Oct 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Daniel Te

Scoring the Offense: Analyzing the Vikings Week 8 Loss to the Buccaneers

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POSITION GRADES

Offensive Line

Grade: D

  • Sacks allowed – 3 sacks, 22 yards

Defenses having figured out that the way to stop Ponder is put heavy pressure on him. They also figured out that the way to create heavy pressure is through stunts, shifts and heavy blitzing on one side to confuse our offensive line.

It was another bad day at the office for the big guys. The combination of Wonderboy, Matt Kalil, and Charlie Johnson combined to let Daniel Te’o-Nesheim walk right through and throw Ponder to the ground before he even finished turning around on a play-action fake. We should have known the game was over as soon as we saw that play. Seriously, Te’o-Nesheim shifted about two feet to his left, and suddenly he’s apparently no one’s responsibility. Ten bucks says we see a lot of line shifts from the Seahawks on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Loadholt had a very forgettable day in pass blocking as well. The Bucs stunted on the right side of the line and got past Loadholt for a 10-yard sack. Toward the end of the game, Michael Bennett (one-third of a three-man rush) beat Loadholt one-on-one for a sack.

  • Rushing yards gained – 140 yards on 21 carries (6.7 yards/carry)

Again it was the running game that actually appeared competent. The holes were there for Adrian when he got the ball, the problem was he only had 15 carries. Kalil got beat a few times in run blocking, but overall, not a bad day at all in terms of rushing.

 

Wide Receiver

Grade: C-

Oct 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (12) carries the ball during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

  • Percy Harvin – 7 rec, 90 yards (12 targets), 1 TD, 1 carry, -1 yards

Percy was his usual self cranking out first downs. With  more and more tape on the Vikings offense, it is getting harder and harder to get Percy the ball as defenses are learning to key in on him whenever he motions (you wouldn’t think it would’ve taken this long). The bubble screens are still working, but it’s getting clear defenses can see them coming and are selling out to stop them. Percy’s shear speed and talent is enough to keep the screens productive enough, but without another receiver to keep defenses honest, this is a system that’s on the downside of its production arc.

Three catches and 69 yards came after the Vikings fell behind 36-17, so this line is a little inflated, but that doesn’t take away the catches. It’s telling that in desperation mode/garbage time Ponder looks to Jenkins more than Simpson.

Simpson and Ponder are just not connecting. I’m sure that mostly has to do with the lack of practice time from Simpson’s suspension and injury issues, but Simpson doesn’t seem to be separating from defensive backs, either. The Vikings need to get Ponder and Simpson on the same page soon or the second half of this season will showcase the Vikings on the wrong end of a lot of blowouts.

 

Tight End

Grade: D+

That’s two weeks in a row that Rudolph has been next to nonexistent in the passing game. I’m not ready to throw Rudolph under the bus, though. With the offensive line losing the battle in the trenches, Rudolph is stuck blocking more and obviously, as Ponder’s performance declines, so does the production of his receivers, but I won’t be so kind for much longer. No matter what the circumstance, the Vikings, more than anything else, need competent receivers. Rudolph is one, but he needs to start getting open more often.

Does it bother anyone else that he wears the same number as the guy he replaced?

  

Running Back

Oct 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) carries the ball during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Grade: A+

  • Adrian Peterson – 15 carries, 123 yards, 8.2 yds/carry, 1 TD, 1 rec, 4 yards (1 targets)

Adrian was a beast. Again. And it’s really too bad we can’t get him more carries. Musgrave seems to have this idea that if we keep passing on first down, eventually it will make us a great offense. I’m all for mixing it up, but Peterson needs to get the ball more, plain and simple. On Thursday, the Vikings fell behind early (due entirely to three 3 & outs and a turnover in four consecutive drives), and that early deficit just kept getting worse.

But at this point, especially with the way Ponder has been playing, we need to get AD the ball 30 times a game and pray our defense (which, in this scenario, would hopefully be at least well rested) can keep us in the game.

Coming out with Ponder firing those incompletions isn’t helping our offense or our defense.

When you need an unflashy run that won’t do anything but run out the clock to end the first half, who ya gonna call?! Toby Gerhart!

 

Quarterback

Grade: D-

  • Christian Ponder – 19 for 35, 251 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, QB-Rating: 74.8, 4 carries, 12 yards

This is an unfair stat line, both good (yards/completions) and bad (INT) for Ponder. His while-the-game-was-still-within-reach stat line looks like this:

  • Christian Ponder – 10 for 22, 134 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, QB-Rating: 80.5, 3 carries, 7 yards

Ah, that’s worse. And more like the QB we’ve watched for the last four games or so. Now, it’s far from all on Ponder—Bill Musgrave, the crappy wide receivers and a poorly performing offensive line all deserve some of the blame—but as Ponder himself admits, it starts and ends with his play:

“I have to play better. I think that’s obvious to everyone.”

Yes. Yes it is.

PonderWatch

Ponder’s first and second down completion percentage goal75%

Weekly first and second down completion percentage:

  • Week 1 vs. Jacksonville: 17-20, 85%
  • Week 2 at Indianapolis: 17-22, 77%
  • Week 3 vs. San Francisco: 14-24, 58%
  • Week 4 at Detroit: 9-16, 56%
  • Week 5 vs. Tennessee: 21-28, 75%
  • Week 6 at Washington: 25-38, 66%
  • Week 7 vs. Arizona: 6-11, 55%
  • Week 8 vs. Tampa Bay: 14-23, 61%

YTD first and second down completion percentage: 123-182, 68%

 

WEEK 8 OFFENSIVE MVP

Adrian Peterson

He’s had two great games in a row where he just seems to be single-handedly moving the chains for the Vikings. Unfortunately, no one else is helping the offense move. Do you think Adrian and Percy get sick of dragging all this dead weight down the field every game?

 

OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME

Adrian Peterson’s 64-yard touchdown run

 

Adrian’s longest run since September 26, 2010 (80-yard touchdown run vs. the Lions) was:

View Results

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Mad props to Jerome Simpson for his awesome block on that play. Hey, at least he contributed somehow.

 

ROOKIE WATCH

Matt Kalil

Got blown up on a few runs, is half to blame for a ridiculous sack that should have never happened, and had a false start penalty near the end of the game. His play has diminished a little since the beginning of the year, and it’s possible opponents are finding his weaknesses and exploiting them. No lack of effort from this kid, though. How about him running down the field to throw a block for Harvin on a 32-yard bubble screen? He’ll be fine.

Blair Walsh

Who would have thought we would miss the days when Blair Walsh was our only form of offense because the Vikings couldn’t finish in the end zone. At least then our drives lasted more than three plays.

vs TB: 1/1 FGs (51 yards), 4 touchbacks

YTD FG Percentage: 17-18, 94%

 

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME?!

The Comeback Duds

The Vikings have lost 21 straight games in which they trailed by 10 or more points at halftime.

“Fumble Prone”

Thursday was the first time Adrian Peterson fumbled since December 28, 2010.

 

 

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