3 Things to Watch For in Minnesota’s Second Preseason Game

Harrison Smith
Nov 16, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (12) attempts to make a catch against Minnesota Vikings strong safety Harrison Smith (22) during the third quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend’s game features the Minnesota Vikings vs. the Indianapolis Colts. I, like every purple fan, am hoping for a dramatically different effort. For a positive outcome to occur, certain key things will need to happen. It would be easy (and not wrong) to say that the team in its entirety needs to significantly improve. Let’s be more specific, though. I’m looking for much better punting, a cohesive o-line, and a stifling secondary.

Improved Punting

Britton Colquitt may be the only punter on the Vikings roster, but his job is far from secure.

Zim was pretty blunt in his assessment of Colquitt’s performance, noting that he had “three very poor punts” and that the team therefore has “cause for concern.” Now, Zim has often been outspoken about his support for Colquitt. He appreciates his veteran savvy. He also appreciates that Colquitt does an excellent job holding for field goals.

Colquitt’s main job, though, is to punt.

Zim often preaches about the importance of complementary football. The basic idea is that all components of football are interconnected. If the special teams doesn’t do a nice job in coverage, the returner will gain more ground. The defense, in turn, has a more difficult job keeping points off the scoreboard. It’s all interconnected.

Colquitt needs to show major improvement in the Indy game. When he punts the ball better, Zim’s defense performs better. Anyone who gets in the way of Zim’s defense doing their job is unlikely to stick around for very long.

A Cohesive, Competent O-Line

Our offensive line has a lot to prove. The Christian Darrisaw injury certainly makes things less than ideal, but there’s no excuse for the performance we got last week.

Everyone’s expectation ought to be for a considerably improved performance against Indy. It remains to be seen who the Colts will play (and for how long), but they’ve got legit talent on defense. DeForest Buckner is a beast. How will Oli Udoh hold up against him? Can Garrett Bradbury show a better anchor?

Lil’Kub is going to try to help his o-line in both the Vikings vs. Colts game and throughout the entire season. Expect plenty of runs to Dalvin; expect plenty of rolling out for Kirk. When the Vikings face 3rd & 10, though, it’ll be fascinating to see how our 1s hold up. We’ll really know where things stand on the offensive line when the Vikings are in an obvious passing situation.

In his recent press conference, Zim recapped the week’s practice and approach to the upcoming game. He clarified that he’s not treating it like a third preseason game, meaning we shouldn’t expect to see the starters out there for the entire first half. Even still, the starters will get reps: “I think we need to have a little success, I think we need to build a little confidence. That’s why most of our guys will end up playing some.” He then clarified that practice is good for evaluation, but the games are what matters most.

There’s no set number of plays, Zim explained, for the starters, suggesting he’ll take a wait-and-see approach. If the offense begins like it did last week, we can expect to see the starting o-line out there for a little while.

A Stifling Secondary

There’s simply no way Indy’s passing game should have success. Carson Wentz is injured, and so is their best offensive lineman, Quenton Nelson. On paper, Minnesota’s secondary should be able to contain Indy’s receivers. The game isn’t played on paper, though.

Indeed, the game is played on the field, so the only thing that really matters is what the players can accomplish when they’re actually out there. In the Vikings vs. Colts game, I’m looking to see Patrick Peterson show that he can still be a strong player. I want to see Cameron Dantzler bounce back from a rough first game. Bashaud Breeland ought to show us some physicality, and Mackensie Alexander should make life difficult for Indy’s slot receiver(s).

Otherwise, I want to see Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods create confusion. Both are tremendously versatile. They ought to present some real issues for opposing offenses, especially since they’ll have their backup QB in the game.

When Josh Metellus gets his chance, I’m hoping he demonstrates more great tackling. I also want to see Kris Boyd and Harrison Hand solidify themselves as important depth pieces on the back end of the defense. There’s plenty to watch for, especially when we remember that Zim’s specialty is with defensive backs.

Vikings vs. Colts Game Guide

The punting, o-line, and secondary: those are the three things I’m most interested in watching on Saturday night. For the sake of Vikings fans everywhere (and Zim’s blood pressure), I’m hoping for a considerably different feel to the game. The game outcome is of less concern since the W/L doesn’t really matter. What I want to see is crisp, competitive football from the guys in purple.

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