Friday, August 19, 2016

Inside the Film Room: Vikings vs. Seahawks


The Vikings picked up an 18-11 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night, but what stood out on film? Daniel House takes you inside the film room and breaks down the game. 

Updated: August 19th, 2016 4:15pm

By: Daniel House

Early this morning, I posted my surface observations at the conclusion of the game against Seattle. Today, I analyzed the tape and pulled some of the best clips to analyze the performance from this game. Teddy Bridgewater didn't play and the coaches took a long look at backup quarterback Shaun Hill with the first-team. Hill had moments where his arm strength deficiencies were evident, but he did make some of the throws necessary for the offense to be successful. Moving forward, I'm wondering if the limitations Hill has with his arm strength will have an impact on the offense if Bridgewater goes down. He looked serviceable and the options on the free agent market aren't any better. Hill knows the offense, and is a veteran, so it is hard to see a change being made.

Aside from the quarterback analysis, the team performed much better in pass protection and the defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. The two areas that still need improvement are run defense and run blocking. The defense still allowed far too much yardage on the ground and outside of the goal-line packages, the offensive line struggled to get a good push. I have a few clips that illustrate these problems in detail.

Take a step inside the film room to learn more:

Shaun Hill (#13) lofted this pass too high and it rainbowed over the top of the line of scrimmage. Wide receiver Adam Thielen (#19) made a phenomenal adjustment on the throw across the middle. Thielen had two other notable grabs, including a leaping catch between the safety and cornerback in the red zone. The young wide receiver is making a strong case to see more playing time in the offense. When Jarius Wright was still healthy, Thielen saw the majority of first-team reps in three wide receiver sets. He has shown his route running and overall fundamental skill-set as a receiver improved over the offseason. It's hard to argue he isn't ready to play a large role in the offensive scheme this year.

Cordarrelle Patterson (#84) returned to the lineup and the coaches utilized his skill-set well in the offense. They called two designed screen passes to Patterson and he made a couple nice moves up the field to pick up yardage. During the first play, Patterson set up in the flat and made a move up the field to get some yardage on second down. On the second play, Kyle Rudolph (#82) and Stefon Diggs (#14) did a great job blocking their defender to the outside. John Sullivan (#65) got to the second level and laid a block that helped spring Patterson up the field. Patterson could have cut left on this play and followed the blocking of Alex Boone (#76) and Joe Berger (#61). However, he elected to go across the middle instead. It seemed more logical to follow his blockers, which might have yielded a larger gain. Patterson needs to be used in a way that maximizes his skill-set and plays like this are a step in that direction. The problem is: this becomes predictable over time.

This is one of several examples where the first-team offensive line did a great job protecting quarterback Shaun Hill (#13). He had ample time to make throws up the field. Additionally, he had the ability to step into his throws and go through his reads. During this play, Hill got happy feet when there wasn't many options up the field. However, the entire offensive line unit handled the four-man rush rather well. Teddy Bridgewater needs to have this type of protection when he enters the game in the regular season. Hopefully the unit is starting to become cohesive and they are finding a groove.

Defensive ends Everson Griffen (#97) and Brian Robison (#96) got some great pressure off the edge and forced Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson (#3) to step into the crowded pocket. Linval Joseph (#98) was ready for him and picked up the sack. With a dominant edge pass rush, the interior of the defensive line will have more opportunities to get involved as rushers. If Robison, Griffen, or Danielle Hunter can force the quarterback inside, it will help the defensive line place the opposing offense in long-down situations.

As I noted in the beginning of this piece, the run defense has been very leaky to start the preseason. In this game, the interior of the defensive line wasn't getting a great push. When this happens, the linebackers can't get into their lanes and and penetrate the gaps, which is a key fixture of the defense. On this play, defensive tackle Tom Johnson (#92) gets blown over, linebacker Anthony Barr (#55) gets caught inside, and safety Michael Griffin (#33) misses a tackle to prevent the play from continuing. Luckily, Harrison Smith (#22) came from the other side of the play to make the stop before the run became a big play.

Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (#93) had an up-and-down night in the interior. There are moments where he doesn't play physical enough and he can't hold his defender to open up gaps for the linebackers to penetrate. In this fourth-and-short situation, the defensive line was teeing off on the running play. Stephen stayed low through his blocker to make the run stop and forced a turnover on downs. These are the type of athletic and fundamentally sound plays Stephen needs to make in the defense when he fills in for defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.

On this play, quarterback Shaun Hill (#13) has time to step into the pocket and make a throw. Charles Johnson (#12) gets open and Hill steps into the throw, but it lacks any type of arch or velocity. Watch closely and see how slowly the ball leaves his hand. If he had some air and zip under this throw, he would have given Charles Johnson a chance to make a play towards the sideline. It's worth noting how well Matt Kalil (#75) blocked Seahawks defender Frank Clark (#55). He sets his anchor, establishes position, and sets his punch on Clark. He gave Hill room to step into the pocket as right tackle Andre Smith (#71) allowed his defender to over run the play. The offensive line did a great job in this game and it definitely was a great confidence boost for the entire first-team unit.

Defensive end Everson Griffen (#97) released from his bull rush and chased Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (#3) as he rolled outside of the pocket. The most impressive part of the play is Griffen's motor and closing speed. He caught up with the elusive quarterback and brought him to the ground for a sack. This year, Griffen looks quicker and more polished from a movement standpoint. His pass rush skills have been refined and he has developed even more of his athletic skill-set to use to his advantage. This type of play definitely leaves an analyst curious to see how much success he will have this season.

The run blocking on the Vikings' first-team offensive line unit still needs some work. In this film clip, Alex Boone (#76) loses his balance as he jams into fullback Zach Line (#48). The interior of the offensive line had some trouble getting a good push on this play, but Alex Boone losing his balance definitely didn't help. This is just one of the examples where the offensive line had trouble getting leverage off the line of scrimmage. A similar problem occurred against Cincinnati last week and improving in this area is sure to be a focus as the Vikings have ten days to prepare for their next preseason game against the Chargers.

These are the type of packages that cause opposing offense's headaches when they try to scheme for Mike Zimmer's defense. During this play, they sent a combination blitz with linebacker Anthony Barr (#55) and safety Harrison Smith (#22) off the edge. It is hard for an offensive line to handle all of this strain. With so much athleticism and length up front, the Vikings have the ability to bring so much pressure in a variety of ways. This is just a taste of the pass rush we will see when the season gets in full swing.

First off, the pocket for both of these throws is fantastic. Shaun Hill (#13) has so much time to find Kyle Rudolph (#82) and step into his throw. The passes didn't have much velocity, but the touch on the throws was spectacular. He lofted the throw over the top and hit Rudolph in stride on both occasions. Of course, if Hill was playing long-term as a starter, teams could scheme to force passes that require a ton of arm strength. However, against mostly second-team defenders, Hill has the luxury to touch throw over the top of the defender. Rudolph ran a couple great routes to get open and made a nice extension catch on the play to the sideline. If he can continually become involved in the offense, it would be another weapon for Teddy Bridgewater to work with, aside from his wide receivers.

In this film clip, rookie Laquon Treadwell tries to get open on a fade up the sideline. Seahawks cornerback Tye Smith (#21) runs step for step with Treadwell and the young receiver can't get any separation off the line of scrimmage. The ball is thrown and he has no space to make a play at all. He didn't set up the cornerback and failed to use speed to win off the line of scrimmage. He also couldn't haul in a contested catch earlier in the game. Last night certainly wasn't Treadwell's best night at the office.

Tackles Jeremiah Sirles (#78) and T.J. Clemmings (#68) were destroyed on this five-step drop out of the shotgun. Joel Stave (#2) had minimal time to step into the pocket before he had two defenders converging on him. Stave got the throw off for a nice gain to Adam Thielen, but this was one of three occasions where the Vikings offensive line had trouble handling the Seahawks edge rushers. Clemmings and Sirles continue to perform inconsistently and that is slightly concerning heading into the season. The backup swing tackle position is one of the most important aspects of a roster, and right now, it is unclear whether it is strong in Minnesota.

