5 Major Concerns for the Vikings after Week 1
The Minnesota Vikings lost their season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Despite the loss, there were a few silver lining takeaways from the game, particularly on the defensive side of the ball that we covered earlier today.
However, this is still a bad loss for the Vikings to begin the 2023 season. Here are 5 major concerns that came as a result of the loss as Minnesota has a quick turnaround before their Thursday Week 2 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
1. Garrett Bradbury’s Injury
The Vikings lost their starting center Garrett Bradbury in the first half of this game because of a back injury. In his stead, Austin Schlottmann stepped in to snap the ball to Kirk Cousins, and shortly after coming into the game, we saw a botched snap.
Bradbury has often been criticized for his pass-protection over his career, but he has consistently been one of the better run-blocking centers in the league. The 2019 first-round pick missed a portion of the 2022 season with a similarly-described injury, so his status is a major question mark for the Vikings moving into Week 2.
2. Lack of a Rushing Attack
Of course, part of this can be blamed on the absence of Garrett Bradbury at center. However, the Vikings ran back virtually the same group of offensive linemen from 2022 to 2023 in the hopes that continuity would lead to improvements.
Yesterday, it did not. The Vikings averaged just 2.4 yards per carry, and Kirk Cousins was the Vikings second-leading rusher behind Alexander Mattison. With a tough road game against the Eagles fast-approaching, Minnesota will need to be much better in this department if they want a chance at winning.
3. Justin Jefferson’s Second Half Doldrums
Far too often last season, the Vikings seemed to forget that they have the best wide receiver in football for long stretches at a time. Once again, Justin Jefferson had a ridiculous first half with 7 catches and 138 yards, but during the second half, Minnesota simply did not get him the ball.
Jefferson caught just 2 passes for 12 yards during the second half. While it isn’t the only reason Minnesota scored just 7 points in the final 30 minutes of the game, it is no coincidence that those stats coincided with each other. The Vikings struggled with offensive consistency during the 2022 season, and it was a problem once again in Week 1.
4. Where Is the 2022 Draft Class?
The Vikings spent a large portion of their draft capital in 2022 trying to improve the defensive side of the ball. In the first round, they selected S Lewis Cine, and they followed that up by trading to acquire the 42nd overall pick and took CB Andrew Booth. Later in the draft, they also selected LB Brian Asamoah.
Those three players combined for three defensive snaps in Week 1. Both Booth and Cine watched the entirety of the 68 defensive snaps from the sideline, and UDFA Ivan Pace seems to have completely usurped Asamoah for that LB2 spot as he played 46 snaps compared to Asamoah’s 2.
5. Things Don’t Get Any Easier from Here
Finally, the bitter pill that Vikings fans have to swallow here is this: the game against Tampa Bay was supposed to be one of the more “winnable” games of the season. Now, they head into an absolute gauntlet over the course of the next month and a half. Here is a look at their next seven games:
- Week 2 @ Philadelphia Eagles (Thursday Night)
- Week 3 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- Week 4 @ Carolina Panthers
- Week 5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 6 @ Chicago Bears
- Week 7 vs. San Francisco 49ers
- Week 8 @ Green Bay Packers
The Vikings are going to have to steal some of these games in order to stick around in the NFC race to the playoffs, but there are no “gimme’s” in this upcoming stretch.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.