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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Tyler Forness

7 reasons for optimism as Vikings face the Eagles in Week 2

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings faced the Philadelphia Eagles in week two on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Things didn’t go very well for them as they lost the game 24-7.

This season, the Vikings take on the Eagles in week two at Lincoln Financial Field, but this time the game is on Thursday night.

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Going into the game, the Vikings don’t have a 1-0 record like they did last season, as they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17.

As the Vikings prepare for the defending Super Bowl runner-up, not all hope is lost and there are still plenty of reasons for optimism.

1. The defense allowed less yards in week 1 than any game in the 2022 season

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Last season, the Vikings allowed less than 300 yards on three different occasions with the lowest being in week 18 against the Chicago Bears with 259 yards allowed. That game felt more like a preseason game than one that was competitive.

Against the Buccaneers, Brian Flores’ defense only allowed 242 yards with just 90 of them coming in the first half. The mix of blitzes and disguised looks fooled the Buccaneers and could give Jalen Hurts fits on Thursday night.

2. Jordan Addison is ready for primetime

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Rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison made his presence felt in his first NFL game by scoring his first touchdown.

That play is a prime example of how Addison’s presence is going to help Justin Jefferson produce throughout his tenure here. Unlike both K.J. Osborn and Adam Thielen, Addison is a threat deep. He can get open on all three levels of the field with technique and explosiveness.

3. Brian O'Neill is back

AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn

When Brian O’Neill partially tore his Achilles tendon against the Green Bay Packers last January, there was concern on how he would come back. Would he be the same player when he came back? That was a sincere question, especially with how those injuries can impact explosive athletes like O’Neill.

In his first game, O’Neill was dominant with an overall PFF grade of 86.4, pass blocking grade of 81.5 and a run blocking grade of 89.3. He also didn’t allow a single pressure and looked like an immovable object. That is a great sign for the Vikings moving forward.

4. Staying out of 11 personnel was a benefit

David Berding/Getty Images

In 2022, the Vikings ranked fifth in the NFL by utilizing 11 personnel 73% of the time. Against the Buccaneers, the Vikings were running much more out of 11 personnel, especially in the passing game.

They dropped nearly 10% in the usage of 11 personnel and it worked well, including an explosive play to Jefferson. It’s not as simple as having 12 or 21 personnel on the field, but O’Connell is doing so in creative ways. That is making an impact in how the Vikings can attack downfield, especially since linebackers are worse at covering space than defensive backs. That can be heavily exploited against an Eagles team who struggles against the pass

5. The running game is bound to improve

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The Vikings didn’t have a lot of success in the running game. They only gained 41 yards across 17 carries, but they were at a disadvantage. The Buccaneers love to use eight plus man boxes and did so on 11 of their 17 rushes. That’s a staggeringly high rate. Why the Vikings didn’t check out of those plays to a pass is a surprise. Against the Eagles, they theoretically should have an easier time against a Vic Fangio-inspired defense that focuses on taking away the deep pass.

6. Danielle Hunter remains dominant

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

While it wsan’t his best performance, Danielle Hunter found a way to make an impact. He got a sack and a pressure on the first drive of the game and finished with three pressures. Hunter was finding a way to be impactful for the Vikings defensive line. Against the likes of Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson, Hunter will have his hands full.

7. Greg Joseph made all of his kicks

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Look, a Vikings kicker that doesn’t miss is a huge win.

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