I am going to take a bit of a detour on this version of the USB Drive of the Game. This week we are going to discuss, pressing matters.
As most content providers will admit (or maybe not as some just disappear) it gets much tougher to keep churning content when the losses pile up. Interest is down, so fewer comment. Heartburn is up, so reliving it doesn’t help. But for my loyal fan, here goes.
Much ink has been spilled about the miscues. Zimmer stated that we weren’t good enough to overcome mistakes. Negative plays kill drives.
But what gives? Why does the disciplined 5-0 team make all the right plays and the sliding 6-6 team seem to keep finding another foot to shoot? For me, this game hinged on 3 plays. If I were to chose a drive, it would be the long completion to Bryant and TD by Elliott. But in reality, 3 separate plays were the definition of another loss. A close loss, one where the Vikings really outplayed the best team in the league. One where the Vikings were on the cusp of a major upset.
The unholy 3 were as follows, 1) Harrison Smith biting on Bryant’s hitch leading to a huge throw and catch. 2) Theilen’s fumble on the punt return. 3) The false start on the 2 point try (Sirles got flagged, but it may have been the young center at fault. Bradford was moving at the same time as Sirles, but the ball wasn’t snapped.)
What do these 3 have in common? One for each phase of the game? In my opinion they were all caused by pressing too much. Notice that comma in the second sentence? We aren’t discussing pressing matters, but why pressing matters. Or why pressing causes unforced errors. On our road to 5-0, our defense played within themselves. Everyone doing their job and doing it well. When everyone does their job, the unit functions and all is well. But as parts fell off the offensive unit, players started pressing. Think back to Philly. Sendejo doesn’t score and Bradford throws his first INT of the season. Think of another USB Drive of the game where the defense got a turnover and handed the ball to the offense inside the 20, only to watch the offense back up and punt. What does that do to the psyche of the defense? They start to think they have to make plays, they have to score, the game hinges on them being extra special. So a player bites on a route, trying for the INT.
How about the special teams? They shouldered the scoring load for a portion of the 5-0 run. Maybe they need to do a bit more to create a spark. Give the offense better field position so they might have a chance. And so a back up punt returner presses and fields a punt he should have let go, or at least just fair caught. And in trying to press the matter, turns the ball over at the worst time.
And the struggling offense? After marching down the field to score a late game TD for the chance to tie with a 2 point conversion? Perhaps the much maligned offensive line is so focused on giving the QB time, they fail to listen for the snap count. Mental errors are often a result of pressing.
Pressing matters. It is often why losing teams keep losing and winning teams keep the momentum rolling. The players trust their coaches when it is working, and often trust themselves too much individually when it isn’t.
Hearkening back to the glory days of 5-0, I remember a defensive vet giving a simple cliche as the reason the second half adjustments worked so well. We just get back to doing our jobs seems like a simple platitude. Yet it likely was the reason. Trust the system, do your job and the team will succeed.