Kevin O’Connell Lays out Key to Stopping Brock Purdy

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The 2-4 Vikings must string together some wins to climb out of their hole. Self-inflicted wounds led to the disappointing start of the 2023 season. There is nearly no margin for error left, so even against the best teams in football, the Vikes should attempt to pull off an upset, which was in reach against the Eagles and the Chiefs.

Kevin O’Connell Lays out Key to Stopping Brock Purdy

key to stopping
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Monday night, the 49ers come to U.S. Bank Stadium. Kyle Shanahan’s group lost a game for the first time in the season in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Brock Purdy seemed to struggle with Cleveland’s top defense, the rain, and the departure of some key figures because of injury.

The 49ers come with a top defense, a unit that features some fantastic players like Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave up front, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw at linebacker, and Talanoa Hufanga in the secondary. The defense ranks third in EPA/Play, behind the Browns and the Ravens.

But arguably, even better than the defense is the offense. Shanahan is an offensive mastermind, and that is why many coaches try to copy his scheme. The 49ers rank second in EPA/play on offense, only trailing his former protege Mike McDaniel and his explosive Miami Dolphins.

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The lack of a decent quarterback was a big problem in the past, which is why the franchise traded up to secure the rights to draft Trey Lance in 2021. He didn’t become the next Joe Montana. Instead, one year later, with the last pick in the draft, the 49ers selected Brock Purdy, and he somehow turned into a decent passer for them.

He produces elite statistics, and the team is winning, so media pundits ask themselves if he is an elite player or a product of the surroundings. Well, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is convinced he is a good player but also knows how to contain him.

I think the narrative is it’s easy (with) Kyle and this run game and players around him but what I see is a guy playing quarterback at a really high level, throwing with anticipation, seeing the field, making some critical plays on some third downs to extend drives and let them get back into what they want to be offensively on those early downs.

He’s consistently done it basically every game he’s played since getting the opportunity to be in there. He’s a challenge. He is in complete control of Kyle’s offense and what they’re trying to do. You have to make him uncomfortable.

The formula for a guy like Brock Purdy is no different than playing any other quarterback in this league. Try to make them uncomfortable, try to make them feel like they’ve got to force some balls into some tight windows, and then can you make the play. Tips and overthrows, we saw it last weekend in Chicago, it’ll be important that we try to see that a few more times this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Kevin O’Connell
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Putting the young QB under pressure is the key to stopping the 49ers, according to the head coach. The good news is that defensive coordinator Brian Flores loves to do that. His group leads the league in blitzes by a wide margin, bringing at least five rushers on 57.9%. The Patriots rank second with 43.4%.

A world his defense lives in is that when the blitzes work, the offense is in trouble. If they can’t get home quickly enough, which happened against the Chargers, they are in trouble. The 49ers offense is built around a strong rushing game that got even scarier when the organization traded for Christian McCaffrey last season.

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Another strong suit is the run-after-catch ability of the best players. George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and McCaffrey excel in that part of the game. Selling out to stop the run (or blitz) but also containing those three after the catch and Brandon Aiyuk’s ability to catch vertical passes is almost impossible, but if the Vikings want to be serious in the 2023 season, they have to find a way and make sure their record after seven games is not 2-5. Making Purdy look like a seventh-rounder instead of the second-coming of Joe Montana would be a good start.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt