After a relatively successful first half, the Minnesota Vikings’ backups have looked pretty decent against the Tennessee Titans’ backups. The takeaways, as you’d expect, are about as shallow as you’d expect, but useful to dissect at any rate.
First, the second-team offense featured Teddy Bridgewater but didn’t use him very much. The first drive wasn’t particularly spectacular but neither was it worrisome. Running backs Joe Banyard and Jerick McKinnon did well on that drive to advance the ball and were probably the feature of the offense. After that, he certainly looked starting caliber, but not incisive. His biggest issues were decisions to throw to Jerick McKinnon deep when he was covered tightly and a questionable decision to throw out to Adam Thielen on a curl—the pass was inaccurate and he probably expected a different route.
Other than that, his passes were thrown with better timing and velocity than before and he checked down judiciously when the pass wasn’t there, McKinnon throw aside. That, and his corner touchdown pass (ANOTHER corner touchdown pass after the initial failure) was fantastic, thrown excellently to Adam Thielen who found a way to get half a step besides pass interference.
As for the running backs, both did extremely well, with Banyard getting a lot more play. Last year, Banyard’s issues involved patience and decisionmaking with some problems bouncing outside when he didn’t need to. This year, he’s shown excellent vision with only a few mistakes, as well as patience in letting his blocks develop. He still doesn’t have the suddenness that McKinnon and Peterson make integral to their game, but his running style is letting him do a lot, especially when he sees a clear lane open up laterally on a run.
You might imagine this is good news for the offensive line and in some ways it was. There were some mistakes that were pretty clear, David Yankey specifically giving up a few pressures on plays that showcased what looked like a questionable reaction time. Occasional issues from Antonio Richardson and one mistake by Vlad Ducasse shouldn’t overshadow what was a good first half, especially from Ducasse and Berger. Austin Wentworth looked to redeem himself in a big way, too.
There wasn’t much play from Allen Reisner, but he seemed to play well enough. As for the receivers, the most notable was Adam Thielen, who may or may not have been responsible for the Bridgewater throw on the curl mentioned above, but generally was OK before his hip injury took him out of the play. We didn’t see a lot from Jarius Wright, though Kain Colter had a good play.
On defense, the defensive line did a very good job getting pressure on Zach Mettenberger, in particular Corey Wootton. Wootton did a good job getting underneath the tackle despite his height. On the other side of the line, Scott Crichton didn’t show up for a lot, but Justin Trattou did and will likely make the roster given his preseason play so far. Tom Johnson had some good pressure and a sack, but he also did miss his gap to allow a big run.
Sharrif Floyd didn’t have a lot of play, but looked penetrative in his short time. Fred Evans highlighted his burst again, but didn’t do as much with it this time around. Other than those linemen, we didn’t see much others.
At linebacker, we saw play from Mike Zimmer, Audie Cole and Jasper Brinkley. Mike Zimmer was mostly quiet but has quick feet. Audie Cole had a very up-and-down game. Missed tackles and some contain problems on the edge combined with good downhill play and some solid run stops. On the other hand, Brinkley has shown some issues with lateral range and has been exposed in coverage a bit more, with a missed tackle to go along with it.
At safety, Robert Blanton and Kurt Coleman both played the entire half and both missed tackles or their run responsibilities. There are seam issues with Coleman, who can’t seem to close the zone early enough. Other than that, it is difficult to evaluate safety play but it didn’t look particularly good.