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Bleacher Report – Vikings

With poor protection, Vikings must return to quick passes

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings put on one of the worst offensive line performances in recent memory and that’s saying something considering their struggles this season. But Sam Bradford wasn’t just sacked six times against the Philadelphia Eagles because linemen were beat one-on-one, the Eagles were given an opportunity to take advantage of Minnesota’s makeshift line because of deep drops in the pocket – something they did not use often against the Houston Texans the week before.

In case you forgot, Bradford had his highest career quarterback rating with more than 20 throws against Houston. He utilized all his weapons by throwing quick passes, sometimes with no drop at all. He tossed accurate deep balls to Adam Thielen, flipped screens out to Cordarrelle Patterson, hit Jarius Wright across the middle and dumped the ball off to Matt Asiata.

Bradford took 2.03 seconds to release the ball against the Texans, the fastest in the league for that week. Against the Eagles, his deep drop backs resulted in taking 2.56 seconds to release the ball. There were only six dropbacks against Houston where he didn’t get the ball out quicker his average time to throw against Philly.

That 0.54 difference gave Philadelphia’s monster defensive line all the time they needed to abuse TJ Clemmings, Jake Long and Jeremiah Sirles.

On Long’s second series as a Viking, they go with a playaction, which gives Connor Barwin enough time to get around Long.

Notice, too, that tight end Kyle Rudolph stays in to block here and the running back picks up (not very well) the blitzing safety. Previously, Rudolph had been one of Bradford’s best outlets on blitzes.

The Vikings offense did start to move the ball in the second quarter. They picked up a Blair Walsh field goal on an 11-play drive that included a quick strike to Rudolph for 22 yards. Then after a kick return for touchdown by the Eagles, the Vikings were moving the ball with under five minutes remaining in the half. Bradford hit Adam Thielen for a 27-yard pass, then a quick screen to Cordarrelle Patterson went for eight yards, another quick pass to Rudolph went for seven yards to move the ball to Philadelphia’s 31-yard line.

At that point, the Vikings couldn’t have felt too bad about how things were going. They were down by one score and getting back to the offense that worked against Houston. Then this happened…

Another deep drop. Long ends up one-on-one with a blitzing corner and Hillman has no chance at picking up the rush up the middle. The result is another Vikings turnover.

After the abysmal first half, it would have made sense to abandon the deep drops. But the Vikings kept going to the well and getting burned. Jeremiah Sirles, who easily had his worst day, gets burned badly off the edge while Asiata cannot pick up the linebacker coming up the middle. Consider this: The Eagles rushed four men here and the Vikings had a running back in on pass protection AND the tight end chipping the defensive end and they still gave up a sack.

We will have a better idea of what types of coverages Bradford was looking at when the All-22 coaches film comes out, but it appears the Vikings knew that Philly would be gearing up for short passes so they went back to old school Norv Turner and it simply didn’t work.

The post With poor protection, Vikings must return to quick passes appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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