Three takeaways from Sunday’s Vikings-Packers game
1. Thriving on third down
Everything the Vikings did defensively should be filtered through the fact that Aaron Rodgers didn’t play most of the game. But the fact the Vikings only allowed four conversions in 17 Green Bay third-down attempts is largely in keeping with the rest of the season. Through six games, the Vikings have allowed opponents to convert just 25 percent of their third-down attempts, which is the best rate in the league. They’ve done it while mixing up some of their pressure packages, too; they’ve used less of their double-A gap blitz look, brought Anthony Barr off the edge more often and even had Everson Griffen rushing from a defensive tackle spot on Sunday.
2. Screen game an effective counterpunch
Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings made improving their screen game a point of emphasis this offseason, and Jerick McKinnon has carried it forward nicely after Dalvin Cook’s injury. His 27-yard touchdown put the Vikings up 7-0 on Sunday. “I wanted to get better at screens because I know how difficult it is to defend,” Zimmer said. “It can slow down your pass rush. I think [offensive coordinator] Pat [Shurmur]’s done a great job with it, but maybe more importantly is, we’ve got offensive lineman that are very athletic and can get out in space.”
3. Fumbles on the rise
In Zimmer’s first year with the Vikings, the team lost just two fumbles. The number jumped to eight in 2015. It was 11 last year, and this season, the Vikings have already lost five, which is tied for fourth most in the league. The fumbles represent a troubling trend that needs to be curbed going forward.