2014 Minnesota Vikings: Vikings at Saints Game Recap

Full game recap at Vikings Journal. Some snippets:

Blanton himself had a very poor day. Though logging ten tackles in the game book, he was exposed in coverage against Jimmy Graham, Josh Hill, Brandin Cooks and Benjamin Watson, and was somewhat culpable on other throws. More than that, his tackles were abysmal—better described as a passenger along a ride instead of a tackler. Dragged for additional yards by Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Robert Meachem (as well as others), Blanton couldn’t bring ballcarriers down.

The offensive line in particular needs a harsh look. There is no question that the worst-performing player on either team was Matt Kalil, who gave up sacks, hits and hurries at an alarming rate for both quarterbacks, and needed to be schemed help, help that sometimes meant sliding away from the blitz that was being shown and isolating Loadholt against two rushers.

Kalil ended up getting help from tight ends and running backs, and sometimes that wasn’t enough. He didn’t get much movement in the running game, either. He has an unfortunate inability to gain positioning on run blocks, and he often angled defenders into the lanes ballcarriers were assigned to go to. It’s negative blocking value.

Speaking of Harrison Smith, he was clearly the best player on the defense. Though he only logged four tackles (two combined), he had three pass deflections in the air and forced a three-and-out with his critical tackle on third down on the edge. He put pressure on the quarterback on one of his few blitzes. The biggest criticism of Smith comes on the Josh Hill touchdown, where he and Blanton needed to combine for coverage to prevent the play from happening, and neither were in place.


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  1. Blanton was simply abused all game long. I guarantee he did not sleep well last night.

  2. 1st half play calling ,particularly defense ,was abysmal. Offense was bad all game long. Saints lost 2 straight games,didn’t the coaches watch to see what worked? Oh well, this week we beat Atlanta in a close high scoring game!

  3. Fusco and Rudolph again confirm the consequences of “contract extension syndrome”. When a player with the Vikings gets a new deal, he either gets injured very quickly, or plays like a substandard late-signed free agent.

    The interesting thing is how the gambles have all crumbled. Every year, the front office for every team has to make a bunch of guesses and decisions based on player age, salary, cap situation, etc. If half of them turn out, you have some improvement, if all of them pay off, you make the playoffs. If none work out, you draft high the next off season.

    This year, for the Vikings to do well, the decisions to draft Floyd and let Williams go, draft Rhodes and rely on him to develop, sign Cassel, Griffen (letting Allen leave), Joseph, Munnerlyn, etc. have all shown themselves to be a disappointment- either on epic or mundane scales. And the draft of Kalil looked good at first, and has completely fallen apart since his first year while the backups look even worse.

    In essence, every reasonable calculated risk by the Vikings front office in the off-season- gambles that looked OK or unavoidable on paper- has come a cropper, and injuries have taken care of the rest of our potential hope. Right now, only the Rams’ personnel decisions over the last 4 years (and that is with their RGIII trade draft bonanza) look worse.

    Enjoy the Fall colors- since you will only be depressed if you watch football in Minnesota instead, be the games played by college or pros.

    1. I’m not in any mood to defend the front office, but I can’t say I agree with you 100%. I do think it was stupid to give Ruduloph an extension with his injury history and if he ends up missing substantial time again that one will be a black mark. As for Fusco, he’s been extremely dependable and I think they got him at a good price, so that was a good move. Unfortunately, even your most dependable guys can get injured. As for the other moves, I don’t think any of them can be deemed failures at the moment. From what I have seen from Allen in a Bears jersey so far, he continues to blow containment and can’t keep up with the athletic QB’s in the league and I don’t think his #’s are better than Griffen’s despite the fact that Griffen is playing in a scheme that isn’t likely to help him out in that department. Joseph has been a big improvement at the Nose and while Floyd hasn’t blown me away, I do think he has improved a lot over last year (and he’s playing hurt right now). You also didn’t mention Tom Johnson who has been a really pleasant surprise as a bargain FA pickup. I’ve been disappointed in Munnerlyn’s tackling so far and his boneheaded body slam yesterday, but he’s been far better than anything we lined up in the nickle last year. I was hoping Rhodes would improve quicker but I seriously think last years staff stunted both his and Robinson’s developement so much that it isn’t surprising it’s taking time. I think they will get better if they can stay healthy (which Robinson can’t seem to do). The biggest problem I have is how they handled the O-line. Kalil was terrible last year and while it was reasonable to think he would rebound, they really should have found a mid-level veteran to bring in as a just in case option and they failed to do that. They needed a backup swing tackle anyway so that one still bothers me a bit (especially since they were in the same boat last year). Unfortunately, it takes time to build a roster. They should be more selective with their extensions, but I can’t say any of the outside FA additions should be deemed failures three weeks into the regular season.

