It’s no secret that there were a lot of things that the Vikings did poorly on Sunday, a few of them I viewed as catastrophic and game changing. From the perspective of the offense, when your defense cannot stop the opposing defense you must be perfect. A turnover on downs on the first drive and a fumble on the goaline are exactly the type of plays that will bury you. Fair or not, when the defense plays so horrendously, the offense must pick up the slack. On Sunday the VIkings did the opposite. From the defensive perspective, you cannot have miscommunications in week 14, letting a receiver run scotch free behind you will shatter the confidence of the unit. Today I will look at 3 plays that I think changed the game.
Here is the first play we will look at. It is 4th a 2 from the Vikings own 43 yard line, I agree with the decision to go for it, looking to keep momentum 4th and 2 seems manageable. What I don’t like is the play call. We are looking at single back fb offset. The play is a pitch right with Ham as the lead back. I do not like the play call for two reasons. First is the pitch, throwing it back to Dalvin allowing defenders to get that initial push. Second, the right tackle Oneil is expected to reach the outside end Hutchinson, that is a far block for the RT to make and if he misses the play is blown up.
Cousins pitches the ball back and cooks vision is middle to outside, he waits for a hole to set up. But as we can see, the end put a simple speed move on the RT and blew past him, Ham is looking for first coming from the A gap and B gap not the outside C gap, So Hutchinson is essentially a free rusher at this point. Since the play is a pitch, Cook is still 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage so he has to make up 9 yards to get the first down.
In the final segment of the play we can again see Cook with vision towards the A gap and B gap, his lead blocker Ham also has vision towards those gaps. This allows Hutchinson to run free to cook and make a tackle behind the line for a turnover on downs. This completely wrecked any momentum the Vikings had.
This play comes on the very next drive after the turnover. The Lions are set up in strong close, a formation with lots of play action and trickery. The Vikings are set up in a sort of makeshift cover 4 here, Mettelus rolls down to get flat and outside, leaving three DBs in the back of the play. In this defense Bynum is supposed to have responsibility for anything coming up the middle and towards the sideline. Peterson and Dantzler then half the halves on each side of the field.
As the play develops we see a crosser from the top receiver and a post route from the bottom receiver. Bynum sees the crosser and this is where he makes the mistake. His eyes are directly towards the crossing route, leaving the post to sneak behind him. Dantzler is supposed to let the receiver go once he makes the in breaking move. Bynum never sees him and Jameson Williams runs free behind him.
Williams goes right behind Bynum and all they can do is watch as he walks into the endzone. This cannot happen, there must be more awareness from Bynum.
The last play I would like to look at is this 1st and goal. They are lined up in 21 personnel with one receiver, two backs and one tight end, not named Hockenson. The idea of the play is a pop pass. A pitch to Cook while the tight end blocks and then releases off to catch the pass. Whenever this play is run successfully it almost always works. There are two problems with this play.
Dalvin never throws the ball, he doesn’t have the right technique and cannot get the right position to throw it, however he could have got the ball off if the o line didn’t get completely eviscerated by the defensive line. Instantly there are players in the backfield and Cook is not in the position to get hit. You have got to hold the blocks for longer. All eyes are on Cook so Mundt does get open but it does not matter.
These are the types of plays that completely change the game. Momentum swings and flat out destruction. The Vikings must avoid these types of plays if they want to go anywhere with this team.