Friday, August 19, 2016

Notebook: Pass rush shines in the Vikings' 18-11 win over Seattle


The Vikings continued their preseason slate as they held on for an 18-11 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Daniel House provides the highlights in his post-game notebook.

Updated: August 19th, 2016 1:30am

By: Daniel House

The Vikings continued their preseason slate as they held on for an 18-11 win over the Seattle Seahawks. A late pick-six by cornerback Marcus Sherels capped the victory and prevented the exhibition contest from heading to overtime. Teddy Bridgewater didn't play tonight and it was called a "coach's decision" by head coach Mike Zimmer. He said it wasn't disciplinary and there doesn't seem to be any reason to be concerned.

Additionally, the pass rush reached Russell Wilson four times in the first half and corralled six total quarterback takedowns as a team. They proved their pass rush will be one of their strengths heading into the season.

There were several highlights and I have complied them into an abbreviated late-night post-game notebook:

Bridgewater doesn't play, Hill gets the start
Teddy Bridgewater missed tonight's game and it was called "a coach's decision." After the game, Coach Zimmer wouldn't address anything other than saying the decision to hold out Bridgewater was not disciplinary. In an interview with KFAN 100.3 he said, "You think there was disciplinary action with Teddy Bridgewater? He’s the nicest kid in the history of life." Bridgewater didn't play, but the Vikings had a great amount of time to evaluate both Shaun Hill and Joel Stave. Hill made two great throws, including a 32-yard pass up the seam to Kyle Rudolph. He also added another 22-yard completion to Rudolph up the left sideline. The pass didn't have much velocity and was pure touch. Rudolph had a great night and displayed his improved route running, along with his solid hands. Aside from those two completions, the majority of Hill's passes lacked velocity, had trouble reaching the receiver, or were either low/high. Hill didn't play awful, but he wasn't great either. Joel Stave was inconsistent and all over the place. He threw a fastball on a quick slant to Isaac Fruechte that just about killed him. Stave didn't help the offense gain much rhythm and definitely didn't put good tape on display.

First-team offensive line protects well
The Vikings first-team offensive line did a great job protecting quarterback Shaun Hill tonight. He had a clean pocket and was never sacked with the starters in the game. Andre Smith allowed a few pressures, but Hill stepped into the pocket and made the throws. At a glance, Matt Kalil didn't allow any edge pressure in pass protection. John Sullivan held up alright as a pass blocker, but the run game was a different story. He appeared to have some trouble getting to the second level and holding his blocks. Alex Boone was mauling defenders and impressively pushed the pile on a goal-line run. The left side of the offensive line got an excellent push on Jerick McKinnon's 1-yard touchdown run on the goal-line. Kalil and Boone made great blocks and the run was sparked by a fantastic lead block by fullback Zach Line. In that set, David Morgan and Line were in the backfield as blockers. This is something we might see frequently this year. The offensive line took a nice step forward in pass protection and as a whole performed pretty well. From a reserve standpoint, both T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles had a rough time twice and were beaten rather handily. Willie Beavers struggled again and Isame Faciane saw reps at right guard with the first team. Zac Kerin was at the left guard spot and Beavers ran exclusively with the third team.

Thielen shines in early action, Patterson gets some looks
Wide receiver Adam Thielen was impressive and added an impressive 17-yard reception between the safety and cornerback in the red zone. A few plays before, he hauled in a short pass and put a spectacular move on the defender for a gain of 8 yards. Thielen hauled in four catches for 61 yards and led the team in receiving. His role continues to increase, especially as Jarius Wright remains out with an injury. Cordarrelle Patterson hauled in two passes, both of which were designed receiver screens. He made a shifty move up the field to gain 11 yards. The run was sparked by a great set-up block by center John Sullivan. Patterson was placed in a situation where he could be successful and his skill-set was put on display. Hopefully, he can continue to evolve as a wide receiver and will be used in a similar way in the future.

Pass rush is solid
The pass rush was one of the highlights from tonight's game. The Vikings sacked Russell Wilson four times in the first half. Everson Griffen chased Wilson as he rolled out of the pocket and flashed some impressive closing speed to bring him down. Linval Joseph picked up a sack as Wilson stepped into the pocket and had no room. Additionally, Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith reached the quarterback on a combination blitz. They brought pressure up front and it caused headaches for the Seahawks offense. Also, Andrew Sendejo added the fourth sack off a safety blitz late in the game. He and Danielle Hunter brought down Wilson for a loss of 18 yards. The Vikings are going to bring pressure in a variety of ways and tonight was more proof. The main area that needs to improve is in run defense. The Vikings still allowed far too much yardage on the ground. There were far too many missed tackles and as a team, the Vikings surrendered 187 total rushing yards on 31 carries. It doesn't matter if some starters missed the game or yardage came with second/third-team players in the game. Over six yards per carry in the running game for an opponent is unacceptable.

Marcus Sherels gets a pick-6
The Vikings allowed a 49-yard field goal by Stephen Hauschka with 5:50 left. The kick tied the game at 11 and overtime was looming. That was until cornerback Marcus Sherels intercepted Treyvone Boykin for a 53-yard pick-six. It gave the Vikings an 18-11 lead with 1:23 left in the game. Sherels jumped the route and picked off the pass. He took it up the sideline untouched for the touchdown. On the next Seattle series, a defensive pass interference call on Mackensie Alexander during a deep pass up the field gave Seattle life. On the next play, Alexander allowed a 20-yard completion and the Seahawks were within the 5-yard line. However, a Justin Trattou sack and an ensuing incompletion closed out a win for the Vikings.

Walsh misses with game on the line, Locke with three touchback punts
Before the Sherels interception, kicker Blair Walsh had a chance for a field goal to give the Vikings a 14-11 lead with just over 2 minutes left. Walsh missed the 47-yard kick wide left, and if not for Sherels pick, it would have likely cost the Vikings the game or at least put it in overtime.

Jeff Locke had one punt inside the five-yard line, but two others fell into the end zone for touchbacks. Another one went just 33 yards. Locke didn't put together a good performance tonight. The specialists didn't play well and that's definitely not a great problem to have.

Rhodes leaves the game
Xavier Rhodes left the game with a hamstring injury. At this time, the severity of his injury is unknown.


  1. That is a huge number rushing the football. With stopping it such a big emphasis, I wonder why teams seemingly have no problem rushing against us. Fine breakdown Daniel, thank you.

  2. For what it's worth, Floyd did not play. Hopefully having him in there would have helped. Looking forward to Daniel's film breakdown.