Minnesota Can Bring the Pain for Jordan Love

Do Vikings Start
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When the Minnesota Vikings moved on from Ed Donatell at the end of last season, the goal was to turn around a defense needing serious help. The answer wouldn’t be significant personnel changes, but Brian Flores providing his expertise could certainly help. We have seen that shift start to take place, and the key has been pressure.

Minnesota Can Bring the Pain for Jordan Love

Brian Flores has been synonymous with pressure-packed defenses throughout his tenure as a coach in the NFL. He was coming to a Vikings team that employs Danielle Hunter on the edge, and plenty of athletes could bring down opposing signal callers. While Minnesota did need to replace Za’Darius Smith, and Marcus Davenport flopped, Flores has still found contributors on a weekly basis.

Bring the Pain
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Sending pressure has been a weekly reality for the Vikings, and it’s a reality that Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love isn’t comfortable with. He has struggled mightily in his first year as the starter, and he gets even worse when forced to make decisions under pressure.

It is worth noting that the Green Bay Packers don’t employ an impressive stable of pass catchers. The tight end and wide receiver positions don’t have many names to write home about, and that was largely compensated by having a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers during recent seasons. There would always be a dropoff from Rodgers to Love, but I don’t think anyone with the Packers hoped it would be this substantial.

Love is not a statue in the pocket, and he can move around while looking to avoid pressure. The problem is that when he faces it so consistently, the decision-making and opportunities to succeed have not been something he has shown an ability to do. Minnesota blitzes heavily on a weekly basis, but that can be expected to be dialed up even further in this matchup.

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You can bet that Flores will look to position Hunter in places where he can continue to expand on his league-leading sack total. It won’t just be from the defensive front, though, either. The Vikings should be expected to send corners, linebackers, and safeties at Love to create opportunities for takeaways.

How well either side executes on the expected gameplan is likely how this will be decided. Sure, the Vikings offense is capable in and of itself, but this game seems like the defense can dictate. If Minnesota can control Love through pressure and manipulation, his response will probably tell the story.

Although Love is no longer a rookie, he’s still getting his feet wet in the league. No amount of preparation as a backup will have prepared him for game speed and how often pressure is brought at him from the defense. For a team with a unit built around those principles, it could be a perfect storm for Flores to put up some wonderful tape.

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Kirk Cousins has been accustomed to being hit plenty over the years, and it’s been nice to see that trend more positively in 2023. Love is just getting used to the premise, but he could feel it early and often on Sunday.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.