Adam Thielen Makes Strong Statement on New Vikings Offense After Win Over Packers

Adam Thielen

Getty Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said his team has a target on its back after defeating the Packers 23-7 on September 11.

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t take anything for granted coming into a home season opener against division and border rival Green Bay Packers.

The three-time defending divisional champion Packers have held supremacy in the NFC North since head coach Matt LaFleur was hired to replace Mike McCarthy.

But just like LaFleur’s arrival shook up the division, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has Minnesota moving in that same direction.

The Vikings stunned Green Bay in a 23-7 victory on September 11, and O’Connell passed a vital first test of his inaugural season as head coach.

Veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen spoke about the impact that first win will have on the rest of the season as Minnesota (1-0) prepares for a primetime, Monday Night Football matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) on September 20.

Adam Thielen Says Vikings Have a Target on Their Back

Speaking to local media on September 12, Thielen recapped how infectious the culture change and a new-look offense became as Sunday’s game began to turn in the Vikings’ favor.

“It started to come to life throughout the game,” Thielen said. “You talk about something over and over and it actually comes to life. You just start to build confidence and players really trust it. It came along before that throughout practices… You build trust and you see [the coaching staff’s] intentions, their direction, where they want to take this offense and see there’s a plan and a purpose to what they’re doing. Games are really when it comes to life. It helps you trust it and makes you excited about being a part of it.”

And while it’s just one win, the message in Minnesota’s locker room will be one of consistency versus reaction to each week’s results.

“[Offensive coordinator Wes Phillips] talking to the offense, just saying how we’re going to evaluate this film, whether we win or lose, we’re going to evaluate it the same way,” Thielen said. “Whether you win or lose, there’s going to be things you got to correct. Like Coach O’Connell said, ‘There was a lot of yards left on the field,’ which there’s always going to be. It’s just making sure you’re evaluating yourself individually and making sure the things you could have done better you’re going to work on that this week.”

But beyond Thielen’s workmanlike mentality, he admitted that Week 1’s convincing win over the Packers put a target on Minnesota’s pack, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reported.

Adam Thielen Says Vikings Relentlessly Attacked for the 1st Time in His Career

The most significant factor in what could help Minnesota’s offense realize its potential is its willingness to keep its foot on the gas.

The talent has been there. But conservative playcalling capped the Vikings in the past.

On Sunday that wasn’t the case, which Thielen said was a first for him in his career.

“I’ve never been part of an offense that was just attacking, attacking and attacking. It didn’t matter the score. It didn’t matter the situation. We were attacking. It felt good,” Theilen said in a September 11 postgame press conference, per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.

Kirk Cousins has flirted with the idea of continuing to attack a defense and allowing the offense to stay in a flow from his days with O’Connell, who was a quarterbacks coach at the time, in Washington.

“Sometimes I get in a weird place when we get a lead like this when you start playing conservative, not to lose,” Cousins told O’Connell on an NFL Mic’d Up segment. “It’s smart to do that, but it also kind of hinders your ability to just go play.”

Cousins came to play on Sunday, completing 23 of 32 pass attempts (71.9%) for 277 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also played poised despite being pressured on 42% of his dropbacks, tallying a 116.2 passer rating under pressure. Last season, he posted a 72.5 passer rating under pressure, according to WCCO’s Paul Hodowanic.

Meanwhile, the Vikings offense is the second-highest graded (79.5) in the league by Pro Football Focus with one game remaining from Week 1.

Call it the O’Connell effect.

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