BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots had a rough Week 1 in Miami, and have a tough Week 2 matchup in the Minnesota Vikings.
While the Vikings finished last season 5-10-1, they’re a team that has built a solid core for 2014. They have a new coach in Mike Zimmer, and solid coordinators with Norv Tuner on offense and George Edwards on defense.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, Gresh & Zolak welcomed The NFL Network’s Bert Breer to Wednesday’s show to break down the Vikings, and some issues the Patriots will face in Minneapolis.
It all starts with the man under center: Former Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel.
“Matt Cassel is the quintessential Norv Turner quarterback,” said Zolak, and Breer agrees with that sentiment.
“(There were) three things pointed out to me as to why Cassel was a good fit for what they’re doing in Minnesota: One, he makes good quick decisions; they want the ball out,” said Breer. “Two, he takes care of the ball, and three, he can push it down the field. ”
Cassel was very efficient in Minnesota’s Week 1 win over the St. Louis Rams, going 17-for-25 for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
“I don’t think he has much of an ego at all, either,” Gresh said of Cassel. “He’s not going to bitch if Cordarrelle Patterson runs for 80 yards, Adrian Peterson has 25 carries for 150 yards. It’s not ‘when am I going to get mine?’ It’s ‘we won the game.'”
Gresh said the two-man attack of Patterson and Peterson could be the difference on Sunday.
“The Cordarelle Patterson thing is interesting because when they put him in motion, if you shift as a defense and move over they’re going to hit you to the side you moved from with Peterson,” he explained. “You have to find a way to not to react to motion with Patterson, but also make sure he doesn’t get the ball on the jet sweep. If you react, are you covering up where you might be leaving a hole for Peterson?”
“That makes it more difficult to gang up on Peterson,” said Breer, “because if you gang up on Peterson, now you’re creating space for Patterson. If you put him in space, look out.”
Patterson did it all for Minnesota in Week 1, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown on three carries, and hauling in three receptions for 26 yards.
Breer also said that having Greg Jennings is big for Minnesota, because the veteran wide receiver does the dirty work to free up Patterson.
“This is a more talented team than a lot of people give them credit for,” he said. “They’ve had eight first round picks over the last three years, which is a pretty staggering number. The core of their team, outside of Adrian Peterson, are all 24-26 years old — guys who are progressively getting better.”
“There are going to be some growing pains, but once they get over that hump they’ll be a real factor,” said Gresh.
“I think they’ll be in a position, if they stay healthy, to compete with Green Bay for that division,” said Breer.