Converted defensive lineman Isame Faciane (#69) spent all of last season on the practice squad developing his skills as an offensive lineman. In this game, he played with the second team at right guard and Zac Kerin (#67) shifted to the left side. This film clip really stood out as Faciane blocked through the whistle and blew his defender to the ground as he pulled him left. Also, David Morgan (#89) blocked his man across the line of scrimmage and Zac Kerin (#67) took on a defender as pulled to the right side. This was some great blocking up front and gave running back C.J. Ham some space to pick up a nice gain.

Here is another example of Jeremiah Sirles (#78) and T.J. Clemmings (#68) having a difficult time off the edge. Clemmings was beaten with a speed rush by Quentin Jefferson (#99) and Sirles held Frank Clark (#55) to prevent him from sacking quarterback Joel Stave (#2). Stave should have stepped into the pocket quicker, but the pressure of the edge is still undesirable.

The second and third-tier units were terribly poor against the run last night. Whether it was missed tackles, poor pursuits, or awful angles, they did it all. On the first play of this clip, defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis (#72) missed a tackle and Kentrell Brothers was too far inside to make a play. Additionally, Brothers didn't have the speed to recover and make a play on Seahawks running back Troymaine Pope (#26).

The second part of this film clip shows safety Jayron Kearse (#27) taking a poor angle on another Pope (#26) run. The missed tackle led to a touchdown and was one of several mistakes Kearse made in the secondary/run game.

Finally, running back Jhurell Pressley (#42) received a few carries late in the game. He showed a nice burst and some smooth cuts. On this run, Pressley hit the outside after reading a great block by Brian Leonhardt (#87). He stiff-armed Tye Smith (#21) and picked up 12 yards on the play. Pressley had 28 yards on 6 carries and added an interesting element to the running game. His skill-set is very different from C.J. Ham's, but they both run the ball very well.

In conclusion, the Vikings played more physical and addressed the pass rushing and protection problems they had last week. They still need to improve against the run on defense and the offensive line needs to get a better push off the line of scrimmage in the run game. With ten days to monitor these problems, the third preseason game will be a great evaluation to see where this team is at. The starters will play frequently on August 28th against San Diego and it will likely be the final tune-up before the Vikings open the regular season in Tennessee.


  1. Sounds as if both running the football, and stopping the run are key areas the Vikings should put work in on as this is supposed to be a smart physical ball club. I wonder if so much attention to pass blocking has somehow caused a regression in this area. Thanks again Daniel...well done.

  2. Sounds as if both running the football, and stopping the run are key areas the Vikings should put work in on as this is supposed to be a smart physical ball club. I wonder if so much attention to pass blocking has somehow caused a regression in this area. Thanks again Daniel...well done.

    1. They will continue to improve in both of those areas. I'm not concerned at all.

  3. So why is it Blair Walsh can't make a field goal from the left hash marks?

    1. He for some reason can't do it. He strikes the ball too hard on that hash mark.

  4. Great film work!

    The Clemmings/Sirles combo pack are amazingly bad. Smith really does not have much to worry about.

    I have dismissed Faciane for a long time, believing that he would never become an NFL caliber player. It is interesting to watch his climb to second string guard.

    1. Thanks, Mike! I agree with your right tackle takes. Faciane is a hard working player and I like his potential. Just not sure he can get past the practice squad here.

  5. It was nice to see the D-line dominate Seattle's O-line, but Seattle's O-line isn't very good. J'Marcus Webb is supposed to be their starting RT, but he was out for this game, so his backup, Poole, was in. The Vikings cut Webb, so we think he's worse than anyone we've got. Their O-line is the weakest part of their team. I don't think they will make the playoffs. The Rams and Cards D's are too good.

    It was confidence building to see Hill do well against Seattle's D. That was good news. For some reason, PFF thought our O-line did not play well, despite giving up no sacks, and very few pressures. #1's anyway. I'm losing confidence in PFF.

    1. Thanks for the comment. PFF is definitely something you have to take with a grain of salt. Over time, it appears they have become less reliable when evaluating players. However, some of their statistical analysis is very worthwhile and notable. You just have to sift through the data and pair it with your own observations.