In what might be the worst Monday Night Football game ever, the Minnesota Vikings found themselves testing out newly acquired quarterback Josh Freeman against an injured and struggling New York Giants team.
A lot of Vikings fans may have bailed on the season, but there will be some critical takeaways for the game for Minnesota, in particular when it comes to evaluating Freeman and his chemistry with the receivers.
|Positional Unit||First-Half Grade||Final Game Grade|
Week 7 against the Giants
Final Game Analysis
Pass Offense: Minnesota's passing game managed to get worse after the half, and Freeman completed 20 of his 53 passes by game's end. Of the 4,820 games since 2004, there have been 81 total performances with a worse completion percentage. It is in no way encouraging that the Vikings threw it better than 1.6 percent of history's worst performances, because players at nearly every level were culpable. Freeman looked terrible, while his receivers and the offensive line nearly looked worse.
Run Offense: The Vikings didn't run Adrian Peterson much after the first half, despite the fact that the game wasn't out of reach for Minnesota until well into the fourth quarter. But Peterson didn't avail himself well, either: 2.2 yards a carry doesn't look good on anyone's resume. The greater blame likely lies with the offensive line, as Peterson had some miscues, but not enough to explain those poor numbers.
Pass Defense: Eli Manning's numbers don't do the game justice—Manning's failures were his own and not the fault of the Vikings secondary, which was not only out of position on a number of plays, but unable to take advantage of the multiple gifts Eli Manning was willing to give them in the form of poorly thrown passes and easy interceptions. The only bright spot was a pass rush that could easily get to Eli Manning, even if he only ended up taking two sacks all game.
Run Defense: The Vikings run defense gave up fewer successful runs during the second half, and Erin Henderson in particular tightened up his game. The Giants running game did even worse after halftime, and neither of the Giants' rusty running backs could get going. While New York's offensive line hasn't been good much of the year, the Vikings still performed well in this area to their credit.
Special Teams: The special teams unit went south quickly after a relatively strong performance early on. Despite the Vikings' long snapper Cullen Loeffler recovering a fumbled punt return from the Giants, Minnesota came out of the game looking much worse on special teams—in no small part because the Giants' own long snapper, Zak DeOssie, returned the favor by recovering a Marcus Sherels fumble. Sharrif Floyd fumbled his own return and the Vikings weren't able to get much going after that.
Coaching: Aside from playing Josh Freeman when he clearly wasn't ready, the Vikings coaching staff made mistake after mistake—they continued playing other players who didn't deserve to be on the field, entered with a poor, pass-heavy game plan and could not adjust to the relatively simple responses the Giants countered with. This was perhaps the jewel in the paper crown of their utter lack of skill and achievement, and the entire staff will want to keep this game off their resume.
Pass Offense: The Vikings pass offense is predictably slow and limited with a new quarterback at its head, but there have been some big concerns, nevertheless. Freeman has consistently overthrown his receivers, and the passes he does throw accurately still sometimes get dropped. The offensive line is performing better than usual, although some of that is due to Freeman's better pocket presence. At times, it seems like the pass offense is doing all right, but not for a sustained period of time. The passing game isn't necessarily disappointing, but it certainly isn't exciting.
Run Offense: Adrian Peterson has had issues with gap selection in his runs this year, and that's showing up in this game, but the bigger issue is the abysmal blocking provided by the offensive line, where players aren't even getting to the second level. The Giants correctly surmised that the running game would feature for the Vikings, but Minnesota hasn't adjusted. Eight carries for nine yards is shockingly bad.
Pass Defense: Eli Manning is having another bad day, but the Vikings haven't been able to really capitalize on it with their opportunities—Andrew Sendejo dropping an interception along with a Rueben Randle touchdown on an otherwise easily intercepted ball are the unfortunate highlights. On the other hand, the pass rush has been consistently good, but not enough to bring it home.
Run Defense: The Vikings haven't been able to prevent some run successes from a pair of relatively new running backs in Michael Cox and Peyton Hillis, but have for the most part prevented big enough gains from really damaging them. This is what you'd expect from an injury-plagued running game, so it's not much credit to the Vikings, but it is still good.
Special Teams: A missed 53-yard field goal from an injured Blair Walsh is one of the reasons the Vikings are trailing instead of tied, but an excellent return from Marcus Sherels more than makes up for it. In addition, Jeff Locke has been punting well, while the other special teamers—notably Josh Robinson—have all performed admirably. Not a perfect special teams game, but a very good one.
Coaching: The Vikings coaching staff has been abysmal. Not only did they not call a single play-action pass, they've wasted timeouts when they had natural breaks in the clock that they didn't use and also couldn't force reviews when necessary. They're also at fault for sending an injured kicker out for a long field goal and are too often putting underperforming players on the field, like Jarius Wright and Robinson.