MIN-TEN grades: Diggs, defense fuel Vikings’ win

These are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Vikings' victory over the Titans.

| 9 months ago
(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

MIN-TEN grades: Diggs, defense fuel Vikings’ win

Minnesota Vikings 25 , Tennessee Titans 16

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Vikings’ 25-16 victory over the Titans.

Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback grade: Shaun Hill, 53.5

The Vikings’ temporary starting quarterback Shaun Hill didn’t do much to suggest that he should own the starting role once Sam Bradford has the offense down. Hill’s strength in Week 1 was the middle of the field, going 8 of 10 for 126 yards when throwing between 10-19 yards. Over the course of the game Hill was pressured on 38.2 percent of his drop backs completing only 50 percent of his passes.

Top offensive grades:

WR Stefon Diggs, 84.8
TE Kyle Rudolph, 75.2
C Joe Berger, 73.2
WR Adam Thielen, 69.5
TE David Morgan II, 66.3

One of the big questions marks coming into the season was the offensive line and if there was going to be a marked improvement over last season. The first game should give Viking fans something to be worried about, but the good news is they did not give up a sack. The offensive line did gave up 11 total pressures on 34 dropbacks, however, ranking the Vikings offensive line as the fifth-worst pass blocking efficiency at 75.7.

Top defensive grades:

S Harrison Smtih, 84,3
DI Linval Joseph, 79.8
S Andrew Sendejo, 78
ED Brian Robison, 74
ED Danielle Hunter, 73.1

The Vikings won this game on good fortune from their defense, which recorded two defensive touchdowns on Sunday. One was a failed handoff on a read option by Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray, and the other was a poor decision to try and throw a pass when under pressure, which was floated and behind his tight end and allowed Eric Kendericks to score. The defense did their part in only 10 points when the game was close (allowed a second touchdown with 30 seconds left, when the game was over). If the defense can keep the games close they might be able to buy enough time for Sam Bradford to do enough on offense to make the Vikings a playoff team once again.

Tennessee Titans

Quarterback grade: Marcus Mariota, 34.6

After last season, in which Mariota finished with a 72.1 overall grade, Week 1 was a big step back. When Mariota released the ball in under 2.5 seconds he completed 69 percent of his passes and had a QB rating of 111.9. However those numbers dropped drastically when he held the ball over 2.5 seconds — Mariota was only able to complete 41.7 percent of his passes with a QB rating of only 25.3.

Top offensive grades:

T Taylor Lewan, 76.7
WR Tajae Sharpe, 76.1
T Jack Conklin, 75.5
G Quinton Spain, 73.4
TE Delanie Walker 71.7

The talk out of Titans training camp had been the performance of rookie wide receiver Tajae Sharpe. In his first regular season game he did not disappoint, catching seven out of his eleven targets for 76 yards. Most of his work came against second year corner Trae Waynes, where he caught six of 64 yards. 

Top defensive grades:

DI Jurrell Casey, 85.7
ED Derrick Morgan, 84.3
LB Avery Williamson, 84.3
LB Sean Spence, 76.5
S Rashad Johnson 75.9

The top performer for the Titans defense is their best player on the team. Jurrell Casey was too strong and quick for Alex Boone to handle as he recorded three run stops to go with his five total pressures. When Casey had a chance to rush the passer against Matt Kalil, the strength of Casey was too much to handle. The defensive front seven as a whole kept the Vikings rushing attack a non-threat. On 28 carries the Vikings only averaged 2.3 yards per carry and only forced two missed tackles. The Titans are going to need to rely on the defense to keep games close so that the offense can stay with their smash-mouth football.

PFF Game Ball Winner: Titans DE Jurrell Casey

Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Titans “smash mouth” football is off to a great start with a 2.9 rush average. All kidding aside, even if it was more effective, you can’t spot an opponent a 3 turnover edge and hope to win.

  • Footballcritic

    I don’t think they’re being fair to the Vikings. They had Shaun Hill in at QB, so obviously they are going to perceive the passing game as a non-threat compared with Adrian Peterson. So they put 8 guys in the box every single first down because they knew what was coming! I don’t think the Titan’s defensive line should get such high grades because of that, they had single blocks or free holes most of the time. Even if the vikes didn’t run the football, they still had a blitz coming to pressure the QB, and that’s not the Offensive line’s fault! I’m not saying that’s an excuse, but if PFF really looks at every single factor they should take that into an account when grading players.

    • ChiTownSteve

      Then they should learn to pick up the blitzes (especially with the blitz happy Packers next week) and step up to win their 1on1 blocks.

