Vikings vs. Rams: Five Concerns For Minnesota Going Into Game 1

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Mike Zimmer and his coaches may not be concerned about these five things headed into the season opener against St. Louis, but I am. Maybe you are too.

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1. Matt Kalil

Are concerns about left tackle Matt Kalil a tad overblown? Or is there good reason to be worried about the former fourth overall pick?

We’ll find out a lot today about where Kalil is, because he’s going up against arguably the best edge rusher in the league in Robert Quinn.

Norv Turner figures to help out Kalil but there’s only so much you can do planning-wise. At some point, it’s going to come down to whether Kalil can handle Quinn.

Happy talk has been streaming out of Winter Park all week via water-carrying media types but despite this, there is still legitimate reason to worry that Kalil is in for a bad day at the hands of Quinn and the Rams.

I’ll be very curious to see how Kalil responds to the challenge. This could either be a confidence-boosting game for him or a nightmare that further speeds his descent.

2. The Shaun Hill factor

Shaun Hill is not a guy anyone fears, but as we know, those nondescript journeyman quarterbacks can sometimes be a problem.

Hill won’t be rattled out there and he won’t be tricked. He will keep his poise in the face of Zimmer’s mad genius defensive looks and go through his progressions and deliver the ball where it’s supposed to go.

There are a lot of people saying we’d be better off facing Sam Bradford and I don’t totally disagree. How often have we seen a so-called nobody backup quarterback put up a big game against us?

3. Matt Cassel

While we’re busy focusing on whether Matt Kalil can stand up against Robert Quinn, let’s not let ourselves be blinded to the larger issue of the entire Vikings offense vs. the Rams’ salty defense.

It’s not just about one particular lineman doing his job against one particular pass rusher, it’s about how the whole thing functions against a team that has plenty of defensive talent and a coordinator in Gregg Williams who knows how to bring pressure.

The man behind center is key in this thing. Matt Cassel needs to be on his game today. He’s supposed to be the solid veteran and he needs to play like it. Focus Matt.

And remember guys, NFL quarterbacks very seldom have a totally clean pocket. The good ones play well when things are messy and confusing. Cassel hasn’t always kept it together in those situations, which is why he’s Matt Cassel.

4. Special teams coach

The Vikings are without Mike Priefer for today’s game as he serves his suspension and veteran special teams coach Joe Marciano is on-board as Priefer’s substitute.

I hope the players remember that just because Marciano is a sub, that doesn’t mean they can act like total animals. They should respect Marciano just like he was their regular teacher. So no spitballs guys and no sneaking off to look at porn in the bathroom.

In truth, this will really only be a problem if there’s a major screw up. And if that screw up happens…it’s Chris Kluwe’s fault.

5. Mike Zimmer the in-game coach

Everybody has decided to fall in love with fire-breathin’ Zim. Is it just because his abrasive personality is such a contrast to the taciturn Leslie Frazier? Probably.

But today we find out, in a rubber-meets-the-road sense, what kind of coach Mike Zimmer really is. Wait until he makes his first questionable clock management move or tries a dumb challenge or goes for it on fourth down when he should punt.

We’ll see how long people stay in love with Zimmer. Today could be the beginning of the end for the Zim honeymoon. After today we might have different names for him.