up OK (though I think the 3rd down false start the announcers blamed on both tackles might have been a late snap instead) and Dozier and Elflein didn’t embarrass themselves. The run blocking was pretty good and the pass protection was decent. 

I think there’s a tendency to downgrade what the offense did in the 4th quarter as “garbage time”, but the truth is that the first 2 of their 4th quarter TDs were scored with a comeback still within reach. They scored to make it 29-18 with over 13 minutes left, and then again to make it 36-26 with over 7 minutes left. If either of those had been followed by a defensive stop (3 and out or turnover), the following TD drive would have made the game competitive. So I would give the offense credit for those 2 drives at least. It’s not their fault the only way the defense could stop GB was when a wide open receiver dropped a perfectly thrown ball. 

Other thoughts: KJ Osborn looked good as a returner. Kendricks was excellent. Cook and Mattison were both very good (Mattison trucking Savage was awesome). And Thielen was excellent.

...

It’s obvious the Vikings are in a tough spot to start the year — one of the highest rates of turnover in the league (only the Patriots have more snaps to replace from last year’s team) with little or no veteran help (Pierce opted out, Ngakoue was a non factor today) means a lot of snaps going to rookies or young guys who were backups last year. To have that happen in a year with a shortened offseason and no preseason makes the job that much tougher. And then they had to face Rodgers at his best in week one (wonder if any Packers fans are still hoping to get rid of him). 

I think they can still be competitive this year, but they need to get their corners to play more aggressively — take a few risks in order to make some stops or even turn the ball over. There’s no easy solution to the lack of pass rush until Hunter comes back, especially if Ngakoue is dinged up. The offense can maybe win a couple of shootouts, but the defense can help the cause by forcing the issue more, not letting the clock bleed out slowly all game. 

Zimmer and Kubiak also need to get the team on the same page. They need more attention to detail: at least 5 dead ball penalties today cost them big — helped kill a drive on offense and extend a couple of drives on defense. Tackling needs to be tightened up. And they need to play with a sense of being willing to force the issue (as Pettine did, sending the corner blitz into the end zone), instead of waiting and hoping that a QB as good as Aaron Rodgers would somehow beat himself. 

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4 hours ago, Uncle Buck said:

Lots of garbage time points though.

The game was only out of reach on the last drive.

Most of the completions on that last drive were garbage time numbers boosters, especially the checkdowns to Mattison for 8 yards a pop.

But garbage time is so called because defenses protect deep and give up easy checkdowns, in order to drain the clock.  The Vikings 4th quarter TD drives were:

  • 4 plays, 77 yards in 1:16, with a 29 yard pass to Johnson and a 37 yard TD to Thielen
  • 7 plays, 65 yards in 2:07, with a 11 yard pass to Smith on 3rd and 8, a 17 yard catch and run by Jefferson, and a 22 yard deep catch by Johnson inside the 5, before Cook’s TD
  • 9 plays, 75 yards in 1:58. 4 checkdowns to Mattison and 1 to Rudolph, but then a 19 yard TD to Thielen on the fade route over Alexander. 

Thise first 2 drives averaged over 12 yards per play and took a little over 3 minutes to put up 16 points — not exactly wins for the Packers defense.  

If the Vikings defense had played well enough to get a stop early in the 4th quarter, the offense would have made it close. 

 

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15 minutes ago, SemperFeist said:

Good players just make plays. 

A little frustrating that he basically just got lucky. But even more frustrating is that if Alexander stays in coverage, Cousins has ALLLLL day to throw. 

Thielen would have been wide open if he had any time to throw

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