Minnesota Vikings Report Card Week 10: Grading Each Unit
Despite having a very disappointing season thus far, the Minnesota Vikings do in fact have some bright spots to their team, but what kind of overall grade do you think the Vikings have right now?
Today I'd like to take a quick look at each unit and give a current performance grade.
Not every unit is going to like what's on their report card.
Let's take a look.
The Offensive Line
The offensive line has been up and down this year, and it has been that inconsistency that has introduced a ton of issues.
At times, this unit appears it can easily block for whomever is under center, and there are other times where they couldn't block themselves.
Still, one thing they have done well is block for Adrian Peterson, which is the silver lining, but not enough for a high grade.
This one is simple.
Donovan McNabb failed miserably with the time he was given. His arm looked weak, his ability to read coverages looked far worse than it ever has, and as a leader within the pocket, his team just didn't trust him.
Christian Ponder, as expected, has been up and down in his first three games as an NFL starter.
Against Green Bay the first time around, he failed to complete even 45 percent of his passes, but against Carolina he turned things around, almost reaching the 65 percent mark.
In his second go-around against the Packers, he improved from the first time, but took a step backward overall, which again, is to be expected from a rookie quarterback.
Unfortunately, McNabb brings the overall grade down here.
Grade: D+ (D-minus for McNabb - C+ for Ponder)
The receivers are an interesting bunch with some positive attributes, and some negative issues.
On the positive side of things, these receivers tend to block well, and rarely quit on their plays. They are able—when feasible—to make plays off the catch.
Percy Harvin leads this bunch, but the coaching staff really doesn't get him as involved as much as they should.
The negative, however, is the aspect that holds this team back a little.
The Vikings receivers are terrible at getting separation, and have average one-on-one speed down field, which limits their big play capability.
Overall things could be far worse at this position, but they could also be a lot better.
I didn't include the tight ends in the receivers slide, because I felt they needed to be highlighted separately.
This portion of the team has been a bright spot since day one, and leading the way has been veteran Visanthe Shiancoe.
Kyle Rudolph is the other mention here, and while he has played rather well, his youth and inexperience has reared its ugly head at times.
Overall, this position has been very reliable in the passing game and in blocking schemes.
I suppose there's no guess work involved here as to what this grade could be, eh?
Peterson has simply been the shining star on this team since the beginning of the season, and should continue to be so until the bitter end.
Again, no question as to what the grade should be here, because this defensive line continues to play at such a high level when any other line in their position would simply give up.
Jared Allen is on pace to become the new all-time sack leader, while the remaining three have been solid at stopping the run, getting to the quarterback and terrorizing opposing offensive lines.
I believe this linebacker unit has played above the expectations that everyone had upon entering the season.
The Henderson duo has been outstanding at making their tackles and contributing on the inside blitzes, but the short side—manned by Chad Greenway—has been a little suspect on the blitz and one-on-one coverage in the open field.
The bench linebackers, however, have a lot of work to do, but will not factor in here due to lack of quality time on the field.
As a combined unit, since both the safeties and corners work in tandem more often than not, they have been less than desirable to say the least.
The Vikings corners have been terrible against the deep ball and equally terrible at the line of scrimmage.
On blitzes, each unit struggles heavily to own up to their responsibilities.
The secondary needs to play better press-coverage and do a better job at the line of scrimmage in regard to putting the clean hit on the receivers before the five-yard mark.
Additionally, it is the secondary that has to step up and provide better support when the Vikings blitz, giving offer better coverage against the deep ball.
The special teams unit has been another portion of the Vikings that has been inconsistent, but the issue here is this unit is a lot better than they actually play.
There have been moments where the Vikings special teams have made great play on the runner and ball, and other times—as Randall Cobb showed us—where they just made head-scratching mistakes.
I believe from an attacking point they are deadlier with Percy Harvin returning than Lorenzo Booker.
The Coaching Staff
The three main ingredients to the Vikings are Head Coach Leslie Frazier, Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave and Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagac.
As a unit, this aspect of the team has not lived up to the hype, and individually, each portion has performed marginally at best.
Leslie Frazier has shown an inability to manage the clock and team as a leader, while displaying little aggression as the leader of a football team. I understand that not all head coaches are aggressive, and do in fact have a passive demeanor, but Frazier just hasn't shown anything to speak of—no fire, no emotion, nothing.
Fred Pagac has shown that his scheme at times does in fact work, but he has also displayed utterly horrible play calls when it mattered most in any particular game.
Bill Musgrave has shown creativity, and has made a believer out of me in the two-tight end sets, but he too has made some horrible calls and seems to panic the minute the Vikings fall behind, which leads to poor per-quarter management.
Final Team Grade through 10 weeks: C+