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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Coller: Injuries are responsible for Vikings collapse

By Matthew Coller

It isn’t about the kicker. It isn’t about stuffed animals. It isn’t about motivation or clutch or coaching or draft picks or trades or even offensive coordinators. The Minnesota Vikings’ collapse is about injures. Nope, it isn’t an excuse, it’s a fact. And it was never more apparent than on Sunday in a 26-20 loss to Washington at FedEx Field.

The Vikings went into Sunday’s game missing – deep breath – their starting quarterback, starting running back, starting left tackle, starting right tackle, a former starting right guard, starting defensive tackle, and starting nickel cornerback. Then they lost their starting linebacker Eric Kendricks after the first drive.

And we’re supposed to say that the “next man up” for all all of those positions will be fine?

It’s a mathematical formula. Let’s say that, in terms of the number of points that a each of those players is worth, Sam Bradford replacing Teddy Bridgewater is essentially a wash or maybe Bradford is a touch better. Outside of the QB, how many points are all the other injuries worth?

Would Adrian Peterson average 2.7 yards per carry as the Vikings have this year? Would Peterson get stuffed on 3rd-and-1 repeatedly like Matt Asiata did? Would Mike Harris, Matt Kalil and Andre Smith have gotten a push up front on those plays? Would they allow two key sacks on the final drive?

Would Captain Munnerlyn’s presence have allowed Terence Newman to play on the outside instead of Trae Waynes, who was abused all day by Kirk Cousins? Would Eric Kendricks have made a stop in coverage on the goal line or not gotten burned by Vernon Davis on a deep ball? Would Sharrif Floyd have gotten in Cousins’ face or stopped a key run play?

According to PFF, Cousins went 4-for-6 when throwing at Waynes. When rookie Mackensie Alexander was forced to play after Xavier Rhodes left with an injury, he gave up three completions on four attempts his way for 49 yards.

Yeah, every team has injuries. The Vikings have the most cap space of any team in the NFL on IR and that doesn’t even factor in the number of players who were either dinged up for their loss to Washington, like Anthony Barr, or guys who were out, like Munnerlyn.

It is worth saying that the Vikings still had their chances against Washington. On two separate fourth quarter drives, Bradford stumbled. With 5:53 remaining in the game, the Vikings’ quarterback didn’t see a zone blitz from Washington and tossed the ball right into the hands of Preston Smith. Then down by six and driving, Bradford should have tossed the ball away to stop the clock, but took a sack instead. Any chance the Vikings had to win was destroyed by backup tackle TJ Clemmings, who took a holding penalty. Then third-string tackle Jeremiah Sirles allowed a sack on 4th-and-17 to end the game.

On the final drive, Jake Long suffered an injury to his Achilles. Now Minnesota may be forced into playing Alex Boone, one of the few starters who isn’t injured – though he missed last week with a concussion – to the left tackle position. By the end of the year, the Vikings may set some type of record for the number of offensive linemen who played in a game.

Interim offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur put a halfway decent band aid on the team’s passing game, despite the ragtag offensive line, which destroyed their chances to win against Philly and Chicago. Bradford got the ball out quickly again, 13 times to Stefon Diggs, and completed 31 of his 40 passes for 307 yards. But the injuries have caused limitations to the offense. Since Peterson went down, every opponent has been well aware of the fact that the Vikings can’t run block. And they are well aware that deep routes will be few and far between.

The problem with blaming injuries is there is no option of saying, “THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE ____.” There is no jobs to call for. There’s only frustration with a season that started 5-0 and now has collapsed.

There is also fading hope that the 2016 season would be special. That’s hard to deal with, but it can’t be ignored.

The post Coller: Injuries are responsible for Vikings collapse appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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