Problems on offense? Don’t worry, it’s the preseason.
Issues on defense? No biggie, it’s just the preseason.
Headaches on both sides of the ball during the preseason? Um, at least the preseason is almost over.
It’s understandable if Minnesota Vikings fans are a bit uncomfortable heading into the team’s final preseason game. Despite scoring 32 points in a win against the 49ers last week, the Vikings offense has left much to be desired.
Dave Campbell of the Associated Press notes the first-team offense punted on 11 of 13 possessions – not quite what you’re looking for while playing in primetime. The re-worked offensive line is just that: a work in progress (especially on the left side where tackle Riley Reiff made his debut after missing much of training camp with a back issue and guard Alex Boone returned after missing time with leg problems). Last year, Pro Football Focus ranked the Vikings offensive line as the 29th best in the league. Remember, the Bears ranked 15th and climbed up to fifth heading into this season. Minnesota has made a leap to 15th this year, but isn’t off to a great start.
But like I said, preseason problems on one side of the ball isn’t out of the ordinary. But to have issues on offense and defense? Well, that’s a bit worse and exactly what the Vikings have experienced during the third preseason game.
In what is normally viewed as the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the 49ers scored touchdowns on each of their first two offensive possessions. Led by Brian Hoyer (remember him?), San Francisco opened up with a 79-yard drive, then followed with a touchdown drive that registered 88-yards.
In a story by Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press, defensive lineman Everson Griffen described it as “garbage” and noted “a lot of mental errors on the field.” Griffen’s “thank God it’s the preseason” commentary is a popular refrain this time of year, but defense is clearly a concern for Minnesota. A pair of Pro Bowl secondary members spoke with less than endearing terms when discussing the defense’s effort. Safety Harrison Smith called the group’s play “terrible” and cornerback Xavier Rhodes simply called it “bad.”
Minnesota’s first-team defense could get a much-needed breather during preseason Week 4, but its regular season opens against some pretty good quarterbacks in Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers), Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and the newly compensated Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions).
Preseason performance is rarely indicative of what happens in the regular season, but the Vikings are in for a heap of trouble if any of these struggles carry into September and beyond.