The 2016 Vikings season opener certainly had its ups and downs. Missed opportunities and a lackluster defensive showing shaped their first half performance into one they would like to forget. When they took the field in the second half, the adjustments made by Coach Zimmer paid dividends as they dominated the remainder of the game with smothering defense and cohesive play on offense. Here are some takeaways from the Vikings first win of the 2016 season.
Adrian Peterson looked rusty
After sitting out the entirety of the preseason, the rust on Peterson was evident from the start of the game all the way to the end. Carrying the ball 19 times, Peterson was only able to rush for 31 yards, an awful statline for any running back, especially Peterson.
In last season’s opener, Peterson had a similar statline of 10 rushes for 31 yards. Again, Peterson did not play a down during the 2015 preseason, either. This leads me to believe that Peterson just needs to continue to get reps until he’s back to full speed just as he did in 2015. In 2015, he followed up his 31 yard performance with a 134 yard rushing day to lead the Vikings to victory over the Detroit Lions. The Vikings will be hoping for a similar bounce-back performance next week in their home-opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Shaun Hill played well
The key for whoever was going to start at quarterback week one was to first and foremost take care of the ball. Hill got that done and then some as he built a nice rapport with Stefon Diggs in the process as Peterson struggled to get it going on the ground.
With Sam Bradford nipping at his heels to start week two, Hill did nothing to accelerate the need for Bradford to grab the reigns of the offense, as Hill did everything he needed to do to win the game. Still, it will be unlikely for Hill to get the starting nod in week two against the Packers as the offensive game plan will demand a lot more than what was needed from the signal caller in week one.
Blair Walsh’s struggles continue
After choking in the unmentionable game against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wildcard round, the leash on Walsh was quite short to begin with, at least from a fan’s perspective. Yesterday, Walsh didn’t do anything to regain the trust of the fanbase. In fact, the proverbial leash has gotten that much shorter.
In his first attempt of 37 yards, Walsh hooked it left. His next kick was even worse, not even coming close to making it through the uprights. Those were six points left on the field that were desperately needed in a game that we trailed 10-0. Walsh would go on to sort of redeem himself, knocking down the next four field goals, but missed an extra point.
Simply put, Walsh needs to be better or he may be out of a job soon. The proverbial leash Zimmer has for Walsh can’t be much longer than the fan’s at this point.
Defense wins games (and maybe championships)
After sleepwalking through the first half, the defense seemed to come alive after halftime, and boy did it show. The pressure put on Marcus Mariota was turned all the way up as the battle at the line of scrimmage began to sway towards the purple. As Mariota began feeling the pressure, he made mistakes. Luckily for the Vikings they turned those mistakes into points, scoring two defensive touchdowns.
If the Vikings can get the same level of play from their defense for the remainder of the season, the sky is truly the limit for this squad.
Follow us on Twitter @PlayerInsiders and @Jake_Przytarski
More stories you might like