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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Film: Plenty of room for improvement after Vikings’ 49-point night vs. Giants

By Andrew Krammer

They scored 49, but left points on the board.

Sunday night’s lopsided final doesn’t reflect how Vikings players and coach Mike Zimmer felt about an offense walking away with its highest score in franchise history since Randy Moss was a rookie in 1998.

They were left encouraged, but wanting more after three interceptions from their defense led to 14 points. The Vikings’ average start came at their own 44-yard line, the product of a lifeless Giants offense neutered without Odell Beckham Jr. and by their elimination from the playoffs just 24 hours before kickoff.

The Giants’ defense still put up a fight, forcing three consecutive punts to start before Teddy Bridgewater’s 28-yard touchdown to tight end Kyle Rudolph lit an initial spark. The Vikings slowly added to that buffer with a 19-3 lead by halftime, which was more than enough to survive the mixed bag of run blocking and third-down play they got.

“I think we’re getting there,” Rudolph said. “A couple third downs, a couple empty red zone trips today. You score 49 points and hate to look back and say we could’ve done things better, but we got seven of those on the defense and probably seven more on Captain [Munnerlyn]’s run that put us down there close. They gave us great field position all day.”

After producing 368 yards and 49 points, the Vikings rank 26th in yards/game (326.5) and 15th in points/game (23).

Personnel groupings (#)
3 receivers / tight end (11): 29
2 receivers / 2 tight ends (12): 25
1 receiver / 2 tight ends / 2 backs (22): 9
1 receiver / 3 tight ends (13): 6
2 tight ends / fullback / OL: 1
Total: 70 plays

The Vikings now lead the NFL with 14 defensive offside penalties drawn after Teddy Bridgewater’s hard count got two Giants to jump early. Just a year ago, a Panthers defender or two were heard on field mics mocking the then-rookie’s cadence. Now, Bridgewater has used that as a consistent weapon for the offense. He expectedly came back to earth after his career-best 154.4 passer rating last week, but Bridgewater continued to hit downfield shots they’ll need in the postseason. The 28-yard touchdown to Rudolph was a big-time throw with Giants’ top rusher Jason Pierre-Paul barreling down on him. JPP worked inside on T.J. Clemmings, getting a hand in Bridgewater’s face as he lofted a perfect pass to Rudolph, who leaned his route outside and then accelerated down the seam to create separation from the safety. Bridgewater’s accuracy waned at times, overthrowing Rudolph on a 3rd and 8 attempt. He was also late on Adam Thielen’s stop route on another 3rd and 8, forcing Thielen to catch the pass three yards shy to set up a punt. They’ll take the inconsistent accuracy if he continues to hit on big throws. He nearly had Mike Wallace (47) on a fade for a touchdown before corner Trevin Wade made a leaping pass deflection. Jarius Wright (27) found success against Wade, breezing past him on a 21-yard grab and holding onto the catch despite a jarring hit. Wright’s grab set up Walsh’s 52-yard field goal before halftime. In his fourth NFL season, Wright has come along as a smooth route runner with solid hands. He’s also got the trust of Bridgewater, who found Wright for two key third-down conversions on drives resulting in 10 points.

Norv Turner also worked misdirection in the passing game to some success. Stefon Diggs (54) had a couple misdirection plays drawn up for him early, including a third-down conversion on a screen and play-action bootleg with Diggs reversing the formation. But the Giants were all over Diggs on Sunday night. Bridgewater also flashed his feet again, converting a 3rd and 8 in the red zone with a sideline-to-sideline scramble for nine yards.

Video (below): Kyle Rudolph (82) stems his route to the outside and accelerates up the field to create separation on safety Craig Dahl. Facing pressure, Bridgewater hits him in stride.

