Scoring the Offense: Analyzing the Vikings Week 2 Loss to the Colts

POSITION GRADES

Offensive Line

Grade: C-

  • 4 sacks allowed, 13 yards

Hardly a good performance by the offensive line, especially considering Dwight Freeney was inactive. Missed blocks, poor technique and boneheaded penalties (I’m looking at you Matt Kalil) all contributed to a disappointing day for the big guys up front.

  • Rushing yards gained – 95

There didn’t seem to be many holes opening up for the run game either, which is more than disappointing against a notoriously bad Colts’ rushing defense. The way Adrian started this season, it was easy to predict him running all over the Colts, but it just wasn’t there. Even when the holes opened up, they closed quickly. Aside from all the other mistakes, and there were certainly more than I can count, how can a run-first team expect to win with this kind of rushing performance?

 

Wide Receiver

Grade: C+

  • Percy Harvin – 12 rec, 104 yards (13 targets), 2 carries, 13 yards

Percy had a lot of touches (finally), but he didn’t seem to have the same explosiveness he showed in Week 1. It looked like the Colts were much more focused on stopping Percy than the Jags were, but nonetheless, Harvin finished with 12 catches and over 100 yards. The guy can’t be stopped, only limited.

Jenkins is the Toby Gerhart to Percy Harvin’s Adrian Peterson. Jenkins is solid and reliable, but you don’t want to have to depend on him to create, separate or really do anything when you absolutely need it.

Sep 16, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings player Stephen Burton scores a touchdown in the end zone during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-US PRESSWIRE

Aromashodu was completely invisible. His only catch came on the last play of the game as he was tackled inbounds. Not exactly something you would want to put on your resumé, Devin.

A fluky catch where Burton wasn’t even the intended target was a game-saving (for the moment) fourth-down conversion and his first touchdown catch. Not much else to say here as he wasn’t on the field much, but props for catching that tipped ball in the end zone and at least keeping the game alive for a few more minutes.

 

Tight End

Grade: D

The Vikings’ pass-catchers didn’t have the best game on Sunday. Following right along, Rudolph was nearly nonexistent against the Colts. In fact, Ponder didn’t even try to throw a ball to Rudolph until midway through the third quarter. It’s deeply alarming that Rudolph is easily our second best receiving option and he only had three catches against an average-at-best defense.

Remember when the Vikings drafted Kyle Rudolph and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave spoke about the possibilities of using two tight ends to tear up a defense? Then it never happened with Rudolph and Shiancoe, so when Shiancoe’s contract expired, the Vikings paid pretty good money to sign John Carlson? Does anyone actually think this is going to work out?  I mean, the theory is solid, but can John Carlson stay healthy long enough for it to work? And does Bill Musgrave have the play-calling chops to pull it off?

Running Back

Grade: B

  • Adrian Peterson – 16 carries, 60 yards, 3.8  yds/carry, 3 rec, 20 yards (3 targets)

This is more like the Adrian we expected early this season. He didn’t look dominant, but he looked okay. He didn’t have any really impressive runs, but he put up decent enough numbers. I don’t blame AP for his production here. Obviously, he is still recovering from ACL surgery, but more than that, the offensive line wasn’t opening up the lanes they had one week before against a better defense. But more than anything else, I blame Bill Musgrave. Out of Adrian’s 16 carries, 12 (!) were up the gut. By the way, Adrian’s runs up the gut in Week 1? 6 out of 15 (40%) for 38 out of 84 yards (45%). That running up the middle stuff seemed to work in Week 1, let’s do it twice as much in Week 2, it’s fool-proof!

  • Toby Gerhart – 5 carries, 15 yards, 3.0 yds/carry, 2 rec, 17 yards (3 targets)

People who picked up Toby in fantasy leagues have got to be disappointed this year. He’s just not getting the opportunities everyone expected. But he still gets his occasional touches, like that 3rd and 18 play at the end of the third quarter with the Vikings down 14. Screen pass to Toby! Boy, that Bill Musgrave really knows his offense, eh? I suppose no one would expect the Vikings to throw a screen pass to their slowest offensive skill player on a 3rd and 18. Of course, that’s probably because that play has about a .0005% chance of actually working. Way to mix it up, Bill!

