Vikings Have Great Chance to Get Offense Back On Track

How Vikings Can Avoid Indy Hangover
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings enter Week 3 eager to put the bitter taste of their Monday Night Football loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to sleep. The offense only mustered seven points after lighting up the Green Bay Packers in week 1.

Fortunately, the Vikings offense faces the Detroit Lions defense this Sunday. Although the Lions are 1-1 and have been extremely competitive through two weeks, their defense has struggled. While their offense has scored the second-most points in the NFL, their defense has fittingly yielded the second-most in the league.

Detroit’s defense has racked up six sacks so far this season. However, they have been susceptible to big plays when their pressure hasn’t been able to get home.

Did the Lions Give the Vikings a Gameplan?
Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Last Sunday, when facing the Washington Commanders in a 36-27 victory, the Lions’ defense continued to show lapses in coverage. Facing 1st-and-10 at the Washington 16-yard line, the Commanders motion wideout Curtis Samuel (#10) into a 2×2 formation. This put speedy rookie Jahan Dotson 1-on-1 with Lions cornerback Will Harris. Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin runs a crossing route with Dotson, rubbing Harris and giving Dotson room.

Unfortunately, the Lions rush seven defenders here, and Wentz gets flagged for intentional grounding. Still, the play is there to be made.

Down 22-0 to begin the second half, the Commanders face 2nd-and-6 at their own 40-yard line. Tight end Logan Thomas (#82, who I mislabeled in the tweet) runs an out. Because of quarters coverage rules, safety Tracy Walker (#21) has to come up and defend that route. This allows Dotson to beat Harris on a deep post, gaining 40 yards on the play.

Finally, the Commanders continued showing just how vulnerable the Lions were to inside routes when they got into the redzone. Down 22-7 at the Lions 20-yard line, the Commanders have Dotson and Thomas run a switch release. Dotson releases inside, rubbing Lions linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, getting him off-balance in coverage. Rubbing is essentially a “pick” play, attempting to legally run defenders in coverage into each other.

This allows Thomas to work his way outside, getting Rodriguez chasing. With Dotson breaking his route outside and carrying the safety with him, Rodriguez bends his route back inside, wide-open for a touchdown to help cut the deficit to 22-15.

With the Lions poised to continue running a man-heavy defense, expect the Vikings to try duplicating the Commanders’ game plan by stretching the field as horizontally as they did vertically. Superstar wideout Justin Jefferson will garner a lot of attention, which should leave the other Vikings’ weapons 1-on-1 in their matchups.

If Minnesota can convert on these opportunities, they should be able to exploit a defense that allowed 27 points in the second half of last week’s game.