Monday, July 6, 2015

From Bart Hubbuch at the New York Post, the Vikings have “ruled out” releasing Peterson, but are open to trading him if “ugly details” emerge. They do not expect a suspension sans conviction.

Speculation to come after the game, I’m sure.

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The Vikings are trailing in a game they don’t have Adrian Peterson, though how much of it can be blamed on his absence is easily debatable.

Down 24-7, the Vikings are having a particularly embarrassing day.

Defense

Though the Vikings defense allowed 10 points in the first quarter, they let points on the board as a result of field position, not because of poor play. With 62 yards given up on 14 plays is phenomenal, and for any team would be a mark of pride.

Unfortunately, outside of the first drive, offensive play set up one touchdown and one field goal despite a defensive stand.

The second quarter was a different story as the secondary struggled while linebackers were exploited in coverage. The aggregate defensive effort ends up giving up 6.4 yards a play, or 4.4 in the first half and 81 in the second half—an abysmal outing.

Up front, the defensive line hasn’t done as well as they should against a struggling Patriots offensive line. Despite doing well against the run, they haven’t consistently put pressure on Tom Brady. Everson Griffen is getting tied up by Solder and doesn’t seem to be using his flexibility. On the other side, Brian Robison is getting washed out and pushed upfield.

On the interior, Linval Joseph is surprisingly quiet, sometimes handled by a lone offensive lineman. Sharrif Floyd isn’t doing well with more attention and can’t seem to penetrate on the inside on passing downs. Against the run, he’s doing a pretty fine job of staying square and redirecting runners.

Shamar Stephen and Corey Wootton entered late in the second quarter, but had a minimal impact.

Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn both looked worrisome. Captain got burned by Edelman for a touchdown, and the same player juked Rhodes out of his socks to get open on a short pass that he turned into a long gain. For the most part, both have been out of position all night.

Josh Robinson, who has largely been on Amendola duty, has been fine excepting a play called back on an illegal pick, which isn’t his fault.

As safeties, both Robert Blanton and Harrison Smith have played well, with only a bad play in the slot for Smith as a man coverage player. Smith has more than made up for it with fantastic play against the run and as a cover safety. Blanton is doing well in his varied responsibilities, getting a pressure, a good tackle, and bracketing Gronkowski.

In coverage, we haven’t seen much of Greenway or Brinkley (who after playing the first series didn’t see much playing time) but a lot of Barr, as the Patriots were willing to exploit his raw play by scheming players into his coverage, either throwing to the tight end he’s responsible for or flooding his zone.

Against the run, both Greenway and Brinkley have done well and are playing with a lot of downfield drive.

Offense

On offense, the Vikings sputtered after their first drive. Cassel’s first interception set the tone for the Vikings for the rest of the game, and he proceeded to throw some terrible passes and another interception. Curiously, his second interception wasn’t his worst play. Jennings pulled up in the route, though Cassel still shouldn’t have thrown when he did because of the coverage.

Instead overthrows, and baffling pocket decisions have created major issues and his 59.2 passer rating somehow oversell his performance. He’s held on to the ball too long, chosen to create room in the wrong places and locked down on receivers. His 3.4 adjusted net yards per attempt is closer to describing how he played, which was awful and buoyed by a good first drive.

The offensive line has largely done very well. The interior is blocking well on the run, and there were no major miscues in the run or pass game from Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan or Brandon Fusco. Penalties from Sullivan and Fusco hurt the team, but neither ended up being a particularly critical penalty. Loadholt has had two or so mistakes, but otherwise has held up fine, even with some confusing fronts.

Matt Kalil has been fairly abysmal. He’s given up pressure after pressure, and they’ve run the ball away from him—so any run blocking grade would be somewhat disingenuous.

Matt Asiata has been up and down. He’s playing as an excellent outlet receiver (and was schemed into lots of space for a touchdown) and fantastically as a pass blocker. As a runner, he’s had some good moments, pushing for extra yards. But for the most part he’s been who many thought he was. He can’t accelerate for extra yards or add much value to the game over a generic fullback, with his best plays coming from design instead of skill.

McKinnon hasn’t seen much time, and in his limited time has been OK.

