Scoring the Offense: Analyzing the Vikings’ Week 12 Loss to the Bears



Offensive Line

Grade: B-

  • Sacks allowed – 2 sack,15 yards

The Bears’ defense is tough. They’re aging but still performing as one of the best units in the league, and our offensive line held up pretty well. Julius Peppers was manhandled by Matt Kalil to the point where his name was almost never called all day. Brandon Fusco had his typical struggles, even though he played considerably less snaps than normal, conceding plenty of playing time to Geoff Schwartz. Fusco’s presence was still felt, however, as he had a hand in both sacks on Ponder. The first sack could be shared by Fusco and John Sullivan as Henry Melton split the two linemen and jumped on Ponder a few seconds after the game began. The second sack was more of a coverage sack. Ponder couldn’t find anyone downfield and stepped up in the pocket – right into Shea McClellin and Israel Idonije. Two sacks isn’t a bad number at all, especially against the Bears, but the O-line gave up more pressure than that number indicates.

  • Rushing yards gained – 114 yards on 20 carries (5.7 yards/carry)

Geoff Schwartz is finally getting more snaps than Fusco. Frankly, I’m not sure what took so long. It’s clear Fusco has been the weak spot in our line since Day 1 – of course, the coaching staff hasn’t exactly shown a great ability of recognizing talent and letting them play (see: Wright, Jarius).

The holes weren’t quite as big as they have been in recent weeks, but Adrian was still able to capitalize on some openings. It certainly wasn’t the Vikings’ best day running the football, but it didn’t help how quickly (and how badly) we fell behind. And of course there was that little issue of a great Bears’ defense being able to solely concentrate on AD because Christian Ponder couldn’t (or wouldn’t) move the ball down the field.

Wide Receiver

Grade: F

Nov 25, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) makes a catch against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Vikings 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

He’s a poor man’s Percy Harvin, and that’s certainly not an insult. He’s very obviously the second best receiver on this team. He’s got room to improve, but it’s nice to see him out there getting experience and live reps with Ponder. With Percy Harvin, Jarius Wright and maybe someone with size (Greg Childs? Unknown potential draft pick?) next year we could actually have a receiving core worthy of playing on Sundays, rather than one that would miss the cut in many backyard football games, like the next three people I’m about to talk about.

At least he caught some of the balls thrown his way? Which is more than I can say for…

Simpson is inching closer to John Carlson production. I can hear someone getting jealous.

Three targets:  three deep balls, one incompletion (that should have never been thrown) into good coverage, one thrown way over everybody’s head, one thrown directly to the Bears’ Chris Conte for an interception.

Tight End

Grade: C+

He had an okay game, but again, it would be nice to see Rudolph pick up the slack for Percy Harvin’s absence. Four of Rudolph’s five catches (and 48 of his 55 yards and the touchdown) came on the same play the Vikings kept running – a play-action fake with Rudolph peeling out in the flat. Each time, the Bear left him completely uncovered.

Ah, the weekly John Carlson catch. This time it came on fourth down to get the conversion for a first down. So valuable, this one.


Running Back

Grade: C

Adrian Peterson

– 18 carries, 108 yards, 6.0 yds/carry, 1 fumble lost, 6 rec, 30 yards (7 targets)

Nov 25, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

First time in a long time I haven’t sang the praises of our purple messiah. Don’t get me wrong, he did well against a great Bears’ defense, and he certainly didn’t have much to work with given the less-than-stellar performance by Mr. Ponder, but it’s the fumbles that earn him this grade.

You can’t turn the ball over, especially when your offense is already struggling. Both of the Vikings’ fumbles are on AP, even though the second one is credited to Ponder because he was the last player to “possess” the ball.

Still, it was AD’s fifth straight game over 100 yards rushing, tying Robert Smith’s franchise record. He’s the only bright spot on this team right now, and I can only say bad things about him for so long before he smites me, so I’ll stop now.



Grade: D

  • Christian Ponder – 22 for 43, 159 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, QB-Rating: 58.2, 2 carries, 6 yards, 1 fumble lost

Ponder was bad, okay? Let me get that out of the way from the start.

But the Bears have a great defense that makes many quarterbacks look bad. Of course, on the flip side, Ponder and the Vikings had an extra week to work out the kinks and plan their attack against Chicago. Ponders “receivers” had six (six!) drops. Ponder’s line would look a little bit better with those six completions, but that doesn’t really change the fact that he just cannot move the ball downfield.

Ponder was 0-10 with one interception on passes of 10 yards or more. But you’re not even thinking about the most telling number. Yes, he never completed a pass over 10 yards – I agree, that’s awful. But the real number there is that with the Vikings being blown out for basically three quarters of that game, they only attempted 10 throws over 10 yards.

Uff dah.

Ponder has some maddening problems that need to be corrected. He can be woefully inaccurate on deep balls. This often happens when he has some pressure in his face. Ponder won’t step into the throw and thus, his deep ball sails over his receivers’ heads.

He doesn’t have much of a sense for the rush, either. Ponder will often drop back and impatiently scramble out of the pocket after just a few moments without any pressure on him. He also likes to scramble to the left (odd for a righty). Ponder’s scrambling eliminates half the field and often causes him to miss key reads and open receivers down the field. He needs to gain a sense for the rush, learn to stay in the pocket and step into his throws or he will never improve.


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%

YTD first and second down completion percentage: 159-247, 64%


Adrian Peterson

I don’t feel like anyone really deserves this, so this is almost a sarcastic OMVP, but I’m going to give it to AD. The fact is that even with his two fumbles, we would have been way worse without Adrian. He’s carrying our offense right now, he just didn’t do the best job of it on Sunday.


Christian Ponder to Kyle Rudolph, 2-yard TD pass

Nov 25, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) scores a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Vikings 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

It was the only touchdown of the game. On a day when there wasn’t much to cheer for, this was one of the few offensive plays that had Vikings fans clapping (even if it was a sarcastic slow-clap with lots of eye-rolling). Good thing the Vikings kept running that play or they would have never found the end zone.


Matt Kalil

Played well against Julius Peppers, who has shown the ability to take over games. Kalil shut him down, only letting him hit Ponder once. That’s an excellent day at the office for the rookie.

Jarius Wright

That’s two good games in a row for Jarius. He looks to be the real deal. He’s got a lot to learn, but the kid’s got talent.

Blair Walsh

Why do they count a blocked field goal as a miss? That’s not really fair to my man Blair Walsh. It’s not his fault the Bears blocked a field goal.

·         vs. Det: 1/2 FGs (40 yards), 0 touchbacks

·         YTD FG Percentage: 24-26, 92%


Fusco only played 20 pass-blocking snaps, but he still managed to give up one sack, two hits and one quarterback hurry.

The Vikings pass out of the play action third most in the NFL, 29.4 percent of pass plays. They also have the second lowest yards per attempt, 6.4.

Jerome Simpson made $2,000 per inch of field position he gained Sunday. Don’t even get me started on what John Carlson makes per inch. Safe to say it’s enough to feed all of Africa.

Adrian Peterson missed the bus to the stadium on gameday. Seriously. I don’t know who to role my eyes at more, the guy with the $100 million contract or the guy who failed to properly babysit the guy with the $100 million contract.

All hope is lost. Blair Walsh failed to record a touchback against the Bears.

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