      1. Dan, I am not picking on the front office here. I said that the decisions were generally understandable and supportable at the time, and “at the time” is the only relevant criterion. Hindsight is meaningless.

        My point is that you take gambles- because you must- and sometimes the gambles don’t work out. Cheap long shots like Stephen and Tom Johnson (and Jabari Price) appear to be turning out better than anticipated. But the big money high dice rolls and prior-to-2014 high drafts (rounds 1 and 2, maybe round 3) have, so far, not paid off other than Harrison Smith.

        This may change as the year progresses with regard to those players. Rudy could come back in 6 weeks and burn up the league. Sharrif, Rhodes, and Kalil could improve noticeably, Griffen could suddenly explode. Robinson could come back from injury fast and continue his improved (over prior years) play.

        Or other things could suddenly emerge- most logical, rookies such as Teddy taking charge and McKinnon blossoming, Gray emerging by learning to catch the [email protected] ball (someone please explain to me why an ex-QB, used to handling the ball, can’t catch?) and the offense could thus combine with the already improved defense and keep us around .500.

        But so far, about all of the gambles seem to have gone the wrong way. And when you toss the horrendous running results on the Peterson limbo, you have to wonder what the lineup plan was had Adrian gotten injured- they could not have expected him to go all year without injury based on recent history, yet the entire offense now seems lifeless as though every strategy was predicated on Peterson being in there. He’s not hurt, but he’s not there, and that has wiped out the entire offense. There wasn’t any viable backup- was that not foreseeable? Or did our personnel people think that Asiata could actually run, despite three years of film evidence to the contrary?

  4. What Kurm said. You can’t will a team to have playoff caliber lines by simply throwing big money contracts at unproven players. This team’s problem is and has been due to the neglect and under-coaching of both lines. Cordarelle this, Bridgewater that, Harrison something or another- don’t mean squat until both lines can truthfully be called professional quality. The D-line spotted the Saints 13, no pressure on Brees, and getting gouged on the ground. Anyone see Cincy’s DEF lately? They also have a new D Coordinator and how are they performing? Proves you need
    smart, talented players.

  5. By under-coached I mean if Kalil sucks so bad, why can’t they shift some guys around? We used to do that until they would find the right combo. Guys can suck, but they get moved inside and become pro bowl guards. If Loadholt is so amazing he should be able to switch to LT, albeit that’s something you do in off season.

  6. to the whinny wieners above. Nobody expected us to be a superbowl contenter this year. But we are alot better team then we were last year, particularily on defense. After the first 2 drives we tightened it up and could of easily won if wed have put it in the endzone instead of kicking field goals. And we did end the streak of home games of not letting them get to 300 yards passing. And we ended their streak of scoring over 24 points per game at home. So i see plenty of positives. And the season is long were just starting and team hasnt gelled yet either and weve had some injuries and its the toughest part of the schedule. We will be fine.

  7. It getting to the point where you need to replace Kalil with someone you have coached up, because it can’t be worse.

  8. We should have re-signed J’Marcus Webb as a veteran, back-up swing tackle. I also would have preferred keeping Jamarca Sanford, although I do have hopes for Blanton. It would be nice to see Hodges step up, consistently, and maybe take Greenway’s starting position. In an ideal world, we’d have a DT rotation of Floyd, Joseph, Johnson and Kevin Williams with Shamar Stephen on the practice squad, but Floyd is progressing and Johnson has been the surprise of the season, so far.