While the Vikings first preseason game against the 49ers wasn’t horrible, it definitely left fans wanting to see something more. A sign of improvement. A glimpse of development. Well, I think Vikings fans got that and then some as the Vikings defeated the Bills 36-14 at Mall of America Field Friday night. There was definitely more positive than negative in this week’s exhibition game. I think there may be a feeling in the air now that this team could cause more problems in the tough NFC North than given credit for by most NFL analysts. (Something I’ve been saying here for a while now). With that being said, let’s get moving on the notes and analysis I have from the second preseason game of the year. We’ll start off with a summary of the injuries suffered in yesterday’s match up.


The Vikings managed to get through another exhibition game without any major injuries. Kyle Rudolph suffered a laceration behind his ear and was evaluated for a concussion but the tests came back negative. Chris Cook suffered a concussion on a play where he stripped the ball from a Bills receiver. Both players will be fine but I wouldn’t expect either of them to start in the next preseason game against the Chargers. If it was the regular season game, I wouldn’t be so sure. But as it is just an exhibition match up and both players are crucial to the Vikings roster, I would be surprised if Cook (Rudolph is more likely) saw playing time. Then again, it remains to be seen if Adrian Peterson will play next week so, really, who knows?

“No Huddle”

  • Let’s start off with Ponder because, let’s face it – if a certain rookie, seventh round linebacker hadn’t stole the show in the fourth quarter, the main thing we’d take away from this game is that Ponder looked excellent. He showed great accuracy, led receivers, stepped up in the pocket to make throws and was able to get away from pressure when needed. Moreover, he really just looked the part. Looked comfortable in his own skin. He had the time to go through his reads and was able to find the open man. Ponder finished the night 10-13 for 136 yards (with an almost equal passer rating) and a touchdown. Amen.
  • Jerome Simpson knows how to get high. I mean really, really high. I guess this is both a great thing and bad thing for the Vikings, though. On one hand, Simpson will go over just about anyone in an effort to get to the endzone. On the other hand, it means he’ll miss the first three games of the year. Something I saw that I thought was really awesome about the Simpson play below is how friggin’ fast Matt Kalil is. Watch the full highlight on NFL.com and notice how Kalil is seriously right behind Simpson as he flies down the field. Big guy has speed.

