Monday, May 2, 2016

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This week, we decided to do a two-part series covering both the positive and negative takeaways from Monday night’s 20-3 loss to San Francisco. I always feel like it’s easiest to get the bad news first, so take a look at our observations of the game’s problems here and watch for a “positives” post around lunchtime today. As always, please take the poll and feel free to weigh in via the comments section, as well! 

Offensive line
Biggest problem has to be the offensive line. Anyone watching could see how uneasy Teddy Bridgewater was in the pocket and he didn’t seem like himself whatsoever. Ultimately, Bridgewater’s anxiousness caused him to rush his reads and throws and probably forced him to take his eyes away from his down-field targets.

 Run defense
No doubt the run defense has to be the biggest concern coming off of Monday’s game. San Francisco didn’t try anything tricky. The 49ers lined up and just out-muscled and out-executed the Vikings. They started on the first drive with the three tight end sets and didn’t stop.

As Anthony Barr mentioned on Wednesday, “Honestly, they ran maybe two or three plays over and over again. We just couldn’t stop it. It was simple. We knew it was coming, we just couldn’t stop it. So we’ve just got to take a deep look within and figure it out.”

To be outperformed like that, especially after so much emphasis was put on the run defense this season and staying in gaps, it was a humbling start. Carlos Hyde is a talented running back who was a second-round draft pick just the previous year and he surely looked good in his first real chance to be an every-down back. But Minnesota has to be frustrated after an opening performance in which it allowed the most rushing yards in the league (230 yards) and the most yards per rushing attempt (5.90).

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In this weekly series of articles, I’ll be breaking down what went RIGHT or what went WRONG for the Minnesota Vikings. This week, given their embarrassing loss to San Francisco, I’ll be focusing on the negatives and what the Vikings need to correct moving forward.

Watch the tape, fix your mistakes, and move forward. In the NFL, there’s no time to dwell on last week’s game. The focus is now, nownow. And now, the Minnesota Vikings are trying to put an ugly loss to the San Francisco 49ers behind them.

Teddy Bridgewater described the situation best on Wednesday, expressing the importance of learning from the team’s mistakes and shifting the focus to the Detroit Lions:

“Simple, I watch the tape, learn from it and try not to make the same mistakes twice. This week we’re going to fly around practice and Sunday we’re going to go out there and just play at a higher level.”

Like the rest of the team, Bridgewater struggled, admitting to being “too excited” in his second-season debut. He sailed passes over receivers’ heads, missed open reads down the field, and showed signs of a quarterback affected by the threat of pressure.

The loss, however, isn’t on one man’s shoulders. The Vikings struggled in all phases of the game, and head coach Mike Zimmer called the defeat an “equal opportunity” effort. No one, from middle linebacker Gerald Hodges to running back Adrian Peterson, was spared from his criticism.

After the jump, I’ll take a look at four plays that exemplify the Vikings struggles on Monday night. They’re indicative of the night Mike Zimmer’s young team suffered through and offer valuable lessons moving forward.

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After an evening of reflection, and copious amounts of chicken wings and beer, I’ve decided that I prefer Monday night’s Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings massive fail as opposed to a close game. I’ll explain my flawless logic as Di Murphy (@DiMurphyMN) joins the show for her weekly spot.

We chat about Adrian Peterson’s usage, our confidence in Teddy Bridgewater bouncing back after a poor showing, and how Mike Zimmer not putting any of the blame on himself or the coaching staff is concerning and worth nothing.

All that and other “blow in the bottom of the cartridge and hit reset” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Following games like the stinker the Vikings played out Monday night makes the “Player of the Week” voting feel like less of an award and more of a formality, but tradition is tradition.

Last year, three players won the VT voting three times each for three-way tie on the year. Those players were Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, and Teddy Bridgewater. Something tells me that none of those players will take home the heralded (it is heralded by me, so therefore it is heralded, so be quiet you) award in Week One of the 2015 season, however.

Let me get one thing out of the way: there were no spectacular performances in this game. Some players didn’t look totally lost out there, and a couple even looked competent, so those players get the nomination after the jump.

As always, if you feel I missed somebody worthy of your vote, please feel free to hit “OTHER” and tell me who that vote is for in the comments section.

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Sherels Continues to Make Plays on Special Teams

Admittedly, there were not many silver linings to speak of in last night’s 20-3 loss to San Francisco. Austin touched on a few of the larger positives from the game, but let’s add one more to the list: Marcus Sherels.

Coach Mike Priefer utilized Sherels heavily on special teams, and the cornerback came up with two nice plays. Every year, Sherels looks like he will be on the bubble prior to final roster cuts, but each season he wrestles his way onto the final 53 and establishes a role for himself.

Sherels’ Monday Night highlight came off a great first quarter defensive play by safety Andrew Sendejo, who started over Robert Blanton. Sendejo blocked Phil Dawson’s 28-yard field goal attempt, and Sherels recovered the ball, continuing for a 44-yard return deep into Vikings territory. The play looked to swing the momentum in the Vikings favor, but they found themselves unable to capitalize on Sherels’ return and came away scoreless.

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