Be honest: when you woke up this morning, something was missing. Sure, you knew how Brett Moorman felt about the Vikings’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons. What, though, of Paul Childers’s thoughts on the subject? Glad you asked!
What I Liked: Aggressiveness
After 3 weeks of the Vikings’ offensive line getting pushed around and abused, they finally pushed back to the tune of 5.6 yards per carry. With the tandem of running backs Matt Asiata (3 touchdowns) and Jerrick McKinnon (135 rushing yards) the Vikings found a running game that had been severely lacking. It was against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL, but the fact that they came out swinging and were aggressive off the blocks will mean good things going forward.
What I Hated: 3rd Down Defense
The Vikings are currently allowing teams to convert 50% of their 3rd downs on the year, worse than everyone other than the Green Bay Packers (53%). The last two weeks, against two good opposing offenses, the Vikings have allowed the Saints and Falcons to convert 68% of third downs, and gave up two third-down touchdowns.
On Sunday the Falcons converted a long 3rd and 20, and later a 3rd and 12. These are absolutely when the defense should be getting sacks and getting off the field. It is inexcusable to give up long 3rd down conversions. I expect this to be better Thursday.
What Concerns Me Moving Forward
Against an Atlanta team that lost 3 starting offensive lineman, the front four of the Vikings’ defense had only two sacks, one from defensive tackle Shariff Floyd and another by rookie linebacker Anthony Barr. The lack of contain was also worrisome when the Vikings did get pressure off the edge Matt Ryan was easily able to step up into the middle of the field and was able to extend plays. Playing against Aaron Rodgers it will be imperative to keep him contained because he can beat you with his feet and his arm.
What Encourages Me Moving Forward
Teddy Bridgewater and the offensive line. The Vikings offensive line looked horrendous through the first 3 games, and part of that could have been that Matt Cassel was just not good at avoiding pressure in the pocket. On the few occasions the Falcons were able to pressure Bridgewater, he was able to elude defenders and either find the open receiver or, in one case, scramble for 27 yards and touchdown.
Teddy’s ability to find multiple targets and look off defenders is something the Vikings haven’t had since 2009 with Brett Favre. He was able to force the defense to respect the pass and it played an important role in opening up the defense for the run game. Teddy is expected to play Thursday night but his mobility may be limited by a minor ankle sprain.
The Vikings travel on a short week to division rival Green Bay for a pivotal early season divisional match up.