A Vital Strategic Change for the Vikings Defense


May 15, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell during rookie minicamp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Put simply, the Philadelphia offense completely outplayed Minnesota on Monday, so it’s safe to say that the Vikings defense needs a lot of work.

In the end, their stats were impressive. The Eagles piled up 486 yards, a total that was aided by going 7/13 on third down. Each offensive play averaged 7.1 yards. They got to these lofty yardage totals and 24 points despite having 8 penalties for 60 yards. They threw for 323 yards and ran for 163.

The point, folks, is that the Eagles could both run and pass with relative ease throughout the night. Moving forward, Minnesota needs to ensure an offense can’t do everything. Indeed, Ed Donatell’s group needs to at least to take one part of an offense away.

The Way Forward for The Vikings’ Defense

Quite often, the best way to respond after a bad loss is to get back to basics. It can be tempting to complicate things by searching for an answer to the various issues that need to be overcome. Sometimes this can be productive, but the safe money rests on trying to simplify things. Shed blocks, take good angles, be accountable to one’s gap, and ensure each player is executing his assignment in pass coverage.

Following the game, veteran corner Patrick Peterson addressed whether Philly did anything unexpected: “Nope. We did everything that we practiced on. We just didn’t execute the game plan, execute our assignments to the best of our ability to try and end up winning the ballgame.” Shortly thereafter, Peterson noted the importance of being able to “stop the run, first and foremost.” The ability to succeed on the ground makes life difficult for a defense: “We know that’s where it all starts, we know that opens up the play-action, the boots, and things like that.”

Indeed, the run game and pass game are interconnected. Getting some success on the ground makes it easier to have success through the air. Peterson’s thinking is that the Vikings need to get back to Defense 101: start by stopping the run. Afterwards, the team can execute their game plan at a higher level, making life more challenging for the offense.

It’d be surprising if the Detroit Lions present the same issue as the Philadelphia Eagles. That being said, they ought not be overlooked. After all, the Lions put up 35 points against Philly in Week 1. They then scored 36 points against Washington.

Perhaps the main thing the Vikings defense ought to do is to recommit to taking something away from the offense. For the Lions, maybe the focus ought to be on slowing D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, the talented pair of RBs in Dan Campbell’s offense. Or, perhaps, the focus should rest on generating pressure on Jared Goff early and often. Maybe there can be a focus on doubling Amon-Ra St. Brown on every critical play.

Regardless of what they decide, the strategy needs to involve taking something away so that life is more difficult for the opposing offense.

Looking Ahead

Putting together a poor Week 2 doesn’t mean that Vikings have a poor defense. It does, however, remind us that there is room for improvement. The opening game was impressive, but this is a team that has a long way to go.

Thankfully, there is a lot of football that’s still ahead. The short week means Minnesota doesn’t have the luxury of being complacent. Instead, they’ll need to recommit to playing sound defensive football with a day less time to prepare.

The Lions game is scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 25 at 12 p.m.

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