Thursday, October 20, 2016

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The mourning period for last week’s embarrassing loss is already over for the Vikings organization, but it will continue for us fans for a couple more days.

Still, the torment is slowly turning towards hope as Sunday’s home opener against the Detroit Lions draws closer.

Nothing can cure a fan base’s disgust for a road loss quite like the good thumping of a division opponent and that is exactly what the Vikings are hoping to provide. Now it is time to take a look around the web and see what everyone is saying about last week’s loss, this week’s matchup, and maybe a couple of other things in between.

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Earlier today, we discussed the biggest negatives from Monday’s loss to San Francisco in Part I of our QOTW segment. This time around, we’re weighing in on the silver linings we saw in Week 1. Feel free to take the poll and leave us comments with your own thoughts on the game!

Brent: Anthony Barr
I’d say the biggest positive was Anthony Barr, who led the defense with 12 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. Barr, who was limited the majority of the preseason, looked like the explosiveness from his rookie season was back in full.

Lindsey: Xavier Rhodes
As rough as the defense looked in general, I thought Xavier Rhodes had a great game. The CB looked strong against San Francisco, offering tight coverage and finishing the evening with seven tackles, all of them solo. Entering his third year in the NFL, Rhodes has big goals ahead of him, and I have no doubt he’ll have a solid 2015 season.

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We’re 2 days from game day again and as Teddy Bridgewater has been saying, tt’s a blessing it’s a short week because you can erase the memory of Monday night’s blow out even faster.

It’s hard to say the loss to San Francisco was on any one player or unit, but the defense certainly didn’t help their case. Although they forced short drives and did give the offense a chance to stay in the game, their poor tackling, pursuit and run defense wasn’t encouraging.

Detroit comes to town this weekend with an even more potent offense than the 49ers. If the Vikings stand a chance at winning, the defense needs to be much improved. Where do we even start?

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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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