In a game where the Vikings always seemed to have a grasp on the lead, the offense wasn’t always firing on all cylinders. the effort was actually more of mixed bag than expected. For all the good things that happened, there seemed to be negatives to go with it.
Here’s what I saw in the Minnesota Vikings third preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs:
The offensive line got pushed around. It’s understandable that the Minnesota Vikings offensive line would struggle against the Kansas City defense. Their line is full of freaks of nature. The big, strong players of the Chiefs gave the offensive line all the trouble they could handle in pass protection. The Vikings found their quarterbacks sacked three times on the night, including a sack fumble that led to a safety. However, Minnesota’s offensive line actually served well as a run blocking unit until Phil Loadholt left the game with an injury. Matt Kalil struggled the entire game to contain Kansas City’s pass rush and has been having trouble with protection all preseason.
The running backs are back on track. There was a big improvement from last week in the run game. Dominique Williams and Jerick McKinnon both averaged over 7 yards per rush while Matt Asiata had a respectable 4.4 yards per carry. Last week’s leading rusher, Joe Banyard, ended the night with the lowest average, getting only 15 yards on 4 carries. The Chiefs had the #11 overall rush defense last year according to NFL.com, so these results are impressive.
The quarterback play wasn’t as good as it looked on paper. I’m going to catch some flack for this, but the Vikings passers weren’t as impressive as I had hoped. Neither quarterback completed a high percentage of their passes. Matt Cassel connected on 52.9% of his targets while Teddy Bridgewater was successful on 57.1% of his throws. Cassel’s bad looking interception and fumble for a safety were also a concern in this game. Bridgewater was handed two short fields that helped him get into the endzone without completing a long drive and wasn’t throwing passes at the end of the game in order to test the run blocking of the offensive line. Overall, there’s still a lot of work to do in the passing game, but there are reasons to be excited.
Some pass catchers really struggled. Most notably, Greg Jennings failed to haul in any of this 3 targets on the night. Even rising star Cordarrelle Patterson had a huge drop on third down that might have been taken to the house if he had secured the ball. In fact, only two pass catchers on the night caught all the passes thrown their way: Jerick McKinnon (2) and Jarius Wright (1). Tight end Allen Reisner added two touchdowns from Bridgewater and Cordarrelle Patterson had a long TD reception from Matt Cassel as the game’s only Vikings touchdowns. Despite the issues, I’d call this a decent day for receivers who are trying to catch passes from a quarterback that is under duress.
My overall impression: There is still a lot of work to do. Consistency is the key with this offense. With every member of the Minnesota Vikings starting offense returning this season from last year, I expect better chemistry between the players. Learning a new offense and playing without the best running back in the NFL could be two major reasons for the lack of coherence, but this team needs to get their ducks in a row if they want to compete for a division title this year.