3 Keys for the Minnesota Vikings to Beat the Philadelphia Eagles
The Minnesota Vikings got their season off on a sour note by losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, 20-17.
This week, though, the Vikings get a fast turnaround that will hopefully lead to their first victory of the season. Minnesota is set to take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night at 7:15 PM.
With that game just hours away, here are 3 keys for the Vikings to beat the Eagles despite being heavy underdogs going into the game.
Stop a Fearsome Defensive Front
The Eagles may have lost Javon Hargrave from their defensive line this offseason, but arguably the best defensive player in the draft fell into their laps as they selected Jalen Carter with the ninth overall pick. In his NFL debut, Carter totaled 8 QB pressures, tied for the most in the league.
This front dominated New England’s offensive line throughout the day, and their defenders combined for a ridiculous 23 pressures on Mac Jones.
Without Garrett Bradbury, the Vikings will be relying on Ezra Cleveland, Austin Schlottmann, and Ed Ingram to stop this interior pass rush from Carter, Fletcher Cox, and Jordan Davis. Cleveland had a strong day in pass protection against the Buccaneers, but all three will need to play some of their best football in order for the Vikings to upset the Eagles.
Attack the Secondary
The Eagles defense is going to be greatly limited in Week 2, especially in the back end. LB Nakobe Dean was placed on IR this week while CB James Bradberry is out with a concussion suffered in Week 1. With two starters out, the Vikings need to attack this defense, utilizing their stars, Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson.
Jefferson got 8 targets in the first half of their game against Tampa Bay, but in the second half, Minnesota did not look his way for whatever reason. He finished the second half with just 2 catches for 12 yards. This cannot happen in Week 2, and T.J. Hockenson should be able to dominate against LBs Christian Elliss and Nicholas Morrow.
Hockenson was heavily involved in the passing game, catching 8 passes. However, these receptions only totaled 35 yards. The Vikings must do a better job of scheming him open against the Eagles because he has the speed and athleticism to break off big plays. Hockenson totaled just 13 yards after the catch in Week 1.
Another Strong Showing from the Young CBs
One big question for the Minnesota Vikings heading into the season was, once again, their secondary. With Byron Murphy and a group of young, inexperienced players at cornerback, many wondered if they would be able to hold up against all the talented wide receivers in the league.
One week in, it’s been relatively smooth sailing for the group. They largely held Tampa Bay’s passing defense in check, holding the Bucs to just 173 passing yards on the day. Considering 28 of these yards came on a TD pass to Mike Evans (a play that seemed to be more on the safeties than the CBs), this is a pretty solid start against a talented receiver group.
This week, the Vikings get another talented pass-catching trio in A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert, and DeVonta Smith. In order to win this game, players like Akayleb Evans and Mekhi Blackmon will need to make the most of their opportunities.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.