The Green Bay Packers will kick off their 2022 NFL season with a Minnesota Vikings Week 1 matchup on the road.
In the famous words of the late Kevin Greene “It is time!” The wait is over and the 2022 NFL season starts this week. For our Green Bay Packers the goal is simple, Super Bowl or bust. Anything less would be a failure on a team that’s all in again. But, of course, it is still one week at a time, and the opening game schedule has a division rival standing in the way of Packer Nation. Here is Know the Foe: Minnesota Vikings Week 1.
New Season Brings a New Staff
After an underwhelming 2021 where the Vikings went 8-9, things needed to change. Starting with new General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota also needed a new life coaching this squad. Out with defensive-minded Mike Zimmer and in with Super Bowl-winning Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell coming over from the Rams. The big change will be O’Connell will want to push the ball and create big plays. The Rams were 2nd in the league and plays over 50 yards due to the play of quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp. The Vikings think they have the tools to run that kind of attack.
Offense Full of Playmakers
Minnesota will once again have Kirk Cousins under center. The veteran quarterback has put up solid numbers throughout his career but has been known to run hot and cold. Cousins does have quite the cast of weapons at his disposal. The wide receiver group is headed by stud Justin Jefferson. After a monster rookie campaign, Jefferson had an even better sophomore outing with 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 6’1″ 195 lb. machine is out to prove he’s the best wide receiver in the game and don’t be surprised if he’s in the conversation in 2022.
Adam Thielen lines up on the other side and has been steady as they come. The 9-year pro especially knows how to find the end zone with 33 touchdowns over the last 3 seasons. K.J. Osborn had a breakout year in 2021 with 650 yards and 7 touchdowns. Osborne is built like a running back and excels in the slot. The new system will also try to get tight end Irv Smith in the mix. He missed last season but Minnesota drafted the talented Smith to be a vertical threat to soften the defense.
Whether the Vikings want to push the football downfield or not, running back Dalvin Cook cannot be taken lightly. Cook is one of the league’s premier backs and can make house calls at any time. Cook’s numbers were down some last season with 1,150 yards and 6 touchdowns but no running back can one cut and go as he does. With a great offensive line, the Vikings have all the tools to create a dangerous attack.
New Scheme on Defense
With a new Head Coach comes a new Defensive Coordinator and scheme. Long-time coach Ed Donatell arrives from Denver (Former Packer DC) along with his adaptable scheme. Donatell plans to run a 3-4 but has used a 4-3 base in the past.
Despite the new D, Minnesota will focus on getting after the QB. This offseason the Vikings added a familiar face in Za’Darius Smith. Smith missed all but 2 games last year in Green Bay but when healthy he’s a game wrecker. Smith is a slippery pass rusher who can move around the defense and has a plethora of moves. Also, the great #99 Danielle Hunter is the other edge, and again when healthy, is a handful. Hunter is one of the most overlooked past rushers in the league. When he’s on the field his speed off the edge is elite. Their backups are D.J. Wonnum who had 8 sacks last season and 2nd year Patrick Jones. Both are fine and limited roles but Minnesota will rely on the health of Hunter and Smith.
Inside is the run-stuffing Dalvin Tomlinson whose most significant role is arguably keeping linebacker, Eric Kendricks, clean. Wherever the football is, you will find #54. The 30-year-old Kendricks shows no signs of slowing down in his 9th NFL campaign.
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The strength of this defense continues up the middle to the secondary. Future Hall of Famer Harrison Smith is a longtime leader of this franchise. After 11 seasons, this vet is still rock solid. He is technically sound and a master at disguising coverage. Next to him will be a dual role of two young players. Second-year pro Camryn Bynum and 1st-round pick Lewis Cine will try to learn on the fly from Smith. Both are athletic and physical specimens.
Again in 2022, the Packers may want to try and get favorable matchups against the Vikings cornerbacks. Patrick Peterson is not the guy from years past and Cam Dantzler has struggled as a pro. Rookie Andrew Booth has all the athletic tools but is still a rookie that will be forced into action. Green Bay also has a good scouting report on their former slot Chandon Sullivan. Look for the Packers to test this group and work some double moves in crossing routes on Sunday.
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