Film Study: How Nick Foles Owned the Minnesota Vikings Defense

 

Minnesota Vikings Extreme Offensive Line Makeover

There’s one main reason the Minnesota Vikings are 10-3. Well, five…

Source: https://www.dailynorseman.com/2017/11/21/16679482/minnesota-vikings-offensive-line

Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, October 15, 2017)

Riding high after their huge victory against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers are riding high as they enter brand-new U.S. Bank Stadium this Sunday, as 3.5-point favorites against the Minnesota Vikings according to NFL betting odds for Packers vs Vikings gameAnd that’s exactly why they could be in position for a big upset this weekend…

When we think of the Vikings, we first think of their defense, thanks to the organizational philosophy laid down by head coach Mike Zimmer. Minnesota enters Week 6 of the NFL season with the 11th-ranked defense in the NFL. They have star players at every level of the defense. Defensive end Everson Griffen is third in the NFL in sacks (six). Cornerback Xavier Rhodes has been one of the best in football this season. Outside linebacker Anthony Barr is a freakish athlete that does so many things for them.

But even with the in-and-out from Sam Bradford due to various injuries, this offense has been deceptively good as well. Minnesota actually averages more passing yards per game (357 — 5th most in the NFL) than Green Bay (336.6 — 11th most in the NFL). It’s even more disparate when you look at each team’s rushing attack: Minnesota averages 118.2 yards per game (#11 in the NFL) versus Green Bay’s 91.6 yards per game (22nd in the NFL). In place of promising rookie Dalvin Cook, who was lost to a season-ending injury to his ACL, Jerick McKinnon provided a spark to Minnesota’s offense, evidenced by his 146 total yards against the Chicago Bears on Monday night. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is in the midst of a breakout season of his own, sitting in 5th place in the NFL with 395 receiving yards. And the Vikings are just as likely to spread the ball around to the rest of their offense, as they are to force-feed their stars. On Monday evening, quarterback Case Keenum — playing in place of the injured Bradford — threw 16 of his 21 passing attempts to his running backs and tight ends.

Of course, the great equalizer in this entire game — or any game Green Bay plays in — is Aaron Rodgers. At some point, it just feels like we’re going to run out of superlatives to describe his level of play. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time right now, but Rodgers is the best in the game as of today. His stats don’t tell the whole story (although his league-leading 13 touchdown passes certainly help), but the way he puts the Packers on his shoulders, week after week, is unlike anything we’re seeing in the league today (this side of New England, anyway).

Minnesota’s defense has held Rodgers to less than 220 passing yards in each of the last three games these two have played in Minnesota. Of course, the Packers are 2-1 in in those games, thanks to the balance provided by the Packers rushing attack.

Minnesota handled two very potent offense at home already: New Orleans in Week 1, and Tampa Bay in Week 3. They should be well aware of this, given that they play them twice a year, but if Green Bay is not careful, they could have their hands full.

But as of right now, Green Bay looks like they’re one of the two best teams in the NFC, alongside the Atlanta Falcons. While this game should be a really good matchup, the Vikings aren’t quite as dangerous as the Packers… or as Rodgers, anyway.

My Pick: Green Bay.

 

P.J. Fleck and the Minnesota Gophers are Going Places

The Minnesota Golden Gophers made perhaps the best coaching hire of the off-season by landing former Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck is only 36 years old, but he helped turn Western Michigan’s football program around in only four years. He went 1-11 in his first season, but he was able to recruit at a high level, finishing with the 36th best class according to 247sports.com before the 2014 season. The Broncos finished 8-4 in 2014 and Fleck was named the MAC coach of the year. In 2015, he finished 7-5 but led the program to its first ever bowl victory with a 45-31 win over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in the Bahamas Bowl. Fleck was able to put together the 4th consecutive best recruiting class in the MAC, and the talent acquired from those four years really proved to be special in 2016. The Broncos went undefeated in the regular season with a 12-0 record, then won the MAC championship, and qualified for an at-large bid to play Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. They lost 24-16, but it was the best season in program history. Minnesota has talent and has competed in the Big 10 in the past, and they are in the much weaker west division. This is huge because they play Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and Purdue every year. They also play Nebraska and Wisconsin, who are both steady, consistent programs but it is not nearly as difficult as the east gauntlet of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. Fleck is a proven winner, and a great recruiter, plus he plays a manageable schedule every year.

We think it will take a year or two, like it did at Western Michigan, for him to really get the program going with his system and his players. The first few years may not be great, but once he establishes his program it very well could be a contender in the west every year. We think Minnesota could be a serious contender in the Big 10 in a few years, and that also means they very well could be a dark horse playoff contender if they somehow knock off one of the dominant programs out of the east division. Minnesota is going to go places it has never been with Fleck at the helm, as he is a great coach, recruiter and plays in the weaker division. We think it is very likely that Minnesota will be a very good program in the future that teams such as Ohio State and Michigan can no longer take lightly.

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