Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Minnesota Vikings have announced that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will return to coach the special teams after serving his suspension. Statement below:

The Minnesota Vikings will reinstate Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer effective Monday, September 15.

The decision by Vikings ownership follows extensive conversations with the independent professional consultants retained to conduct individualized anti-harassment, diversity and sexual orientation training with Coach Priefer. Those consultants have conveyed to the team that Coach Priefer was fully and thoughtfully engaged throughout the process and successfully completed the program.

Details within the settlement agreement pertaining to the actions by the team remain confidential.

The Vikings, if you recall, settled with former punter Chris Kluwe after allegations about homophobic comments were proven to be true after a lengthy investigation commissioned by the Vikings. The Vikings suspended Priefer for three games, which could be reduced to two after completing sensitivity training and demonstrating commitment to the program.

After the terrifying showing the special teams unit put together against the Patriots—including having nine men on the field on a punt return and having a kick blocked for a touchdown—it couldn’t come at a better time from a performance perspective. As for whether or not the reduction of the suspension was inevitable from the outset, that’s impossible to say.

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Full game recap posted over at Vikings Journal. There’s a lot to recap, but some quick hits:

  • On the outside, Matt Kalil was abysmal. Giving up several sacks and pressure, Kalil had perhaps the worst game of his career. Typically not a sustained worry if a tackle happens to have a bad game, this continues the trend of subpar play since his rookie year, which is increasingly long ago. He perhaps put in the worst performance of the day.
  • Despite abysmal play by the interior offensive line last week from the Patriots, the Vikings couldn’t find ways to create pressure with their front four. Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph were both quiet in the game, and it wasn’t until Tom Johnson arrived that interior pressure manifested itself, not just with a sack but with pressure. Linval Joseph couldn’t get off his blocks as quickly as he did last week and Floyd was quiet.
  • While it normally is a rather perfunctory note, special teams played a big role in the Vikings loss, with a few of Jeff Locke’s punts, a 57-yard boomer aside, causing issues in the field position battle. With that, Ellison—despite his good blocking in plays from scrimmage—was the one who gave up Jones’ unreal block, scoop and score on the field goal try. In one punt return attempt, the Vikings only had nine men on the field.

Check out the full recap over there.

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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