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Zulgad: Vikings’ first-team offense looks far too familiar in preseason opener

Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes against the Indianapolis Colts in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings might have beaten the Bills 17-10 in their preseason opener on Thursday in Buffalo, but that doesn’t mean the reviews from coach Mike Zimmer and his staff are going to be kind.

This is especially true when it comes to the first-team offense. That unit finished 28th in the NFL in total offense during a disappointing 2016 and saw key changes made in an attempt to improve things. This included the promotion of Pat Shurmur from interim offensive coordinator – he took over when Norv Turner quit in early November – to the full-time job.

This is Shurmur’s third time working closely with Sam Bradford and, with the quarterback entering the final season of his contract, it’s clear every attempt is being made by the Vikings to force them to provide the veteran with a lucrative, long-term extension.

There were no signs of progress Thursday.

Bradford and many of the first-teamers played three series, put up no points and provided far too many reminders of what went wrong a year ago.

Bradford completed five of seven passes for 35 yards with his longest completion going for only 9 yards. We know Bradford can complete passes – his 71.6 completion percentage last year established an NFL single-season mark – but the goal is for Bradford to hit on more deep passes. The goal also is for Bradford to not face consistent pressure but the Bills sacked him twice.

The Vikings’ opening series got off to a good start with running back Dalvin Cook gaining 6 and 3 yards on back-to-back carries before the rookie caught an 8–yard swing pass on third-and-1 to put the ball at the Minnesota 37-yard line.

That was followed by a Bradford incompletion on a pass intended for Stefon Diggs and a 3-yard run for Cook. But on third-and-7, Bills defensive end Eddie Yarbrough beat high-priced right tackle Mike Remmers to sack Bradford.

The Vikings’ following series went three-and-out, with Bradford being sacked on first down, and the first-team offense did little in its final effort of the evening.

The offensive line was playing without starting left tackle Riley Reiff, who was signed to a big free-agent contract this offseason, but has been dealing with a back injury. The Vikings also were without running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.

That gave Cook more opportunity to play and he remained in the game after most of the starters departed. Cook, playing on his 22nd birthday, rushed for 13 yards on five carries and caught four passes for 30 yards. His biggest miscue came when he missed a block on the second sack of Bradford.

Zimmer improved to 13-1 in the preseason as the Vikings coach, but he clearly wasn’t pleased by what he saw in the opening half.

“There really wasn’t much that I liked to be honest with you,” in the opening 30 minutes, Zimmer said a halftime of the Vikings’ telecast. “We didn’t play the run good on defense, we had guys running up the field trying to get to the quarterback in running situations, we didn’t protect the quarterback very well.”

That was a theme far too often in 2016 as well. Zimmer is unlikely to rest easy until the offensive line proves it is capable of keeping Bradford upright and healthy and allows him time to find receivers more than 9 yards down the field.

  • Gordon Guffey

    Lets see ~ You have it being the first preseason game ~ Do you have any idea how many good team start the preseason bad ~ Or how many good teams have bad preseasons ~

    Relax this is what the preseason is for ~ The OL needs time to gel ~ Its nothing more than that ~ The two OT sign this offseason are proven starters who might not be pro bowler but they above average ~

    The whole team seem to jacked or just plan flat ~ If they still playing like this by game 3 of the preseason then you might have something to worry about ~

    And while ESPN and others want to hand the starting RB job to Cook lets not forget he is a rookie ~ You guys have totally written Murray and McKinnon off and thats never a wise thing to do ~

    So Jugghead keep up your fine work of trying to turn over every stone in hopes of finding something bad to report ~ But in the end it was the first preseason game ~ Relax Jugghead ~ Your Packs still have time to work things out ~

    I can say while I share reports from ESPN1500 you can bet its never one of yours reports Juggy ~ So please go away ~

    • HeWhoKnowsAll

      Judd should be called a Packer fan in every comment.

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    • BT

      Gordy, what does Sam need to pass for a first down on third down? You say I’m just a Teddy fan but truth is he is the best QB on the roster and Vikings did nothing to address it in the draft! We went all in on a QB that has never done anything but complete short passes consistently and throw an occasional deep pass accurately.

      I’m a Vikings fan True!! What I don’t like to see is stubborn people trying to fit a square peg in a round hole Vikings should and maybe still should address the QB position with some talent and not just hand the job to a guy that is truly factual mediocre with no competition whatsoever!!

      • Mike Kano

        “I’m just a Teddy fan”

        A Bridgewater fan is just a Packer fan is disguise.

      • Gordon Guffey

        You have no proof that Teddy is the best QB on the roster and you know it ~ The one good season he had was with a top 5 defense and a RB who rush for almost 1500 yards ~ So please give it a rest before you turn me and others into a Teddy hater because of the same old no facts statements from players fans like youself ~ I done with you and your BS ~ Peace Out Bro ~

        • BT

          Gordy, Facts:
          Bradford never has made playoffs
          Bradford never has had a winning season his entire nfl career
          Bradford sucks!!!
          Did you watch good morning football today? Comments from the hosts
          “Sam Bradford has made a career out of throwing short!”
          and how does this help us???
          Your blinded to reality we all see just you and some other dorks with no football IQ seem to believe he something he has never been since college!