Cordarrelle Patterson has also been up and down, but it will be easier to remember his fantastic run after catch ability than his issues consistently winning at the catch point and staying in the sideline (and though the sideline throw was more Cassel’s fault than Patterson’s by a significant degree, there is a world Patterson reels that in). Jennings has been blanketed by Revis and isn’t a good enough receiver to get open against possibly the best CB in the league. Jarius Wright is playing fine as a receiver, but as a runner was baffling and should not have been targeted on the first interception.

A disappointing first half overall.

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The Minnesota Vikings have released their list of inactives, we’re still waiting on the Patriots

NAME POSITION INJURY WED. THU. FRI. GAME STATUS GAMEDAY
Floyd, Sharrif DT Shoulder DNP DNP LP Questionable Active
Harris, Mike T Shoulder LP LP FP Probable Active
Johnson, Charlie G Ankle LP LP FP Probable Active
Line, Zach FB Ankle LP LP FP Probable Released
Mauti, Michael LB Foot LP LP FP Probable Inactive
Peterson, Adrian RB Not Injury Related - DNP FP Probable Inactive
Price, Jabari CB Hamstring FP FP FP Probable Active
Rhodes, Xavier CB Groin DNP LP LP Questionable Active
Smith, Rodney WR Hamstring - - LP Questionable Inactive
Watts, Brandon LB Knee DNP DNP DNP Out Inactive
Ponder, Christian QB None - - - Inactive
Yankey, David G None - - - Inactive
Crichton, Scott DE None - - - Inactive

Mike Harris being active is new; he was not active the other day. Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes being active is good news after limited practice all week and some questions about their availability.

Last night, the Patriots indicated that starting linebacker Jamie Collins is out, as well as defensive end Michael Buchanan and interior offensive lineman Ryan Wendell. Collins, a starting linebacker, will be difficult to replace given their thin linebacker corps. They released his backup (Darius Fleming) last night and signed Deontae Skinner in his stead. He likely won’t be active, so the only backup linebacker is Chris White. The Patriots will be in nickel whenever it makes sense for them, as Logan Ryan is far better to have on the field in an average situation more than Chris White.

UPDATE: Patriots inactives in:

NAME POSITION INJURY WED. THU. FRI. GAME STATUS GAMEDAY
Buchanan, Michael DL Ankle LP LP LP Questionable Active
Gronkowski, Rob TE Knee LP LP LP Probable Active
Jones, Chris DT Ankle LP LP LP Questionable Active
Siliga, Seaver DT Hand LP LP LP Questionable Released
Wendell, Ryan OL Knee LP LP LP Questionable Inactive
Collins, Jamie LB Thigh - LP DNP Questionable Inactive
Dennard, Alfonzo CB None Inactive
Moore, Zach DE None Inactive
Skinner, Deontae LB None Inactive
White, James RB None Inactive
Thompkins, Kenbrell WR None Inactive

With Dennard also out, it really stresses whoever is going to be the eleventh defender for the Patriots, who I expect to be Kyle Arrington more often than Chris White. Kenbrell Thompkins’ absence doesn’t mean much in light of the fact that Aaron Dobson will be in. Though Dobson plays a different role, there shouldn’t be any change in their game plan or in the Vikings’.

Rick Spielman says he didn’t know about the formal allegations against Adrian Peterson (notice the inclusion of the word “formal”) until Friday, which is when the rest of us found out about them.  Spielman says that the organization is still in the process of gathering facts, trying to avoid a knee-jerk reaction, and that all options are still on the table.

“Friday night was the first we heard of the formal allegations against Adrian Peterson, and we decided, as an organization, that to deactivate him this weekend was in the best interests of everybody concerned,” Spielman told Sal Paolantonio.

For all of the reasons that Arif has put forth, releasing Peterson probably makes the best business sense, and maybe even the best football sense.  There could end up being an emotional factor that weighs into the decision, a willingness to help Peterson improve as a person, but it is looking more an more like a release is the likeliest scenario.

Ian Rapoport of NFLN is reporting this morning that the Vikings are willing to keep Peterson deactivated for multiple games, if that best allows them to make an informed decision.

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