What if anything did we learn from Friday night’s sloppy, ugly, pretty much unwatchable preseason game against Buffalo? Not a heck of a lot. Mostly that game was a write-off, at least from an outside analysis point-of-view. Leslie Frazier might be able to glean a few things from the film and give some guys a kick in the butt at practice but that’s about it. For our purposes, I’d say that game taught us almost nothing new.
At best the game merely reaffirmed a few things we were already pretty certain about. It confirmed all over again that, when Adrian Peterson sits, the Vikings offense just looks plain ugly. It also demonstrated – again, not an earth-shattering revelation – that the Vikes have a lot of work to do when it comes to picking up blitzes. That goes to recognition – a lot of that is on Christian Ponder even if the Ponderheads don’t want to believe it – and it goes to the blocking itself. But this was a preseason game and I think some of that can be forgiven.
But what about specific players? Look at someone like Desmond Bishop, who is firmly on the roster bubble. Did Friday night’s game do anything to advance or hurt Bishop’s cause?
Right away there’s one play that everyone is going to focus on, the play where Bishop apparently blew a coverage and allowed a touchdown. Blowing coverages is never good especially for guys whose jobs are on the line. Of course Bishop is new to the team and, to make matters worse, has missed some practice time due to injury. So maybe he has an excuse. Then again, he is a veteran, and picking up a defense shouldn’t be that hard.
It wouldn’t be fair to only focus on that play however. Bishop did come back later and make a couple good plays, including putting a good stick on a Bills ball carrier. So take everything together and what did we learn? Desmond Bishop: bad in coverage, good as a physical, downhill linebacker.
In other words, we learned nothing new about Desmond Bishop. He is the player the Vikings thought he was when they signed him. A guy who will struggle in coverage but can give you a physical presence and will make plays on ball carriers. The coverage issue is why Bishop is not getting a shot at MLB. He is strictly a Will in this scheme.
And frankly, if Bishop can just do what he did Friday night, he will be good enough at the Will. The coverage thing isn’t a huge deal as he will not be featured in nickel packages. If he can just play downhill, come on some blitzes, blow up some running plays in the backfield, he will give the Vikings what they need at the position.
So I wouldn’t get too crazy about the blown coverage. I imagine the coaches aren’t too concerned about it themselves. And anyway, what other options do the Vikings have at the Will? Gerald Hodges? Tyrone McKenzie? Desmond Bishop is their best option there. Friday night he at least showed that he can get on the field and compete. That was the first hurdle. If the coaches think he looks comfortable enough, he’ll be on this roster, and he’ll be starting week one.