Preseason Game #1: Post-Game Thoughts (No Huddle)

Well, the first preseason game of the Vikings 2012 season is in the books. Ultimately, the Vikes ended up losing in San Francisco with a final score of 6-17. While there were some good things to take away from the game, there were also quite a few hiccups (primarily after the first teamers were done for the night). I jotted some notes down during the game and wanted to get them up here for everyone. These are just observations – my personal opinions and analysis. But first, let’s start off with injuries as, ultimately, not suffering injuries during preseason is one of the most important goals.


The Vikings managed to get through a game against one of the best defenses in the NFL while suffering only one injury – and a minor one at that. (Pretty good if you ask me.) Defensive tackle Letroy Guion suffered a minor PCL injury to his right knee. He is expected to only miss a week or two and should be able to return in time for the regular season. Very happy to see the Vikings not have to suffer any serious injuries, especially after the loss of Greg Childs for the season.

“No Huddle”

  • It was great to see Matt Kalil in a Vikings uniform tonight. Overall, in my opinion, he performed well. Ponder seemed to have pretty good protection for the most part and the line gave him a nice pocket to throw from most snaps. However, he was torched on one particular play by Aldon Smith which resulted in Ponder running for his life. Aldon Smith is quite the competition for Kalil to have to go up against in his first real game and only blowing it on one play is a pretty good accomplishment if you ask me.
  • The Vikings first drive on offense looked good. Ponder was poised and did a good job of moving the Vikings down the field. He finished the night 4/9 but 3 of those incompletions were balls that hit and bounced off the hands of the targeted receiver. Simpson dropped an easy, easy catch on the first drive. Stephen Burton and Michael Jenkins also dropped easy catches. My only gripe with Ponder tonight is he seemed to float the ball a little bit and held on just a little too long for my liking. Overall though, Ponder’s performance tonight was promising.
  • The defenses first drive on the field wasn’t too bad, but there are definitely some things to work on. Towards the beginning of the drive, the Vikings had a nice play on third down to stop the 49ers just short of a first. The Niners decided to go for it though and ended up rushing for the first on 4th and short. In a regular season game, it would have been very unlikely that the Niners would have gone for it considering they were still on their side of the field (just shy of the fifty). The 49ers offense then went on to run the ball down our throats and cap off the drive with a touchdown where Chris Carr got burned by 49ers receiver Brett Swain. With that being said, it should be noted that Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield did not play tonight. I imagine our run defense would have been a little more stout had they been playing.
  • Rookie kicker Blair Walsh looked great tonight. I think there was a collective sigh of relief amongst Vikings fans as Walsh nailed his first field goal with a beautiful kick right down the middle. Walsh was 2/2 for the night and accounted for the only points scored by the Vikings. His longest field goal was from 39 yards out and he did a great job on kickoffs. One kickoff was out of the end zone while another was just a foot from being out. (The kick returner decided to bring the ball out of the end zone anyway, resulting in the Vikings stopping him at the 15 yard line.)
  • The defense gave up a huge touchdown run by Niners backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The quick quarterback from Nevada took off on a designed QB run after the entire Vikings defense bit hard on play action. I don’t know… It really didnt’ bother me too much. It was a very college-like play and Kaepernick, who ran the pistol at Nevada, is very good at that type of thing. After the entire team (literally) went right with the running back, there was a valley for Kaepernick to run through. And that guy is fast. Nobody was catching him…
  • The inability to respond well to play action seemed to be a trend tonight, though. The Vikings defense consistently got worked on play action runs. Definitely something they need to work on.
  • Zachary Bowman dropped an easy pick in the second quarter. Surprise, surprise.
  • Tight end Rhett Ellison had a nice grab in tight coverage. Ellison finished the night with two receptions for 17 yards.
  • Lex Hilliard got the nod at running back #3 tonight. Hilliard had a lackluster performance only gaining 12 yards on four carries.
