Thursday, August 10, 2017

Quick Takeaways: Vikings defeat Buffalo 17-10 to open the preseason

Photo: Vikings.com

The Vikings' first-team offense allowed two sacks and managed to accumulate just 24 total yards in their preseason debut. Daniel House provides his quick takeaways from the Vikings' 17-10 win Buffalo. 

Updated: August 10, 2017, 9:30 p.m.

By: Daniel House


The Vikings' first-team offense allowed two sacks and managed to accumulate just 24 total yards in their preseason debut. In addition, the Bills averaged 6.5 yards per carry, exploiting Minnesota's discipline on defense. Nonetheless, running back C.J. Ham plunged for a 2-yard touchdown run and wide receiver Rodney Adams added a short score to lead the Vikings past Buffalo.

Here are five quick takeaways from Thursday night's win:

First-team offense struggles, Keenum looks sharp, Heinicke struggles 
The Vikings’ first-team offense played for three series and picked up just one first down and 24 total yards. Quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked twice, once off an inside-out move by Eddie Yarbrough. The pass rush froze right tackle Mike Remmers, spinning him around off the snap. The second sack came when running back Dalvin Cook was unable to chip and the entire left side of the offensive line was beaten, including Rashod Hill. On the first series, running back Dalvin Cook picked up nine yards off two carries and hauled in a seven-yard pass to move the chains. Cook showed his dynamic playmaking ability, grabbing four catches for 30 yards. However, the Vikings still averaged just 2.2 yards per carry in the first half.

The second-team offensive line did allow quarterback Case Keenum time to throw on numerous occasions, including a 38-yard reception by Stacy Coley on a deep crosser. The yardage after the catch was sparked by wide receiver Michael Floyd’s block up the field. Coley had an awesome night, running great routes and making plays after the catch with his legs. Early in the second half, Coley’s 24-yard reception set up a 2-yard touchdown run by fullback C.J. Ham, putting the Vikings on top, 10-3.

In the first half, quarterback Taylor Heinicke led the Vikings on a 14-play, 78-yard drive over 7:28, capped by a Rodney Adams 2-yard touchdown. The coaches did a great job getting Adams in space and using his skill-set. He ran an end around for a 13-yard gain and slid out in the flat for a two-yard score. On the touchdown drive, Heinicke forced a throw into triple coverage, but running back Terrell Newby caught the pass off a deflection. Heinicke also threw a beautiful back shoulder pass to wide receiver Isaac Fruecthe, but he was unable to haul it in. It all was downhill from there. 

In the fourth quarter, Heinicke made a head-scratching pass outside the pocket, throwing an interception in traffic. He also was unable to throw the ball away and took a sack in the fourth quarter. Heinicke failed to make good decisions and was clearly outplayed by Case Keenum.

Run defense shows holes
The Vikings allowed 6.5 yards per carry in the first half between their first and second-team defensive units. There were a few instances where linebackers were unable to square up in the gap and it resulted in long runs. Shamar Stephen whiffed on one run play and Ben Gedeon gave up the gap on a 15-yard Jonathan Williams run to the left side. There were alignment and gap issues all night at the linebacker positon and it resulted in long runs. Defensive ends were also getting too far up the field and didn’t keep contain. There was plenty of sloppy execution by the Vikings’ defense in the first half.

In the first quarter, linebacker Edmond Robinson used his length to create a pass breakup. He got his hands in the passing lane by leaping and knocking the throw away. The Vikings rotated at the weakside linebacker spot throughout the night. Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur each had a few mistakes against the run, but both made strong plays in coverage. In addition, linebacker Eric Wilson dropped an interception, but added a pass breakup in the fourth quarter. He led the team with seven tackles and nearly picked up a sack in the fourth quarter. Wilson flies all over the field making plays, but needs to develop more discipline as a player.

The pass rush will be a strength for the Vikings
The first-team defensive line got consistent pressure on quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In the first quarter, defensive end Everson Griffen sacked Taylor for a loss of 12 yards. In addition, defensive end Danielle Hunter caused numerous quarterback pressures. The duo of Griffen and Hunter is going to be a force as the Vikings get creative with their defensive fronts. More importantly, linebacker Anthony Barr had three tackles and a quarterback hit. The Vikings brought double A-gap pressure and Barr was flying all over the field to rush the quarterback. This is the type of effort Mike Zimmer wants to see from Barr this season. 

Defensive end Tashawn Bower used a quick burst around the edge to pick up a sack and added a pass breakup. He was all over the field causing quarterback pressures and added a tackle for loss. Bower is a young player that stood out in camp and might make a strong impression in the preseason. In addition, defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson got inside pressure to take down quarterback T.J. Yates.

Sinkfield beaten for a touchdown
Cornerback Terrell Sinkfield had one pass breakup, but allowed a 9-yard touchdown to wide receiver Dezmin Howard in the back left corner of the end zone. He is still adjusting to the technical side of the game, but again showed flashes. Antone Exum Jr. also made plays in coverage and notched four tackles, including a tackle on a barreling Mike Tolbert in the second level. Exum Jr.’s versatility has benefited him throughout camp. On the surface, it appears he separated himself from Terrell Sinkfield, who may be his lone competition for the final cornerback spot.

Safety Jayron Kearse had two stops in run support, creating a tackle for loss in the first half. Kearse was very physical around the line of scrimmage and fundamentally sound as a tackler. He also had one notable play in coverage over the deep half of the field.

Cornerback Trae Waynes left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return. He was barreling in to make a tackle and immediately grabbed his shoulder. Waynes was only on the field for a few plays before exiting the game.

Special teams battles
Punter Taylor Symmank booted four punts (two inside the 5-yard-line), showing off his big leg and hangtime. Symmank also had a long, directional 60-yard punt, allowing his coverage team to pinch to the sideline. Ryan Quigley had just two punts (long of 45 yards) and averaged 38 yards. Symmank punted the ball better in his situations, but Quigley had better overall hang time. 

Kicker Kai Forbath drilled his 36-yard attempt and kicker Marshall Koehn knocked down his extra point. Neither of them were tested heavily, but Forbath flashed the accuracy we’ve become accustomed to.

Rodney Adams continued to struggle tracking punts. He muffed one, but safety Jack Tocho managed to recover. 

Notes:
  • Running back Bishop Sankey left the game with a knee injury and cornerback Trae Waynes left with a shoulder injury
  • Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, running back Jerick McKinnon, cornerback Jabari Price, running back Latavius Murray, linebacker Kentrell Brothers, and left tackle Riley Reiff all did not play.

1 comment:

  1. "First team offense struggles" ! All the time and money devoted unfortunately doesn't ALWAYS equal success. Buckle up Vikes fans....gonna be another long season.

    ReplyDelete