The Minnesota Vikings entered this week’s match-up with the Philadelphia Eagles at 5-0, with their sights set on continuing their unbeaten ways. However, the offense was “offensive” to watch, and the stout defense could not overcome those mistakes, in a 21-10 loss. This game didn’t have any positive highlights. The offensive line was gashed for six sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Sam Bradford was running for his life and struggled to handle the pressure that was thrown his way.
Philadelphia caused a ton of headaches up front, and Minnesota couldn’t respond. A muffed punt, four turnovers, poor red zone offense, and a terrible performance on the offensive line had the Vikings spiraling out of control. The Vikings, coming off its bye week, were dealt a massive reality check against an Eagles team that dominated them. Here are three things we learned from this game.
1. The Atrocious Offensive Line Play
The offensive line is easily the biggest area of concern for this team. The loss of Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt is starting to show. T.J. Clemmings can’t deliver a strong punch at the line of scrimmage. Jeremiah Sirles looks as if he never practiced the fundamentals of playing the offensive line position. Brandon Fusco had another bad game in the interior, getting worked over with no leverage. The Philadelphia front seven played with more energy and physicality up front. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer called the offensive line performance “embarrassing” after the game. The offensive line has to figure this out if the Vikings want to be legitimate contenders in the league. Six total sacks and 12 quarterback hits are not acceptable at all.
2. Sam Bradford Had His First Off Game
It is pretty hard to evaluate the performance of a quarterback when the offensive line is allowing pressure like they did in this game. Sam Bradford was stripped twice and threw an interception as an on-charging defender hit his arm. Overall, he was pressured on 19 of his 45 drop backs. He finished the day completing just 24 of his 41 passes for 224 yards, a touchdown, and one interception. These numbers were far worse before the Vikings padded their stats with some easy check downs and garbage time yards. Bradford had no time even to think, and he appeared to be off a few times too. He missed several open wide receivers and has limited mobility to escape pass rushers to buy more time. This was his first off game for the Vikings, and if the offensive line play does not improve, the Vikings may see some more of these games down the road.
3. The Defense Was The Only Highlight Of The Game
The defense had another stellar game for the Vikings. They caused three takeaways in the first half, but the offense’s shortcomings couldn’t get any points off of them. Two Carson Wentz interceptions and a Darren Sproles fumble put the Vikings in a good spot to get points on the board, yet the Vikings offense muffed all three opportunities and came out with ZERO points. Minnesota had four total takeaways on defense and surrendered just 21 points, but still lost the game. The defense gave the offense so many opportunities to be successful and Minnesota couldn’t take advantage. Philadelphia had four total turnovers, and the Vikings couldn’t capitalize off of them.
This is probably the wake up call the Vikings needed. Under Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have never put together two terribly poor performances in back-to-back weeks. It is all about how you bounce back and handle the adversity. Of course, fixing the problems on offense, and particularly, on the offensive line should be at the front of the improvement agenda. We will see what happens next week against division rival Chicago.