Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart (32) runs the ball against the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Texans 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring the Offense: Analyzing the Vikings Week 16 Win Over the Texans

POSITION GRADES

Offensive Line

Grade: B-

  • Sacks allowed – 1 sack, 3 yards

The Vikings offensive line did a pretty good job holding up against a fierce Texans defensive line and the exotic blitzes Wade Phillips sends out on Sundays. Ponder was under pressure plenty, but it was often an extra blitzer that couldn’t be picked up. In those instances, it’s Ponder’s job to recognize it and throw the ball to the hot route (which he doesn’t do well, if ever). When things did break down in pass protection, it usually smelled of JJ Watt, who moved around the line and wreaked havoc on almost every member of the offensive line at some point. Fortunately, the Vikings held the Houston Watts to only one sack, a tag-team effort by Phil Loadholt and Brandon Fusco.

  • Rushing yards gained – 174 yards on 42 carries (4.1 yards/carry)

The offensive line really struggled creating holes for Adrian Peterson on Sunday. Often, the Vikings seem to just power through the run game by sheer force over their opponent. On Sunday, the Texans were the ones dominating the line of scrimmage, stopping our offensive line on contact or even sending them backwards. Peterson’s numbers suffered dramatically, as he was often dancing in the backfield desperately trying to find a hole. It was a tough day at the office for the big men in the run game to say the least.

 

Wide Receiver

Grade: D+

  • Jarius Wright – 5 rec, 53 yards (9 targets), 1 carry, 8 yards

    Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) catches a pass against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Vikings won 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Playing a more active Percy Harvin-like role in the offense, Wright produced more commendable stats against the Texans.

Just keeps chugging along catching the few passes thrown his way. Nothing spectacular, there’s gotta be something said about consistency.

Simpson ran a much-too-short slant route on a 3rd & 7 play. Ponder completed the pass to him, but Simpson was tackled two yards short of the first down marker. Those are the kinds of boneheaded plays that inch you closer to unemployment.

 

Tight End

Grade:  C-

Rudolph has been a touchdown machine this year. His nine touchdowns are second amongst tight ends. But he really hasn’t been active enough outside of the red zone. Whatever the problem is, it needs to change. Ponder says Rudolph is his go-to guy. Well that “go-to guy” only caught 3 balls, and that’s been pretty consistent production this season.

After his phenomenal three-catch day against the Rams last week, I was sure John Carlson was finally going to start earning his paycheck. Oh well.

 

Running Back

Grade: B+

  • Adrian Peterson – 25 carries, 86 yards, 3.4 yds/carry, 1 rec, 4 yards (2 targets)

The Texans did a great job bottling up Peterson all day. He broke out for three runs of 20+ yards, but a majority of his runs were for little or no gain. The offensive line was pushed around by the Texans for most of the day and there simply were no holes for AD. This had to have been a frustrating game considering he had tons of friends and family there to watch and he is on the cusp on history, but the Texans are a great defense and they showed up to play against AD. Good news is they forgot to show up for any other facet of the game.

  • Toby Gerhart – 8 carries, 31 yards, 3.9 yds/carry, 1 TD, 1 rec, 5 yards (2 targets)

With Adrian feeling less than 100 percent, Gerhart was thrust into the game in the fourth quarter, and although he didn’t wow anyone, he delivered when his number was called. Midway through the fourth quarter with the Vikings facing a 3rd & 4, Musgrave called a run play. Toby fought through a few tackles and made the first down. Later on that drive, Toby broke a few more tackles to get in the end zone from four yards out to ice the game.

 

Quarterback

Grade: C

  • Christian Ponder – 16 for 30, 174 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, QB-Rating: 81.8, 7 carries, 48 yards, 1 fumble lost

I’m torn between being positive because the Vikings won and going on an angry diatribe over the same old problems.

On one hand…

Ponder did what he needed to do. He played within the realm of this game and didn’t make any game-changing mistakes (although he tried). He made some good throws to convert third down conversions and keep drives moving down the field, and he made some great plays with his legs when there was no one open, running twice for 20+ yards each time. He played as well as he needed to to win the game and that’s exactly what we need from him right now.

On the other hand…

Ponder’s bad mechanics are borderline maddening. Clearly he got as far as he has without them, and maybe they have gotten worse since coming into the NFL because of nerves or pressure or what have you, but it’s got to stop, and quite frankly, I’m appalled that it hasn’t already. He won’t step up into half his throws, and sadly, I’m not exaggerating. This Sunday against the Packers, when Ponder steps back to throw, watch his footwork, you will know before everyone else whether that pass will be completed. If he steps up, there’s a great chance it will be, if he doesn’t, it will not be anywhere near his receiver. How have the coaches not fixed that problem? I know the Ponder haters will say he is a professional and shouldn’t do that anyway, and that’s a fair point, but we have coaches for a reason—to spot those problems and fix them. Where are you, Bill Musgrave, quarterback guru? This has been a problem all year, it’s the root of all of his problems and it needs to stop or the Vikings will never have a quarterback in Christian Ponder.

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%
  • Week 9 at Seattle: 9-17, 53%
  • Week 10 vs. Detroit: 16-22, 73%
  • Week 12 at Chicago: 11- 26, 42%
  • Week 13 at Green Bay: 10-18, 56%
  • Week 14 vs. Chicago: 5-10, 50%
  • Week 15 at St. Louis: 14-17, 82%
  • Week 16 at Houston: 7-17, 41%

YTD first and second down completion percentage: 195-309, 63%

 

WEEK 16 OFFENSIVE MVP

Adrian Peterson

No one really popped against a staunch Texans defense, but let’s be clear. They did everything they could to stop All Day, and that created opportunities for our offense to flourish. Granted, the Vikings didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, but there was no chance for a win on Sunday without AD, even with the spectacular play of our defense.

 

OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME

Toby Gerhart’s 3-yard TD run

Toby Gerhart deserves some mad props for his play to help ice the game after Adrian was taken out. This touchdown run put the icing on the cake and put away the Texans for good.

 

ROOKIE WATCH

Matt Kalil

Kalil struggled against JJ Watt, but so does everyone. Of course, the hope is that our elite left tackle can handle the most elite of elite defensive ends, but he’s only a rookie. JJ Watt won this round, but he didn’t make Kalil look like Charlie Johnson out there, so there’s plenty of room for happiness.

Jarius Wright

Playing a more active role, Wright led the team in receptions and yards against the Texans. I’m not sure why he disappeared for so many weeks, but I like the Vikings offense much more when Wright is involved.

Blair Walsh

9-9 on 50+ yard field goals, an NFL record.

·         vs. Stl: 3/3 FGs (39, 41, 56), 2 touchbacks

·         YTD FG Percentage: 32-35, 91%

 

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME?!

See: Walsh, Blair.

Adrian Peterson needs 102 yards against the Packers to break 2,000 and 208 to break Eric Dickerson’s rushing record.

 

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