    (Image courtesy of SB Nation.)
  • I thought Toby Gerhart showed some great speed in Friday’s game. We’re used to seeing Gerhart plow through people to get the first down. There were a couple times though that I thought he showed great agility and burst to get through the first wave of defenders. It’s comforting knowing that even without our starred franchise player Adrian Peterson, we could still have one of the better ground attacks in the league.
  • Though Ponder was sacked twice on the opening drive, neither of them came as a result of rookie Matt Kalil being beat. Kalil, who had an above average first NFL game last week, showed us again why he was worth a fourth overall pick.
  • On the second offensive drive, the Vikings managed to come away with a field goal thanks to rookie kicker Blair Walsh after the drive stalled in front of the Bills’ goal line. I think it’s worth noting though that, if it was a regular season game, we probably would have been forced to punt instead. The Vikings went for it on fourth and short near midfield and got a first down allowing them to continue the drive… It’s unlikely they take that risk in the regular season.
  • I really don’t care for flea flickers (unless they work, of course). They just take too long to develop and I rarely see them end well. The Vikings attempted to run a flea flicker during their second offensive drive and the play ended up incomplete as Ponder was forced out of the pocket and had to throw it out of bounds down field. The pressure came from the left side after Matt Kalil basically stopped blocking Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay. Not sure what happened on that play… But again, flea flickers… They just don’t do it for me.
  • The real test for rookie kicker Blair Walsh will come when the Vikings are down by 2 at Lambeau Field with five seconds left on the clock. With that being said, he had another great game, Friday. Not only was he booming kick offs again (the guy managed to put one through the uprights on a kick off) but he was nailing difficult field goals. Walsh accounted for half of the Vikings 38 points against the Bills and was 5/6 on field goals. The kick he missed was from about 47 yards out and was wide right. With that being said, he also nailed another 47 yard field goal right down the middle later in the game.
  • Harrison Smith seemed to have a pretty good game. He only had a couple stand out plays – one of which being a beautiful blitz where he batted a throw down at the line. More importantly though, he didn’t have any biffs that I noticed. I guess it’s a good thing when you aren’t constantly hearing a safeties name because typically it means they are being beat, missing tackles, etc… I think it’s safe to say that Smith has secured a starting spot on the roster this year. Now we’ll just have to see who starts beside him. Personally, my vote is for Mistral Raymond after Friday’s game. Raymond was on fire and definitely made a statement after struggling last week (and publicly being called out for it by the front office) against the 49ers.
  • Chris Carr and Eric Frampton. Yikes, these guys looked bad.
  • Josh Robinson didn’t look spectacular but he also wasn’t glaringly bad. Which, I guess, is about as much as you could ask for from a rookie in his first game coming off of a hamstring injury. He did get beat on a bomb down the left side of the field but his blazing speed allowed him to catch back up with defender and put some pressure on him causing an incompletion. He also had a dropped interception but at the very least managed to interrupt the ball in the air.
  • Joe Webb has another impressive game as a running back. As a quarterback? Not so much… With that being said, I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m not giving Joe Webb a fair shot? While I do think he is inaccurate, unable to read a defense and prefers to run first when there is any sign of pressure, he is working with the second stringers. And from everything I’ve seen in preseason, there is a huge disparity between the starters and the back ups. Yet, the fact remains that I just don’t think Webb can be a starting quarterback for this team. If he could look as comfortable throwing as he does sprinting down the field, he would look like Peyton Manning. But the fact is Joe Webb was never a quarterback and I’m still convinced that he is not one. Not an an NFL level anyway.
  • When the Vikings drafted Jarius Wright I was pumped. As some of you know, I spent a good amount of time “scouting” the receivers in this past draft class and Wright was one of my later-round favorites for the Vikings. While some just consider him a “poor man’s Percy Harvin,” I thought he could be much more than that. Not only does he have the speed, agility and evasiveness of a great slot receiver, but, in my opinion, he has the breakaway speed that could make him a deep threat (despite his short stature)and a threat in the return game. Unfortunately for Wright, though, he hasn’t really stood out much this preseason so far. And I’m not sure if it’s because maybe he’s not as good as I thought he was or he just hasn’t really had the opportunity yet. Wright hasn’t been targeted much as a receiver so far. In fact, he didn’t have a single catch against the Bills. You know who did have a reception, though? Fourteen other players! That has to be kind of scary if you’re Jarius Wright. He really needs to show in the next two games why he deserves to be on this team and what he’s capable of. Wright also hasn’t gotten a real opportunity on any returns yet either as most of the punts he’s been back to receive ended in a fair catch.
  • Matt Asiata, who the Vikings are looking at as a potential fullback, looked really great to me. In fact, I think he could potentially be someone the team looks out to add depth at running back. The guy showed great speed and vision. Asiata had a couple of big gains on the ground where he looked much quicker and more agile than your typical full back.
  • Other than a long, perfectly passed bomb to Emmanuel Arceneaux, Sage Rosenfels didn’t really do much to show why he should be the second QB on this roster. Then again, I’m not sure he really cares much as he is a [very] veteran player who was likely just brought back to provide an experienced perspective at the position. What do I know, though? Maybe he’s dying to have an opportunity to get back on the field if Ponder goes down during the year. If that’s the case though, he’s got some more work to do.
  • Audie Cole. Audie, freakin’ Cole. He’s all anyone is talking about after having two interceptions for touchdowns within 16 seconds or so in the fourth quarter. It definitely added a spark to an otherwise pedestrian second half. I don’t know that I would go as far as anointing him as the steal of the draft, though. Let’s not forget that he was going up against Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith – the fourth “quarterback” on the Bills roster. (And I use the term quarterback loosely, here.)  Both quarterbacks basically made the same horrible read two times in a row and Audie Cole just managed to capitalize on it. With that being said, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think what Cole managed to do was easy or undeserving of recognition. If anything, I think it should definitely earn him some more playing time to see what else he can do. But a guaranteed spot on the roster? I’m not so sure…


  1. Brett,
    Matt and Toby looked good and fast. As far as the Flea flicker… Nobody looked as good at it as the 98 Vikings!

