I knew coming into this season that we might see some ups and downs with this team, but I've had enough of the downs. The Vikings lost 17-3 at home to the Lions in a game that wasn't really that close. If there was ever such a thing as a 17-3 blowout, this was it. The Vikings were manhandled, all day, and whenever it seemed that Minnesota might be getting untracked, the Lions either sacked QB Teddy Bridgewater or intercepted him.
Bridgewater never got in a groove today, and wasn't so much under pressure as he was under siege. But since I can't find a song titled 'Under Siege', this one will have to do. Take it away, Messrs Mercury and Bowie:
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that brings a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets
Your SMR that just took another sack follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
No one. There were some guys that had a couple of individually good plays, and some guys that had an okay game. But yeah, when you get almost shut out and lose at home to the Lions for only the second time in like 17 years...hard to say there was a blue chip stock in this game...because there wasn't.
Jerick McKinnon, RB: If there was anything positive that came out of this game, it might have been the expanded role McKinnon got. And for the most part, he delivered. His 86 yards from scrimmage were the only thing resembling a pulse from the Vikings offense today, and on a couple of dump off passes he showed his electrifying speed. He's going to be a good one, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Anthony Barr, LB: There was one play in this game that actually made me sit up in my chair and go 'whoa'. It was in the second quarter, and the Lions had the ball near midfield. It was 3rd and 12, and Matthew Stafford hit Theo Riddick on a short dump off. That play had been killing the Vikings defense up to that point, and Riddick had a lot of open field in front of him, and Barr about three yards behind him. Riddick caught the ball in stride and had a running start, and it looked like it was going to go for big yards. But Barr closed on Riddick and made a great open field tackle, stopping Riddick for only a two yard gain. Any other Vikings LB covering that play and it would've been a big gain, and a good chance it was a first down. It was a phenomenal play.
Jasper Brinkley, MLB: Although Brinkley wouldn't have been able to make that play on Riddick that Barr did, he made several others. He had a sack and two tackles for loss. It was a pretty good game for a guy that's been just kind of there for the VIkings so far, and hopefully we'll see some more of this from him.
Matt Kalil And The Matadors: If last week was kind of rock bottom for the Vikings franchise as a whole in 2014, the offensive line caught up with everyone else against Detroit. Kalil was a sieve, but the entire line was absolutely mauled by the Lions. Maul...Lions...please tell me you saw what I just did there. Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Vlad the Impalee Ducasse, and Phil Loadholt each got pantsed, repeatedly, by somebody on the Detroit defensive front. Ziggy Ansah was particularly terrifying today, and if Kalil and company don't get it figured out, like right now, Teddy Bridgewater isn't going to last three more games.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Teddy didn't have a lot of time to set up and throw today, but he also held the ball and seemed a lot more tentative, at times, than he was against the Falcons. Granted, he was under pressure all day, and eight sacks is unacceptable, but I would argue two of them were on him for holding the ball. His first interception was a terrible, terrible decision and throw, but I'll cut him some slack on the other two, as they were tipped or went through the hands of a receiver. And if there was something that kind of bothered me, other than the stuff I've already talked about, it seemed that Bridgewater seemed to go to his checkdown guy an inordinate amount of time today. Maybe it was because he was the only guy open or he didn't have time to find a guy downfield (quite possible), but it was still somewhat troubling.
Cordarrelle Patterson And the Drop A Ball Trio: It's pretty tough to climb and crawl back in to a ball game when your three primary targets--Patterson, Jarius Wright, and Greg Jennings--are 50/50 at best on whether or not they'll catch a pass or drop it. When Bridgewater did get time and was able to make a throw, it was iffy on whether or not these three--or anyone not named Chase Ford or McKinnon, actually--would hold on to the football. As bad as the Vikings had played, they were only down 10 well through three full quarters of play. But yeah, poor blocking and an inability to catch the football killed any realistic chances the VIkings had to get back in the game.
Jeff Locke, P: Jeff Locke pretty much blows. When the Vikings need a good punt to flip field position, he can't deliver. When you give the opponent an average starting position of the 30 or 35 yard line, you're not doing your job. At all. Meh.
Buy: The defensive effort. After the first drive, the defense responded with a much better effort this week than they did against Green Bay. They held Detroit to 1-13 on third downs, which is an impressive stat for anyone, much less a defense that gives up the third down ghost with alarming regularity. Pass defense was good, they brought pressure the whole game, and tackled well.
Sell: The defensive effort on that first drive. Yeah, the defensive effort was good, except Detroit's first drive. They never even faced a third down, and went 80 yards like they were in a 7 on 7 drill. It was as bad a drive the Vikings defense has had this year, and when you have a young quarterback going against a good defense, an early hole doesn't do anyone any good.
Buy: I still love Teddy: This was a bad game for Bridgewater, but a rookie is going to have growing pains. Today was one of those growing pains games. Long term I think he's still going to be a good quarterback, and even when the Vikings were down he was making some plays when he had time.
Sell: The Vikings are going to bench Matt Kalil: I don't think Kalil has played well, and yeah, if the Vikings had a good option I could be talked into benching him. But that's just it...who's the option? Joe Berger? Maybe, but he's also the backup center. Austin Wentworth? No, he's worse, if the pre-season was any indication. No, the Vikings need to ride it out with Kalil, and hope for the best. It's not the best strategy, but it's the only one they have right now.
Buy: Mike Zimmer needs to send a message. Zimmer mentioned in his press conference that he had to start fining guys for showing up late to meetings this past week, and was going to start maxing out the amount of fines he was going to levy. Cut someone, bench someone, I don't care what it is, but it seems that Zim needs to get the attention of his team in a fairly dramatic, yet not overblown way. Zimmer sounds fed up and pissed off, and I'm glad to see the passion. Now do something about it, Zim.
Sell: This team is going to the playoffs. Yeah, that was about the dumbest prediction I've ever made. I still think this team is better, but at 2-4 with all their good players seemingly hurt or not seeing the field for the near future, it seems next to impossible for this club to crawl out of the 2-4 hole they're in. They aren't going to be picking in the top five of the draft next year, but they're still a few players...and a competent offensive line...away from being a playoff team, Teddy Bridgewater or not.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
"We need a lot of help."
Yeah...yeah we do.