Thursday, November 26, 2015

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Per Ian Rapaport, Phil Loadholt has torn his pectoral muscle and will need surgery. His season is through.

Loadholt left the game against the Packers with a sore shoulder and did not return. The Vikings said he was questionable to return and after the game said that Loadholt would need an MRI.

Though Loadholt hadn’t been performing up to the standard he had set for himself over the past two years, he had been adequate this season. He was, as always, a better run blocker than pass protector, but still was respectable enough in the pass protection game. His numbers (5 sacks allowed, 6 hits allowed and 22 pressures) are extremely poor, but his film was a little better than that—with the numbers suffering a bit because Teddy would hold on to the ball early on in the season.

Presumably, the tackle that filled in for Loadholt in the Packers game, Mike Harris, will fill in for him. With Matt Kalil already underperforming, Mike Harris—who only has significant snaps as a rookie in San Diego—can only add to the severe liability of the offensive line. Harris’ rookie year was even worse in protection than Kalil is now, allowing ten sacks five hits and 44 hurries in just over half a season of snaps—355. His game against the Packers wasn’t encouraging, but it’s fair to assume that a week of practice with the line can only help.

Harris as a guard and tackle this year has earned a -0.9 grade from Pro Football Focus in pass blocking in 35 pass blocking snaps, with 1 hit and 2 hurries allowed, which isn’t great. More alarmingly, he’s played with little awareness, though he hadn’t been terrible in the run game.

In all likelihood, Harris is better than he was, but it’s hard to imagine he’d be significantly better than Kalil (or we would have theoretically have seen him replace Kalil). With that in mind, the Vikings now officially have the worst pair of offensive tackles in football with a mediocre guard on the left and a backup’s backup on the right. There’s a good chance they went from having one of the best OLs in the NFL last year to the single worst.

Teddy Bridgewater has been pressured on a higher percentage of snaps than all but five quarterbacks this season, per PFF. He’s been hit or sacked on over nine percent of dropbacks, sixth-most of all quarterbacks. We’ll likely see that number rise by season’s end, even if the Vikings switch to a run-first offense with shorter pass drops.

Vikings may have to revert to seven-man protection, with Rhett Ellison earning quite a few snaps as a protector. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings, who rely on edge protection and deep drops in their passing game adapt to this significant blow.

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As always, inactives list have been released for every team, as well as injury reports. First the Vikings:

Asiata, Matt RB Concussion DNP FP Out Inactive
Line, Zach FB None N/A Inactive
Mauti, Mike LB None N/A Inactive
Watts, Brandon LB None N/A Inactive
Wentworth, Austin G None N/A Inactive
Yankey, David G None N/A Inactive
Barr, Anthony LB Knee LP LP FP Probable Active
Crichton, Scott DE Hip FP FP FP Probable Active
Floyd, Sharrif DT Knee LP DNP DNP Questionable Active
Griffen, Everson DE Neck LP FP FP Probable Active
Harris, Mike T Ankle DNP LP LP Probable Active
Jennings, Greg WR Rib DNP DNP FP Questionable Active
Kalil, Matt T Knee DNP Questionable Active
McKinnon, Jerick RB Low back DNP LP LP Probable Active
Munnerlyn, Captain CB Knee LP Probable Active
Rhodes, Xavier CB Anjke LP FP FP Probable Active
Rudolph, Kyle TE Abdomen/Groin LP FP FP Probable Active
Wright, Jarius WR Hamstring DNP Questionable Active

The Ben Tate signing will play a role right away, like many expected. Despite having been slowed down by injuries while at Cleveland, Tate will take on Asiata’s role while Asiata waits to get cleared for a concussion. I expect to see very few carries for Tate, and all of those carries to come with zone running plays. Tate is familiar with zone running, and the Vikings tend to play both zone running plays and man blocking plays in the run game. Though that would be a tell, it will still be better for Tate to do something he’s familiar with than run plays he’s never really worked with.

With Sharrif Floyd out, Shamar Stephen will start in his stead. I expect Tom Johnson to take most of the carries, as he’s the better defensive tackle of the two. As Brian Hall pointed out on Twitter, Stephen may be in on running downs, with Johnson in on passing downs. Given that Eddie Lacy has been performing well as of late, it makes sense to make those situational substitutions.