    • Luke Thompson

      Right? Looking at total pressures is just as bad as looking at total sacks. It still isn’t telling you what sort of impact the offensive line had on the game. It isn’t even telling you what effect, if any, the pressure had on the game. If the opponent is rushing more, or stacking the line more, removing defenders from over the middle coverage which your team consistently abuses to get third down conversions and move the ball down the field without ever surrendering a sack, isn’t that a net gain and a positive for your offense? Nope, QB was under pressure more often, DEMERIT!

    • enai D

      8 guys in the box? Try more like 9-10 guys in the box, on most 1st and 2nd downs. And it didn’t help that the OL was miserable in the running game, allowing AP to get hit at or behind the LoS on most of his carries (they had at least 7 or 8 tackles for loss, iirc).

      • optionbets

        Norv could spread the defense out with 3WR or 4WR, or even 2TEs split out wide and there’d be more room to run OR guys uncovered.

        • enai D

          Yeah it’d be nice to see them run out of a formation other than double-TE I-formations, at least it wouldn’t telegraph the play-call every single time. But more than that, we just HAVE to be able to exploit those ridiculous 9, 10 and even 11 man fronts in the passing game. I mean, even Shaun Hill is a professional football player, they should be able to do a better job taking advantage when the opponent completely sells out vs. the run.

  • Mike Sullivan

    I guess you people don’t understand defense, because if you did, you would have seen the Vikings Defense take the game over in the second half. Sean Hill was barely touched today. Yes the running game needs work, but you can put some of that on Peterson’s vision today. Diggs was damn near perfect today, and Adam Theilen and Rudolph had nice games as well. This offense will be better when Bradford takes over.

  • Mike Kano

    Peterson stumbled and bumbled his way to 31 yards on 19 carries. It is an interesting day when a journeyman QB has to carry the offense, but that is what Hill did today.

    Already, the whispers are starting that Peterson’s play has declined. Some people, however, will always apologize for him. One Vikings blogger was reported to predict that Peterson would lead the team in both rushing and receptions against the Titans. At least Peterson’s 31 rushing yards made that blogger half right.

    If Peterson wanted to at least appear hungry, he could start by finishing off his runs by falling forward. Far too often, he turns his back to the defense, in some woeful plea to them to not hurt him too badly.

    • enai D

      Lol, troll harder junior

      • bob

        true that

        • 81TinaKane

          carry the offense? all 0 of them touch downs that Hill put up, all the while 8, 9 or 10 guys were in the box geared to stop Peterson. The play calling needs to be better and run blocking needs to be better so Peterson isn’t hit in the back field every time he touched the ball. Hill sucked, he was 4 of 12 on first down throwing, 54% comp % and PFF rated him 53.3 all the while missing a easy TD throw to Diggs. He was place holder for Bradford at best

          • enai D

            Yeah the run blocking was horrible. What did the Titans finish with, like 7 or 8 tackles for loss? I’d like to see the stats on AP’s average yardage before first contact, because it seemed like he was getting hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on the majority of his runs.

          • enai D

            Though to be fair, Hill did a pretty admirable job under the circumstances. Guy is 60 years old and looks about as fluid and mobile as Hank Hill out there. No turnovers and 200+ yards is probably about as much as we could’ve realistically expected out of him.

    • crosseyedlemon

      I’m pretty certain every coach would love to have a rusher who could turn his back to defenses and still lead the league in rushing.

      • Mike Kano

        Actually, a lot would not, especially when that player

        1) takes by far the most carries to do so
        2) can only run out of a formation which tells the defense that it is going to be a run
        3) can’t pass block
        4) is a mediocre receiver
        5) fumbles as a hobby (abusing children turned out to be an expensive hobby)

        The reality is that Peterson completely warps an offense (in a bad way). Given all of his downsides, there are few teams which would want Peterson on their roster.

