Saturday, November 28, 2015

jarius wright

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The Vikings rebounded off an ugly loss to San Francisco Week 1, and the team now has two wins under its belt. As encouraging as it was to see Minnesota defeat Detroit and San Diego in back-to-back home games, Week 4 offers to be the biggest test yet for the Vikings: playing Peyton Manning and the Broncos on their home turf.

I think it’s safe to say that if the Vikings can beat Denver, they will receive some serious attention.

In case you’re wondering, the Broncos boast an incredible 23-2 home record since signing Manning in 2012. Sunday’s afternoon game will be a challenge, and it will be interesting to see how Mike Zimmer and his squad respond. Let’s take a look at how Minnesota’s offense matches up against Denver.

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The Vikings got back to .500 after defeating the Lions in their home opener, and the general morale of the coaching staff and team seems (understandably) much higher than it did following Week 1.

Both teams are 1-1, and while the Vikings will be playing their second consecutive home game, this will be the Chargers’ second road game in a row. The Vikings, who have a 5-6 record all-time against the Chargers, last played San Diego in Week 1 of the 2011 season, a 24-17 Charger win. Before then, the teams hadn’t met since 2007, in which Adrian Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards en route to a win.

Heading into Week 3, what does the offensive match up look like between Minnesota and San Diego?

Offensive Line

Although the offensive line has some weak spots due to injuries, previous-concern Matt Kalil has had a great start to his season.

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Carl: Justin Trattou’s interception
The 27 year-old undrafted four-year veteran from Florida only has one tackle in the stats column this season for the Vikings. The backup defensive end has played a whopping six total snaps, all verse the Lions in week two. Believe it or not though, he stands alone atop they Vikings’ leader board in the interceptions category. Maybe he was just in the right place at the right time, but his fourth quarter pick with just over 12 minutes to play gets my vote for biggest play of the game. With the Vikings up by 13, Stafford targets Eric Ebron in the left flat on a 1st-and-10 from midfield. Trattou didn’t rush the passer, nor did he drop back into coverage. With help from Andrew Sendejo covering the tight end, Trattou was able to simple slid into Stafford’s throwing lane and get his hands up in the air. I’m not sure how he made the catch, but his INT and 11 yard return was huge as it deflated the Lions while setting up the Vikings final scoring drive.

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In this weekly series of articles, I’ll be breaking down what went RIGHT or what went WRONG each game for the Minnesota Vikings. This week, thanks to a turnaround victory over the Detroit Lions, I’ll be focusing on the positives and what the Vikings can build on moving forward this season.

In the NFL, game plans can and do change on a weekly basis. Against a team like the San Francisco 49ers, stopping the run has to be a defense’s number one priority — though that’s not always the result. When playing the Detroit Lions, for example, teams put a premium on shutting down Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Matthew Stafford’s other receiving weapons.

On the offensive side of the ball,  finding a balance between running and passing is ideal. Depending on the defense or specific one-on-one matchups, that can change. Take the New England Patriots in Week 2 — Tom Brady threw the ball 59 times against the Buffalo Bills and shredded Rex Ryan’s defense. Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins rushed the ball 37 times against the St. Louis Rams, riding the legs of Alfred Morris and Matt Jones to a victory.

A look at the Vikings’ first three offensive plays from both games illustrates this variation perfectly:

  • (9:19) (Shotgun) T.Bridgewater pass incomplete short right to J.Wright.
  • (9:13) (Shotgun) T.Bridgewater pass incomplete deep left to C.Johnson (T.Brock).
  • (9:07) (Shotgun) T.Bridgewater pass incomplete deep left to J.Wright [A.Lynch].

The Vikings started their first offensive drive on San Francisco’s 26-yard line after a blocked field goal and Andrew Sendejo return, but couldn’t capitalize on the premium field position. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner scripted running plays, but Teddy Bridgewater checked into passes based on the defense’s alignment and coverage. After missing Jarius Wright in the flat and misfiring on two deep balls, Bridgewater and the offense watched Blair Walsh push a 44-yard field goal — giving the ball right back to the 49ers.

Against the Lions, Turner’s first few offensive calls — downhill, inside zone runs — illustrated his plan to feed Adrian Peterson early and often:

  • (14:55) A.Peterson up the middle to MIN 25 for no gain (E.Ansah).
  • (14:26) A.Peterson left tackle to MIN 36 for 11 yards (G.Quin, E.Ansah).
  • (13:57) A.Peterson up the middle to MIN 38 for 2 yards (J.Jones).

In the first quarter alone, Peterson had 13 carries and surpassed his game total of 10 rushes from the previous week. The offensive line established itself against the Lions from the start and Peterson set the tone on the team’s first drive. He looked more patient, more decisive, putting together 11-yard and 25-yard runs as the Vikings marched down the field for their first touchdown.

Special players make special plays, as evidenced by Adrian Peterson’s ability to turn the corner and outrun edge defenders, but their success wouldn’t be possible without the development of effective game plans. From an offense’s first scripted plays to a defense’s blitzes and pre-determined coverages (Xavier Rhodes shadowing Calvin Johnson,) the Vikings’ preparation is key to a victory each week. After the jump, I’ll take a look at some of that preparation (and a few individual performances) that highlight how the Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions in Week 2

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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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