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Spadaro: Defense will have its hands full with Vikings' offense

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

The offense that the Minnesota Vikings bring to Lincoln Financial Field is as deep and talented as any the Eagles will face this season, so the Philadelphia defense is preparing for a host of weapons and a variety of ways for the Vikings to present their game plan. But it is wide receiver Justin Jefferson who is the headliner here for quarterback Kirk Cousins, and it is Jefferson who jumps out the most in watching film and studying the Vikings' offense.

"Great route runner and once he gets the ball in his hands, he knows how to get yards and make plays," cornerback James Bradberry said of the third-year receiver. "He's precise and he's on point. You see what he does. You can't argue with the numbers he's putting up every week."

Jefferson opened 2022 on Sunday with nine catches, a career-high 184 yards, and a pair of touchdowns in Minnesota's 23-7 win over Green Bay, starting this campaign just as he's played in Years 1 and 2.

The Eagles are very well aware of the danger he presents.

"Amazing dude, man. Great route runner, great after the catch. Strong guy, finish. Playmaker, man. He makes plays," Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay said. "He's a different breed.

"They do a good job getting him the ball. He's one of the best players on the team, so they're going to find a way to get him the ball. I think they do a great job of scheming to get everybody the ball. They got a great running back (Dalvin Cook). They got (wide receiver Adam) Thielen over there being Thielen, still doing what he needs to do to get the job done. They got Kirk throwing the thing, so they do a lot of good things over there. We've got to be ready to go."

That's the thing here: Minnesota comes in with a loaded offense that has experience working together and that in itself presents a tremendous challenge for the Eagles' defense. It's one that players accept and respond to, and in many ways, it's going to be a terrific test to see where the Philadelphia defense is through two weeks of this marathon of a season.

If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, right? And Minnesota's offensive prowess is right up there with any team in the league, led by Jefferson.

"There are a lot of guys out there, but he's a special player. I don't rank guys, but he's up in that top group," Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon said earlier in the week. "He can beat you all different types of ways, so when you're looking at his game, he's not a one-dimensional guy. He can take the roof off, he can beat you underneath, he can beat you with yards after catch. They do a really good job of deploying him different ways, so it's hard to have a plan for him to always have two guys on him. It's going to be a good challenge for us, and we'll be up for it."

Respond to the challenge. Embrace. The NFL features the best of the best, so who knows how it goes on Monday night? The Eagles want to limit explosive plays, pressure Cousins, and take the football away.

There is still plenty of time to prepare. The hours are going to pass by slowly ...

"We're going out there with the intention of playing our best football," safety Marcus Epps said. "We know what kind of team we have here and what we're like when we put it all together. And we have a lot of respect for Minnesota, too. They have a dynamic offense. It's going to be fun and a great test for our defense. We know that. We're preparing the right way making sure we detail everything and stay on point."

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