The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers 23-7 on Sunday, beginning the Kevin O’Connell era in the win column.
O’Connell readied the Vikings in Week 1 without preseason snaps from most of his big-name players, and the experiment worked as Minnesota frustrated Green Bay throughout the game, especially Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
On offense, these were the top performers per Pro Football Focus:
- Justin Jefferson (91.1)
- Kirk Cousins (85.1)
- Brian O’Neill (80.6)
- Ed Ingram (79.3)
- Dalvin Cook (75.0)
Jefferson not topping the list would’ve been borderline criminal or signified a PFF-related breakdown. But the Vikings wideout did headline the offense on Sunday, shredding Green Bay’s disappearing defense for nine catches, 184 yards, and two touchdowns. He was the best player on the field, and Aaron Rodgers even told Jefferson as such at the game’s conclusion.
And Jefferson was on fire because quarterback Kirk Cousins looked liberated inside a pass-happy offense. For four years, Cousins conducted operations with a run-first approach exalted by the former coaching staff. Unrestrained for the first time in purple clothing, he seemed worthy of his $35-million-per-season pricetag, tabulating 277 passing yards and the two touchdowns to Jefferson.
O’Neill unsurprisingly made the cut, and he’s been a part of such Top 5 lists ad nauseam since joining the Vikings in 2018. He’s the NFL’s second highest-paid right guard, proving why — again — on Sunday.
Ingram was a surprise, though. Early in the game, Ingram appeared overmatched by Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark. His pass-protecting grade was an unmentionable 31.2, while the run-blocking scored 87.4. If he changes nothing — which is unlikely — he will fit in precisely with the way Minnesota has fancies OL operations: heavy on run-blocking and not so good in keeping the quarterback upright. We shall see how long it takes for Ingram to stabilize the pass protection.
Finally, Cook was Cook. He tabulated 118 yards on 23 touches, and it felt like a footnote. That’s how much the Vikings offense ticked; 118 yards from the running back felt meh.
The Vikings take on the Philadelphia Eagles in one week on Monday Night Football.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).