It’s disappointing that David Yankey cannot find himself active on a day when another guard, Austin Wentworth (who also plays tackle) is inactive. That said, Vlad Ducasse is active and has played both tackle and guard positions in the NFL.

Scott Crichton is active for the second time this season (the only other time was the first game of the season, against the Rams).

Then, the Packers

Bostick, Barrett TE Hip DNP DNP DNP Out Inactive
Bush, Jarrett CB Groin DNP DNP LP Questionable Inactive
Perry, Nick LB Shoulder DNP DNP DNP Questionable Inactive
Janis, Jeff WR None None Inactive
Gerhart, Garth C None None Inactive
Bradford, Carl LB None None Inactive
Tolzien, Scott QB None None Inactive
Lang, T.J. G Ankle DNP LP DNP Questionable Active
Sitton, Josh G Toe DNP LP DNP Probable Active
Elliot, Jayrone LB Hamstring LP LP LP Questionable Active
Matthews, Clay LB Groin LP LP LP Probable Active
Jones, Datone DE Ankle LP Questionable Active

The only significant inactive to me for the Packers is Nick Perry. The Packers are having linebacker issues, and outside linebacker Clay Matthews has played inside while the deep rotation on the outside has covered for his absence there on occasion.

That said, it’s interesting that both guards were DNP-LP-DNP, meaning they missed the first practice, were limited the second and were held out of the third practice again. They’re still active so it may not have a bearing on the game, but it could provide the Vikings a small equalizer up front with Floyd inactive.

Overall, after a healthy Week 11, the Vikings have been bit with the injury bug and are starting a little more behind than usual this week.

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Per Adam Schefter, Vikings legal counsel Kevin Warren, who was the lead on protecting the team against allegations made by former punter Chris Kluwe, was one of the Vikings executives who reportedly did not want Peterson back with the team. Peterson mentioned at least one person within the organization in his excellent interview by Tom Pelissero in USA Today. Schefter’s words:

When Adrian Peterson told USA Today there were people in Vikings’ organization who did want him back and people in the organization who didn’t, the person he was referring to who wasn’t in favor of his return was the team’s general counsel, Kevin Warren, per league sources. Warren and the NFL have been working to make sure Peterson did not return this season, per sources familiar with the case. Now there are questions about whether Peterson will return to Minnesota at all next season. There were those in the Vikings organization who were, and still are, in favor of Peterson’s return, including the coaches, front office and players. But per sources, Peterson believes at least one individual didn’t want him back.

It isn’t surprising to me that the lawyer is the one who didn’t want him back. Though the locker room is largely unified in wanting Peterson back (or at the very least, universally in favor, unless you ask Mike Freeman) and the coaching staff is fully on board with bringing Peterson back, per a recent interview with ESPN. The front office has indicated for the moment that they don’t want to trade or release Peterson, but will re-evaluate that stance at the end of the season.

The most surprising revelation has been that Warren worked with the NFL to keep Peterson off the field. This directly contradicts what owners Mark and Zygi Wilf attempted to do:

It’s always nice to see these divisions crop up.

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Picture courtesy of

After watching the Vikings offense struggle against a poor Chicago Bears defense, there was the obvious frustration with the consistent check down passes thrown by rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

There could be several causes for this stale offense; is the offense losing at the line of scrimmage? Do the receivers struggle to gain separation in the secondary? Do defenses not respect the Viking’s ability to run the football, essentially selling out to stopping the pass?

Although all of these issues likely contribute to a quarterback struggling at times, I wanted to see if Bridgewater was leaving plays on the field. I went back and took a look at 10 plays from last week’s game in Chicago in hopes of diagnosing the lack of offensive production.

Well, the Packers are coming to town and it is hard to think of a time that they’ve ever been playing better football than they are right now.  The Vikings are getting some closure on the Adrian Peterson ordeal, but continue to find ways to struggle on the field.  The Vikings are not a pushover, however, and it is Packers week… so, get caught up on everything via the below links, get your game face on, and hope for the best on Sunday.


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