Sitting at .500 and not feeling very good. That’s what happens once the QB1 loses his season after tearing his Achilles. Continuing on his current trajectory would have involved Kirk Cousins getting an All Pro nomination, but that’s no longer going to be possible. The difficult task of replacing home begins in Week 9 in Atlanta.
Giving fans a better understanding of what’s to come for the Vikings at Falcons involves PurplePTSD offering up a single statistic, quotation, and matchup to keep in mind. The hope, valued reader, is that the information contained in this piece can function as a bit of a primer for what’s to come in the Sunday afternoon matchup.
The Vikings at Falcons: Week 9
As a team, the Falcons are averaging just 17.3 points per game. That’s coming in at 28th in the NFL.
Minnesota won’t be facing many more teams with such a humdrum offense. The wild thing is that the presence of Bijan Robinson, Drake London (who won’t be available in the game), and Kyle Pitts should mean the Falcons are a handful (which is to say nothing of our old friend, Cordarrelle Patterson).
The main issue in Atlanta appears to be the quality of the QB play. Desmond Ridder has been the main man for most of the season and his statistics are uninspiring. The sophomore has a 65.4 completion percentage alongside 1,701 yards, 6 TDs, and 6 INTs. Taylor Heinicke jumped into the game last week, and he’ll the man under center when kickoff occurs.
Last year, the Vikings did a nice job against Heinicke in the game against Washington. The QB only passed for 149 yards, a rarity for an Ed Donatell defense that routinely allowed QBs to do whatever they wanted. Look for Brian Flores to make a concerted effort to force the Atlanta QB(s) into several bad decisions.
Quote: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Competitive Nature
Don’t let the “rebuild” portion of the GM’s mantra fool you: the man is competitive.
Deciding on a wholesale selling approach would have been reasonable enough for Minnesota, especially if there are internal doubts about what Jaren Hall is capable of achieving so early in his career. That kind of mentality could have very easily justified a decision to move on from Danielle Hunter, who did garner interest from several teams at the NFL’s trade deadline.
Take a peak at how the GM described the interest and decision to move forward with the team’s best defender: “I try and keep my calls with other teams confidential, but look, he’s a talented pass rusher. He’d leading the league in sacks. There’s going to be phone calls, whether it’s just parts of conversation or more directed. But ultimately we decided what we decided and we’re ready to go for it.”
The final words — “we’re ready to go for it” — speak to the organization’s commitment to perpetual playoff contention. No tank to be seen in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Overcoming the Falcons on Sunday would mean Minnesota has its first winning record of the 2023 season.
Look to Hunter to get into the backfield early and often. Seeing him continue his dominant season will mean the Vikings have an outside shot at getting into the final tournament.
Matchup: Jordan Addison vs. Some Sneaky Atlanta Talent
Jeffrey Okudah is a familiar face since he began his NFL journey in Detroit. He’s now playing in Atlanta, putting together a decent season as PFF’s 57th-ranked corner. Opposite him is A.J. Terrell and then Dee Alford (the slot corner). Rounding things out is Jessie Bates III, a safety who is having a strong season.
Bates, who used to play for the Bengals, has mostly been a deep man. He has picked up 376 snaps in the deep area of the field and only 54 as a slot CB and 64 in the box. He’s up to 52 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 PDs, and 2 FFs. Expect him to be a menace on Sunday.
With Justin Jefferson on the sideline, Jordan Addison has grown into Minnesota’s WR1 (for now, at least). Borderline unguardable in open space, Addison has demonstrated some soft hands and excellent compete over these past couple weeks. Jaren Hall should be looking toward his rookie counterpart on several occasions against the Falcons.
Will Addison be open?
Kevin O’Connell is navigating a delicate balance. The head coach can’t overload his rookie QB with assignments that are too complex. Simplicity is the name of the game for a youngster. Nevertheless, there does need to be a concerted effort to scheme men open. As much as possible, make the passes a pitch & catch kind of scenario rather than one where Hall is being tasked with decoding the defense on the fly as he works through his reads.
Atlanta knows Minnesota is in a tough spot without its QB1 and WR1 (which is saying nothing of not having the QB2). Keep an eye on how Addison gets shuffled around against some high-end talent in Atlanta’s secondary.
K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.