  • I was excited to see how rookie safety Harrison Smith would do tonight hoping to see some glimmer of greatness that would make me feel a little better about  our safety situation. Overall, though, Smith had a pretty quiet first game. He did not start with the first teamers and didn’t get playing time until the second quarter. He did have a nice play where he came up to make a tackle in the backfield on a reverse handoff. Smith didn’t get burned or anything, was just looking to see a little more.
  • Marcus Sherels and Stephen Burton were the primary kick returners tonight. Neither had amazing or horrible returns. Pretty normal performance on special teams.
  • Joe Webb… I think it’s pretty easy to see after tonight why Joe Webb is not a starting-caliber quarterback. Granted, it is just a preseason game. Still though, Webb looked horrible. While the second team offensive line didn’t help much, consistently letting defenders enter easily into the pocket, I just don’t think Webb has the throwing accuracy or vision to be a starter. He did a great job of avoiding sacks and scrambling around – extending plays much longer than most quarterbacks could. But when he throws the ball, it is just not good. It seems Webb instantly gives in to blitzes and immediately starts scrambling after the snap. I noticed a few plays were the Niners would bring multiple linebackers leaving players wide open. Instead of noticing the blitz and locating one of these easy open targets, Webb panics, turns and bolts for his life. Honestly, after tonight, I would not be surprised to see Sage Rosenfels or McLeon Bethel-Thompson start as QB #2 next week. Seriously.
  • Solomon Elimimian had a super easy interception after defensive end Nick Reed used a sweet spin move to get after the Niners third string quarterback Scott Tolzien (who otherwise had a great night). If Elimimian would have dropped that pick… I wouldn’t have been that surprised because we always drop those picks. Yeah…
  • Arkansas rookie wide receiver Jarius Wright had a dropped pass on third down that would have put the  Vikings in field goal range. Instead, the Vikings were forced to punt. I was looking for Wright to produce more tonight as he was one of my favorite picks of the draft. Wright finished the night with zero receptions.
  • The above mentioned punt (by Kluwe) sure was a nice one though. Coverage managed to get down field and stop the ball at the one yard line. Love to see that.
  • Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who I thought had a pretty good night overall, threw the only interception with a late, underthrown ball to Jarius Wright on a hook route.
  • It’s also worth noting that Percy Harvin did not play tonight. This allowed other wide receivers to get some playing time with the first team. Stephen Burton had a huge 52 yard gain on the first play of the game via a pass from Christian Ponder. It’s really hard to complain about such a long completion so early in the game from a quarterback who we are looking to stretch the field… But, the pass was a tad bit underthrown and had Ponder led Burton just a little more, the play could have easily gone for a touchdown. Again, was very happy to see a 50+ yard completion from our offense – just nitpicking here.
  • The 49ers kneeled at the end of the game a few feet away from our goal line. The announcers applauded 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh for showing such sportsmanship. Personally, it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t know, I guess I would have rather had them score. Kneeling so close to the goal line just felt too much like mercy. It’s not a huge deal by any means and I’m probably the only one that was irked by it. Nevertheless, I was irked by it.
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Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson (Founder) is a passionate Viking fan hailing from Sin City, Las Vegas. He can remember, as a child, scraping his knee on the playground and his friends being completely shocked by the purple blood trickling from the wound. When Brett isn't scouring the Internet for some semblance of Vikings news, he enjoys blindly putting money on them to beat whoever their opponent may be, and daydreams about being their next Tight End. Brett graduated from UNLV with a degree in Architecture and specializes in web/graphic design; he hopes to provide this site’s visitors with the best Vikings experience on the net.

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  1. Things i’d add.

    1. The right side of the offensive line was terrible in pass protection. Loadholt was giving up pressure too easily and Fusco was no better.

