Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from www.purplePTSD writer and editor of purplePTSD and VikingsTerritory, Joe Oberle.
The Vikings hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars in their first home preseason game of the year, and a slopping game filled with penalties, turnovers and injuries marred the afternoon. We anticipated a low-scoring affair, but the 7-3 first half was perhaps even lower than expected. The final was a 14-10 Jaguars win, despite a nice last-11-play, 50-yard last-minute drive engineered by backup Kyle Sloter that came up short. The loss drops the Vikings to 1-1 in the preseason, still, there were a number of performances worth noting.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins was not exactly sharp. In fact he was quite off in his quarter-and-a-half of play. In that time he was three for eight passing for 12 yards (and a quarterback rating of 45.8), and his misses were definitely misses. On the pass he skipped to Adam Thielen he blamed himself, and at other times he hung his head in shame. Cousins had an off day, but the first game in front of the home crowd was no time for the $84 million man to lay an egg.
The Vikings starting offensive line was playing inspired football today. Despite patching together the unit again (Mike Remmers, Rashod Hill and Pat Elflein were still out), they played well in the early going, likely playing for their fallen leader Tony Sparano, who was honored before the game.
They gave up one sack of Cousins on what appeared to be a break down of the scheme because Yannick Ngakoue was untouched on the play, and Cousins had no chance. On the game, the squad surrendered four sacks (two coming on the final desperation drive). They also opened holes for 128 rushing yards. Not bad against a very tough defense.
Penalties helped the Vikes early—making up a good portion of the first team’s offense. But they eventually affected both teams—the Vikings had seven for 60 yards and the Jags committed a whopping 13 penalties for 140 yards. There were two lowering of the helmet penalties in the game on Jacksonville, but the gyrating sack dance by Ngakoue was perhaps the most memorable. It completely negated the sack yardage and gave the team a first down. The Jags played more undisciplined football than the Vikings.
Mike Boone had a nice game, prolonging the battle he is having for third running back with Roc Thomas. Boone gained 91 yards on 13 carries and scored a touchdown after a bruising 26-yard run down to the one-yard line. Thomas had five carries for 25 yards and two receptions for 12 yards on the day and looked good in his slightly fewer opportunities.
Meanwhile, running back number two, Latavius Murray, had two fumbles on the game, which never makes the head coach happy. He ran hard but the two miscues are what will be remembered from his performance.
After a poor showing last week and an emphasis on it this past week in practice, special teams performed better in the game. There was decent punt coverage (until the final punt of the game that went to the four yard line), a good return by Sherels and a pooch kickoff by Daniel Carlson that nearly turned into a Vikings turnover.
Kicker Kai Forbath, who was to get all the place kicking duties this week, was one of two field goals in the game. Forbath was already behind the 8-ball for his job, so the 41-yard miss may have signed his walking papers. After the Vikings scored in the second half, Carlson came out for the point after—and it was supposed to be Forbath. He may be gone this week so the Vikings can sign another lineman.
The Vikings first defense gave up a touchdown in the second quarter and they didn’t look as dominating as they did in their short run in Denver last week. In the end, the defense gave up only those seven points to Bortles and the Jags’ first team offense (Bortles played the entire first half), but it seemed to be Jaguars penalties that had more to do with their lack of production.
It’s worth noting that Ifeadi Odenigbo had two sacks on the game (the defense had a total of six) and he looks to be cementing himself in the defensive line rotation.
The Vikings suffered a number of injuries that included Ade Aruna with what looked like an ACL injury. Cornerback Mackensie Alexander left in the first half with an ankle injury, and center Josh Andrews was helped off the field with an ankle injury, as well. Finally, Cedric Lang went off on a cart with his knee in an air cast and Johnny Stanton looked to have broken his left ankle late in the game. The team needs to get Elflein and Remmers back in the lineup as soon as possible.
The Vikings will host the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday, Aug. 24, for their final home game of the preseason. Here is hoping they have enough linemen to finish the game.