The Vikings at Eagles: One Stat, Quote, and Matchup to Preview Week 2
Kevin O’Connell’s sophomore season as a head coach got off to a rocky start. In a perfect world, the youthful coach finds a way of propelling his team to even par, a 1-1 record following a difficult showdown in Philadelphia.
Giving fans a better understanding of what’s to come involves PurplePTSD offering up a single statistic, quotation, and matchup to keep in mind. The hope, valued reader, is that the information contained in this piece can function as a bit of a primer for what’s to come in tomorrow’s matchup. Enjoy.
The Vikings at Eagles
Stat: 70 Sacks
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles led the NFL in sacks with 70. The next closest team was down at 55 (Kansas City). The Eagles boasted a whopping four players who were in the double digits for sacks: Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham. Fletcher Cox finished his year with 7 sacks, so there is crazy depth among the Eagles.
Hargrave is now with the 49ers, but Philly was able to snag Jalen Carter in the draft. In other words, the Eagles pass rush is likely to feast once again in 2023 since they’ll constantly be putting excellent pass rushers in one-on-one situations.
The Vikings and their oft-criticized offensive line left a lot to be desired following last week’s disappointing loss. While Vita Vea & Friends offer their own challenges, the Eagles are on a completely different level. Put simply, this is a matchup that leans heavily toward Philly. Kevin O’Connell will need to have several tricks up his sleeve to ensure his QB doesn’t get walloped on a consistent basis.
The Eagles picked up a pair of sacks against the Patriots in Week 1.
Quote: Kirk Cousins is Feeling Urgent
The Vikings can’t afford to have a lackluster quarterback. Kirk Cousins must be excellent if Minnesota can pull off the upset win on the road in Philadelphia.
During a recent press conference, Cousins previewed the importance of what’s to come on Thursday Night Football: “I’ve never been in here and not felt urgency, so I think regardless of the record there’s urgency.” Shortly thereafter, the QB1 reflects on last year’s excellent record and how there was still such an emphasis on winning the next contest. At the very end of his press conference, Cousins indicates that being able to “execute with precision” from the beginning of the game will be the key to getting the victory.
A lot of people will be keying on Cousins’ history under the bright lights of a football game at night. On Thursday, Cousins will get the chance keep chipping away at that largely negative perception.
Safe to say that getting the upset win would be a critical part of Minnesota’s season but also in many people’s understanding of the QB1. After all, Cousins’ ability to stick around Minnesota beyond the current season basically comes down to his capacity to elevate his team rather than just his individual play.
Matchup: Darius Slay vs. Justin Jefferson
In 2022, Darius Slay won the matchup. The veteran corner got a pile of help from the defensive front, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that he had a good day at the office.
Jefferson put together a modest set of stats, accounting for just 6 catches and 48 yards. The young receiver has acknowledged that he’s looking forward to going against Slay.
“It’s always going to be a great battle with the top corners in the league,” Jefferson notes, “I’m always excited to have those types of matchups.”
O’Connell will likely look to get Jefferson moved around the formation, freeing him from Philly’s CB1 from time to time. With James Bradberry trending toward being out, though, there will likely be a decent emphasis from the Eagles to get their best on Minnesota’s best. If Slay finds a way of slowing Jefferson down, then the Vikings will need Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, and various others to do damage.
Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.
K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.