Slowing down Vikings running game key in Packers’ home opener


MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – SEPTEMBER 08: Running back Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball against the Atlanta Falcons in the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Like the rest of his teammates, Kenny Clark had the weekend off from football. That didn’t stop the fourth year defensive lineman from watching and observing his next opponent, the Minnesota Vikings.

“The Viking game really, just trying to scout and see what they were doing and how they changed stuff,” said Kenny Clark.

One thing that obviously changed in Minnesota was the run game. In 2018, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins averaged 38 pass attempts per game. On Sunday against the Falcons he only registered ten passing attempts.

Meanwhile the Vikings had a renewed focus on the running game. Dalvin Cook rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns. That production came on 21 carries, which finished behind only Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) for the most in week one.

“They did some great things. The offensive line, they looked pretty quick. They pulled them a lot, got them out into space. It’s a different Minesota team as far as the run game is concerned,” said Clark.

“Crazy to see how they’ve switched since last year. I feel like they passed the ball a ton. Another tough test for us, especially front seven to stop the run game,” said linebacker Blake Martinez.

The Packers defense is coming off an all around solid performance against Chicago in week one. In terms of the run game they held Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery to 37 yards combined.

“I think it really comes down to the defense that we call. Understanding where our weakness is within that play, and when you need to play fast and when you need to play slow. It will allow you to be one or two steps quicker, able to beat the guy to the punch and make plays in the backfield before Dalvin [Cook] can get going,” said Martinez.

Running into a mentor

The Packers defense won’t have to look far to find an offensive scheme similar to what the Vikings run. They have their own offense.

Head coach Matt LaFleur got his start in the NFL with the Houston Texans back in 2008. The head coach at that time was Gary Kubiak, who is now an assistant with Minnesota.

So LaFleur did see some similarities between Minnesota’s offense and his own scheme.

“When you’re watching the tape and you’re watching Minnesota’s offense, you see a lot of similar concepts. Especially they ran the ball, what did they throw the ball like ten times. There’s a lot of similarities between what they do and some of the stuff that we do,” said Matt LaFleur

More help inside

The Packers will also get some more help at inside linebacker this week. B.J. Goodson was acquired from the New York Giants last week, and was active for the season opener against Chicago without having a full practice under his belt.

On Monday, Goodson was able to practice with the defense for the first time.

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