The Minnesota Vikings are officially on to Week 1 and will open the 2022 NFL season in exciting fashion. Welcoming the division rival Green Bay Packers to town, there are more than a few things to look for as the two teams kick off their season.
Kwesi-Adofo Mensah and Kevin O’Connell will both get to put their offseason of work on full display. With little to show from Preseason action, we’ll now get a full glimpse of what Minnesota Vikings football will look like in the post-Mike Zimmer area.
Going into Week 1, these are five areas worth keeping an eye on:
1. What Does the Offense Look Like?
Arguably the most intriguing thing facing the Vikings in 2022 is what this new offensive gameplan will look like. O’Connell joins Minnesota as a coveted offensive mind, and utilizing such a good group of skill position players should make fans salivate. Justin Jefferson could be in for his best season yet, and Kirk Cousins should be put in position to make even more of an impact than he did last season.
Dalvin Cook has long been a great running back, and he’s contributed plenty in the passing game, but we could certainly see that ratcheted up a notch. How this new staff will use the emergence of K.J. Osborn and what the next step for him should be a lot of fun. We know Jalen Reagor will likely be the punt returner, but will he factor in elsewhere early?
2. Rust for the 1st Unit?
The Vikings opted to play virtually no one in preseason action. None of the first-team skill position players stepped on the field, and a good portion of the first-team defense remained sidelined as well. Given the possibility of injury, it’s certainly a fair stance for a coaching staff to take. With just joint practices and training camp to work through, how much have the starters been able to gel?
For the most part, these players have worked together before, but they are implementing a new offense, and there’s an entirely new scheme on the defensive side of things. Do we see a sloppy quarter or two as the acclimation period takes care of itself?
3. Rookies Ready to Be Tested?
The trio of Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr., and Ed Ingram should all assume to have their number called plenty. Playing in the secondary against a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers, Cine and Booth Jr. will need to step up against a wide receiver unit that is not what Green Bay has been used to. On the other side of the field, Ingram is expected to step in for a line that’s needed substantial help over the years. He’ll be playing next to the OL’s most problematic position, and any help he can provide will be a boost.
Obviously, any time top picks are healthy, they should be expected to contribute immediately, but in such a big game, there’s no doubt the highest-picked rookies will be called upon.
4. Is Minnesota Ready for the Big One?
Last season the Vikings failed to finish games and wound up finishing under .500. Expectations aren’t high from national publications, but there’s a good amount of belief from fans that this team can immediately be good under new leadership. That test comes right away when facing the division favorite and a significant rival.
The Vikings are 1.5-point underdogs at home in Week 1. The Packers aren’t going to come into US Bank Stadium looking to get behind in the standings early. This will be a game where O’Connell and his team can make a statement. The question will be if they’re immediately up to the challenge.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.