New Vikings defense has a salivating QB matchup in Week 1

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start Baker Mayfield at quarterback in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

With a little more than three weeks until they kick off the regular season with a matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced on Tuesday that veteran Baker Mayfield will open up the 2023 campaign as their starting quarterback.

So it will be Mayfield starting under center when the Bucs travel to the Twin Cities in Week 1 to take on the Vikings from inside a rocking U.S. Bank Stadium.

The first test for new Minnesota defensive coordinator Brian Flores will be against a quarterback who had the 35th-worst offensive grade from PFF last season when he was under pressure. Mayfield's offensive grade from PFF was even worse (37th) in 2022 when a defense decided to blitz.

One has to imagine that Flores is going to do everything he can to make Mayfield's job as difficult as possible when the Vikings take on the Bucs in Week 1, which will probably include the utilization of a variety of different blitzes and pressure packages.

The last time Flores had a major influence on a team's defensive scheme was when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2021, and that defense ended their season with a blitz rate of 39.6 percent and a pressure rate of 28.5 percent, according to Pro Football Reference. So we should expect more of the same when the Vikings take on Tampa Bay in a few weeks.


The hope for Minnesota in Week 1 is that their new aggressive defense, combined with the deafening sound of their home crowd inside U.S. Bank Stadium, will make it extremely hard for Mayfield and the Bucs to leave the field in Week 1 with a victory.

But whether the Vikings open the 2023 regular season with a win or not, we can at least guarantee that starting in Week 1, their defense is going to look incredibly different than it did a year ago when Ed Donatell was running the unit.

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