Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.
15 — total pressures allowed by left tackle Matt Kalil through three games.
No offensive lineman in the league has allowed more pressures than Kalil. His struggles continued in Sunday’s 20-9 loss to the Saints. He gave up another sack and seven total pressures, keeping two different Vikings quarterbacks on the run. Kalil has now surrendered three sacks, two quarterback hits and 10 hurries in 2014, per Pro Football Focus. Other linemen have allowed more sacks or hits, but none have given up more total pressures. Head coach Mike Zimmer said yesterday that Kalil needs to move on from mistakes quickly instead of dwelling on them then getting beaten again.
75 — quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s accuracy percentage when pressured.
Speaking of pressure, Bridgewater handled it well after relieving Matt Cassel in the second quarter Sunday. The rookie quarterback was pressured on 12 of his 25 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus, and he completed five of his eight attempts when pressured for 49 yards (and one of those incompletions was a drop). Bridgewater was sacked twice and scrambled out of the pocket for positive yards on a couple of plays. His accuracy percentage under pressure (75 percent) this season is nearly 20 points higher than that of Cassel (58.3), who is sidelined with a broken foot.
five — touches per game for wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson this season.
After busting a 67-yard touchdown run in the season opener, his sixth straight game with a score, Patterson has been quiet. He had no carries and just four catches in Week 2. And on Sunday, he had one carry, on which he lost seven yards, and four catches for 61 receiving yards. The Vikings have been spreading the ball around; four players have between 14 and 18 targets this season. But with running back Adrian Peterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph out, perhaps they should try to get Patterson, who is averaging 15.9 yards per touch, even more involved offensively.
7.8 — yards per pass attempt allowed by the Vikings defense through three weeks.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees started Sunday’s game on a roll, completing his first nine passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. He finished the game with 293 yards and two scores on 27-for-35 passing, giving him an average of 8.4 yards per attempt. The numbers are inflated a little by Brees’ performance, but through three games, the Vikings are allowing 7.8 yards per attempt, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. The task is not going to get any easier with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Falcons, who lead the league at 8.9 yards per attempt, coming to TCF Bank Stadium this weekend.
115 — minutes (and 54 seconds) since the last time the Vikings scored a TD.
It may feel like forever ago, but remember when Cassel connected with running back Matt Asiata for a 25-yard touchdown with 10:54 left in the first quarter of the 30-7 loss to the Patriots? That was the team’s last touchdown. In their past 115 minutes and 54 seconds of play, the Vikings have not gotten in the end zone. Heck, they have only passed their opponent’s 20-yard line three times. Only four teams have scored fewer points than the Vikings, who have just 50 so far.
Teddy Bridgewater looked calm and in control when he had every right not to be in his first NFL action as an emergency starter Sunday. But neither his coaches or teammates were surprised because he has been that way ever since he was drafted.
The Vikings are switching to a rookie quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater for Sunday’s game against Atlanta, but coach Mike Zimmer’s primary concern is his team’s injury situation.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph has a “core” injury and will fly to Philadelphia to see Dr. William Meyers, a specialist on such injuries, Zimmer said Monday. An NFL source told the Star Tribune’s Matt Vensel that Rudolph will need surgery for a sports hernia and will miss at least six weeks. Meyers, of the Vincera Institute, has operated on Adrian Peterson twice after Peterson had abdominal injuries.
The Vikings lost at New Orleans 20-9 on Sunday, and Bridgewater came into the game after starter Matt Cassel left because of broken bones in his left foot.
Starting right guard Brandon Fusco left Sunday’s game because of a pectoral injury, and is still being evaluated, Zimmer said.
Zimmer said linebacker Chad Greenway, who played despite a broken left hand, also has a broken rib. Greenway tried to play Sunday, but eventually left the game.
“He had a hard game,” Zimmer said. “That’s my fault. He didn’t practice all week, I thought he could go … my mistake.”
Rudolph, who missed part of last season because of a broken foot, got a five-year, $36.5 million contract extension before the season started. Fusco got a five-year, $24.5 million deal on the eve of the opening game.
Zimmer said the team is ready to go with Bridgewater at the helm.
“Nothing really flusters him,” Zimmer said. “Obviously it’s a difficult situation to go in when you’re down 13 on the road. I’m looking forward to getting him in at home in front of our fans.
“The kid has all the talent in the world.”
Zimmer said the team would consider signing a quarterback once it is determined how long Cassel will be sidelined. Cassel will see a foot specialist on Thursday.