    • Yeah I guess having guys like #84, #80 and #86 helped on those flea flickers, and huh?

  2. Good write up but the first pick for audie cole was against tyler thingpin. Anyone else besides me think emmanual deserves a roster spot? And what’s up with burton, highly incossistent

  3. Good review but cmon, give Audie Cole some credit. If you remember at the draft, he was my favorite pick after the first round. The guy was projected as a 4/5th rounder and we got him in the 7th. Even before he had those picks I was a fan and wanted him to compete with Brinkley. I think Jasper Brinkley is the worst starter on our defense (even worse than the safety not named Smith). I would love to see Cole be a starter at MLB soon as his biggest weakness is speed which can be fixed to a point.
    Also, missed the first quarter how did the starting DL look like vs the run, was it as bad as last week?

    • Let me further explain the Audie Cole thing: I give him all the credit in the world. I don’t know that what he did on Friday night has ever been done before. (Someone care to look that up?) All I’m saying is that I don’t agree with the buzz out there that he should definitely be a starter. I can’t tell you how many times in the comments section of sites (mainly) where people are demanding he be given a spot. And I just don’t see it that way. Those two plays should not determine his future with the team… It should be an assessment of his entire body of work while he was one the field. Should he probably get more playing time during preseason because of those two plays – sure. Should he be a starter? Not so sure yet… What he did was awesome but again those were third/fourth string quarterbacks who made horrible reads. They basically stared down their receiver in both instances and it was easy for Cole to jump in between and intercept.

      Again, awesome plays and he looked really good. Should he be a guaranteed starter? I need to see much more.

      The first team defensive line looked great against the run. The team as a whole looked great against the run. Only 68 rushing yards allowed for the Bills.

      • I agree, Brett, and I said the fundamentally same thing in a comment under the last post. I will also say this, however. Some players have an intangible knack for “making plays”, whatever that term means. It seems to be something that is just in the make-up of some players, like an instinct or something. Matt Blair was a prime example, Bobby Bryant, Chris Carter, and I think Jared Allen has some of that in him. They just seem to make game changing plays, knowing when to do what, where to be, etc. It may be that this Cole kid will be such a player, and it is a wise coach who observes such a trait in players.

      • I get what you are saying that the 2 int’s were blown out of proportion but what I was trying to say (and poorly worded) is that even before the game I wanted Audie to make the team and hoped he would compete for a spot with Jasper. I see a lot of potential in him and from the very start was a fan. I think he had earned a spot from training camp and on field performance (heck he could probably win a corner spot if it was last year’s team) even before those int’s.

        Plus the guy is genuine and humble, when being interviewed he was asked about the ints and his response was “You guys saw those two great plays I made, I saw the five I screwed up on.” That made me think he is mature beyond his years and understands the game and will be able to improve on his weaknesses.

  4. Those were some great No Huddle Thoughts Brett.
    I could tell you wanted to say it. . .but just couldn’t. . .
    So I’l say it for you;
    Vikings; 10-6

    • Haha. I’ll probably make my official prediction before the first regular season game… But as of right now I’m in the 500 range. Maybe even 9-6 if we can win a division game.

  5. Great game overall but a couple things I didn’t like:
    Inconsistent snaps from Cullen- Kluwe saved him on the first XP, but he followed it up with another stinker that probably had a part in Walsh’ 49 yard miss. Surprising to see him have some issues on the home field, but better now than during the regular season.
    Aromashadu- I’m starting to wonder if this guy is a terribly inconsistent route runner. The whole most targets without a reception statistic from last year seems to be showing up in the pre-season. If he has no chemistry with any of the QB’s on the roster why keep him around?
    Ben Leber’s interviews- I know it’s his first assignment, but does anyone else think it’s just painful watching how awkward those on field interviews with his former teammates are going?

  6. Brett, Kalil not only demonstrated speed on that play, but also initiative. That’s more energy expended on one play than McKinnie put forth in an entire game. When talent, initiative and intelligence come together in a football player, it is a thing of beauty.

