Coordinator Ed Donatell said blown assignments were to blame for the Vikings defense allowing Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts to complete 26 of 31 passes for 333 yards — 251 by halftime of the 24-7 loss on Monday night — and that it's a matter of players adapting in the first season in the system.
"Not concerned. Everything is something we can fix," Donatell said Thursday. "Certain times you'll see them make a play, the quarterback will get out. That's what he does. Some other things we can fix. We always take a hard look at ourselves. How can we teach it better? What maybe did we miss as a coaching staff to help our players?"
The Vikings allowed Hurts to start the game with 11 straight completions, which often targeted shallower routes against backed-off coverage. Troy Aikman, the Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN commentator, questioned Donatell's "shell" approach on the broadcast during the game.
"First of all, a lot of guys have opinions. If I listened to every one," Donatell said. "It really wasn't a total shell or not. That's just kind of an overused deal. We had plenty [in coverage] to account for everybody. We just didn't play our assignments right. So I wouldn't read too much into that."
One busted coverage surrendered the 53-yard touchdown to Eagles receiver Quez Watkins in the second quarter. Cornerback Cameron Dantzler, not safety Camryn Bynum, was at fault, according to Donatell. Dantzler stayed along the sideline to cover Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert, which was Bynum's assignment, and missed Watkins.
Dantzler was eventually pulled and replaced by fourth-round rookie Akayleb Evans.
"He misread what was in front of him," Donatell said. "The correction has been made. We trust him, and we know he'll do fine."
'I still got it'
Cornerback Patrick Peterson's fourth career field goal block happened because of the 32-year-old's protest this summer. Special teams coordinator Matt Daniels said he was going to pull Peterson off the field goal block team because coaches typically prefer not to have starting cornerbacks and safeties in the group.
"He came to me and said there's no way," Daniels said. "I've blocked three in my career; I still got it. I got a good first-step burst still to come off the edge. I said, 'You're right. You do.'"
Safety Josh Metellus crashed down on the Eagles' edge, allowing Peterson to get there to block a 41-yard attempt in just five steps.
"I got a great get-off off the edge," Peterson said. "Me and Josh applied a lot of pressure early on the left side and decided to flip it on that play. Got it right at the fifth step."
Smith, Booth remain sidelined
Safety Harrison Smith (concussion) and cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (quad) remained held out of Thursday's padded practice, the only such session on a short week before Sunday's game against the Lions. Booth, who was injured against the Packers, did physical rehab on a side field during practice.
Four Lions players were sidelined, including defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (thigh). Safety Tracy Walker (not injury related), guard Jonah Jackson (finger) and defensive lineman John Cominsky (wrist) also did not practice.
Running back D'Andre Swift (ankle) returned to practice and was limited.
Hughes resurfaces with Lions
Cornerback Mike Hughes, the Vikings' 2018 first-round pick who was traded in 2021 following a lingering neck injury, now plays a key role for the Lions defense after signing a one-year deal in free agency. Hughes led all Lions cornerbacks in last week's win against the Commanders with eight combined tackles (five solo) on 91% of the snaps.
"It'll be good to see him," receiver Adam Thielen said. "Got a lot of respect for him, was a great teammate. He looks like himself again. You can tell he feels good and is playing at a high level, and they have a lot of faith and trust in him doing a lot of different things."