    2. Wr play was awful after the first pass of the game. Routes were sloppy, multiple drops, and not much separation.

    3. Te play was awesome. Can we run a 4 TE set all game? Rhett ellison looked great blocking and receiving, rudolph was obviously ponders favorite target and I have always been a fan of Reisner who was also solid.

    4. I wasn’t happy with rb play. Toby looked great but after him it was pathetic, I honestly think we should sign 2-3 rookie rbs that are cut after week 2.

    Crazy idea that I’d love:
    Make Adrian Peterson the backup rb all season.
    Sounds crazy right? think for a second, hes coming off a bad injury, Toby could easily be a starter and is a workhorse who can be a punishing back while AP could come in on third for explosiveness. It would get ap back into the game at a slower pace while also keeping a full seasons wear and tear off his body.

    1. I would have to agree with most of those statements. Although, I don’t think that the right side of the line was that bad. Protection looked pretty good for Christian most of the time he was on the field in my opinion.

      That’s not a bad idea that you have there about AP. I really hope the coaching staff does the right thing and does not let him even step foot on the field if he is anything less than 100%.

  2. Nice summary Brett.

    Chris Ponder breaks the pocket WAY to quickly. He needs to hang in there and learn to move within the pocket while giving his receivers a chance to get open. Not that any of these receivers actually have a chance of getting open, but you know.

    Freds suspects that we will see a great deal more of JJ Jumpin Joe Webb these next couple games. Fred thinks Rick and Denzel want to see if this guy has a shred of ability at QB. If they don’t think so, this dude won’t make the team. Sage doesn’t need much time in the pre season, no reason to throw him out there. By the way, if last night is any indication of Joseph’s progression as a pro QB, he’s finished. This running around like some kook for 30 seconds and then throwing a 3 hopper to a third rate receiver is getting old.

    Oh the good old days. See this? This is how a leader leads. Coach Brads, Freds misses you. Notice virtually every player he talks to on this video has a look on their face that says… “this guy is clueless.” Adrian Pederson looks at him like he’s speaking french or something.

  3. God Joe Webb was awful. I feel like he didnt even look down field on plays. Ponder played solid. I really hope our recievers learn how to catch. TE is a strength, and I almost would rather see Ellison start than carlson

    1. I noticed the same thing about Webb. As soon as the blitz would come he’d panic and completely miss the fact that his tight ends and slot receivers were open as a result of all the linebackers being in his face. Hopefully he’ll look better against the Bills this week.

  4. I’m a little worried about the run defense, I know Williams, Allen and Winfield didnt play but yikes they looked awful. Is Pat Williams still looking for a job?

    1. I know Johnny, it was pretty tough to watch. Gotta keep my fingers crossed and hope it was a combination of those guys being out as well as it being the first game.

  5. just lookin for progress at this point, especially from ponder

    AD off the PUP list, phackers banged up, hehe

    hate those lapel things on our uniforms, tho

  6. Well, they definitely looked rusty, as expected.. Biggest concern, for me, remains the offensive and defensive lines, mainly depth. Offense still seems to do ok between the 30s, but stalls just shy of the redzone and has to settle for FGs. Gerhart looked OK. Ponder needs to settle down, but needs more time. Consistency from the offensive line should improve as time goes on. Burton needs to grow a pair, if he does he looks like he could surprise people.
    I’m out.

  7. I agree witb your last point, Brett. Its nothing more than a scrimmage, nobody gives a nickel about the final score, so lets PLAY! Not many teams need to practice kneeing.

  8. i thought ponder looked good the line held pretty well for ponder..but everything died once webb got in..he looked flat out horrible…once bethel got in he created a spark and looked alot better then webb…and out d looked better in the 2nd half then the first…but i was very dissapointed with our first string d

  9. Webb Sucked badly!!! Maybe he will have a couple good preseason games so the Vikings can trade him.
    Keep McLeon Bethel-Thompson he looked a lot better then Webb.

  10. we really need to keep webb for when we play teams with guys named matt, or blue, on their defense