Twenty seven yards and a few feet is all that separates the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks. Had Blair Walsh made that fateful field goal last January, the Vikings would be playing the role of older brother. Instead, they’re forced to look up and admire all that the Seahawks have accomplished in a few short year; a Super Bowl title, NFC West domination, and unmatched home field advantage.
But a closer look reveals the Vikings and Seahawks to be more “twin” than “stepbrother.” From their defensive-minded head coaches to their ground-first approaches on offense, the newfound NFC rivals share plenty in common. Before the teams’ playoff matchup last season, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll acknowledged the parallels between Minnesota and Seattle; particularly, between himself and Vikings ‘captain’ Mike Zimmer.
“There’s such a similarity in the formula that we both represent as defensive guys and former coordinators,” Carroll said, per Vikings.com. “I really appreciate it because I see — because we’ve been successful at putting out this formula of playing defense and special teams and the running game, and they’re doing the same thing.”
In some regards, Zimmer has built his team in the same mold as the Seahawks. The defense is relatively simple, but that simplicity allows his players to react more quickly than most defensive units. The offense controls the clock and pace of the game through the run. And on the sidelines, Zimmer coaches with a unique personality; one that defines his roster much in the way Carroll’s does in Seattle. These are all traits that could describe the Seahawks, but the Vikings are a distinctly “Zimmer” team, built to match Seattle in any environment.
Tonight, the franchises reunite for the first time since playing in the third-coldest game in NFL history. While the stakes may not be as high, there are certainly motivating factors that make this game worth a watch. It’s a preseason tilt, but if both teams meet expectations during the regular season, a playoff rematch isn’t out of the question. Thus, it’s critical to understand what makes the Seahawks ‘tick.’
In the first “Opponent Spotlight” of the year, we’ll analyze tape from the opposing team’s most recent game; identifying concepts, schemes, and strategies the Vikings must master come Sunday morning (or in this case, Thursday night).