Three Keys: Can Minnesota Slow Russell Wilson?
We’re dangerously close to do-or-die territory. That’s what happens when you drop the season’s two opening games in a heartbreaking manner. You can’t win the Super Bowl in September, but you sure can lose it. If we dig an 0-3 hole, we’ll have close to no chance of getting into the playoffs. In effect, the dreams of finally getting that Lombardi will be long gone. To avoid this discouraging fate, Minnesota will need to find a way of slowing down Russell Wilson. From there, the team will need to get more from their skill players and from their pass rush.
Key #1: Can Minnesota Slow Russell Wilson?
Last week, we saw how difficult it is to contain a dynamic QB who can extend plays with his legs. We’ll get another chance tomorrow afternoon.
Russell Wilson, to my mind, is a top 5 NFL QB. You might even be able to convince me that he’s top 3. The scrambling ability, of course, is what stands out to most folks. What makes him so special, though, is his it-factor. Ask yourself: if there’s 2 minutes left on the clock and Seattle is down by 6 points, do you expect Wilson to march his team down the field for the win? I certainly do.
It’s going to be a full-team effort to contain Wilson. The special teams need to ensure Seattle is continually facing a long field. The offense needs long, extended drives to keep Wilson on the bench. The defense, of course, needs to really come to play. Once again, I’ll advocate for a QB spy on critical third downs. Eric Kendricks could do the job.
Our Vikings aren’t good enough to make several mistakes against Wilson. Every phase will need to be crisp.
Key #2: Underwhelming Skill Players
At Purple PTSD, I put forth a piece that takes into consideration how our skill players have played against Seattle in their careers. The collective per-game yard average for Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Justin Jefferson is a mere 122.7 yards. That’s a big yikes. If Cook, Thielen, and Jefferson combine for only 122 yards of offense tomorrow, we’ll be in trouble.
Our QB1 hasn’t done much better. Here is his average game against the Seahawks: 22/35, 253 yards, 1.4 TDs, 0.4 INTs. Cousins has been excellent so far this season, so let’s hope he can quickly overcome this trend.
There’s no reason for our offense to be so lousy against the Seahawks. In the past, they’ve had a truly top-tier defense. In the past, our offense hasn’t been nearly as balanced or explosive. Neither of those things apply to the current iterations of the Vikings and Seahawks. If Cook can play, he should account for more than 120 yards of offense. I’m also looking to see Jefferson have a breakout 2021 game.
Key #3: A Dynamic Pass Rush
Danielle Hunter has been sensational. Michael Pierce has had some really nice moments, especially in that opening game. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten enough from the other pass rushers.
Having Everson Griffen back for this game should help. My hope is that he’ll ignite the pass rush opposite Hunter. We also need to see more from Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum. Anyone who reads my writing consistently knows I like Wonnum. The kid still has a little ways to go in order to prove that he can complement Hunter.
I’m also hoping for more from Dalvin Tomlinson. I know, I know, he’s a NT playing 3T, but we still need to see him collapse the pocket more consistently. Doing so will take away an area of the field for Wilson to escape. In so doing, our secondary will have a considerably easier time in their assignment against Tyler Lockett and D.K Metcalf. If our pass rush struggles, expect our secondary to struggle as well.
Someone needs to step up opposite Hunter.
The Crystal Ball
For some stupid reason, I’m rolling with the good guys. Perhaps I just don’t want to face the inevitable heartbreak until I’m finally forced to. Regardless, I’m leaning purple. Give me the Vikings in a wild game.
Offseason Prediction: Minnesota 22 – Seattle 18
Updated Prediction: Minnesota 38 – Seattle 31
After last week’s correct prediction, I’m sitting at 1-1 for the year. I’m getting the feeling that my misguided Bengals pick is going to annoy me throughout the season.