 

Quarterback

Grade: A

  • Christian Ponder – 27 for 35, 245 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, QB-Rating: 114.6, 3 carries, 7 yards, 1 fumble lost

Sep 16, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws a pass during the second half of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts went on to win the game, 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-US PRESSWIRE

Ponder played well. That may not be the easiest pill to swallow given how poorly the offense played and the tendency of fans of bad teams to immediately clamor for the backup QB when the offense struggles, but the poor offensive output isn’t on Ponder. No one was getting open downfield, a true indictment of just how bad the Vikings wide receiving core really is. That was the Colts defense. Imagine how bad it will be next week against the Niners.

Not that Ponder wasn’t without mistakes. He had another costly fumble and missed poorly on a few throws, one big one to a wide open Percy Harvin in the second half, but overall, he played about as good as this horrendous receiving core allows.

PonderWatch

Ponder’s first and second down completion percentage goal: 75%

Weekly first and second down completion percentage:

  • Week 1 vs. Jacksonville: 17-20, 85%
  • Week 2 at Indianapolis: 18-23, 78%
YTD first and second down completion percentage: 35-43, 81%

WEEK 2 OFFENSIVE MVP

After such a disappointing offensive performance, I feel dirty proclaiming an offensive MVP without being sarcastic, but Percy Harvin deserves my props. He finally got the touches he deserves and he didn’t disappoint. Granted, he wasn’t “unbelievable Percy,” but he was “best-player-on-the-field Percy.”

Who is your Week 2 Offensive MVP?

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HIGHLIGHT PLAY

“It’s Stephen Burton?!”

It’s too bad because, at the time, Stephen Burton’s ridiculous touchdown catch seemed like a play that could turn the game around. Nothing else was going right and the Vikings couldn’t do anything, but all of a sudden, we got a major bounce in our favor. Too bad it didn’t last.

 

 

Aug 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil (75) prepares for a game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

ROOKIE WATCH

Matt Kalil

I can’t stop thinking about that unnecessary roughness penalty on Kalil’s hit on Martin Tevaseu 30 yards away from where Christian Ponder had run out of bounds. We were down 14 points in the fourth quarter, Matt. Wake up.

Blair Walsh

Walsh went 2-2 on field goals, remaining perfect thus far. There was no hangover from his incredible Week 1 performance as he nailed a 51-yarder with ease.

Matt Asiata

Played very limited snaps. Didn’t have a carry or a catch.

 

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME?!

Part 1

11 penalties, 105 yards.

The Vikings gave up over an entire field worth of free yards. What a horrendously messy game. I get the feeling the team was thinking they could get away with more as long as the replacement refs were on the field. Guess not.

Part 2

If the situations in this game were reversed, I would be scolding the Vikings for letting their opponent get back into the game. As it stands, I can’t really give the Vikings much credit for catching back up. It’s clear the Colts were playing not to lose, a very common Viking-ism. Man, I hate that. Teams have been playing not to lose forever. Why is it taking this long for people to realize that as soon as you back off and play the prevent defense, the other team just drives up and down the field racking up points? Teams plan every week analyzing play after play, how can they not see that the opposing quarterback suddenly turns into Tom Brady as soon as you implement the “prevent?”

Part 3

“[Insert team name here] left too much time on the clock.”

Can we stop with this cop-out? Saying the Vikings offense left too much time on the clock is essentially blaming them for the Colts’ game-winning drive. The offense did their job, people. Regardless of the time they left on the clock, the offense tied the game and gave us a shot to win in overtime. It’s the defense that failed when it mattered most, probably because of that wonderful “prevent” defense.

I’m thinking this phrase came about from dejected fans who were used to their team losing. My guess is they would say this after their team tied the game or took the lead in the fourth quarter as a way of preparing for the inevitable letdown when their defense failed them and their team lost anyway.

Now that I think about it, could this phrase have been first muttered in the Metrodome?

 

 

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Topics: Minnesota Vikings

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