Week 13 - Dec. 4, 2022 | Jets at Vikings
U.S. Bank Stadium
State of the Team
Under head coach Mike Zimmer the Vikings had been treading water. They had three double-digit-wins playoff seasons, including playing in the 2017 NFC title game, but they also had five other non-postseason teams, all finishing between 7-9 and 8-7-1.
The club made the big change at HC, bringing in Kevin O'Connell for Zimmer. KOC was a Jet for a brief time from 2009-11, playing for the Green & White only in the '10 preseason. He became an NFL assistant in 2015, worked his way up to OC of the Rams the past two years, including for their Super Bowl win over the Bengals.
And while O'Connell and the Vikes have been cautiously positive about Kirk Cousins, the team's quarterback since 2018, the team re-signed him through 2023 and O'Connell, a former QB himself, said, "My goal is to help Kirk reach his true potential."
Biggest Offseason Additions
O'Connell's not the only new sheriff in town. He and the Vikes brought in a new staff, including defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, the longtime NFL assistant (he was the Jets' DBs coach from 1990-94 and a special assistant under Eric Mangini in 2007). And it certainly feels as if Donatell, while not publicly committing to a 3-4 base alignment fulltime, is headed that way. It would be Minnesota's first time in a 3-4 base since almost from the Purple People Eaters, or more accurately since Bud Grant's last year at the Vikings helm in 1985.
While DE/OLB Danielle Hunter (60.5 sacks in six seasons) is a mainstay in the front seven, there is a mix of the old and new in the secondary. The rookies in the secondary are S Lewis Cine, the 32nd and last pick of Round 1 out of national champion Georgia, and second-round CB Andrew Booth from Clemson. The old-timers are CB Patrick Peterson, back for his second year in purple and with 29 interceptions in 11 NFL seasons, and S Harrison Smith, a 10-year Vike also with 29 career INTs.
Also new is to have a young offensive mind as the Minnesota HC instead of defensive-oriented skippers for the previous decade such as Zimmer and before him Leslie Frazier. "I'm learning their side of the ball just as much as they are," the new HC told the Pioneer Press. "I can complement them on detailed things they can do within our coverages, within a pressure, how we stop the run, and they can look at me as not just an offensive head coach."
The battle between the Jets' secondary and Minnesota's wideouts should be intriguing. The last time the Jets faced the Vikings, it was at MetLife in 2018. Kirk Cousins, in his first year as the Vikes' QB, completed nine passes in 10 targets to WR Adam Thielen for 110 yards and a 34-yard first-quarter touchdown in the Jets' 37-17 loss. The Jets corners that day were Darryl Roberts (beaten three times for first downs by Thielen) and Mo Claiborne (beaten once for a FD).
Now the Jets come into their first game ever at U.S. Bank Stadium with a revamped corner position even from last year, featuring UFA D.J. Reed, fourth overall draft pick Sauce Gardner, plus Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II and the Jets' youth movement at CB. But they'll be put to the test by Thielen (no 1,000-yard seasons but 30 touchdown receptions from 2019-21) and also Justin Jefferson, the former first-rounder out of LSU who already has 196 catches, 3,016 yards, 17 TDs and two Pro Bowls in his first two pro seasons with Minny.
As an aside, Cousins, assuming he's the QB in Week 13, should have to contend with the Jets' improved pass rush. And that unit is expected to include Micheal Clemons, who was the fourth-round pick the Jets got from the Vikes in the August '21 trade for TE Chris Herndon. Herndon had four catches in 16 games for Minnesota last season and became a free agent.
Inside the Numbers
|Passing Yards / TDs||QB Kirk Cousins||4,221 / 33|
|Rushing Yards||RB Dalvin Cook||1,159|
|Receiving Yards||WR Justin Jefferson||1,616|
|Receiving TDs||WR Justin Jefferson, WR Adam Thielen||10|
|Tackles||LB Eric Kendricks||143|
|Sacks||DE D.J. Wonnum||8|
|Interceptions||LB Anthony Barr*, S Xavier Woods*||3|
*No longer on roster