Tom Moore is VikeFans.com lead interviewer and Senior Content Provider.
The Vikings can’t avoid the fan’s talk of concern. The third preseason game is the true “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, and the Vikings 1st teamers failed that test miserably last night versus the 49ers.
Sure, the team won, when half the players playing in the 4th quarter are those who will be selling insurance next week. However, may of the problems that were evident last season are still here.
Stefon Diggs had an unexpected case of the dropsies. He was open, deeper on the field and the ball was placed perfectly. He WILL catch those in the season. The run game looked weak again, even with a more dynamic (at this stage of his career) RB in Dalvin Cook. The offensive line still looks like a work in progress. While Remmers and Reiff are improvements over last year’s starters, they are not much better. Reiff gets a bit of a pass, because this was his first action since week one of camp. But, both were soundly beaten at times. Easton looks decent, but is really a backup. When 35 year old journeyman Joe Berger is counted on to start, that is a bad sign. Boone still looks more talk than action on the field. TJ Clemmings ( a very smart individual) remains completely outclassed and should be cut. Willie Beavers seems a wasted pick – he is often out of position and looks lost. Not bad, but it seems Jarius Wright’s days are over. He is decent, but the salary is simply too high for a bit player. Please cut Moritz Bohringer – he is a waste of a roster spot. He has improved very little and is quickly passed by rookies.
I am hoping the result of last night’s SF 49er offense continually carving our defense up was due to a bland scheme. Even so, there was simply no pass rush at all, and the only guy who looked like he was ready to play on the 1st unit was Eric Kendricks. Our pass defense was horrid, and our big-dollar CB Rhodes was out of place often, and Trae Waynes was alarmingly slow and out of position too. That won’t get it done, especially when they made Brian Hoyer look like an all-pro. Anthony Barr just does not seem to be a factor at all. Some worry about rookie Ben Gedeon starting, but it is only 20-25 snaps a game, and he has looked good much of camp. It is a tough spot for a rookie, but not that impactful when he will play 30% of the game.
Rodney Adams and Jerrick McKinnon looked sharp on the return game. Kicking game was uneven and the punters looked equally average.
This team was not ready to play on Sunday Night Football, and put on an embarrassing 1st half for fans who paid over $100 per ticket to see them perform. Sure, the team won, but Mike Zimmer is likely to be quite loud in displaying his displeasure in his team’s fire and enthusiasm to play. Could Zimmer not calling defensive alignments and plays be the reason the defense looked so bad last night? Or was it just a bland game plan?
Pat Elflein looks solid and is likely your starting center, if not in game 1, then by game 5. Danny Isadora “gets it” and will start soon too. Both Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley look worthy of making this squad. Both backup Qbs moved the ball, but even though he won the game Taylor Heinicke’s passes floated at the end of their trajectory (especially when he passed off his back foot) and will often get picked in a regular season game when 1st teamers are playing against him. That said, both moved the ball and showed some playing ability, and that is about as much as you can hope for in a backup in the NFL these days. Both will get lots of reps on Thursday. Bucky Hodges also was of note, and is a big target who can get open.
Eric Kendricks always plays like the house is on fire – in a good way. We saw much more intensity with the 2nd and 3rd units, with Jaleel Johnson, Jayron Kearse and few others sticking out.
I have no idea why LaQuon Treadwell is running ahead of Rodney Adams and Stacey Coley. Yes, he caught one last night, but it was a simple zone route. He shows lost no flash. The others can move the chains better. Sam Bradford looked okay, and the Diggs drops did not help his yardage stats (he would have been 19 of 21 for 180+ yards had he caught them), but nothing spectacular.
If the Vikings team that played last night, shows up for the regular season, this is a 5-11 or 6-10 team. There is way too much work to still be done with just 10 days till opening night vs New Orleans. As is, Drew Brees will have a field day with this team. Zimmer has these 10 days to ensure that does not happen.
MY GUT CALL? This is an 8-8 team. With some good futune and improvement in the line and run game, this Viking squad is 10-6. With injuries or performances like Sunday night by the starters and it could be a long year. Glad opening day in not tomorrow!