Why NFL Player Says Vikings Can ‘Surprise’ Packers in NFC North

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 09, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers might be vulnerable.

Leading up to the Packers’ second preseason game, reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers voiced his displeasure about the state of the team’s wide receiving corps, and some of the mistakes being made on the practice field during this summer’s training camp.

“It’s, unfortunately, some of the same guys,” Rodgers said after Tuesday’s August 16 practice. “Repeat mistakes are a problem, so we’ve just got to clean those up a little bit. The young guys, especially young receivers, we’ve got to be way more consistent. A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route, so we’ve got to get better in that area, but I felt like the line for the most part held up pretty good, which was good to see.”

Despite Rodgers’ and the offense’s growing pains, the Packers certainly boast the kind of talent on defense to emerge as a top-5 unit in the league, though.

However, at least one current NFL player believes the Minnesota Vikings are a team on the rise and just might have the pieces in place to take down Green Bay in the NFC North.

“I really like Minnesota a lot and think they could surprise some people this year,” an offensive player in the NFC South told Heavy. “The Vikings were really solid last year, and I like their new additions both on the coaching staff and the roster.”

Why 2022 Might be the Minnesota Vikings’ Season

This will certainly be a new-look Vikings team, after the organization moved on from former head coach Mike Zimmer, following eight rather underachieving seasons.

Boasting a roster that includes playmakers such as wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who finished as the NFL’s fourth-leading receiver in 2021, Adam Thielen, and running back Dalvin Cook, it’s easy to see why Minnesota turned the page from the defensive-minded Zimmer to a dynamic young play-caller in Kevin O’Connell as its new head coach.

O’Connell arrives in the Twin Cities after a two-year stint as offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, who finished the past two seasons ranked No. 9 and No. 11 in total offense, respectively.

There’s a chance that Minnesota now has a head coach capable of maximizing the plethora of offensive talent around quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Vikings Bolstered the Defense in the Offseason

Yet, the Vikings also loaded up on defensive talent this offseason, as well.

Adding All-Pro former Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith and veteran Jordan Hicks to the linebacking corps, alongside Eric Kendricks significantly bolsters Minnesota’s front seven, while adding a strong veteran presence, as well.

“With Smith and Hicks, it gives Kendricks two reliable players in the middle of that defense,” the NFC South player said. “It’s going to be a completely new scheme for the Vikings.”

That scheme will be architected by savvy NFL-lifer Ed Donatell, who will likely deploy multiple fronts and try to dictate to opposing offenses.

“Just know we’ll have both fronts,” Donatell told reporters, after his hiring. “That will make us hard to play against. Everything else we’ll do will be engineered to make it hard for the quarterback. That’s physically and mentally.

This might prove to be a completely different type of year, with the door potentially cracked in the NFC North for the Vikings, after finishing 8-9 and in second place in 2021.

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