  • Luke Thompson

    Vikings offensive line gives up 0 sacks with 36 year old Shaun Hill at QB, conclusion, fifth worst in the league. Must be his quick as a whip release and his slick, unrivaled quickness to evade the rush. Glad we had Shaun Hill back there to make our line look good. Any other QB would have probably been planted to the turf half a dozen times. Sarcasm aside, you give stats for “pressures” yet fail to give an actual good comparison between teams. Pressure percentage vs. 3 rushers, vs 4 rushers, vs 5 rushers, vs loaded one side blitz. You also don’t give average time before pressure. Just going off of total pressures is as useless as going off of sacks. You still aren’t comparing apples to apples as some teams will face more rushers and some teams will face less exotic blitz packages. This comes down to game-planning as teams are less likely to blitz a QB proven to beat the blitz consistently. Just because a certain QB makes his lines job easier overall doesn’t make that line better. You need to compare apples to apples on how well a team fares vs the same number of rushers coming from the same type of looks. That will actually show you how a line compares to others. As say, hey, team X allowed 35% pressure vs a 5 man rush which accounted for 50% of the total plays and 23% pressure vs a 4 man rush which accounted accounted for the rest and team Y allowed 40% pressure vs a 5 man rush accounting for 20% of plays and 25% pressure for the 4 man rush the rest of the game. Team X gave up a total pressure of 29% while team Y gave up a total pressure of 28%, yet team X outperformed team Y in every comparable category. Obviously an oversimplified example (doesn’t take into account length of play at all) but even that oversimplification is more accurate than raw pressures.

    • bob

      excellent analysis and for me suggests fine game management by the coaches

      • Luke Thompson

        Thank you, and great point. A LOT of what PFF and other analytic sites try and attribute to players is actually a reflection of the play calls and decision making of the coaching staff.

  • geo2209

    It’s DE, not ED.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      edge defender, it incorporates 3-4 OLBs (like derrick morgan) and 4-3 DEs

      • geo2209

        Ah, makes sense.

      • optionbets

        It also incorporates Erectile Disfunction where the DE just doesn’t get you going like it used to.

  • http://www.contentandsocial.com/ Rohn Jay Miller

    1. Big challenge this year to keep Barr, Kendricks and Griffen on the field week in and week out.

    2. Blair Walsh needs to be challenged with another kicker in practice. Keep him as starter, but he can’t play this way against the Packers. He’ll lose the game for us.

    3. Sam Bradford.

    4. Look at Charles Johnson running post routes up the middle versus out routes. He gets free running straight ahead, not trying to catch off his back shoulder. And we’re paying Jarius Wright to be the slot receiver. Unless and until Cordarrelle Patterson screws his head on right and takes the slot position away.

    5. And where the hell is Tredwell?

    6. Watching Mike Zimmer run a defense is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve experienced in football.

    7. Trea Waynes had 11 tackles. They picked on him, and he won the battle.

    8. OL is 50% better this year. Zero sacks and very few hurries. Credit Shaun Hill for getting rid of the ball fast.

    9. Because the OL is 50% better Kyle Rudolph can return to being a great pass catching tight end.

    10. Pass on first down, please. Pretty please.

    My $.02

    • 81TinaKane

      I would also add that Joseph need to stay on the field as well as he is a beast in the middle. Cpat needs to be on the field more end of story he is a play maker and Zimmerman needs to quit being so stubborn with him. Treadwell is being placed in the same category as Patterson and Diggs by Zimmerman and turner “Claiming they are not ready to contribute right away” so that begs the question why are they not ready? what was done in OTA’s an preseason to get them ready. Im ready to count Johnson out, Id rather see Treadwell or Cpat in there at this point. Wright was a healthy scratch for some reason. The oline provided the best protection ive seen in a game in 2 years, not giving up a sack and keeping hill clean yet gets a bottom 5 rating? don’t understand that at all. The Vikings passed on first down I believe 12 times, hill only connected on 4 of them, whoever is the qb needs to be better and when they pass on 1st down, don’t run up the middle on first down, toss, sweep, off tackle, stretch…whatever. Play calling needs to be less predictable

  • Bob

    Umm…. we created the turnovers with good defense

  • Rob S.

    The interception was created by a stellar read on the option by Griffen, then the athletic ability to close down the space between him and Mariota quickly, thus causing the bad decision. Kendricks also read the play and ran from near the opposite hash, across the offense, and was in perfect position to make a play on the ball.

    The fumble was a luck of the bounce but again, the defense has to be in position to make those plays.

    The real story is how Zimmer got the defense back to doing what it does rather than trying to counter the offense that the Titans threw out there.

    • optionbets

      Not every QB makes that bad decision even if the defense was sound at capitalizing off of it. The defense doesn’t get those two plays gift wrapped a large percentage of the games, and due to Walsh’s kicking troubles may have even lost.

      Certainly if we played them 100 times we’d win fewer than 100% of the time, so by definition any 1-0 team is running above expectation and thus, “lucky”.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Whether a defense creates the turnovers or the offense shoots itself in the foot is not particularly relevant, since the end result is likely to be the same.

  • crosseyedlemon

    You can use the woulda, coulda, shoulda argument to explain away all losses for any team.