AnalysisGeneral News

Post Mortem: Plenty of Blame to Distribute

1. A lot of bad to go around.

In two of the three phases of the game—offense and special teams—the Vikings were somewhere between “lacking” and “unmitigated disaster.” The normally sound special teams units were uncharacteristically bad; the kickoff coverage unit left a gaping hole for Philadelphia returner Josh Huff, who returned it for the Eagles first touchdown, and Marcus Sherels lost a fumble on a punt return. On offense, the Vikings turned the ball over three times and got just seven points on four trips to the red zone, plus a 48-yard field goal from Blair Walsh. The offensive line was a factor in all three offensive turnovers, and played its worst game of the season, which is saying something. Sam Bradford wasn’t good, either; he missed a number of throws he usually makes, but it’s hard to put too much of the blame on his shoulders considering there was at least one defender in his face at all times.

For at least one week, the addition of Jake Long did nothing, and the offensive line went from liability to train wreck—even Mike Zimmer placed most of the blame for the loss on the blocking, saying, “We didn’t block anybody. We were soft. We got overpowered.”

There are plenty of fingers to point for this one, but the offensive line hamstrung the offense’s ability to move the ball or score all game. It’s nearly impossible for the skill positions to do their job when you don’t block the guys up front. They simply have to be better.

2. Overall, the defense played well.

The Vikings defense only gave up 13 points and forced four turnovers of their own. They held the much-ballyhooed rookie quarterback to 57% completions, 138 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions—paltry numbers. The defense was not the reason for the loss. However…

3. They didn’t get much pressure on Wentz.

The Vikings didn’t record a single sack in the game, and beyond that, they weren’t able to hit or hurry Carson Wentz as much as I expected. Yes, teams are employing a lot of quick drops and dump-offs to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands against Minnesota, and the Eagles did a fair amount of this, but there were too many times Wentz was able to stand in a clean pocket and go through his progression. This is one of the more concerning things to come out of the game—we knew the offensive line was bad and the Vikings offense would have a turnover regression at some point, and they finally did. But the Eagles are dealing with O-line issues of their own, and to not be able to hit the quarterback more with this fearsome defensive front is troubling. It’ll be worth monitoring whether or not Zimmer decides to ratchet up the blitz in the future.

4. SILVER LINING! The run game was okay.

As a team, the Vikings averaged 3.4 yards per carry, significantly higher than their admittedly awful season average of 2.5. Once the team realized the pass game wasn’t working, they had no choice but to run the ball, and in the third and fourth quarters they were able to do it reasonably well. There were, of course, the consecutive runs on third-and-one and fourth-and-one inside the Eagles ten yard-line, which were both stuffed and resulted in a turnover on downs. This was the low point. But for much of the day, the Asiata/McKinnon combo was able to generate positive yardage, and that was an encouraging step.

5. The team is still 5-1.

With as ugly and depressing as the Vikings first loss was, we have to keep in mind the big picture: the team is 5-1 and atop the division. I hate to belabor this particular point, but if you had told me before the season the Vikings would be sitting at 5-1 after six games, I would have been pretty happy about that. We have a good team here, and a single dud doesn’t change that. Next week brings a primetime meeting with the Bears, just what the doctor ordered after a performance like this.

Show More

Sam Neumann

Sam Neumann is a freelance writer and lifelong Vikings apologist. He has seen his share of Vikings-related heartbreak, but believes we are united by the hope that one day that norse ship will come in. Sam is the author of three books, including the New York Times Bestseller Memoirs of a Gas Station. He lives in Denver, Colorado, and has had it with Broncos fans. You can follow him on twitter @NeumSamN.

Related Articles


  1. Who’s brilliant idea was it to rotate in Jake Long at Left Tackle AND shift starting LT T.J. Clemmings over to Right Tackle while doing so? Jeremiah Sirles has been playing well at RT, and it’s been hard enough for Clemmings to deal with learning to be an LT, but now we want him to also play RT IN THE SAME GAME, sometimes on the same series!!!! It was a disaster, and a damned stupid and predictable one. Teams have rotated offensive linemen in the past, but you don’t disrupt TWO POSITIONS to do so. If they wanted to get Long some snaps, alternate him with Clemmings by either offensive series or quarter, and LEAVE SIRLES ALONE AT RT!!! You know who I blame for this loss for the most part? Mike Zimmer, because even if this idiotic three-man/ two-position rotation wasn’t his idea, he’s the one who gave it the go-ahead.

    Zimmer’s been a fine head coach, the best we’ve had since Dennis Green, but he has not handled the offensive line well and has not taken any personal responsibility for it. He threw the last offensive line coach under the bus and then he told his offensive players that they would have no excuses now because management had “fixed” the offensive line by signing a new offensive line coach and two players who had had bad years in 2015, Alex Boone and Andre Smith, neither of them a left tackle and the latter likely over-the-hill. Boone’s been getting better, I grant you, but the season-ending injury to Matt Kalil was no loss in either the short- or long-term, and Smith’s loss and Sirles’ promotion looked to be a godsend. Hell, the Jake Long signing looked brilliant and might have been if we didn’t rush him in and disrupt a second position at the same time!!!!

    You own this error, Coach, and you should take responsibility for it.

  2. Well put ck. I didn’t understand the o line shuffling either. Sirles has seemed to be the best option at RT. If they wanted to shuffle at LT I understand, but to slide TJ back and forth?

  3. What a frustrating game. Didn’t seem like a good offensive game plan, of course it would help to actually block the opposition. Bradford never should’ve thrown the ball on the pick, eat it and get the FG. The strip sacks were on the O-line…maybe he could’ve got the ball out quicker, but damn.
    Defense played well, offense and special teams just sloppy.
    Good point on your last thought, Sam…this is a good team, I think they’ll bounce back.