3 Keys to Victory!
1. Contain Aaron Rodgers or else.
First and foremost, the Vikings defense has to contain Rodgers. It’s no secret that the Green Bay quarterback makes defenses pay when he gets outside of the pocket. In fact, he’s downright lethal.
Last week, the Cowboys were the latest to learn that lesson. Although, it’s not exactly a new lesson for Dallas considering Rodgers has torched them before.
The Viking Age
On a 3rd & 8 with 29 seconds left in the fourth, Dallas put pressure on Rodgers, but couldn’t prevent him from getting out of the pocket. Instead of finding an open receiver downfield as he usually does, Rodgers saw open field in front of him and ran it for 18 yards and a first down. The play set up the eventual Adams game-winning touchdown.
Rodgers has made plays like this over and over. It’s absolutely sickening to watch. This is especially the case when he does it against the Vikings as he has done multiple times in the past.
So, what does this all mean for the Vikings?
Well, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter are going to have their hands full. They can NOT lose containment. That means, they need to keep their desire to get to him in check. What I mean by that is they have to limit inside moves unless there’s someone blitzing off the edge. On the other hand, they also don’t want to go too far upfield either.
If they do try going inside, Rodgers likely rolls out and kill us downfield. That’s just what he does and the defense has to know that going into Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong, Minnesota needs to get to Rodgers and he’s by no means impossible to sack, BUT they have to be careful doing so.
2. Control time of possession.
When you recognize Rodgers can single-handedly win games for the Packers, controlling the clock is about the best thing you can do to neutralize him. I mean, Rodgers is rarely off, so keeping him off the field is a win.
So, the Vikings need to rely on Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon to run some clock. The duo sure didn’t disappoint in their first full game without rookie Dalvin Cook. Combined, they had 126 yards on 28 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown by McKinnon.
In turn, they led Chicago in time of possession (31:24), an impressive feat considering the multiple short drives the offense had in the first half under Bradford.
Ideally, the offense improves their time of possession from last week. Limiting the Packers to below 25 minutes of offense would help the defense considerably. That largely depends on a consistent run game and converting on 3rd down though.
Against a mediocre Green Bay defense, there’s nothing unrealistic about sustaining a couple long drives. Not only to burn clock, but to put points on the board.
One last thing, the Vikings offense has to make sure they don’t leave much time on the clock at the end of halves. That’s if, the situation allows them to kill clock in those situations. Rodgers is an expert at the two-minute drill, so giving him time to work with under a couple of minutes to go is a dangerous situation. So, let’s just prevent that if at all possible.
3. Mix it up and stay disciplined on defense.
Finally, the Minnesota defense has to give Rodgers multiple looks, yet stay disciplined in those looks. Often times, Rodgers hard counts not just to get the defense to jump offsides, but to see what they are running.
Knowing this, the Vikings have to be disciplined at the line of scrimmage. In other words, Everson Griffen has to stop jumping offsides. While I love his passion and greatness, he has to limit silly penalties. Last game, it could have very well cost Minnesota the game, not to mention a couple other games too.
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That being said, the whole line has to stay disciplined because there’s no doubt Rodgers is going to pull out all the stops to make the line jump. He’s also going to try to get the safeties and linebackers moving prior to the snap as a way to take advantage of the coverage.
When the Vikings defense has been successful against Rodgers, they have stayed disciplined and coach Mike Zimmer has mixed up defensive looks in attempt to confuse the veteran quarterback. Contrary to popular opinion, he can play poorly, but it takes a darn good, disciplined defensive performance to do so. Just as the defense did at home last season.
If the Vikings stay disciplined prior to the snap, mix up defensive looks and limit penalties, that’s the perfect recipe to defensive success. Who knows? Maybe they even come away with a couple turnovers in the process.