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Vikings by the Numbers - P1 vs. Steelers

A statistical summary of Vikings player performance in their first pre-season game against the Steelers

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Looking over the Vikings numbers in the Hall of Fame game last night, here are some stand-out numbers from PFF:

Team Overall Ratings

Vikings had a -18.8 overall on offense, and +11.3 on defense.  the negatives and positives being mostly generated in the trenches.  The Steelers had a -44.2 on offense, and +8.4 on defense, again mostly based on line play.

Quarterback Ratings:

Teddy Bridgewater (7 drop-backs):  97.2

Mike Kafka QB rating (10 drop-backs):  121.3

Taylor Heinicke (11 drop-backs): 42.1

Offensive Line

Starters (Kalil, Fusco, Sullivan, Harris, Loadholt) gave up 1 hurry (Sullivan) in 7 drop-backs, 10 plays overall.  Sullivan also had a -0.9 in run blocking in very limited action, so he was the weak link, such as there was, among the starters.  Kalil was statistically unblemished, as was Loadholt and Fusco.

Backups were more of a mixed bag.  Best performers were both at RG- Isame Faciane (21 plays, +2.0) and Austin Shepherd (48 plays, +0.8).  Worst performers were both at LG- Tyrus Thompson (45 plays, -6.2) and Bobby Vardaro (21 plays, -4.5).  Thompson allowed 4 QB hurries, and Vardaro 1 QB hit and 1 hurry.  TJ Clemmings did better pass blocking than run blocking, which is a little surprising since he was better at the latter in college.

I'm guessing Austin Shepherd helped himself significantly with his performance, particularly as he had a lot of playing time (48 snaps).   Work ethic could be a big part of this. He is seen as both smart, well-coached and coachable, with high character and is a finisher.  His biggest weakness is functional strength, which hopefully he is improving in the weight room.  His limitations in terms of lateral agility are not as important playing inside at guard.  Would not be surprised to see him win the backup RG job, and perhaps get some time with the starters to see how well he does against that competition.  Out of Alabama, Shepherd played against top talent at RT and did very well, based more on effort and solid technique- particularly in pass blocking where he was one of the highest rated tackles last year.

Tyrus Thompson probably hurt himself the most, by contrast.  Thompson was seen by some scouts as lazy, with poor effort and technique, with questions about his desire, despite having NFL talent and athleticism.   I'm guessing Bobby Vardaro may be in the first cut, as the UFA has not looked good in practice as well.

Other than that, the backup TEs did not fare well in run blocking, with Bostick looking the worst (-2.7 in run blocking).

Offensive Skill Positions

Not much either way here.  Pruitt, Rudolph and McKinnon were the highest rated receivers, and none of the rushers stood out.

Defensive Line

Starters (Griffen, Floyd, Joseph, Robison) played only 4 plays, and nothing noteworthy.

Among backups, Justin Trattou probably helped himself the most (42 snaps, +5.0 overall, with 2 QB hits, 2 hurries, a blocked pass and a missed tackle) especially considering the weakness in the LDE position.  Could likely lead to more playing time and potentially a rotational role at LDE.

Tom Johnson also did well (41 snaps, +4.8), but this should not be surprising.  Shamar Stephen also did well (54 snaps, +2.3).  Their performances probably won't change much for them as backups, but good to see nevertheless.

Danielle Hunter saw the most playing time of anyone on defense (62 snaps, +0.6 overall) and probably helped himself both in the coaches eye and from the experience.

Ceasar Rayford (16 snaps, -1.2) was the only notable negative here, which didn't help his chances to break into a deep group.

Linebackers

Chad Greenway was in only 4 plays, and nothing noteworthy.

Gerald Hodges, despite playing only 19 plays (+0.8), had 3 tackles, including 2 stops.

Similarly, Audie Cole, despite only 15 plays (+1.3), had 2 tackles including 1 stop, and tipped pass and forced fumble.

Brandon Watts also helped himself (35 snaps, +1.4) at WLB.

Eric Kendricks (30 snaps, +0.1) was credited with 2 QB hurries and 3 tackles including 2 stops.

Brian Peters was probably the only one who didn't help himself a little (21 snaps, -1.3).

Defensive Backs

Again, starters only played 4 snaps, and nothing noteworthy among them- Smith, Rhodes, Newman, Blanton.

Trae Waynes did the worst of the bunch, (54 snaps, -4.6) who didn't fare as well in pass coverage, particularly with respect to penalties, but also was credited with 2 missed tackles, as was Antoine Exum, who didn't fare so well either (45 snaps, -1.3) at free safety.   No other player had anything stand out stat-wise.

Special Teams

Stephon Diggs was the winner here, with his punt return leading to a +1.3 rating.

In the battle of the long-snappers, McDermott won (-0.5) by not doing as bad as Loeffler (-1.5).

Locke was given a +1.0 rating, while Walsh a -0.2 based on the missed FG.

Overall

Overall, can't draw many conclusions from the limited play of the starters, particularly on defense, other than Teddy Bridgewater continues to look very good and poised.

Depth on defense looks much better than it has for years, particularly the front 7.

Oh, and one more thing, for what it's worth.  Vikings odds to win the Super Bowl were 40-1 before this game.  They are now 33-1.

And one more interesting fact about a meaningless pre-season game: it drew higher TV ratings than:

1)  The Stanley Cup Final Game 6

2)  The Indianapolis 500

3)  Two NBA Conference Finals games

4) Both ALCS & NLCS Game 1s.

It also drew the highest TV ratings of any pre-season game in three years.  That's because the Minnesota Vikings is America's team, right?