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Bleacher Report – Vikings

10 thoughts: Vikings need to keep Bradford upright, what’s your plan?

By Derek Wetmore

Well, we knew it wouldn’t finished with a perfect 16-0 record, didn’t we?

The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Vikings (5-1) a good test Sunday and Minnesota couldn’t seem to get out of its own way, with glaring offensive line and special teams issues that need to be corrected.

This column presents 10 thoughts from Sunday’s loss, which ended Minnesota’s bid for perfection.

1. Andrew Sendejo had another interception before he had to leave the game because of a sprained ankle.

On the play, early in the first quarter, Carson Wentz stared down his first read, and linebacker Eric Kendricks had tight coverage. No matter, Wentz must have thought, because he threw it anyway.

Sendejo just happened to be over the top of the play when Wentz made a bad throw, and he picked it off and ran it back to the within a few yards of the goal line.

(How do you not score from inside the 2-yard line? Your offensive line [T.J. Clemmings] false starts to set you back 5 yards and then gives up a huge pressure [Clemmings again] and Sam Bradford gets hit as he throws it, unleashing a floating ball to be intercepted in the end zone – that’s how.)

Sendejo missing time could be a problem for the Vikings, because big rookie Jayron Kearse struggled at times in fill-in duty Sunday.

2. Twice the Vikings had the ball inside the 10-yard line and failed to score any points on those drives.

Once was the interception in the end zone in the first quarter. Later, in the fourth quarter, the Vikings had 3rd-down-and-inches to go and didn’t pick it up on a handoff to fullback Zach Line. The play was strange, because as the play clock wound down, there still were two referees standing next to Sam Bradford under center, and they only left him alone with about 3 seconds to go on the play clock. He started the play quickly and got it to Line without issue, although the whole thing was necessarily rushed.

The failure to pick up the first down on the next play was just a matter of execution.

3. Sunday’s game featured ridiculous back-and-forth action early on.

That may sound exciting at first glance but…

How about this for a drive chart:

Eagles: PUNT
Vikings: PUNT
Eagles: INTERCEPTION
Vikings: INTERCEPTION
Eagles: FUMBLE
Vikings: FUMBLE
Eagles: INTERCEPTION
Vikings: PUNT
Eagles: PUNT
Vikings: FIELD GOAL

Yeesh.

4. It added up to the least entertaining first half of the Vikings’ season so far.

The two teams combined for six turnovers, several dropped passes, a near-complete inability to sustain drives and score points. That’s not good football, and it made for a painfully dull first half.

And if you’re a Vikings fan, it didn’t get much better in the second half.

5. New guy Jake Long and second-year tackle T.J. Clemmings got beat early and often.

Matt Kalil is not a great left tackle. His loss might be more significant than many originally expected.

The Vikings also struggled in blitz pickup, as running Matt Asiata seemed confused or out of position on several occasions.

6. How can Minnesota fix its offensive line with so many backups and not much salary cap space?

It would be a real shame if the Vikings felt that they had the defense to win a Super Bowl, went all-in by trading a first-round pick for a new franchise quarterback, and were simply undone by a failure to construct even a functional offensive line.

GM Rick Spielman deserves some of the blame there, but it should also be noted how many unforeseen injuries have caused the Vikings to have to absolutely scramble to patch up the line.

7. Norv Turner deserves some blame for the way he drew up Sunday’s offensive game plan.

Our guy, Arif Hasan, who analyzes the offensive line every week for 1500ESPN.com, made an astute point here.

Remember, the offensive line was about as bad in their last game, but the Vikings went three-step or faster in over 80% of their dropbacks

— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) October 23, 2016

So the Vikings had a full bye week to come up with a game plan against the Eagles’ pass rush, and they decided to incorporate more longer developing routes after Sam Bradford had his best game as a pro using quick hitters? Puzzling.

8. The Bradford Bowl didn’t go as Vikings fans had hoped.

The Vikings’ emergency starting QB had gone an incredible 318 plays without a turnover to begin his career in Minnesota. Then he turned it over twice on back-to-back plays in the first half.

Overall, he was 24-for-41 and was hit on 19 of his 47 dropbacks. Bradford got knocked around and took a big step backward, figuratively, when facing pressure.

Coming into today Sam Bradford’s passer rating under pressure: 108 vs Eagles: 16.4

— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 23, 2016

There were some dropped passes, and some apparent miscommunication with receivers (like Stefon Diggs), but that’s not to say Bradford is blameless in the loss.

“I thought he missed some throws today that he normally makes,” Mike Zimmer told reporters after the game.

He also got knocked down quite a bit, and if you’re the Vikings, the focus now has to be on keeping him upright and healthy.

As for the Revenge Game element of Bradford’s return to his most recent – albeit short-lived – home?

“I really don’t have any bitter feelings toward Philly so it’s not like I was harboring anything like that,” he told reporters.

9. The referees had a bad day at the office.

It started with a really bad no-call on a clear defensive pass interference against Stefon Diggs, which would have netted the Vikings much-needed yards early in the game. The refs are not the biggeset scapegoat, but I believe they had a nonzero impact on Sunday’s outcome.

(By the way, on that Diggs no-call, Bradford was running for his life out of the pocket when a blitzer came through unblocked, and the quarterback showed impressive arm strength to get that ball out on the run.)

10. The Vikings have taken and run with a meme with which most of the internet seems to be done.

pic.twitter.com/bWSe45f7on

— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 23, 2016

According to 1500 ESPN’s Back Page sources, a group of Vikings players have even purchased Harambe T-shirts to go with the kicks.

R.I.P. Harambe.

The post 10 thoughts: Vikings need to keep Bradford upright, what’s your plan? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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