          • Gordon Guffey

            BT or TB who every you are ~ If you know anything about football then you no one single player has ever made the playoffs ~ So stop acting like Teddy has ~ I to the point with you player fans that I hope they draft his replacement in the first round in 2018 ~ Or better yet sign Sam to a new 5 year deal ~ The you guys will either have to pull for the team as a whole or go pull for some other player ~

    • MarkWattsMN

      “Relax this is what the preseason is for ~ The OL needs time to gel ~ Its nothing more than that ~ The two OT sign this offseason are proven starters who might not be pro bowler but they above average ~”

      Wishful thinking there. I’m not sure how you “gel” exactly when your guys are getting worked over when going 1 on 1.

      There’s about a 10% chance you’re right.

      • Gordon Guffey

        Its call not game playing for the Bills ~ Zimmer made that clear before the Vikings left on the plan ~ He did asy today that they might do some game planing for the Seahawks ~ Well thats the way I understood what he said ~ As always doesn’t mean I right or that the Vikings agree with me ~

        4. Internal focus
        The Vikings barely prepared for anything the Bills might do on offense or defense, and it sounds like Minnesota might “card” Seattle a little more than it did for Buffalo’s schemes, but the focus will remain on helping players and the overall offense, defense and special teams improve.
        “It’s about us. We’ve got to get better,” Zimmer said. “We can’t worry about Seattle right now. It’ll be a great test. It’s going to be a great atmosphere for us. It’s going to be loud, like a regular-season game there.”

        • Gordon Guffey

          Lastly did you see the scoreboard from the preseason games played so far this week ~ There were teams that won who shouldn’t ~

          I’m not saying all is perfect ~ Far from it ~ But it was the first preseason game with a lot of new players getting playing time with the first unit ~

      • Gordon Guffey

        On another side note it would appear that Zimmer doesn’t agree with you ~ I watched the came but I haven’t watched the coaches tape ~ So I can’t agree or disagree ~ But here is what he said ~

        1. Offensive line evaluations continue
        The Vikings were without left tackle Riley Reiff, who suffered an injury on July 27. Rashod Hill started in place of Reiff, along with Alex Boone (LG), Nick Easton (C), Joe Berger (RG) and Mike Remmers (RT).
        Zimmer was asked about evaluating the performance without Reiff in the lineup and indicated that the Vikings are looking at multiple players, even though the competition at center between Easton and Pat Elflein has gotten the most publicity.
        “Well, as soon as we figure out who the offensive line is going to be, it will help,” Zimmer said. “We want to do it sooner than later, but we want to make sure we get the right five guys in there.
        “Elflein played very, very well. He had one bad snap, but he played really well. He missed one guy, he took a poor angle,” Zimmer said. “Easton played well. [Danny] Isidora did some good things. [Willie] Beavers, early he played well, but it looked like he got tired or something late. Some of these young guys are starting to show up.”

  • styx rogan

    great article Judd…Pa and Wobby were sugga coatin the hell outa that awful offensive performance…Slik Rik paid a ton 4 two stiffs in the offense season… Rimmers whiffed big time on that one play…Badford wont last the season with this group… 6-10 at best… Ziggy needs to pull a TRUMP and take command of this sinking ship

    • Cory Mondale

      You gotta be kidding! Trump brought down a whole league last time he owned a football team. Watch the 30 for 30 on the USFL, here is a quote from wiki: In 1985, the USFL voted to move from a spring to a fall schedule in 1986 to compete directly with the NFL. This was done at the urging of New Jersey Generals majority owner Donald Trump and a handful of other owners as a way to force a merger between the leagues. As part of this strategy, the USFL filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the National Football League in 1986, and a jury ruled that the NFL had violated anti-monopoly laws. However, in a victory in name only, the USFL was awarded a judgment of just $1, which under anti-trust laws, was tripled to $3.[2] This court decision effectively ended the USFL. The league never played the 1986 season, and by the time it folded, it had lost over US$163 million.

      • B. A. Barakas

        And he still says he won that battle…probably the most delusional person I have ever seen…

    • Mike Kano

      Your political views go a long way in explaining the incompetence of your football opinions.

    • B. A. Barakas

      Lmfao…that is literally the dumbest analogy I have seen in the comments section of a Vikings article…Trump wouldn’t do a damn thing and they could go 8-8 and he would just sit around on Twitter screaming how the Vikings are the best team ever and anyone who says they aren’t are just reporting fake news…and then ramble on and on about Hilary or Obama…

  • Carl Brodin

    We need to stop panicking like the others have said its preseason. Since were speculating I like what I saw from Willie beavers at RT and I even would go as far to say maybe they push Reamers inside to RG with Beavers at RT also we could put Berger either at C or be the no.1 off the bench for both OG or the C position. I would also say for the future I could see a right side of the oline from C to RT Elflien Izadora Beavers.


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