Preseason Game #4: Post-Game Thoughts (No Huddle)

The Houston Texans were able to hold off the Vikings last night 24-28 in the final preseason game of the 2012 season. The Vikings had a late push to take the lead late in the fourth quarter but ultimately fell short failing to convert a fourth down in Texan’s territory. Overall, it was a pretty sloppy game but fun to watch, in my opinion. It was cool to kind of watch a game with no expectations. Not really expecting anyone to come out and perform well. Instead, you just get to watch a bunch of guys putting their hearts and souls on the field in what could be the last time they play in a NFL game.

I’ll be honest – I don’t have tons of notes from yesterday’s game. I’ve been under the weather and wasn’t watching as attentively as I normally do. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts from the fourth and final preseason match-up.

  • I had the misfortune of listening to the Texans announcers for the game. They weren’t terrible or anything but something they kept saying irked me. On multiple occasions they announced that, outside of Percy Harvin, the Vikings had no other, I quote, “NFL caliber receivers” on the roster. That’s one heck of a claim to make. Now, I by no means think wide receiver is a definite strength of this team… But really? Only one NFL caliber receiver? Maybe they overlooked Jerome Simpson? But even then, are you really going to make the claim that Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Jarius Wright, etc… aren’t NFL caliber receivers? I thought that was quite an ignorant statement to make.
  • On that note, I think Jarius Wright finally stepped up and showed that he can be a real weapon for this team sometime in the future. I still think he’s looked just mediocre on punt returns. He hasn’t really shown the burst I thought he had. But he was dangerous last night as a receiver.  Back when we did our introductions for the Vikings 2012 draftees, I noted how I thought Wright could be more than just a dangerous slot receiver. How I thought he had the speed to be one of those guys that could stretch the field and take it to the house. Last night, Wright either backed that belief up or just got lucky on a blown coverage when he caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. As a fourth round pick, it wasn’t likely he would be released… But after last night’s performance, I’m almost positive he’ll make the final roster. (I would also like to point out that my prediction on how Wright would fit into this offense has been spot on so far. I’m not gloating or anything… I’m just not right that often so I’m pointing out this rare exception.)
  • Audie Cole had another good night both on defense and special teams. There is now no doubt in my mind that he should (and will) make this team. He had six tackles last night and just seemed to be always near the ball. He looked like a mad man on special teams and was able to get an additional two tackles there. It will be exciting to see how this young linebacker develops on the Vikings roster.
  • I’m not quite sure what you do at quarterback at this point. The Vikings will likely cut one of the four quarterbacks currently on the roster and I’m just not sure who it should be. Joe Webb has the explosiveness and can be a game-changing backup if Ponder goes down during a game. Sage Rosenfels is someone I would rather have as a long-term backup, though. Someone that I think will do better when he’s preparing for a game and the opposition is game planning for our back-up. Rosenfels is older, though, and doesn’t offer any benefit long-term to the Vikings. (Other than providing leadership and instruction to younger quarterbacks, maybe.) McLeod Bethel-Thompson hasn’t looked amazing in preseason games  but he hasn’t looked bad either. He has a strong arm and shows a lot of determination… Who knows how good he could develop to be? It’s going to a be a tough decision for the Vikings front office and I’m glad that I’m not the one making it…
  • Running back Jordan Todman stepped up last night and had a huge 76-yard touchdown run. A lot of people think that play alone should guarantee him a spot on the roster and maybe a spot as the third running back on this team. Not me, though. If I’m making the decision for who should be the third running back after everything we’ve seen and heard through the offseason, I’m picking Matt Asiata. He leads the Vikings in rushing for preseason yards and has a very exceptional 5.8 yards per carry. I think his explosiveness, speed, strength and vision have earned him the role. That’s not to say I think Todman should be cut. I’m just saying that if I had to choose between the two right now, it would be Asiata.
  • I think it’s obvious that we don’t have a lot of depth on offensive line. So, let’s cross our fingers and hope our starting front-five can stay healthy throughout the year. Regardless of what quarterback was taking snaps last night, the one thing they had in common is fear for their life after hiking the ball. Yes, it looked that bad at times.
  • Blair Walsh missed another field goal – that makes one in the last three games. Despite all of them being from 40+ yards, I’m just a tad bit nervous now headed into the regular season. Hoping the misses don’t cause him to lose confidence and affect us negatively throughout the year.
  • Cornerback Reggie Jones hurt his stock last night when he dropped a punt return and then was called for holding in the end zone within just a few minutes of one another. It can’t say I’ve seen him perform really good or bad this preseason but it will be interesting to see if he makes the roster.
  • It was nice to see Aromashodu step up last night, too. We’ll need him to do the same while Jerome Simpson is suspended for the first three games of the year. Interesting note: Which receiver had the most yards this preseason? Stephen Burton is first with 135 yards on six receptions. Jarius Wright is second with 122 yards from his six receptions last night. And Devin Aromashodu in third place with 117 yards on eight receptions.
  • Another interesting note: The Vikings had the third most productive offense this preseason with an average of 370 yards per game. The Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions were first and second, respectively.
  • On  more thing: Our defense allowed 320.8 yards per game which ranked 19th in the league this preseason.

Alright, that’s all I got for this game. Overall, I would say we had a pretty decent preseason this year. Like most of you, I absolutely can’t wait for our first real game next weekend against the Jaguars at home. I plan on continuing these types of posts into the regular season with one major difference: I plan on including much more detailed analysis. Once the regular season starts, I will able to see the all-22 (also known as Coach’s tape) film from each game. This will allow me to actually see what players are doing on each play… Something that currently is very difficult with the standard recording.

What did you guys think about the game? Who would you keep on the 53-man roster? Who would you cut and why? Let us know in the comments below. The final roster has to be in tonight so we will be back soon with an update on what the final roster looks like.