September 23, 2013

At 0 and 3, the Vikings bandwagon is pretty much empty

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:41

Yesterday’s game at the Metrodome was supposed to be an easy romp for the Minnesota Vikings. The visiting Cleveland Browns had supposedly given up on the season, starting their third-string quarterback and trading away their top running back to the Colts. The only challenge was to be whether Adrian Peterson would score his first touchdown before Jared Allen recorded a sack. That’s certainly not how the game worked out…

Right after the final whistle blew on this mess, 1500ESPN‘s Jeff Dubay and Judd Zulgad have a few thoughts on the catastrophe:

The strength of the Vikings is supposed to be their running game and the offensive and defensive lines. Adrian Peterson can’t do much if there are no holes being opened for him — just as Christian Ponder can’t do much if the defenders are getting to him (six sacks yesterday). The Vikings’ defensive scheme depends on the front four getting pressure on the opposing quarterback, but Cleveland’s third-string guy, starting his second career game, threw the ball more than fifty times. The weakest area for Minnesota is the defensive secondary, and they were about to suit up the head trainer to go in by the end of the game — Chris Cook was injured, Jamarca Sanford was injured, A.J. Jefferson was injured … there were no more fresh bodies to throw on to the field after that.

Even the special teams — normally a strength — gave up some highlight reel plays including falling for a fake punt and a fake field goal. Cleveland’s Spencer Lanning was apparently the first player since 1968 to have a punt, PAT, and a touchdown pass in the same game.

Adam Carlson of The Viking Age had this to say:

  • The Vikings secondary got beat on a regular basis. We saw AJ Jefferson get burned so bad by Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon that the fire department is still working on putting out the flames. The injures to Cook and Sanford didn’t help, but today Josh Gordon looked like Calvin Johnson out there.
  • The offensive line struggled. There’s no polite way to say this. For the Vikings to win games, the offensive line needs to play better. Pressure came from everywhere to get to Ponder and Peterson before they had time to get things going.
  • The play calling and personnel were questionable at best all day. When the Vikings needed to go the distance of the field in less than a minute with only one time out, short passes to the middle of the field were called. In that situation, the team needs to be more aggressive.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Overall, the Minnesota Vikings should be extremely disappointed to be at 0-3 right now will have to have a major turnaround soon to even try to get back into this season. If the Vikings fail to get things going, we could see major changes to this team coming much sooner than expected.

The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover calls this week’s Stock Market Report the ‘Cleveland Steamer’ edition (don’t Google that term if you don’t recognize it):

Junk Bonds:

The Offensive Line. Mother of God, how can you be so terrible? HOW? There is very little running room for Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder has zero time to throw, and collectively, this group got pushed around more than the French Army. Do you guys remember when we were relieved that Phil Loadholt got re-signed to his big contract right as free agency was beginning? Me either.

The Defensive Line. Mother of God, how can you be so terrible? HOW? Run defense was okay today, but quite frankly, the Browns didn’t need to run. Brian Hoyer…BRIAN HOYER…looked like a first ballot hall of famer. Why? Because there was zero pressure for almost the entire game. None. Look, I’m aware that the Tampa-2 scheme is one that emphasizes pressure from the line…but this isn’t 2009. Pat Williams is gone, and Kevin Williams isn’t what he was, and Jared Allen and Brian Robison have been non-factors to this point (although Robison did get a sack today). This line has gotten old and ineffective, and they need help generating pressure.

The Entire Coaching Staff. Other than the first offensive and defensive series of the game, this team looked and played uninspired football, and it seemed like they were expecting Cleveland to just throw in the towel. It doesn’t work that way in the NFL, and all credit to the Browns here. They played like they wanted it, and the Browns coaching staff ran circles around the Vikings staff all day. Leslie Frazier challenged a play he couldn’t, Bill Musgrave…oh, Bill Musgrave…apparently only has two plays in the playbook (more later), Alan Williams let Brian Hoyer become the talk of the NFL, and Mike Priefer was caught flat footed on special teams not once, but twice.

AJ Jefferson. In the litany of terrible Vikings defensive backs, AJ Jefferson is moving into Wasswa Serwanga territory. He leaves more cushion on a receiver than you would find on an oversized couch, is more allergic to contact than Miley Cyrus is to normal, and has absolutely no ability to make a play. Other than that, he has all the qualities one would possess to play in the NFL.

Update: Arif passes on some PFF grades for yesterday’s game:

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