Vikings fans who were upset about the roughing-the-passer penalty to Captain Munnerlyn at the end of the third quarter on Sunday have someone who agrees with them: Munnerlyn himself.
The Vikings cornerback said Monday that he’s still upset about the call, which came after he sacked Brees on 3rd-and-13 with the Saints leading 13-9. Given a first down, the Saints rolled down for a touchdown and won the game 20-9.
Munnerlyn said he watched the play twice on film, and said “You can have a guy wrapped up and he can still throw the ball away or try to find an open guy. It’s tough to make that decision … I don’t think it was a great call at all.
“They made the call, I gotta live with it. I’m sure I’ll be hearing [about a fine] from the league.”
Munnerlyn added the call was made because Brees is one of the league’s top quarterbacks: “Him and Peyton Manning and Tom Brady they like the face of the NFL, but it happened, they called the flag, and I feel like it changed the game for my team.”
Brees thought the hit was made by safety Robert Blanton, and got up and pushed Blanton.
“And on that note, man, they can’t allow a quarterback to just get up and get in people’s faces without throwing a flag or nothing on them either,” said Munnerlyn, “so at least it should have been offset, a penalty on them, too.”
“Like I said, I believe that penalty really changed the game.”
Munnerlyn talked to Brees after the game and said, “I wasn’t trying to throw him on his head, and I told him, ‘Drew, you really sold that penalty, because you didn’t land on your head, you landed on your back.’”
Coach Mike Zimmer will meet the media at Winter Park at 2 p.m. He’ll update the team’s injury situation. NFL Network’s Albert Breer, citing sources, reported that tight end Kyle Rudolph has a sports hernia that will require surgery and keep him out at least six weeks.
Teddy Bridgewater takes over as Vikings quarterback this week, and his teammates issued their support for him on Monday as they filtered through the locker room.
“We’re confident in Teddy — he’s a good quarterback, and we’ll keep improving,” said tight end Rhett Ellison.
Christian Ponder now moves to the backup position, with starter Matt Cassel sidelined because of a broken left foot. When Cassel left Sunday’s game in New Orleans, Ponder was inactive, so the Vikings had no backup.
“It’s scary when you’re not dressed,” Ponder said. “It’s like, ‘Who’s going to be the emergency quarterback?’ I guess put MarQueis [Gray] back there.”
“It’s tough what Matt is going through, but we’re hoping he’ll have a full recovery, and that it won’t take too long. But I’ll be ready to be the No. 2 guy.”
Ponder was impressed by Bridgewater.
“He played well. I remember the first preseason game I asked Teddy if he was nervous or not. And, of course, he said no. And I thought, he’s just a liar. But the guy doesn’t get nervous. The guy has a ton of poise and played extremely well. And I expect that to continue next game.”
ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported the Vikings were looking into adding McLeod Bethel-Thompson to their practice squad. Bethel-Thompson was on the team last year before being claimed by San Francisco.
Since Week 1′s convincing victory over the Rams, in which the Vikings looked crisp and smart on both sides of the ball, they’ve lost Adrian Peterson, starting QB Matt Cassel and — from the sound of it — tight end Kyle Rudolph for considerable amounts of time.
They’ve also managed just one TD and 16 total points in that two-game span, both losses that appeared winnable with functional offensive play.
The depletion of personnel can be viewed as both an explanation and an excuse — different versions of the same sentiment, really — for the Vikings’ poor offensive showings against the Patriots and Saints.
What seems fair to say is this: The Vikings — both players and offensive coordinator Norv Turner — have made the worst of a bad situation.
Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater performed decently in relief of Cassel on Sunday, but he produced zero touchdowns. The running backs filling in for Peterson don’t lack effort, but they haven’t come close to replacing him. Turner, for his part, seems either reluctant to open up the play book with some more downfield passes or has quarterbacks who don’t feel comfortable letting it go in his scheme. Either way, its resulted in a more predictable offense than the one we imagined we would see (and the one we were told we would see) from Turner. It has, at many times, been positively Musgrave-esque.
Offensive players in the locker room Monday said it was a matter of eliminating mistakes — there always seems to be one player (not the same player) off on a play — while continuing to put in the work. Wide receiver Jarius Wright talked of how the offense showed its potential in the preseason, though he also acknowledged that doesn’t mean much now.
We often learn the most from ourselves and others during times of adversity. This certainly qualifies as such a time for the Vikings. It’s early, but so far all we’ve learned is that a tough time can, in fact, get worse.