The Minnesota Vikings couldn’t get out of their own way on Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers losing in brutal fashion by a score of 41-17.
Everything that could go wrong did, as they lost center Austin Schlottmann and right tackle Brian O’Neill to injuries. It wasn’t just that, they had every bounce go against them and couldn’t get anything going on offense.
For once, the defense wasn’t the issue, as they place pretty well considering the circumstances.
This week is going to have a lot more duds than studs, as you can imagine, this wasn’t the fault of one person.
Dud: Kevin O'Connell
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
There’s very little that O’Connell can point to that would exonerate him from this loss. They knew that the Packers were going to prioritize Justin Jefferson and the Packers had Jaire Alexander travel with him while also getting safety help consistently. The Packers played a lot of press coverage and the Vikings didn’t have any counters to that. Where were the rub routes, double moves and other beaters when you are playing in those situations? That’s what’s the most frustrating. O’Connell needs to be prepared to counter
Stud: Jalen Nailor
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) rushes for a touchdown as Green Bay Packers cornerback Corey Ballentine (35) defends during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings don’t have a true vertical element to their passing game and it’s something that I have stressed that they need to address this offseason. They might have something with Nailor.
Known as a guy who will take the top off of the defense more than anything, Nailor showed a little bit of that, albeit in garbage time, and more. He had three catches for a team-leading 89 yards and a touchdown. He needs work to fully develop as a receiver and it’s no guarantee that he will play well when all the first-teamers are in there, but this was a positive sign.
Dud: Justin Jefferson
Green Bay Packers safety Rudy Ford (20) runs back an interception against Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in the fourth quarter during their football game Sunday, January 1, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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After having a dynamite performance in week one against the Packers, Jefferson was held in check with just one reception on five targets for 15 yards. Yes Jaire Alexander traveled with him a decent amount, but the Packers bracketed him all game long. The toughest part was that he allowed his emotions to get the best of him and it showed in his performance.
Dud: T.J. Hockenson
Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos (31) breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) in the third quarter during their football game Sunday, January 1, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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Yes, Hockenson did catch a team-high seven passes for 59 yards, but it was what he didn’t do that was the problem. Hockenson struggled to catch the football and on a fourth down early in the game, he couldn’t catch a ball thrown right to him that ended up getting intercepted off of a deflection and returned for a touchdown. Hockenson hasn’t had the most reliable hands in the world for the Vikings this season and this was a prime example.
Dud: Kirk Cousins
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Jarran Reed (90) rushes Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) as he passes the ball during their game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t misconstrue this. Kirk Cousins is not to blame for the loss to the Packers, but he certainly didn’t help the cause. The first two interceptions were both batted and should have been completions, but he struggled with both his presence in the pocket and accuracy. Oftentimes this season, Cousins has been able to get both himself and the team out of a rut, but it wasn’t to be against the Packers on Sunday.
Dud: Dalvin Cook
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) is stopped short of the end zone during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings had an excellent matchup in facing the Packers’ defense as they ranked 27th in the NFL, allowing 144.4 yards per game on the ground. Unfortunately, the Vikings couldn’t get anything going on the ground. They ended up rushing for 101 yards but a lot of that was with Cousins’ scrambles and Alexander Mattison in garbage time. Cook only carried it nine times and couldn’t get anything going with a paltry 3.0 yards per carry. It’s not all on Cook as the Vikings had a lot of issues on the offensive line, but he has played well in worse situations.