Things could’ve gone better for the Vikings in Week 1.
Mike Zimmer’s revamped defense surrendered 43 points and 522 yards to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and a late surge from the Vikings’ offense wasn’t enough to ever truly threaten a comeback (the 43-34 final score suggests the game was much closer than it really was). This team has more than enough talent to bounce back and go on to a successful season, but they have to make improvements and do so quickly.
After ranking between seventh and 19th in national pre-Week 1 power rankings, let’s take a look at how far the Vikings fell in the ranks this week.
SI.com MMQB: No. 15 (Down 2 spots)
Last week, SI’s six voters ranked the Vikings between No. 6 and No. 19, with an average of 13th. This week, Mitch Goldich handled the power ranks by himself and put the Vikings right in the middle of the pack.
That loss was much worse than the final score shows. Aaron Rodgers has torched plenty of teams over the years, but I had higher hopes for the Vikings’ defense. But Minnesota did make history Sunday, as Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen became the first teammates to both have an octopus in the same game. (Listen, if you put me in charge of the power rankings, this is the analysis you’re going to get.)
For clarification, the octopus is a stat invented by Goldich that measures when a player scores a touchdown and then follows it up by scoring the two-point conversion, meaning they’re accountable for all eight points.
ESPN.com: No. 14 (Down 1 spot)
ESPN asked each of its team reporters to name the best rookie debut for the team they cover. Courtney Cronin went with Justin Jefferson.
The Vikings didn’t get a ton of contributions from their rookie class in Week 1. Third-round cornerback Cameron Dantzler played the most of any rookie, but his outing was marred by giving up a 45-yard touchdown pass. Jefferson is the easiest answer, as he had two catches for 36 yards and was on the field for 36 of 52 plays. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak hinted last week at easing Jefferson into a significant role with time. What the rookie wideout did in his debut, including a 17-yard grab in the fourth quarter, is indicative of more to come.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: No. 23 (Down 4 spots)
Defense is the calling card for Mike Zimmer’s teams, but it wasn’t against Green Bay in the opener. If that doesn’t improve, this season will be lost in a hurry.
Dan Hanzus, NFL.com: No. 16 (Down 6 spots)
Forget the garbage-time production, which was prodigious and undoubtedly appreciated by fantasy owners. In the real world, this was an embarrassing effort against a division rival that outclassed the Vikings in all phases. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers did whatever he wanted against the young secondary, and Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota offense struggled to get anything going until it was too late. The pass rush was nearly nonexistent with Danielle Hunter sidelined by injury, and huffing and puffing was rampant by the end of a first half where the D was on the field for 22:45 of game time. It’s going to be a long week at Vikings headquarters.
Bleacher Report: No. 11 (Down 4 spots)
The Minnesota Vikings have an offense with a proven quarterback and a strong skill-position cast and a defense with talent at all three levels. They entered the 2020 season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. But if their shootout loss at home to the rival Green Bay Packers in Week 1 is any indication, the Vikings also have a major problem that could derail their season. The cornerbacks are not good. Aaron Rodgers scorched the Vikings, finishing with 364 passing yards and four touchdowns. Star wideout Davnte Adams having a big game is one thing, but when Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are getting open at will, that’s a bad sign for a defense. The Vikings need to shore that defense up in a hurry, as three of their next four opponents (and four of the next six) made the playoffs last season.
Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: No. 16 (Up 2 spots)
This was not the year, without a preseason, to turn over a cornerback group. The Vikings’ new cornerbacks were torched by Aaron Rodgers. Minnesota will get better on defense because Mike Zimmer is a good coach, but it also might take a little longer than usual.
Nate Davis, USA Today: No. 13 (Up 1 spot)
If you can’t apply pressure, young corners will get burned … to tune of most points (43) Minnesota has allowed under Mike Zimmer.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: No. 14 (Down 5 spots)
The Vikings’ defense looked lost and confused with some big changes up front and in the secondary. That broke up their run-heavy offensive game plan, but at least Kirk Cousins was up to the rallying task. Mike Zimmer needs to get their formula back on track, stat.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: No. 22 (Down 9 spots)
With so many big-money extensions being paid out to members of an organization that won a playoff game in 2019 and the pandemic keeping the home stadium empty until further notice, it already feels like a scholarship year in Minnesota.
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