Game Preview – MIN at PHI

Posted: September 19th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Game Preview – MIN at PHI

The Minnesota Vikings went 8-9 last year, costing coach Mike Zimmer his job. Offensive guru Kevin O’Connell is now running the show and got the team off to a really impressive start, beating the Packers 23-7 in the opener. One game is just one game, but that was a heck of a performance.

Are the Vikings a contender this year?

If the team plays like they did last week, heck yes. We just don’t know if that will happen. There is a lot of talent in Minnesota and all the reason in the world to be optimistic, but we’ve been fooled by early season success before. It happens every year.

The Vikings underachieved in recent years. Zimmer had been a fantastic head coach and defensive guru, but he started to struggle as the game evolved. Football is different now than in 2002, 2012 and even 2017. O’Connell was hired to fix an offense that only finished inside the Top 10 in scoring once in the past 12 years. They’ve had plenty of talent, but it wasn’t being used right.

O’Connell comes from the Mike Shanahan-Sean McVay tree. He should help the Vikings be more consistent and more creative on offense. With a good QB in Kirk Cousins, an outstanding pair of receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and a stud RB in Dalvin Cook, there is no reason for the Vikings to have five games of 19 or fewer points as they did last season.

The defense is now being run by Ed Donatell. He worked under Vic Fangio in Denver the past couple of years so his scheme will look similar to what the Eagles do. The Vikings went from being historically good in 2017 to bad the past couple of seasons. Donatell was hired to get this group back to being able to shut down opponents, which they did in the opener. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers only scored one TD and didn’t look good.

Tonight’s game will be an interesting test for both the Vikings and Eagles. The Vikings beat a good team last week. They want to prove that wasn’t an anomaly. The Eagles haven’t beaten a good team since 2020. They want to show they can win a game like this.

This game is a huge test for Jonathan Gannon. His defense was shredded by good QBs throughout the 2021 season. The Lions then scored 35 points last week. Gannon needs to show that his defense can play well, even reasonably well, against a good offense. If the Eagles continue to struggle, Gannon will have some tough questions to answer. He’s been given good players to work with. It is up to Gannon to get the most out of them.

It’s just Week 2, but this has the feel of a big game.


Jalen Hurts played well in the opener. That said, he’s got plenty to work on. The goal tonight is for the passing game to be better. I’m sure getting the ball to DeVonta Smith will be a priority since he didn’t have a catch last week.

The Lions were aggressive with blitzing. The Vikings should be different. They’ll rely more on stud pass rushers Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter to pressure the
QB. They will use creative fronts and disguises. Hurts and the Eagles OL need to be smart in identifying what is going on. The Eagles always talk about building on the OL and how important it is. This is a game where you’ll seeĀ  that. If Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson can control the rushers, the passing game should be able to make some plays.

Minnesota doesn’t have a great secondary. The advantage should go to AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins. Hurts will need to be careful working the middle of the field. LBs Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks are both good in coverage and can make plays.

The Eagles should be able to run the ball. The Packers ran for 111 yards last week against Minnesota and the Eagles have a better run game. Another big game from Miles Sanders would be a big help.


Cousins was only sacked once in the opener, but the Packers were credited with 8 QB hits. They did get some pressure on him. The Eagles will need to get more hits than they did last week. This isn’t just about sacks. They need to affect Cousins, who is a pocket passer. The DL was very up and down in the Lions game. Only Milton Williams seemed to play a complete game. Hopefully some of that was just rust. Tonight will be a good chance to prove their value.

Keeping control of RB Dalvin Cook won’t be easy. He’s got explosive ability, but is also tough to tackle. The Eagles got a rude awakening from D’Andre Swift last week. They missed a ton of tackles. If they aren’t better vs Cook, it will be another long game. I’m really curious to see if James Bradberry is much better this week. His run defense was embarrassinigly bad last week.

Obviously the biggest challenge for the defense will be dealing with WR Justin Jefferson. The Eagles don’t play a lot of man coverage so they’ll have to do a good job of seeing where he lines up and making sure the DBs in that area are ready on a play-by-play basis. Jefferson moves around a lot. The Vikings don’t want to make it easy on teams to bracket him or plan defensively. There will need to be good communication and pre-snap attention. The goal isn’t to shut him down so much as to limit what he does.

One advantage for Gannon and his defense this week is that they have tape to study. They can review their own performance and see where mistakes were made and why they were made. That will help them to find solutions. Gannon also has a game of Vikings tape to study. He’ll have a better feel for what they want to do than he did going into the Lions game.


Neither team had anything too crazy happen on STs last week. Jalen Reagor is the punt returner for the Vikings now and it will be interesting to see how that goes. He sees this as a revenge game. That could help him make a big play…or a big mistake.


Situational football was an issue for the Eagles last week. The Eagles struggled with 3rd down defense in the second half. They struggled with red zone defense all game long. Those are critical areas that must improve.

Penalties were another problem. The Eagles had 10 of them. Some of that can be excused due to opening game sloppiness, but those mistakes must be fixed. Several of the penalties were costly.

Crowd noise was a problem last week. This is the home opener so the Eagles won’t have that issue. I will be watching to see if they get plays called in a more timely fashion. The offense was up against the play clock for a lot of the game in Detroit. That can’t happen again.

Minnesota was 3-6 on the road last year. Playing in Philly in a wild atmosphere will be a good test for them. Will crowd noise affect their offense?

The Vikings offense struggled on 3rd downs (4 of 13) and in the red zone (1 of 3). Their defense played well in both areas, limiting Green Bay to 3 of 9 on 3rd downs and 1 of 3 in the red zone.

There is also this nugget.

Cousins won his last two MNF games, but both were against bad Bears teams. This is a stat that is worth noting, but also might not be too relevant with coaching changes, scheme changes, experience, etc.


The Vikings were the more impressive team in Week 1, but the Eagles might benefit from playing in the tougher game. They were put into tough situations and responded well enough to come away with a good win on the road.

It is so early that it is tough to have a good feel for how things are likely to play out in a game like this. But the more I think about it, the better I feel about the Eagles chances. They can’t lose to good QBs forever. I’m guessing the defense fixes some issues from the opener and the offense plays well enough to out-score the Vikings.


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