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Offense Struggles in NFC North Matchup

 

The Minnesota Vikings continued their offensive struggles this weekend against the league’s best defense in the Detroit Lions. The Lions front seven proved no match for the Vikings offensive line as they managed to tally eight sacks on Teddy Bridgewater. This marks the second straight week that the offense had a tough time moving the football both through the air and in the running game. Now, with the help from the NFL’s game rewind app, let’s go take a closer look into three plays from the game this past Sunday to get a better understanding behind the struggle of the Vikings offense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Teddy Bridgewater’s eyes

Now don’t let the stat sheet fool you, Teddy Bridgewater did a lot of things right when he had the opportunity to sit back and sling the ball. However, his first interception could have been easily avoided. As you can see from above, the Lions lined up in a traditional 4-3 defense to Minnesota’s spread look for this Redzone opportunity.  The Vikings are out of the shotgun with a “Bunch” receivers look to the right of the offense. At the snap, Patterson who is the outermost receiver in the bunch set, runs a post to the right hash and crosses the face of the corner. The Problem was with Bridgewater’s eyes. You can see that the safety is reading the eyes of the young quarterback and baits him into throwing into a tight window and easily makes the interception.  This was Bridgewater’s only mistake in the game in which he could control.

 

 

 2. Matt Kalil

Matt Kalil has been an extreme disappointment so far in this young season. After being a force as a rookie during Adrian Peterson’s stellar season, he has slowly declined since then. The biggest point that I have taken away in watching Kalil this season is that at times he tends to get a little nervous against speed rushers, often “quick setting” and leaning to try and get an upper hand on his opposition. However, if anyone knows anything about offensive line technique, leaning in your pass set is breaking rule numero Uno. As shown in the picture above, Kalil is the Left Tackle matched up against Ziggy Ansah. You can clearly see Kalil leaning toward Ansah, burying his head into his chest, which would be great technique if it was a designed run. However, with it being a true pass, Ansah quickly uses a quick chop to clear the hands of Kalil and beats him to his edge to get his first of four sacks on Bridgewater.

 

3.  Blitz Pick up

 

The biggest problem that the Minnesota Vikings have had to overcome this season other than the injury bug is the atrocious play of the offensive line, particularly in the pass protection. There are a number of things that could be the problem with that, from having a new offensive guard, to calling the wrong protection or to just plain miscommunication in blitz pickup. In the loss to the Lions, the last of communication amongst the offensive line when picking up the blitz of any line games was a big reason to the struggles that not only Teddy Bridgewater had but the entire offense. In this snap, late in the second quarter, the Lions again show a 4-3 look with their middle linebacker Levy “sugaring” the B gap pre snap. At the snap of the ball, the field side of the front four goes straight into their prospective gaps, Ansah again working against Kalil and Suh rushing the B gap. The nose tackle crosses the face of the center, making the guard slide to protect his inside. McKinnon sets up in B to pick up a blitzing Levy, Loadholdt is where the problem arises. The defensive end on Loadholdt takes two quick steps up field to show a threat that he is rushing C, instead he loops into B gap which turns Loadholdt directly into Levy virtually making three players picking up the blitz by Levy leaving the defensive end wide open on the loop and make the sack on Teddy.  The line game that the defense just ran is what we like to call a “Tex” which is essentially just a twist game. The Vikings offensive line has struggled immensely this season in picking up line games or communicating when passing off a rusher to their teammate to pick up.

The Vikings have to get their offensive struggles under control as they have what many could think a crucial series of games coming up with the Bills, Bucs and Redskins before the much needed bye week. Two of those games being played on the road, where the Vikings are struggled as of late. Mike Zimmer and his team have a little shorter week to prepare for a Buffalo Bills team that has an aggressive front seven of their own with Mario Williams being their conductor due to their near cross country flight to the east coast.

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Vikings Review as I’ll take a look at Vikings front seven and how they fared in their matchup against Kyle Orton and the Buffalo Bills.

 

Author Profile

Joshua Zimmer
Josh is the Big Ten analyst for NGSC Sports. With his extensive knowledge of the game, he will be keeping an eye on some of the conference's top NFL Draft prospects while also serving as the Gophers analyst. He also covers the NHL.

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