5 takeaways from the Vikings 23-7 win over the Packers

·4 min read

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The Minnesota Vikings coming out a 23-7 victor wasn’t a surprise but how it went down was one.

Kirk Cousins looked better than Aaron Rodgers, the defense was excellent in every facet and head coach Kevin O’Connell looked like a cagey veteran in his head coaching debut.

While there were a lot of things to look at concerning the first game of the Vikings 2022 season, we identified five takeaways that stood out from Sunday’s win over the Packers.

Kevin O'Connell is as advertised offensively

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates after the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for O’Connell to put his stamp on this Vikings offense.

Early and often, he utilized motion and schemed Justin Jefferson open with relative ease. His first touchdown catch was on a fourth down and it was a play we saw Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams use for years.

The real benefit from a scheming perspective already showed its hand with O’Connell getting Jefferson across from an edge rusher in Preston Smith. That is going to play massive dividends for the Vikings moving forward.

Kirk Cousins is extremely confident

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) meet after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest issues with Cousins over the course of his time with the Vikings is that he is unwilling to let it rip down the field with any form of consistency. One of the better deep throwers in the league, Cousins has wanted things to be perfect too often which has hurt the Vikings too often.

In Sunday’s game against the Packers, Cousins showed much-improved confidence. It showed on multiple plays but none more so than when he maneuvered in the pocket and hit Justin Jefferson on a deep crossing route in the second quarter. This is exactly what we have wanted from Cousins and it will be dynamite if he can keep it up.

The interior is still an issue

Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in action during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the biggest issue on the Vikings offense was the interior of the offensive line. We all know the issues that Bradbury has had with multiple games earning a 0.0 pass blocking grade. He was about the same as he always has but his new comrade Ed Ingram struggled at times.

Despite a PFF overall grade of 79.3, Ingram had a pass blocking grade of 31.2 over 33 pass blocking reps but a staggeringly low 2.8 on 15 true pass blocking sets. Obviously, it’s too early to know if this will be a continuing issue but with Jordan Davis and Fletcher Cox the next matchup on Monday, this isn’t a great start.

Bend don't break works with a great pass rush

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) celebrates with linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) after Hunter sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter during their football game Sunday, September 11, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Min. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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The secondary didn’t have its best game as a whole but it didn’t matter a ton with the pass rush getting to Aaron Rodgers as easily as they did.

While they only got four sacks on the day, the most important stat of the day was the 18 pressures they garnered on the Packers offense. While no single player had more than three, it was good to see a lot of players get involved in the new defense run by Ed Donatell.

This style of defense will continue to work and protect the cornerbacks if the front four gets to the quarterback consistently like they did on Sunday. When they don’t it will become an issue down the line.

The offense is finally more modern

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) reacts with tight end Irv Smith Jr. (84) after scoring a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest issues with the Vikings last season was use of motion. They utilized it nowhere near as often as they should have.

On Sunday’s game, they used motion more often than not, including on the fourth down touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson with jet motion action across the formation to score from five yards out.

Motion can make a massive difference. It can unveil what the defense is doing and help create mismatches in your favor.

Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire