5 Vikings That Must Improve in Week 2

Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) reacts after a game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their first game of the 2023 regular season on Sunday.

Despite their disappointing loss happening so recently, the Vikings have a very fast turnaround this week with a Thursday game in Philadelphia just one day away. With that matchup fast-approaching, there are a number of improvements that the Vikings need to make in order to come away with a victory tomorrow night. Here are 5 Vikings who must improve from Week 1 to Week 2.

RB Alexander Mattison

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) runs with the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are relying on Alexander Mattison to be their top running back in 2023 after letting Dalvin Cook go. In his first game as the new RB1, Mattison was largely ineffective, rushing just 11 times for only 34 yards.

Now, Minnesota has a very difficult matchup against an Eagles defense that allowed just 3.5 yards per carry in Week 1 against the Patriots. The Vikings lost this matchup last year with an inefficient offensive attack. That needs to change this time around.

RG Ed Ingram

Questions Answered: Faith in Ed Ingram, Nick Mullens, O'Connell's Former Teams
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports..

Simply put, you can’t have a right guard slapping the ball out of the QB’s hands. Ed Ingram not only forced a fumble on a botched snap, but he allowed four pressures and was blamed for a sack, per Pro Football Focus’ estimations.

Tomorrow night, the Vikings will go up against a truly fearsome group of defensive linemen in Philadelphia. The Eagles drafted Jalen Carter in the first round of the draft, who already had 8 pressures by himself in his NFL debut. The Vikings will have their hands full with this defensive front, so everybody will need to be at their best.

DE Dean Lowry

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White (1) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and defensive end Dean Lowry (94) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) as guard Luke Goedeke (67) attempts to block during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings brought in Dean Lowry in the hopes that he would help bring more of a pass-rush to the interior of their defensive line. However, that was not how Week 1 played out against the Buccaneers.

Once again, the majority of the pass-rushing duties fell on the shoulders of Danielle Hunter, who recorded Minnesota’s only sack of the day and led the team with three pressures. Meanwhile, Lowry had no pressures to his name and PFF gave him a paltry grade of 51.9 in the pass-rush.

QB Kirk Cousins

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) prepares to throw a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to bash a Kirk Cousins too much when he threw for over 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 75% of his passes. However, there are certainly some things that need to be cleaned up at the QB spot heading into Week 2.

While Ingram is at fault for one of the turnovers, Cousins’ INT came on a pass thrown well behind K.J. Osborn, allowing Christian Izien to rip the ball out of his hands. In the red zone, these are mistakes that can’t be afforded. Then, the strip-sack by Antoine Winfield Jr. is a play where Cousins simply has to get the ball out of his hands sooner. Cousins wasn’t the sole reason that the Vikings lost on Sunday, but he certainly gets some of the blame.

OLB D.J. Wonnum (or Marcus Davenport)

Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, the Vikings need to be able to generate more of a pass-rush this week. Whether the start goes to D.J. Wonnum again, or Marcus Davenport makes his Vikings debut, one of these players must be able to get to Jalen Hurts.

It won’t be an easy task against Philadelphia’s stout offensive line, but Minnesota’s starting OLB cannot be blanked in pressures this week.

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.

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