Running backs Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon saw one play together, and they picked up 15 yards with a fake jet sweep to McKinnon and screen to Peterson. McKinnon (14 of 70 snaps) saw the bulk of his limited work spelling Peterson, but Norv Turner got him involved sparingly. The second-year back continued to impress. In the second quarter, McKinnon motioned across the formation and took a handoff for a 24-yard touchdown that was called back by a Matt Kalil false start. On the first series out of halftime, Bridgewater faked the jet sweep right to McKinnon and found Peterson left on an open screen for a gain of 15. McKinnon’s patience and acceleration make him a nice complement to how Peterson runs with power and his trademark jump cut. Turner has cracked open the playbook a bit more with McKinnon in the past couple games — both blowouts. However, Matt Asiata (17) is still the secondary back by virtue of his role as the third-down protector. That doesn’t mean McKinnon still won’t be involved as a seldom-used weapon.

Peterson (40) created something out of nothing on many runs behind a front that relied heavily on double teams at the point of attack. That meant Giants linebackers, like Jonathan Casillas and former Viking Jasper Brinkley, would stand out in the stat sheet. The two had 17 combined tackles. Peterson trucked Brinkley on his two-yard touchdown run. Peterson finished with 104 yards, including a game-long, 39-yard run between tight ends Rudolph and Rhett Ellison. He allowed two QB pressures on three pass protection snaps. Peterson also dropped one of his two targets.

Video (below): McKinnon (31) takes a handoff for a 24-yard touchdown, with Ellison (85) essentially blocking three people. This was negated by a false start, but set up the following play in the third quarter.

Video (below): Bridgewater fakes the handoff to McKinnon and finds Peterson for a 15-yard gain on a screen. This was the lone snap Peterson and McKinnon were on the field together.

The Vikings’ plan worked to get T.J. Clemmings away from Jason Pierre-Paul. Tight end Rhett Ellison (47) was often the one assigned to double team or take Pierre-Paul, who is still a formidable threat despite playing with a club on his right hand. JPP lined up across from Clemmings on most of his snaps, and finished with just one stop — on the first play of the game. JPP worked Ellison backward and tackled Peterson for a gain of 2. After that, he was largely silenced as the Vikings got creative with blocking schemes that even saw Brandon Fusco pull on a play-action pass to block him. Overall, the offensive line fared much better in pass protection than run blocking, though they had a fair amount of breakdowns in both. Matt Kalil’s rocky outing ended with a lower right leg injury when a Giants’ lineman was blocked into him from behind. The injury forced Kalil, who has played through back, shoulder and knee problems in his young career, to miss his first-ever play in his 63rd career start. Kalil allowed a team-high three QB hurries, though it appeared he thought he had help on Robert Ayers Jr.’s sack just before halftime. Asiata initially went outside left tackle to help Kalil, but cut inside to pick up a linebacker, leaving Kalil reaching and missing on Ayers, who was a problem for Kalil, Joe Berger and most of the line. Ayers led the Giants with 1.5 sacks and 3 QB hits, two coming against Kalil. Ayers split a sack when he used a swim move to glide past Fusco, forcing a punt in the first half. Otherwise, the interior of the line held up in pass protection. They worked double teams in run support, and weren’t able to get to the second level often enough. Peterson averaged 3 yards per carry on 21 attempts outside of his 39-yard run in the second half. Clemmings is a continued liability in both run blocking and pass protection. Unless he’s doubling, which they have him do a lot, he’s particularly lost blocking for Peterson. During a few runs, Clemmings didn’t even get a hand on anybody, including Peterson’s final carry for a 2-yard loss.

Video (below): Clemmings and Harris double Jay Bromley (96), and Ellison takes on Pierre-Paul. And it’s somehow still Bromley who blows up the play.

Video (below): Fusco pulls to block Pierre-Paul on this pass.

Game ball: Teddy Bridgewater — Navigated the perils of an inconsistent line and running game again.

Goat(s): T.J. Clemmings — The Vikings have to do a lot to make up for his current inability.

The post Film: Plenty of room for improvement after Vikings’ 49-point night vs. Giants appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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