  7. Why wouldn’t Cole have a guaranteed spot based on his performance thus far? He’s standing out at a position where the team lacks depth, has value based on his draft position alone, and can contribute on special teams while developing as a LB if neeeded. Speilman was touting about this guy a while back, if that helps at all. Also, he shows something our ‘defense’ has lacked in recent years: playmaking ability. He shows he can make an offense pay for it’s mistakes and close, instead of having a ball bounce off of him like a tackling dummy. He deserves a spot based on the potential of being an SOD alone.
    PS- here’s some tips for use of quatations… :)
    Quotation marks may also be used around a single word or group of words to indicate use of a borrowed word or phrase. The reader is to understand that anything within quotations was spoken or written by someone other than the author of the work that contains it.

    Example: In a TV interview, Jackson showed off his “slam jam” dance move.

    A single word or a short phrase may be enclosed in quotation marks to indicate ironic use.
    Single quotation marks are used to set off a quote within a quote.

    Example: The newscaster said, “Tonight on TV5, city official Amy Murphy stated that ‘our local economy is a disaster,’ which is true.”

    Although it happens rarely, when a quote within a quote contains yet another quote, the innermost quote is set off by double quotation marks. Single quotation marks and double quotation marks continue to alternate in this way as more direct quotations are added inside others.
    Teachers, don’t forget to look at the other wikiHows in the English grammar category for additional articles on grammar that you can easily incorporate into your teaching.
    Running Quotes: If a full paragraph of quoted material is followed by a paragraph that continues the quotation, do not put close-quote marks at the end of the first paragraph. Do, however, put open-quote marks at the start of the second paragraph. Continue in this fashion for any succeeding paragraphs, using close-quote marks only at the end of the quoted material.

    “I think you’re wrong.

    “That is what you do so well: Being wrong.”
    The title of an essay/article is not enclosed in quotes; it’s italicized or underlined at the top of the page of the work itself.

    • I said, “Those two plays should not determine his future with the team… It should be an assessment of his entire body of work while he was one the field.”

      By all means, if the coaching staff thinks he should be a starter based on what he’s showing during mini camp, training camp, preseason, etc… then that’s great. But, personally, I can’t say I’ve seen enough from him to say he should be starting at MLB (like a lot of people are saying). My point is whether he starts or not (or makes the team or not) should come from a decision based on the things he has done as a whole, not just two plays. Again, though, I’m not trying to take anything away from him. What he did Friday was spectacular and invigorated the entire team and fan base.

      Thanks for the lesson on quotations, haha. Where did i misuse them, though?

  8. Quotation marks police? Sheesh. What next? I say use quotation marks wherever you want, Brett. Its fine by me.

  9. has anyone said cole should be elevated to starter? haven’t seen that

    don’t forget, he scored a sack, too, in the first pre-season game

    dude is good, makes an impact, catches it when it comes to him. doesn’t matter who threw it, it’s not cole’s fault they’re shitty, some guys would drop it, anyway. he was in the right spot and did what he was supposed to do. we’ve been weak up the middle, so i would find a way to keep him for a while. if he doesn’t pan out, try moving him to the practice squad later, cuz if we tried that in the near future, he’d get taken by another team

  10. Yeah, I never said he should be the starter yet, or that you said that. I meant he should have secured a roster spot, baring any catastrophic set-backs.
    As far as quotations, scouting in quotations confused me, which is pretty easy. Just a “fun-poke” becaused they seemed over used. lol

    • I’m definitely thinking Cole makes the roster.

      And as far as the quotations go, I didn’t take it the wrong way. You can have things in quotes that aren’t necessarily a reference. I meant “scouting” ironically because I wasn’t really scouting the players. Also, because I’m not a professional scout I was using the term loosely.

      Thanks for the input.

  11. I’ve read Mitchell is pushing Henderson. Mitchell may get the start over Henderson,on Friday.

  12. and brett, totally not meant as critical input. i like to use qts for humor/irony/etc.. as well. i was jus giving you crap. i like the italics too.


Leave a Reply